Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Championship Belt Mortgaged

Part 17 of 30
The Mam & Pap
Royal Splendid Traveling Rodeo

Please stay with me on this series. I know it's veering off a little beyond the heroic nature of the rodeo that I’ve sketched so far. Sometimes things got tight and a little shady, and -- I hate to say it -- in this case they had to take drastic measures to keep the rodeo solvent. The rodeo biz has various intricacies like everything — particularly when scandal’s involved — nothing any of us likes. I certainly don’t like it, with Mam & Pap’s embarrassment being my embarrassment. But sometimes you have to face a situation head-on and maybe lose face to struggle back to wholeness, regaining what you lost, then going forth stronger than ever, we hope.

The unfortunate reality of a traveling rodeo is it can hit the skids real fast. Crowds are finicky, with a lot of it being at the weather's mercy. If it’s too cold by a single degree or too hot with the same margin, the crowd will simply stay home (in part) and do … whatever … who knows? If it’s what I’m thinking, showing a Triple X movie on the bedroom wall and gettin’ funky. Just remember, folks, you can go blind doing that. And a quick aside to the ladies, Don’t you have any self-respect, letting your slug husband deny you a rodeo date for the disgusting pleasures of … forget it, it's repulsive!

Enough of that, and, well, what can you say? A rodeo needs money to grease the skids, so to speak, but it has to be hard cash — they accept gold bullion but can't easily liquefy it — and with people staying home making a date out of acts that could just as easily be performed in the morning shower, the rodeo can be running close to the margin.

My advice to Mam and Pap was you have to bank more money. Pap threw up his hands in desperation. (Anyone reading this, consider going to every rodeo more often, like every night a week for a month. It’ll help.) They needed to raise the price of the program from a quarter to 30 cents. Enough copies sold and you’re talking real money. But any solutions are always better for the future, not for the present moment of extremity. They have to make decisions for the current day.

And some of those decisions are extremely dire. As in pawning the coveted championship belt for a quick 100. It’s not much, either, not when you consider how men have worked and trained and slaved away day in and day out to even have a chance to win temporary custody of the championship belt. You see it from afar and you know it’s a beauty. You put it around your waist after a genuine win — not just trying it on surreptitiously and preening — and you’re a new man. A champion not only in name but in regal display. It takes my breath away to hear of it going into hock.

This never happened but it was always a fear that the championship belt could through some underhanded scheming be the target of competing rodeos. Imagine the outcry if they advertised, “We’ve got Mam & Pap’s championship belt in our hot little hands!” It’s too much to even think of, let alone say. Think of that, though, when you’re planning your evening activities. There's entertainers out there that depend on you. And current rodeos are also fun for all, young and old alike.

No comments: