mexican-mutton-busterFirst, and this is important, I did NOT forget about the Half Past Friday Survey. For the first time since the concept was unleashed (like, a month ago), your answers did not satisfy me. Sure, there were a few choice cuts, but on balance, I was displeased. And I am an angry and jealous (insert deity of your choice). So, I will, in my magnanimous mercy, grant you one weeks’ reprieve to come up with some good answers. Or else. That, and The Wife has abandoned me for some sort of “girls trip” to Florida for five days; I have no doubt that she and her friends have all taken up residence with underage Cuban male sluts, and this depresses me. This also means it’s been me vs. The Heathens, and we all know what happens when the inmates outnumber the guards. Cut me some slack, even if I won’t for you.

In my quest to entertain the boys, I stumbled upon an invite to the Ozark Boosters Club Rodeo tonight. I am quite serious when I say that when The Wife leaves us to our own devices, we go into a survival mode that includes:

1.)  wearing only underwear (less laundry for me to do.)

2.) eating off of the table sans utensils (I’m all “green” ’cause I don’t want to “waste” water on dishes. Yeah, right.)

3.) only leaving The Compound when we run out of food stores (it’s dangerous out there, boys.)

At some point, the guilt hounds me into submission, and we begin to venture out into the big, bad world, in search of entertainment that does not involve Leogs, Transformers or Light Sabers.

My own experience with rodeos is hinged around being an ag major in college. I was neither talented nor interested enough to actually participate in the myriad rodeo opportunities Cal Poly offered, but I did like going to them purely for cheap entertainment and the chance to gawk at girls stuffed into too-tight pants with belt buckles the size of Cadillac hubcaps. We would load up on “value-priced” beer (read: Hamms or PBR) stumble down to the campus arena and take in the kind of sensory overload that can only be rivaled in a big city airport. There was a visual smorgasbord, ranging from skinny little bull riders missing teeth and brain cells to arrogant team ropers prancing around as though their ability to engage in bondage play with livestock made them superior life forms, to barrel racing babes, chewing Copenhagen, walking bowlegged and STILL looking hot. It boggled the mind. It was in this environment that I took up chewing leaf tobacco, drinking beer and killing my own brain cells, and I won’t lie, it was one of the best times of my life.

Fast forward to tonight; visualize, if you will, The Heathens and I taking this concept by storm. Heathen 1 was in a fury because I wouldn’t abide his wearing his fringed chaps to the event. Heathen 2 was stoked at the smell of livestock waste. That kid smells EVERYTHING, and this can be plain weird. Bones does the same thing, and while it’s cute when a four year old wants to smell your coffee, it’s just straight up creepy when a 24 year old is always smelling his hands (this is a plea for you to get help, dumbass). We get into the booster club arena, and it is as though I had stepped back in time. Outside of rhinestone encrusted cell-phone cases (cell phones in MY day were $600 bricks the size of shoe boxes, thank you very much), it could well have been the early nineties. The girls were all wearing 13 pounds of caked on makeup, hair teased up like Jersey gangster chicks, squeezed into Rockies and chain-smoking Marlboro Reds. The dudes all looked strung out, drunk, or both, all equally obsessed with looking filthy and sauntering around angrily. I believe the message they were trying to convey was that this “po-dunk” rodeo weren’t NOTHIN’ like that one time they went to the NFR finals and hung out with George Strait (dubious about that one, I am). I give rodeos credit for this: they are immune to passing fads, and attending one in 2009 seemed EXACTLY like going to one in 1989. The horseback-mounted announcer made the similar plugs for God, Country and Eating More Beef. The Clowns (wait, now they’re called bull-fighters…..whatever, dudes, you wear makeup), were ridiculous and funny as hell to my boys. The rodeo contestants were still treated like, and behaved like, rural celebrities. It was three ways of awesome, and I loved it all.

This is the kind of environment that a man can teach his boys a thing or two about life. So when I saw the Sherrif engage in, and eventually remove, a mulleted soul with a WWF wife beater on, I took the opportunity to point out to them what happens if you don’t listen to authority figures like the Sherrif. Or your Dad. They got to watch calves crap themselves in the pens while awaiting the dally team roping event; Heathen 2  subsequently demanded to “smell it”. I somehow doubt his mother would encourage him just “smelling it”. I did. As I get older, these are the things that truly bring a smile to my face. I’m too old and too married to be chasing the buckle bunnies. I can’t exactly load up on cheap beer when I have the boys with me. But when they weren’t looking? I took the opportunity to slip in some Levi Garrett chaw, and for the briefest of moments it was 1994 again. Thanks, caballeros.