Part 13 of 30
The Mam & Pap
Royal Splendid Traveling Rodeo
When you’re in the rodeo you know you’re bad to the bone. Because taking to the back of any animal the size of a horse or bull — which goes double for any that are plain loco — you’re either corrupt where the rest of us are sensitive or brave where the rest of us are sensible. I don’t know how these guys get life insurance. If I sold life insurance for a livelihood I’d avoid rodeo folk!
But selling life insurance was never the path I took. And for sure it wasn’t the rodeo, although a little of both would’ve been profitable. If I sold myself a big policy, then went into the rodeo, my relatives would’ve cashed in big-time by now and they’d be especially thankful that I died so young. A big deal for me, just another statistic for the people that follow these things.
When it came to danger I was always a guy you could count out. Then as now I’d much rather sit on the sidelines and watch someone else risk his life than do it myself. Basically any “sport” I even thought of was too dangerous to try. The scrum of basketball in that tight little nucleus of guys battling for the ball, elbows flying, giving you another black-eye or being pounded from above on jumping for the ball. The deadliness of boxing, taking another walloping blow in the eye from a guy’s fist pummeling me and going down for the count. Or probably the worst sport, being high in the air strangling a guy or, worse, being strangled. Frightening graphic!
But when the professional rodeo performer surveys all that danger and violence, and then pronounces them losers or worse — shrinking violets, wilting daisies, or chicken livers — that takes a chunk out of your ego, I don’t care who you are or how used you are to a constant barrage of insults, put-downs, or smacks. For you’re in the presence of greatness, a macho man who sees no problem kicking you when you’re down. The kind of guy we all aspire to be without actually doing what it takes.
Still, and this is just my opinion, divinely inspired, I don’t care how tough you are, there’s something wrong about calling a gym full of kids a bunch of names, slurring them. Because, frankly, it’s beyond reason that everyone should aspire to the rodeo and thereby be left to a life of insults and taunts. Look at these kids. Does it look like they'd even have the basic competence to be in the rodeo? The kid strangling the other kid, maybe. He's got tenacity, with a bent toward doing anything to win.
Most of us actually are quite content to sit out rodeo-performing. But if you feel so invulnerable and have the sort of foolish daring-do that makes you crave danger, go for it. Put yourself in a position to be kicked to death! The rest of us, thank you very much, are comfortable with our decision to live a good long life, starting out as kids in normal sports, then dropping off when we’re in our late teens and living our lives in complete safety, with good enough memories of “safe” danger from when we were young.