Four years ago, a couple of days after the 2016 presidential election, when the results had sunk in and America realized what it had just done, I wrote:
“Here’s what I think of the election. We got all dressed up to go to the ball, and we ended up at a rodeo.”
Boy, was I right.
I’ve been to a few rodeos in my day, but never one like this. Never one that lasted four years.
“Now, there’s nothing wrong with a good rodeo. A good rodeo can be very entertaining,” I wrote. “There’s a bunch of guys and even a few gals out in the arena who don’t look like us, wearing some kind of clothes and boots that most of us don’t wear, and then right in the middle of them is this guy with the painted up face and weird-looking colored wig, usually red or orange.”
I continued, “Mostly what you get at a rodeo is some good, clean fun, a whole lot of bucking and snorting and huffing and puffing and ornery critters kicking up clouds of dust, but nothing much really happens in the end because all those buckers and snorters are inside an arena with 8-foot-high fences where they really can’t do any damage to anyone except themselves.”
Boy, was I wrong.
And then I concluded, “As for us spectators, well we just drink our beer and clap for those we like, knowing that the ones who perform well will be back at the next rodeo and those who don’t will be shown the gate.”
So, this rodeo is about over. On Tuesday, we’ll find out whether there’ll be another one, or whether we’ll show that orange-faced clown the gate and head off to a ball. I never in my life thought I would say this, but I’ll take going to a ball over going to a rodeo.
So, what, you ask, do I think is going to happen?
Well, I think, and hope, we’re done with rodeos for a while. I think the clown is going to be shown the gate. Although the gate is a long way from the center of the arena. It’s a long time between Nov. 3 and Jan. 20.
Rodeos, as you know, have judges. When the ride is over, the judges determine who wins. That’s the way the people who invented rodeos set it up a long time ago. Usually, though, the judges are not stacked in favor of any of the contestants. They’re usually reliable cowboys with solid reputations and qualifications to make the best, and most honest, decisions.
They don’t usually mess with things like who’s going to get that injured bronc rider to the hospital and pay for the doctor to set his broken leg, or stick their noses into changing the rodeo rules that have been effect for a long time, decided on by consensus of those who are affected by them, many years ago.
I’m a little worried about the judges we’ve got lined up right now. If we’re not careful about who we select as judges, they can sometimes make some bad decisions and pick some bad winners. And the decision of the judges is final.
But the other important players at the rodeos are the pickup men, who trail alongside the riders and help them through the bad times. And I’m thinking there just might be 51 of those pickup men (and a good number of them women, for a change), over on one side of the arena and 218 on the other side, all ready to stand up to those ornery bulls and snorting broncs who have been in charge of that arena for a while, and restore some order.
Yeah, the rodeo is just about over, I think, and the new guy in charge wears a white hat and dark aviator glasses, and after he gets rid of all the bad guys in black hats, and cleans up the mess they left behind, he’s going to invite us to a nice long relaxing 4-year dinner and a ball, at a big white house out east, with some soft music and a little slow dancing after a nice quiet meal, with good wine, fine china and the best silver, and no Big Macs or KFC drumsticks.
And then we can all take a deep breath and say, “Thank God. That was one long eight-second ride.”