America consists of four countries: (1) everything east of the Mississippi River excluding Florida; (2) Florida, (3) everything west of the Mississippi River excluding California; and, (4) California. Rodeos are the province of people in country (3) although some folks in Florida and California do know there is no accent on the term rodéo except for a certain drive in Beverly Hills frequented by the frou-frou set.
Yankees, that is almost all of those people in countries (1) (2) and (4) snub their noses at those of us from country (3). Yankees tend to talk funny while casting aspersions on the pleasing western drawls of those of us from country (3), and Yankees dress odd while failing to appreciate western wear. In sum, some Yankees want to ignore country (3) even to the point of eliminating the Electoral College and bribing their way into colleges most of those in country (3) would not wish to attend. After all, could real Americans root for colleges whose colors are pastels?
It was important issues such as these that coursed through my brain as Peg, who was born in New York, and I attended a rodeo in Osage County, Oklahoma last week. I was left with the conclusion that Yankee girls and rodeos may not be the best fit. Perhaps you will agree once I relate Peg’s take on the Roy Clark Memorial Championship Rodeo held April 26 and 27, 2019 in Pawhuska, Osage County, Oklahoma.
Peg was fine with and impressed by the opening ceremonies that started with a cowgirl mounted on a horse and carrying the United States flag. That cowgirl was followed by another mounted cowgirl carrying the state flag of Oklahoma then by five more cowgirls riding around the arena with flags of the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard. As the flags were displayed “The Star Spangled Banner” was sung, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited and a long prayer was given. Then the rodeo events began. That’s also when Peg began to inquire about such things as calves, steers, horses and bulls feeling put upon by such things as cowboys, cowgirls, ropes and stock handlers.
“Jim, that cowboy roped that calf around the neck while it was running full speed and abruptly jerked it to a stop by reigning in his horse. Doesn’t that hurt and isn’t that cruel and inhumane?”
“I suppose so, but not ever having been roped, I don’t know. I note the calf jumped up and trotted off looking fine.”
“Well I beg to differ, you chased me until I roped you in, although sometimes I wonder why I did. Anyway, Jim, the announcer said the cowboy tied up three of the calf’s legs with a ‘piggin string’ he carried in his teeth. Where are the pigs?”
“There are no pigs in rodeos unless you are on a farm back east. It’s just a term of art.”
“It seems like almost all the cowboys who try to ride the bucking horses and bulls get thrown off. Doesn’t that hurt? And, where’s the art in that?”
“Yes, it hurts about like getting hit by a 300 pound football player. However, if they hang on for 8 seconds they can win prize money. It’s all part of the rodeo experience, Peg.”
“Jim, I don’t think it’s fair they penalize the cowgirl barrel racers for knocking over a barrel. Why don’t they set the barrels up so they won’t fall over?”
“Because then the cowgirls would go flying over the saddle horns when the horse hits a barrel.”
“Jim, in that team roping thingy why don’t they just set a large circle of rope down on the arena floor and shoo the steer’s hind legs into it?”
“Because that is not what happens on a ranch when cattle are being worked. Rodeos are based on actual ranch work and steers have to be rounded up on a ranch.”
“Jim, do you think we’ll see Sam Elliott here tonight?”
“Are you ready to leave? Maybe we’ll go see a movie. Perhaps you’ll see Sam there.”