The Oregon Rodeo and Cowboys & Cowgirls By Mike Marino Rodeo, ro-day-o, radio, three syllables all, but

only one has an 8-second ride a stride a bucking Brahma bull that snorts and spits and wants to kill it's rider. Rodeo men rope and ride, while rodeo women look great in tight crotch fitting j eans with firm behinds that know how to sit on a mount and they can dig their sp urs in and hold tight with their thighs so that nothing can escape their rawhide grip. But...this is about rodeo men, who I suppose also have ass fitting jeans and kno w how to handle a mount too, but they also wear big hats and bigger buckles and tell tall tales of the deadliest bronc's they know and use words like "yup" and "uh-huh" as a minimalist uses paint sparingly to tell a pictorial story. The hat alone speaks 10 gallons of volumes. Ropin' ridin' bustin' mutton and buckin' bronco hillbillies with barrels and clo wns around who abound on the circuit, traveling show men like carnies with dark secret pasts and no present to speak of, let alone presence to speak of or ill o f or kindly too. It is a life of horse trailers and horseshit, lariats and liars and tellers of tales taller than the Chisholm trail is long with rides and driv es to rail heads and trail heads in Abilene and Kansas City. Bandito's with band oleers and bandannas and chewin' tobacky is cowboy tacky, but dusters and slicke rs are for men, while ladies in Yorkshire and femmemen alike wear lipstick and k nickers. The cowpoke pokes and brands his calves and drives the herd ahead, unhe ard of these days of Cadillac cars and fewer pinto paints and Utes and Paiutes T he ministers of prairie churches were wild west stern and turned their heads and opened the good book when the cowboys came to the end of the dusty trail in tim e to imbibe in drunken debauchery and get soiled by a dove or two after a hot ba th, shave and cologne spritz in the barbers chair. The streets were filled with wild cowboys with a gleam in the eye, saddle sores on the bum, and great longhorn hardons ready for great whores and harlots in the hot wooden upstairs of honky tonk saloons playing ragtime and songs of camp tow n ladies, do da, do da, da do ron ron.The cowboy years had a heyday, hey, back i n the day of the late 1800's. The educated Earp, the kid bravado of Billy, the d entist with six-shooter who never went on a holiday, and those southern fried re bel boys, the James Gang and Cole the Younger and the daunting Dalton's. The era came to close soon after the St. Joseph assassination and the industrial age da wned on darkened factory floors and the the cities expanded and exploded and the old west was tossed away like so many spent shells from a Colt Navy revolver. Bill buffalo'd the crowds and crowned heads with Geronimo and Wild Bill and the Congress of Cowboys re-enacting the lawless days of a pioneering spirit. These l ed to the circus coming to town to recreate the savannas of deepest, darkest Afr ica and then came the rodeo, to keep the cowboy alive, in spirit and image. The cowboy is gone, now, dead for all intents and purposes but a few unique individu als are phantoms of a past, a truly American past where the men drank whiskey an d beer and wine was for queers. Today, the hobo cowboy drinks cheap wine, but he ain't no bum, by no means, no way, no how, amigo. I met two rodeo men once on a beach in Oregon bumming their way south down the c oast from the northwest to hit the rodeo circuits as crew in California. Hiking the Oregon coast south of Seaside and it's seashells by the seashore shore made one glad to be alive. Wide open beach really, a football field with the end zone somewhere over in the South China Sea, where Mssr. Monsoon raped Asia with torr ential floods and typhoons, which is Japanese for hurricanes or something like t hat. As I walked along making snake marks on the sand behind me by dragging my h iking stick, I noticed two men ahead, far from the waters edge cooking at a fire by a large dead water soaked log of tree stump by the treeline of the forest be hind them.They too noticed me. Now, they could have been deranged mental patient s out to thrill kill a boy on a beach, or just lust crazed homosexual rapist hel

l bent on making me pregnant if such a thing were possible. They eyed me, I spied back, eye to eyes, they with four me with only two at my d isposal to assess the situation so it didn't spiral out of controlled orbit. It was apparent we had seen each other so no sense pretending I wasn't nor were the y curious so I walked up to them and said "hello" and they "hello'd" back and se eming friendly enough and not dangerous at all started in on conversation as the y had a fire built and a kettle on for coffee and some beans in a can and a bag of rice they intended to cook up separately and then mix together to give it som e body then wash it all down with a robust tin cup of coffee to further warm the m, as the night was coming soon along with the breeze and the fog and the cold s o they had to be fortified. I accepted the invitation they extended to join them, not still sure if they wer en't indeed cannibals that had been set adrift and landed here to re-colonize an d I was but something for the stew pot to be devoured much later. Turns out the beans and rice and coffee were delicious and conversation animated and quite enj oyable and engaging. These were two rodeo men. Worked the circuit cleaning stalls, rolling barrels fo r the rodeo activity that would be needed by the cowboys, and other assorted odd jobs. They hiked the coast for the most part as they had little money left, exc ept for right after the rodeo but then would spend it on whores and booze and ci garettes. They did have a bottle of cheap wine they broke out at this point and pouch tobacco so we could all outdo each other as we rolled our own, lasso demon strations with rolling papers, and they seemed impressed with my rolling paper p rowess, not knowing I had much experience rolling substances not of legal nature which allowed me to keep pace with them. We had smokes and we had booze, but no whores, and I wasn't about to volunteer. We talked while the full moon was hung on the wall on a hook and hovered in the heavens above, the fire died down from flame to ember, and the wood turned cool coal had that undulating look about them that made them appear to dance the danc e of Salome for the assembled guests, although I have never assembled a guest be fore. Soon I feel asleep as did Luke, one of the cowboys whose names I forgot to mention. Pat, the other one, who also I forgot to mention, stayed awake most of the night staring at the sky, watching the flicker of the fire, and watched the moon washed crests of waves from the ocean make their way to Oregon's shore, a quarterback making a touchdown on the beach. Somehow, I think it was more than t hat. Luke and Pat had been together for a long time on the road, and lasted all this time so Pat probably was doing is job of guard duty of which the traded rol es and places each night so the other one could get some sleep. Somehow I too fe lt safe, as I don't think any sane person would want to mess with Texas, or cowb oys from there, I think they were from there, never asked, but aren't all cowboy s from there? The day dawned and we didn't dawdle or doodle, but went double time to town down the beach a few miles where there was a rodeo going on. A small town affair wit h a dirt corral and people standing around it in a circle while others sat in th e stands and the bleachers at the highschool as this rodeo was a summer rodeo an d held in the football stadium where just six months ago, varsity boys were tryi ng to win a pennant so they could get thier team name on the billboard just befo re you entered town..."Home of the 1970 Champs"..this rodea was a real ridin' ro pin' shit kickin' affair befitting Oregon. The smell of hot dogs and burgers waf ted wiffs of bbq charred to perfection meats, cooked by the local 4-H to raise f unds for the next county fair and animal sale. Luke and Pat and me had fortified ourselves with a small campfire breakfast, cof fee and half a bottle of a Mad Dog with perfect 20/20 vision to put a bite on an d get an edge on the festivities. Small town locals are viewed so much better wh en slightly intoxicated to tolerate all their little quirks of gossip and intole

