Saturday, May 8, 2010

The First Weekend in May

There aren't too many weekends that match the sports spectacle of the first weekend in May.  The Kentucky Derby and the May Rodeo always fall on the first Saturday and Sunday, respectively, and they're both big events around here.  I know, those can't match the hype of March Madness or the Super Bowl, or even the T20 World Cricket Finals, but they're even better.  Trust me.

In 1973, I watched Secretariat win the Triple Crown, I was two and a half, and "Secretariat" became my favorite word.  I've tried to continue the tradition and get Dylan excited about the Derby, but her short attention span can't last through the three hours of pre-race hype.  Hell, my short attention span can't last that long.  But, I did get her to watch Mind That Bird's 50:1 upset win last year and I bribed her to sit down, finally, as the horses entered the gate this year.  Calvin Borel  is our new hero -- although I'm worried that she'll yell, "Ride the rail, Borel" to any adult male who is under 5'3''.

The other tradition is the May Rodeo.  It's the first local rodeo of the year and I grew up riding in its parade and getting bucked off by its calves.  For months, Dylan has been telling us that she was going to ride a sheep.  The thought seems harmless enough, riding a big fuzzy sheep is like sitting of a soft cloud. But I know the scary truth; I've been helping parents pry their children's fingers from the top rail of the chutes and putting them on the backs of pissed off lambs for the past ten years.  Mutton Bustin' is like being a passenger on the back of a runaway dirt bike.  Sooner, and not later, the kids fall off, face first, in the arena dirt.  There are always tears, often blood, and not much reward except the Queen gives you a silver dollar, which, to little kids, might as well be a shiny stone.

Greg was always against his daughters riding sheep -- not for any kind of righteous-cattle-rancher reasons -- but for simply practical ones.  I thought he was crazy.  Mutton Bustin' is nuthin' but fun!  Right?  Then I started paying attention to what happened after the terrified kids left the chute, and then I had a daughter.  I told Dylan she could ride a sheep, but I dragged my feet.  Besides, I figured she'd chicken out once she saw the reality of it.  So, I took her behind the chutes, and we stood on the catwalk and peered down into the bucking chutes at the lambs.  Her confidence didn't waver and she still wanted to ride, so I had my friend set her on the back of one, just to get a feel for it.  She still insisted that she was having fun, then the sheep moved.  Just a little, but she knew it wasn't anything like sitting on the back of a horse and she wanted off.  Viola!  My plan worked.

The rest of the day was spent watching the show.  I skipped out on my normal rodeo duties and enjoyed the rodeo from the back of a flat-bed.  Dylan spent the day eating.  When I asked about her favorite part of the rodeo, she said, "The dip."

Grady got passed around until he hit nap time, then, like a good cowboy, fell asleep on the front seat of the truck.  Dylan wasn't too far behind.  The dirt, snowcones, and excitement wore us all out, but I think Dylan's officially hooked on rodeos and now she can't wait until the last Saturday in July so she can Mutton Bust again, if only for a few seconds.


paul Schwartz said...

Does "the dip" refer to the chewing tobacco? What's her brand? Redman? Skoal? Perhaps something mintier?

Juddy said...

Dylan's a straight up Copenhagen girl.