I was about seven when I first noticed Garth Brooks’ "Friends in Low Places" crossing barriers amongst my friends at school. The track was just poppy enough that most of my friends didn't immediately hate it, even though it was a country song. Part of it could've been that we were idiot seven-year-olds who would've listened to the Sega Genesis "SEEEGAAAA" theme on loop if we’d known how to make it happen. Whatever the case, Garth Vader’s signature track was all over the place for months—years, maybe, especially if you had a friend's mom with a tape deck in the car.
Like it or hate it, the song eventually died, but not before its catchy-as-hell hooks embedded themselves in our brains like T-1000's liquid metal claws ripping into that car in Terminator 2. In fact, I'm willing to bet that Garth Brooks is still being dragged somewhere behind your brain-car in perfect Robert Patrick fashion, and you might even be able to recite some of the song if you really tried. Heck, I can, and it makes me sad.
Somewhere, deep within the Internet, lies the last holdouts of a dying breed. Folks who’re not only still dragging Garth around, but have let him sit shotgun. Even though they can clearly see that other music exists in the world, Garth's greatest fans soldier on undeterred. These aren't your average Internet fans; these are some of the realest fans anyone's ever had.
They’re called GarthNutts.
For years, GarthNutts (their word, not mine) have ensconced themselves in all things Garth. These are people who’ve gotten together in LA to wash the singer’s star on the Walk of Fame. Every August 10th, they celebrate—legitimately celebrate—the birthday of Garth's fictional alter-ego, Chris Gaines. And they’ve invented special words with Garth-related prefixes to describe nearly everything: Some travel great lengths on ritualistic Garthquests to sit outside his Oklahoma mansion waiting for him to appear. Some find themselves in bizarre Garthosexual trances known as being "in the GarthGutter," which seems to be the Garthlike equivalent of being in a wicked K-hole.
It all goes down on Planet Garth, which is a website and a discussion forum, but it may as well be an actual alien planet. Home to a peaceful race known as the GarthNutts, the planet has enjoyed an incredibly long Internet history that stretches back nearly 14 years.
Even as its sister planet Earth dealt with the crisis of changing world politics in the face of 9/11, Planet Garth continued along with hardly a hiccup, especially once it was clear that Garth was not injured: "I'm SO GLAD HE WASN'T IN THOSE TOWERS!" wrote one GarthNutt less than 12 hours after the attacks. Another asked, "Does it seem strange to anyone that Garth was in NYC today? Didn't he always say he could see the future? So why would he want to be there to see an explosion?" which might actually make a GarthNutt the very first 9/11 Truther. Was Garth behind it? Personally, I've never heard anyone say he didn't.
The Wranglered Casanova has inspired countless threads begging for the coveted "butt shot," or video of his famous "Shameless Swivel," the hypnotic hip swing the now-50-year-old has been known to pull off during “Shameless.”
But the Garth obsession runs deeper than mere physical attraction. Not even the figurative orbital bombardment of Tricia Yearwood's marriage to Garth could weaken the enthusiasm of the GarthNutts. In fact, in a thread that asked what one would do if they had a fantasy weekend with Garth, several respondents dreamed of taking care of his children and, in one case, even bathing them. Not only that, but GarthNutts bonded over it, and their camaraderie went on for enough posts that I got uncomfortable and closed my browser.
I badly wanted to get inside their heads and try to talk to a few GarthNutts one-on-one, but try as I might, my attempted registration at Planet Garth has yet to be approved. It's been many days and I've more or less lost hope of becoming an official GarthNutt on full and equal footing. Being that "Garthlike," "Garthquest," "Garthquake," "Garthish," and "Garthmode" are all words according to their Garthdictionary, my contribution to the Garthculture would've been several new words that I've been using around the office for the past week or so:
Ungarthlike– adj. [ə́n-gärth-lk]: Unlike Garth. Not good. Something Garth would not like or have anything to do with himself. Garth would ignore, frown at, or walk away from something ungarthlike. Garth would definitely not sing about something ungarthlike.
Antigarth– adj. [an-tee-gärth]: The exact opposite of Garth. Not to be confused with merely being ungarthlike, things that are antigarth are actively in opposition to Garth or anything that may be Garthlike. Garth may take a defensive posture. Things may escalate to a Garthfight-or-Garthflight response if it gets out of control.
Garthesque– adj. [gärth-esk]: Something or someone having a physical appearance resembling Garth. A man wearing a burningly purple striped shirt and bright blue jeans might be seen as Garthesque. Might also be handsome, but not too handsome.
Doublegarth– noun [duhb-uhl-gärth]: Theoretical future scenario in which two Garths may be allowed to exist. For now, we will dream of this.
If you need me, I'll be lowering myself into the GarthGutter not unlike Arnold lowering himself into the molten metal. I'm going to the low place mentioned in the song. Don't come after me. Just take my thumbs up, and know that it's going to be Garthokay.