Have you ever heard Patsy Cline's version of "The Wayward Wind"? Yeah, I admit it. I'm too young for that kind of music, but I can't help it! I know all the words to "The Rivers of Texas" and "Git Along, Little Dogies". That's DOGIES, not doggies.
It's rodeo weekend here in our rural Southwestern town. Flatlanders flock to our little mountain community to gawk at the rednecks. Real cowboys come here to compete in a sport that is older than the territory. Musicians and concessionaires and photographers arrive to try to glean a few greenbacks from the sidelines.
Rodeo weekend is a good time to hear some whoopin' and hollerin', some fiddle music and some good old-fashioned cowboy poetry. Oh, and a few sirens. Rodeo is not for the fragile.
I love the tradition of the west. I love cowboy poetry and old western songs. I bet I know the lyrics to more old cowboy songs than anyone my age has a right to know. But you know what? I don't go to the rodeo. You don't get to go and sit on the opry seat among your friends anymore. Crowds are just a little too much for me, so I avoid the snarled traffic and the flatlanders who drive up to ogle the quaint ruralites.
Now, I like to think of myself as a friendly person so I'm ashamed of myself for scowling at you city slickers. Maybe it would help me if you kind people were aware of some of the rules of small town living. Let me trot those rules out for you, and see if you can lasso any of them:
- It's no use to complain about the long lines at the grocery stores. The lines are long because of you, not because the stores are so backward. Smile. Be patient. And remember that you're on our turf now.
- Another grocery story tip: generally speaking, we do NOT park right in front of the door in the driving lane. You folks seem to think that if you're just "running in" you can do that. Please don't. God gave you legs. Use them and park out in the lot with the rest of us.
- Restaurants also become overrun with visitors. You simply must understand that it would not behoove us to enlarge the restaurant, hire more waitstaff and kiss your ass just for a couple of days a year. Just so you know.
- If you think that slapping a straw cowboy hat on your head makes you blend in with the locals, I'm sorry to disappoint you. You still stand out like a sore thumb. There's a good reason we wear boots in the corrals and stalls. Don't come crying to me if you get manure on your Mia Suri embellished wedges.
- You're going to see people riding horses around town. Don't honk at them. That ain't funny. By the way, it is also unwise to sneak up behind a horse.
- Study up on the events you might get to see at a rodeo. Learn the vocabulary. You'll get a lot more out of it. Find out how to pronounce words and what they mean. There's a status structure to rodeo, too. A good rule of thumb is, the bigger the belt buckle the girl has, the more vaulted a position in the Rodeo Royalty she holds. If she's wearing a belt buckle as big as her hair, you better be ready to bow. Mutton busting is great fun, and if you show up on a Sunday afternoon, you might get to see three preachers trying to put bloomers on a calf.
HELL IN TEXAS
The devil, we're told, in hell was chained,
For a thousand years he there remained.
He never complained, nor did he groan,
But determined to start a hell of his own
Where he could torment the souls of men
Without being chained to a prison pen.
So he asked the Lord if He had on hand
Anything left when He made the land.
The Lord said, "Yes, I had some land,
But I left it down on the Rio Grande.
The fact is old boy, the stuff is so poor,
I don't think you could use it in hell any more."
But the devil went down to look at the truck,
And said if it came as a gift, he was stuck;
For after examining it careful and well
He concluded the place was too dry for hell.
So in order to get it off His hands
God promised the devil to water the lands.
For he had some water, or rather some dregs,
A regular cathartic that smelled like bad eggs.
Hence the deal was closed and the deed was given,
And the Lord went back to His place in Heaven.
and the devil said, "I have all that is needed
To make a good hell," and hence he proceeded.
He began to put thorns on all the trees,
And he mixed the sand with millions of fleas,
He scattered tarantulas along all the roads,
Put thorns on the cacti and horns on the toads;
He lengthened the horns of the Texas steers
And put an extension on the jack rabbits' ears.
He put little devils in the bronco steed
And poisoned the feet of the centipede.
The rattlesnake bites you, the scorpion stings,
The mosquito delights you by buzzing his wings.
The sand burrs prevail, so do the ants,
And those that sit down need half soles on their pants.
The devil then said that throughout the land
He'd manage to keep up the devil's own brand,
And all would be mavericks unless they bore
The marks of scratches and bites by the score.
The heat in the summer is a hundred and ten,
Too hot for the devil and too hot for men.
The wild boar roams through the black chaparral,
It's a hell of a place he has for a hell;
The red pepper grows by the bank of the brook,
The Mexicans use it in all that they cook.
Just dine out in Texas and then you will shout,
"I've a hell on the inside as well as without."