My First Rodeo
So off we went off to the Socorro County Fair, along with our friends Michael and Kristy, their young daughter and their newborn infant. Just to take in that family-friendly rodeo vibe.
There were bleachers, but lots of folks just backed their pickup trucks up to the ring in order to watch the activities from the truck bed. I'd guess the crowd never exceeded 200. Our local science fiction convention easily draws twice that many.
We arrived a little early, so we got to see the crownings of the Rodeo Queen, the Rodeo Princess, and the Rodeo Sweetheart (categories divided by age groups). There were also minor awards in each category: Miss Congeniality, Miss Personality, Best Horsewoman, and various other categories that now escape me. Many of the awards went to the same people, who ended up covered with ribbons.
There were only two entrants for Rodeo Queen. One was a young perky slim blonde, and the other wasn't, being older, tall, less conventionally pretty, and with a substantial girth.
Naturally I was hoping the latter would win. Naturally I was disappointed. (She did get "best horsewoman," though.)
(I remember watching the parade in the town of Madgalena some years ago, a Frontier Days sort of festival, where the Rodeo Queen was a big old lady in a poke bonnet and mother hubbard, who drove her own buckboard. Someone, in other words, who actually looked as if she'd lived on the frontier.)
After each crowning, the Sweethearts, Princesses, etc., would mount their horses, wait for an introduction, and then ride around the ring at full gallop while firing two-finger salutes at the crowd. (Were they all Boy Scouts? I wondered.)
Then the rodeo began. It began with all the Sweethearts, Princesses, etc., being introduced again, and riding again around the ring, with two-fingered salutes etc.
Then they all lined up facing the bleachers while a couple young men rode the flag around the arena. And we all were told to sit down, because there was going to be a piece of music with a moving message.
I knew we were in trouble when I began to hear a chant about our Evangelical Founding Fathers, who in the Declaration of Independence charged the British with no less than 87 (I think it was 87) violations of the Ten Commandments. We then proceeded to other burning issues of the day, hearing about "the holocaust of 5000 children murdered every day in America," and how schools needed to pass out "Bibles, not condoms."
The song just went on and on.
I believe the song was titled "What America Needs is Jesus," but a Google search has failed to turn up something with that name.
Michael and I stared at each other, appalled. How much public money, I wondered, was going into paying for us to hear this sermon on abortion?
Afterwards the audience was asked to stand up and pray. We remained rooted firmly in our seats. I am not going to pray with these assholes, I believe I said to myself, or perhaps aloud.
We were alone in this protest.
The prayer went on for some time, basically building a spiritual wall around the arena so that Satan might not enter. (Lord knows cowboys can get up to enough mischief on their own.)
After that we got the "Star-Spangled Banner," for which I did stand, thank you.
The rodeo itself, once it got going, was right good fun. I had the feeling that the real elite cowboys do not attend the Socorro County Fair, which would account for all the steer wrestlers who jumped off their horses only to miss the steers completely, for the bronc and bull riders who got thrown in the first couple seconds, and for the calf and breakaway ropers who missed their targets.
This did not much matter to me. It was fun even when they missed.
The ghastly sermon-song did cast a pall over the evening, though. It was like a message from an alternate America where people like me are stoned to death for denying that George Washington was an Evangelical.
And, from what I can see, the cowboys and girls could have benefitted from less praying, and more roping practice.