I’m not a big shopper, since I habitually squander my paycheck on rent and groceries, so I contented myself with people watching at the trade show. It seemed like cowboys, who are traditionally divided by region and differing methods, called a truce at the NFR and everyone got along. There wasn’t so much “You rope tied on? Loser!” and “Who can wear a flat hat and take themselves seriously?” Guys with cutter creases in their lids said “ya’ll” and partied with buckaroos who looked uncomfortable in crowds.
The girls in my usual crowd wear Cruel Girl jeans, t-shirts and moccasins to go out on the town. At first, I was a little taken aback by the Texas girls who wore dangly silver earrings, necklaces that weighed more than a monel stirrup and heels to take out the trash. But you know what? They smiled and held the door open for me when I had hands full with merchandise from the booth. They asked me, “How is y’all’s booth doin’ this year?” and loaned us Windex and paper towels to clean the jewlery case.
Most of the people I met were from Texas, which I suppose is statistically inevitable, since it is a huge state and all. I met a guy named Casey who knew my boss and roommate from when I rode cutters near Abilene. The horse world isn’t so big.
I really enjoyed Teskey’s enormous booth. They’re like the cowboy superstore of Texas, and we somehow always found a reason to stop in whenever we were anywhere in the vicinity of Weatherford. Whether we took a horse to the vet, picked him up four hours later, drove to Fort Worth to show a horse to a buyer, went to McDonald’s for lunch or Allsup’s for fuel, we always stopped in to see what Michael Teskey had for sale. I was pretty homesick one day and spotted the only slick fork saddle in the state among the hundreds of kacks at Teskey’s, so I traded for it and still ride it today.
I crack a lot of jokes about Texas, but I really do miss the state. I enjoyed riding around with Ben in his flatbed, checking hog traps on the border of the mesquite trees by the oat field. I’d cross my legs underneath myself in the passenger seat, roll down the window to let in the late afternoon sunshine and we’d listen to Reckless Kelly (“My first love was a wicked twisted road/I hit the million mile mark at seventeen years old….”).
Texas music is pretty much amazing. You can’t buy albums by Stoney LaRue (“Tell me that you love me/If it’s true/I don’t want no one babe/If I can’t have you”) Cross Canadian Ragweed, the Bart Crow Band (“Yeah I waste my time/And I waste my money/On a broken dream/’Cause you wouldn’t wear my ring/Baby give me back my ring”) and Jason Boland and the Stragglers (“Cheap bourbon whiskey and pearl snap shirts/Are two things that stay the same/So when the world is spinnin’ and your head hurts……”) outside of the Lone Star state. Their radio stations beat the Levi’s off ours, I’ll tell ya that much.
Here I am, gettin’ all misty-eyed about a state I left and said I’ll never return, but there were plenty of positive aspects about Texas. I learned to be more open-minded (I just hide it well) and that good people live all over this huge country. I made a good friend who hugged me when a boy bruised my heart and went hog ropin’. I like the Texas philosphy for bronk ridin’ and life: Git behind your swells and hope for the best. Yeahhhh……