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June 18, 2006

At The Rodeo

At the rodeo, the sun found the hills and set early, the way the sun does in the canyons. It dropped behind a peak and the heat of June went straight up into space and we were left there in jackets, watching the children riding the ponies in a circle for a dollar. Not Shetland ponies. Not those horrible beasts. The Shetlands are meaner even than children and they bite and toss children onto the stones and the children burst like piñatas. No one wants that. Not even the parents.

The kids are riding miniature horses and a Welsh pony in a tight circle. Six horses tethered onto a home-made horse merry-go-round and the beasts are slowly plodding around in a circle. They have no say in the matter. They’re shuttled around in a large trailer that says “Front Range Ponies – Parties and More?.

The kids are just spoiled children from the city that have never been on an animal’s back before and they don’t know a Welsh pony from a camel. The kids are all showing out and riding with their hands in the air like they’re on a roller coaster at some theme park, but they’re just on the back of a bored miniature that’s long in the tooth and has neither the will nor the energy to buck them off so their heads open on the rocks like piñatas.

This one exceptionally ugly couple approaches the scene. She in a knee-length black dress-skirt with ugly face and bad teeth and tiny digital camcorder. He, with a garish set of teeth. The kind designed for eating corn-on-the-cob through chickenwire and he’s glomming for the camera with their mutant infant on his knee. The mom is ugly and the father is ugly and the baby is excruciatingly ugly and even the animals seem to notice how homely the three are, mother, father, and mutant.

She’s now nagging at him that the baby isn’t in the shot and he’s henpecked and that’s why she’s wearing the skirt and holding the camcorder and I see how far off track we’ve gone, with ugly women in black-dress camcorders driving their men before them, like weary cattle dreaming of death.

A Mexican is setting the pace, walking around the circle with the animals. He doesn’t speak English and has a long black pony tail in braids and a cowboy hat and pants and a shirt with paint spilled on them both and wal-mart tennis shoes and dark skin, worn nails, and dark eyes. And suddenly, I see that he is just as trapped as the animals are. Theres no leather harness on him, only an invisible economic one, but it works the same as the leather one. Maybe better. He has no means of escape from this circus any more than the animals do. He doesn’t speak English, so he has no real chance of escape.

And, suddenly, in my mind's eye, the children are riding the Mexican around instead of the horses, and they’re shoving cotton candy in his ears and posing for photos and the ugly baby is crying and the father with the teeth is apologizing to the garish woman in the skirt with the camcorder and I’m standing there pulling my wallet out and asking how much it costs to ride the Mexican.

Next door, there’s a petting zoo and they’re all petting the baby goats and a llama is trying desperately to stay away from the crying children in boots and cowboy hats and big belt buckles. The thirty pound rabbit has given up all hope and he’s just lying there with two endangered Mexicans, and the kids are all petting the goats and the rabbit and the Mexican and they’re glomming for the cameras and their parents are drinking beer and shooting photos of them petting the Mexicans. They’re wearing those ridiculous big belt buckles and some of the ladies are wearing the very short skirts that make you wonder how much an up-skirt camera would cost and if you could find one on the internet for a reasonable price these days, anyway.

And some time tonight, they’ll all be loaded back into that trailer and taken somewhere on the front range and they’ll be eating hay and sipping water from a bin, thankful that they no longer have to contend with the misery of sugar-coated birthday-party children, the burrows, the horses, the rabbits, and the Mexicans. And maybe the Mexicans will write a letter back home to tell them how crazy the people are in the hills of Colorado.

Posted by Peenie Wallie on June 18, 2006 at 5:49 PM


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