rance of the outside world. Luke had yellow teeth from too much Marlboro'ing, an d so did Pat, but they had healthy ruddy complexions from being outdoors so much over the years, employed and not. Large crevices lined their faces, Grand Canyo ns of character with a Colorado River of experience flowing through them. We poo led what money we had between us, and bought hot dogs, a few greasy cardboard ba skets of greasier fries and Luke and Pat had bought beers for themselves being a s I was too young to drink in public anyway. The local radio station was doing a live broadcast from the rodeo and Ed Roberts , who had been an on-air fixture at the small station for over 23 years was sett ing up his equipment to give a blow of the festivities complete reading commerci als live on the air for Harsens Feed and Grain and the local farmers co-op all y ou can eat pancake breakfast this Sunday to benefit the local ladies auxiliary o f the VFW where mostly drunks hung out and talked about wars passed at the post when not holding pool tournaments and playing poker and horseshoes for small sid e bets. The local wet set junior misses arrived in a pubescent carriage to parad e their bottoms for the local boys who would eventually score under the bleacher s after the rodeo had packed up and left so the boys could rope and ride the che erleader fillies across the finish line all beat, spent and sweaty then put them up in the stall until the next ride where they would hitch them up once again a nd crack the whip to make them gallop or trot on command. The mayor was there, overweight and out voted at every council meeting, a figure head position similar to the queen of England or the queen of anywhere. They mai nly cut ribbons at grocery store events, along with Ed Roberts, and used the cit y to their advantage quietly so as not to attract attention, except there was al ways one or two trouble makers in town who anointed themselves as watchdogs to m onitor the civic situation. The town was there, so were Pat and Luke and me. We soaked up the sun on our faces and heard the music start and the young cowgirls rode into the ring with flags and banners and fringe dancing from their jackets and milk white thighs shining in the sunlight like pearls and short little skirt s revealing just a hint of the treasure behind the curtain hidden from view wait ing to be discovered by Ed Roberts, or the mayor. The calves were roped and brought down to the ground, and the bull rides were on old bulls, not much of a threat anymore, as they were old, the riders were olde r, and the rodeo arena, was just a small dirt corral so with whoopin' and holler in' it was machismo fun and frolic to show off and fall down in the dirt and get up grinning and smacking the dust off your Levi's with a swift whisk of the cow boy hat with a growling "Damn," punctuating the air with a laugh and a smile whi le the audience applauded madly and roundly yelling things like, "Waytago Roy," or something like that. The rodeo ended, the horses and other animals put into trailers, the concession people closed up shop, and the trash barrels overflowed with large cups that onc e held orange soda or beer and the wax paper food wrappers lie everywhere and wi th the coming of dusk and the sundown winds took flight like little greasy magic carpets to fly away and over into the MacPherson field, just past the old oak n ear the old Buxton homestead. Some of the female townies disappeared with some o f the letter jacket townies who would someday not see the football field or Frid ay night lights as players ever again, but end up working 10 hour days at the fa mily septic tank supply company or at the bowling alley as pin monkeys. The three amigo's left the rodeo/football grounds to make their way and snake th eir way back to the beach, where there, they had another rip roarin' fire for wa rmth kissing the sky, and a much smaller one for the more specific task of cooki ng up a pot o' beans. Coffee washed it all down once again and then followed up with an after dinner roll yer own and the rest of the Mad Dog bottle. They talke d and the words came out as did the stars above and soon, one by one they drifte d off to sleep listening to the gentle ocean and caressed by the gentler breeze.

When morning finally broke, I woke up and looked around, and like the dark of ni ght, the rodeo men were no where to be found. They got up early, as was their ha bit to get a started on the days journey, miles to cover, sights to enjoy and to soak up life as a sponge to a spill on the floor of cheap wine that stains whit e carpeting. They were headed southward to California not wanting to wake me, we re as quiet as prisoners escaping from a P.O.W. camp. I sat up in my sleeping ba g and could see their footprints in the sand walking south marking the trail of the invisible man, or men in this case. I also noticed there was a small fire st ill burning and next to my sleeping bag was a spare pack of rolling papers and s mall plastic bag of tobacco. No man left behind.It was the rolling papers that d id it. A kid happens to come across them on the beach, they older and wiser, he with no experience versus two experienced, grizzled cowboys, they could have tal ked down to me, humoring me as all adults humor children, but I had managed to m atch them on the jousting field in full armor, one, by the simple and sustained act of rolling a cigarette with loose tobacco without benefit of a rolling machi ne, in the wind to boot, and damn, that fine smoke was rolled as tight as the pr ivate region of a virgin before she gives it up to her first lover on a silver p latter. Yeah, the cowboys had ridden off into the sunrise, and left more than footprints in the sand. They left a lasting memory and valuable lesson I never forgot...if you can roll yer own, you can hold yer own!.

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