I started riding herd over JPR's Redding studios 14 years ago this week. I remember it well because there were a bunch of guys in cowboy hats and yellow shirts kicking up dust in the street in front of my office, setting up tables for the next morning's pancake breakfast.
Yup, Rodeo Week was my big introduction to Redding, a big ol' how do you do.
It was a few more years before I actually made it to the Redding Rodeo. One year I was a parade emcee, and that same year an Asphalt Cowboy grabbed the hat right off of my head, shot a hole in it, and handed it back to me, with the hole still smoking. In fact a few minutes later the hat was on fire, and it burned all the way up right in front of my eyes. That'll teach me to buy a cowboy hat made in China, out of straw no less. Never again.
Anyway, while I don't often make it to the rodeo, it might surprise you to know that I do enjoy Rodeo Week in general. You might already be aware that I have a soft spot for Country & Western music, thanks to my first job in radio spinning discs at KCMX-Country, but you probably don't know about my secret soft spot for Cowboys. Don't tell my husband. Actually, he has nothing to worry about. Even before he and I started dating, I swore off cowboys. But today in celebration of my 15th Rodeo Week and my 5th anniversary as Mistress of the Mix, and at he risk of alarming the man who lassoed me for life, I'm going to share with you a tidbit from a blog I used to write back in my single days about how ridiculous it was trying grab a man by the horns in Northern California after the age of 40.
I am so ashamed to admit this. If you claim I said this, in public, I will deny it. If you even so much as make a subtle hint in a crowded room, I will tell you that you are plum crazy, and I have no idea where you came up with such balderdash.
I have a weak spot for cowboys. I don't know if there's a 12 step group for this affliction. Mainly I've been able to get a handle on my problem through being a die-hard liberal, staying away from Country & Western music and farmland communities.
But once in a while, I'll go to the rodeo, like I did this weekend.
I have to wear dark glasses, because I tend to do a lot of ogling. I don't know if it's the tight haircuts and shaved faces, the shirts with the piping and mother of pearl snap buttons that are so easy to unsnap. Or those big, eye-catching belt buckles. Maybe it's the tight jeans and the pointy cowboy boots, or perhaps it's those sexy hats. The way they walk with their finger cocked in a belt loop, a nod of the head, a tip of the hat.
If you want to know if chivalry is dead, head to the rodeo. It ain't.
It'd never work, me and a cowboy. I just can't imagine it. But my imagination tends to get away from me, about once a year, when the rodeo comes to town. So I sat in the stands Friday night with my girlfriends, and while there were a few interesting moments out in the dirt, most of my time was spent watching the butts in the grandstand.
Later, at the Palomino Room, I danced with Frank, who had on a black cowboy hat. He asked if I wanted a drink. I said, "Yes. Water, please." He brought me back a Bud Light. We danced, I wore his hat, and I removed his hand from crawling underneath the elastic of my bra at least 3 times. I danced slowly with him, this big hunk of 27 year old cowboy, while he sang "Neon Moon" into my ear, drunkenly off-key. He asked if I was coming back to the rodeo the next night.
Nope. I'll be back on the wagon by then, Cowboy.
Last night I was just putting the finishing touches on this column, seriously had just finished reading it to my husband, when my friend Amber texted me and said, "Last minute, I know, but we have VIP tickets to the rodeo tonight….."
My husband and I changed into jeans and boots faster than I thought was possible. It had been 8 years since I'd been to the rodeo. I found an old cowboy hat that I just happened to have hiding away in a dark corner, and darned if that husband of mine didn't wear it like a rodeo champion. I love that man, even if I did have to endure him cracking jokes all night long about joining FarmersOnly.com.
Enjoy today's streaming Spotify playlist, a little mix of tunes I like to call Cowboy Up. Maybe I'll see you at the pancake breakfast. I'll be the gal in the dark sunglasses. With the guy in the brown cowboy hat.