Wednesday, July 9, 2008

They Call the Thing Rodeo

On our final day in Canada, we took Evan to his first rodeo--The Calgary Stampede. There are so many things I love about rodeos. I think it probably all stems back to when I was little and two of my older brothers competed. I loved watching them ride. Kirt rode bareback and K.C. rode bulls. I remember holding the program in my hands--the butterflies building in my stomach until it was their turn. I thought they were real-life celebrities when the announcer would say their names. I know it is impossible to hold your breath and cheer at the same time, but it always felt like I did.

The best rodeos back then were always the ones in or near my hometown because not only would we get to watch Kirt and K.C. ride, they'd also "crash" at our house with all of their rodeo buddies. After all the extra beds were taken, they'd each pick out a parcel of floor in our family room. You couldn't walk in there without stepping on someone.

Even before my fascination with pro rodeos, my brothers and I would create our own living room versions. We captured some of the highlights on film. Polaroid pictures were big in my family in the 80s and while they may have offered instant gratification, they haven’t stood the test of time. But even though they're grainy, the photos are still worth a laugh.

Check out my chaps emblazoned with my initials. That's right--MJ--I was big time. This particular ride was at our family Christmas party with all my aunts, uncles and cousins watching in the background. My brother, Duane, was the bull. And to think other families gather around the piano to sing Christmas carols.

This picture shows me getting bucked off "Bad Jack," according to the note on the back of the photo. No chaps needed for that ride. Just plain, stark-white undies.

K.C. was also my tame horse who I named Shaggy.

He would let me saddle him up with a bridle and would willingly hang out in the stable I made for him out of our sofa cushions. I would bring him slices of oranges and water. I think he was just bribing me, though. After we were done playing rodeo, he would draft a note that said, “Please sell my daughter one can of Copenhagen,” sign my dad’s name to it and then send me into the local convenience store. The clerks thought nothing of selling chewing tobacco to a five year old, who in turn took it to her underage brother. (I think K.C. started living the rodeo lifestyle long before he ever entered a rodeo).

I know several animal rights groups are opposed to rodeos, but I don't think anything could ever change how much I love them. I was happy we got to take Evan to his first rodeo, but it occurred to me that he will probably never love it like I do. He will grow up in the city and he'll probably think of rodeos as something we go to once a year or one of those weird shows his mom watches on T.V. (yes--I watch rodeos on T.V. when I can find them).

It is amazing when you think back to all the little things that happen along the way that shape who you are. As a mom, it is exciting and scary to think about how saying yes to one thing but no to another will affect the man Evan becomes. I'm sure, thirty years from now, he'll pull out one of the many photos I've taken over the years, point to it and say, "See. This explains it all. I can't help it. This is why I am who I am." Just like I do with my grainy rodeo pics.


TheWallinFamily said...

I loved reading your rodeo memories and LOVE the pictures!

Anonymous said...

Oh my. Good times! Good thing we dont sing Christmas carols. ;)


Anonymous said...

Aunt Ros's Christmas parties were THE BEST!! Fun to remember how little you all to see the one with Ken and Kendra in the background!
Aunt Janice