Bryan’s Song

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Hey mister, I like your boots’

I told my wife I was going to a rodeo Saturday in Killdeer and probably wouldn’t be home for supper.

She gave me that “Are-you-out-of-your-mind?” look. I’d seen that look before, when I told her I joined a softball team.

“You’re not going to BE in the rodeo, are you?” she asked, her face frozen in uncertainty.

“What? No, don’t be silly,” I told her. “I’m going to take some flicks.”

She still had that look, not sure whether she should believe me or get the insurance papers ready for the doctor’s office like she did during my run with the softball team.

“OK, but if you try something stupid over there, you’re going to be in big trouble, mister,” she said with a smile.

I don’t think that smile was genuine.

That night, I got my trusty old Nikon ready. And I figured I better do some research on the subject. Although this was my first rodeo, this wasn’t my first rodeo in preparing for an assignment.

I pulled out some old VCR tapes of John Wayne’s best flicks. I munched on munchies watching The Duke hire a group of “Cowboys” to drive a herd to South Dakota. I also watched Big John’s trio or Rios … Rio Bravo, Rio Lobo and Rio Grande.

After the movies, I put on some mood music. (No, it wasn’t that kind of Friday night mood music). It was Waylon and Willie, and one of the songs was “Mammas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.”

I quickly fell asleep. And I’m sure I had a smile on my face.

I work up early and rustled up some grub … a mess of eggs, bacon, biscuits and coffee. We were “burning daylight,” something The Duke told his “Cowboys” all the time. I would like to say I mowed the north 40 after breakfast, but I can’t. We don’t have a north 40. Plus I was still sleepy, so I told The Duke to “put a sock in it” and I went back to bed.

I woke up about 10 minutes later and heard some commotion in the kitchen. It was Wifey, and she was madder than a wet hen. I forgot to clean up after myself and she was clanging around in the kitchen mumbling something about burying me in boot hill.

I figured my best bet would to make the bed, jump in the shower and get outside to mow the lawn – any lawn. Luckily there was gas in my mower and leftover hot coffee in her coffee pot. Shortly after I started the mowing, she came out onto the deck. The coffee and smell of freshly cut grass brought a smile to her face.

Whew, I was off the hook.

When I was done, I did more research, this time with the Cartwrights on “Bonanza,” and then the folks on “Wagon Train.”

I was ready.

I packed my gear into my pick-up truck and headed to the rodeo. When I got to town, I saw the multitude of pick-ups and horse trailers around the arena, and I thought I heard the buzz of horse flies, but I might’ve been mistaken.

I was pretty pumped for this assignment. The last time I was this excited to cover the cowboys was when the boys from Dallas squared off against the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.

I came here to the land of galloping giddiyups, hamburgers with hoofs and horns, of Stetson hats, Wrangler jeans, colorful shirts with snaps, spur-fastened Justin boots and big belt buckles, not knowing what to expect.

I knew immediately I missed the boat on what to wear. I guess this was my first rodeo in preparing for a rodeo.

I figured it was going to be hot, so I dressed in a short-sleeved polo shirt and a pair of fashionable denim shorts and a pair of Mizuno running shoes. They were fashionable all right … if your name was Skippy playing crochet with your cousins Buffy and Pinky.

Lesson learned.

After I slapped two Lincolns down at the ticket booth, I walked down the hill to get set up. I was met by a young lad of about seven or eight. He looked like a miniature John Wayne … cowboy hat, jeans, neatly tucked in shirt, boots and a kerchief around his neck.

He gave the once over, inspecting me from head to toe. He kind of smirked and said: “Mister, I like your boots.”

I chuckled at that little whipper snapper. It was funny.

I made my way around the arena, capturing of images of those cowboys expertly riding those magnificent beasts, and roping those ornery doggies with precision accuracy. OK, so sometimes it wasn’t so expertly and the precision wasn’t so accurate. But it was still exciting.

I was able to get some close ups of a couple of horses tied to a pen outside the arena. After shooting a couple of flicks, I pictured myself riding those steeds just like The Duke and Little Joe. I went to pet one of the giddy ups, and he must’ve known what I was thinking, because he gave me one of those “Are-you-out-of-your-mind?” looks.

I chickened out and backed away. As I did, I felt my right “boot” slip a bit. I looked down and I had stepped in a pile of … well, let’s just say it drew some of those flies. And that horse, maybe it was a coincidence, looked at me and whinnied as if he was laughing at me.

I chuckled at that big ol’ hoss. It was funny.

I figured it was time to go. I had enough pictures and my “boots” needed some Tide.


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