“wrangler butts drive me nuts”

Greetings from 1852. I am dialing up on a dinosauric Hewlett Packard from my mother’s home in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the place where I grew up and the place I do not call home. I flew to Denver from Portland, and flew here from Denver, in a scaryass Fantasy Island/Fla. Everglades plane, which greatly increased the probability of my going like Aaliyah. (RIP Baby Girl.) The descending view of Cheyenne: house… and miles miles miles miles then another house… then plains plains plains plains house…. horse… house…. strip mall… plains plains plains house. There is so much space and softly tumbling hills, and softly tumbling tumbleweed, you could log-roll for three days straight and not reach Colorado.
It is the 108th year of Cheyenne Frontier Days, the world’s biggest outdoor rodeo, and the Dodge Ram extendo cabs are as in-effect as the right-winging and nonstop consumption. The entire town revolves around this one week a year, and has every July since the turn of the last century. Because there’s little else for Cheyenne (as united front) to aspire towards, its social hierarchy is built upon how long one has been volunteering for CFD, and in what sector–PR, parades, ticketing, pancake breakfasts, etc. A great amount of local prestige is awarded to those with the most time clocked–they even get to wear special shirts–although as far as I can tell, the higher up you are in the chain, the more your primary duty is public drunkenness.
The first man I see emerging from the Daddy of ‘Em All PR tent is a leathered and rambunctious 57-year-old, rugged in full camo rain gear and poplar cowboy ensemble, swigging from a half-gallon bottle of Jim Beam. It is 10:45 on Friday morning. “They start drinking at 6,” according to my stepmom, “and they’ve been waiting for it all year.” As such, the media box is not so much a place for shmoozing or flashing the important card or accepting gifts of guitar-shaped keychains; This media box is a no-rules party of good ol’ boys with weeklong badges who could not give two spurs if I am from the Portland Mercury or Town and Country Ham Radio Monthly or Elle Decor. The weather is dismal, 51 and raining, so everyone is muddy with the rosy bloat of alcoholism, suckling Bud Lights and hoping the cowboy hat’ll keep their heads on. They are all drinking from gallon-sized plastic Bud Light steins. My plucky uncle Bob, who is on the PR committee and wears a hot-pink laminate reading “I’m Bob,” insists upon buying me a Bud Light, despite my refusal. I whiff off the foam and, when he isn’t looking, stash it on a faraway counter. Someone else will drink it.
The first man I actually talk to, also over 50 and wasted before sunset, cracks a violently sexist joke RE: a wet t-shirt contest, then slaps my arm and says, “No offense.” The conservativism up in here can’t even be called conservativism; that is too rational a word. It implies choice. This is no-holds-barred ignorance, a blind unawareness of the world outside. I can understand how it happens; when you look out your window and all you see is empty flatness and forever, and you are economically comfortable, it is easy to believe yours is the only lifestyle anyone is living, anywhere. That the entire world has sanctioned the wet t-shirt; that it is not up for debate. Because the plains stretch for miles. And all you can see is Cheyenne. And a house, and plains, plains plains, then another house and more plains and a horse. The earth is flat and no one else exists, except maybe in Colorado or Montana, where it is the same. I have only been here three days, and I feel like I’m on another planet.
Later, the sun goes down and the stadium fills. Five Miss Rodeos of America get on the mic, and each comments chirpily on A. the shitty weather and B. how glad they are to be here, because it is the amiable thing to do. Then the Marshall Tucker Band wheel onstage, and get a cheer going: “It sucks to be here out in the rain and freezing cold, but we could be in Iraq. To the people over there, let’s give them a big ‘yahoo!’” This banter continues in between songs–an excruciating procession of orgasm-faced solos and stoic flute melodies. I take eight photos of their flautist, who is bushy ‘stached, and does not seem as self-congratulatory as the rest. He is just playing a flute. They play for at least an hour, maybe an hour and a half; after four songs I go out into the carnival, pay $3 for a bottled water and try on cowgirl hats.

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2 Responses to “wrangler butts drive me nuts”

  1. Valerie says:

    Frontier days rocks… where else in the world can you find people who have been so cut off from evolved society??? I went to the University of Wyoming in lovely Laramie, Wyoming for 3 years where my roommate proudly displayed her “Wrangler Butts Drive Me Nuts” poster on the wall of our dorm room… ahhhh Wyoming… I couldn’t run fast enough out of that place… hehehe…
    -Val

  2. Bush Princess says:

    what the hell is this website???? Cowboys and bloody poodles dont go together!!!! Poodles are for city slickers and Cowboys are well, Cowboys. they are country boys not city slickers.
    Please explain. . . .

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