"Is anyone here from Idaho?"
It's a high-pitched auto-response, a roar evinced from coast to coast at every concert, monster truck rally or small-town rodeo by announcers looking to fire up a crowd through a public-address system. Simply change "Idaho" to "Des Moines" or "Birmingham" or "Jacksonville" depending on your locale, and wait for it:
The towns and venues vary, but the scene remains the same when you go to a mass gathering of the country-inclined. Country fans are some of the most passionate and party-hearty folks around. Their lack of cynicism and love of a good time make them infinitely more fun than hipper-than-thou indie-rock fans, and less destructive than a metalhead or punk who might share those traits.
In their native environs among thousands of fellow country-loving friends, you'll find ritualized public displays full of preening and squeals that would be right at home in a nature documentary.
On this night, it's happening in the Red Tail lounge at the Spokane Arena, where scores have gathered to watch a bull-riding showcase. But the event itself hardly matters. The groups of women hoisting super-sized cans of Bud Light and Miller Lite and Coors Light — always Coors Light — aren't paying attention to the bull-riding cowboys on the arena floor nearly as much as the urban cowboys buying the drinks and posing for selfies stuffed full of as many friends, old and new, as possible. Got to show off the night's attire, and the cute members of the opposite sex they met in the bar.
For the ladies: bedazzled butts on skinny jeans stuffed into oh-so-cute silver cowboy boots, topped with a cowboy hat or fluffy mane of blonde locks. Accessories include a matching bedazzled purse, and cell phones permanently attached to one hand. For the boys, Western shirts or camouflage-pattern tight tees along with Wrangler butts — yes, they drive some nuts, and yes, some of them are bedazzled as well — stuffed into boots of their own. Hands are stuffed in pockets; trucker and cowboy hats are optional.
The selfie scene repeats itself over and over, various groups gathering, laughing, clinking cans, taking pictures and occasionally reacting to the announcer when he bellows a competitor's hometown: "Woooooot!"
After a couple of hours, the Red Tail at the Arena is littered with Silver Bullet dead soldiers, along with some of its less-popular peers. Cans cover tabletops and fill drink holders, waiting for the custodial crew.
The bull riding is finished and the announcer is bidding the crowd adieu. But the party is not over for one particular crew of Coeur d'Alene country fans. It's just moving on to the Nashville North.