As I sit here, at my battered wooden desk, my corduroy bottom sunk gently into my leather swivel chair, the sounds of the Dixie Chicks are gently filling the room. I find my left leg tapping generously, my head occasionally nodding happily to the beat.
You probably hate me right now.
I can almost see it in your eyes. There's a complete lack of understanding; possibly a smidgen of fear, possibly abject terror. Not only am I not listening to nu metal, Smashing Pumpkins, or some kind of skater band, I'm listening to country music. What the hell kind of monster am I?
Actually, I'm a werewolf. You can laugh - and I'm sure you will, you mean-spirited sons of bitches - but every fourth Thursday I become a little hairy round the edges and stalk my neighbourhood on all fours looking for raw flesh to devour. My hands grow into hairy claws, with which I can rip through skin like soggy paper. My eyes become soulless and dark, inverse moons set against a stormy horizon.
For some reason, with the curse of lycanthropy comes the curse of country music. Nobody has yet explained how the growing of extra hair and a sudden compulsion to eat raw meat in the nude leads to a love of twanging guitars and Nashville accents, but it happens, and month after month I find myself doing the animal thing to the rustic sounds of Tammy Wynette.
Previously, let me assure you, I had not been a fan. My CD shelves were filled with albums by Radiohead, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Nirvana .. you name it. I was a miserable nihilist, and as such I had the respect and admiration of my friends. I wore my inner torment on my sleeve, and everyone thought it was cool.
But one night, after a session of In Utero appreciation (I'd been backing Cobain soulfully on my pocket harmonica), I took a furtive walk round the block to see if the corner liquor store sold absinthe. It was a particularly warm evening; I was wearing the thinnest long-sleeved T-shirt I had, yet I was sweating profoundly.
Something dark darted out of the bushes, swiping past my legs and running across the main road, narrowly missing a Daewoo. When I looked down, there was blood dripping down my shins, running into my black socks and staining my Vans. And that's when it started.
That very night I sat down at my computer, booted up Gnutella, and downloaded a Garth Brooks song. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't put my finger on it; slowly, slowly, my world changed. At first it was subtle - a little more guitar twang here, a little more hair there. But I knew I could never go back the day I walked naked into the Quick Stop and chewed through the milk, while humming Jolene and a-tapping on my cowboy boots.
I'm trapped in a hell-cage of a life. So next time you're in a record store, and see an overtly hairy man picking out a Nickel Creek CD, think of me.