Yesterday I spent the day at the Pendleton Roundup, one of the largest rodeos in the country. This was a company offsite adventure. We always start these adventures with cocktails, regardless of the time of day, as my boss seems to think that coworkers spending the day together need some social lubricant. I feel he has a point as I have almost nothing in common with my officemates, beyond the ability to make silly conversation when drunk.
Upon our arrival at the rodeo grounds (via a 45 minute ride in my boss’ jet, which is pretty much exactly as cool as it sounds) we immediately hit the Let’er Buck room. The Let’er Buck room is located beneath the South Grandstand. Interestingly, if you go to the official Web site there’s nothing mentioned about this room. Apparently, they like to keep it a well-known secret. Inside the room, you can buy two different types of drink tokens. The cheap plastic tokens will get you a well drink. The cool bronze fancy tokens will get you Pendleton Whisky, which is a very nice blended Canadian whisky.
The crowd was a mix of real cowboys, wannabe cowboys who clearly bought their hats from one of the vendors outside, and odd spectators like ourselves. As the day progressed, the scene turned more and more into a sort of cowboy mardigras, complete with beaded necklaces. One guy, an HR administrator for Coldwater Creek in Idaho, had an electric readerboard on his hat that scrolled the words, “Let’er Buck…Show me your tits!”
Another guy, who fell into the real cowboy category, was successfully reeling in young women wearing low-cut tops. His purpose in reeling them in (he was very smooth with the arm around the shoulder maneuver, gently pulling them closer as his friends closed in to block any chance of escape), was to give the girls fake tatoos of the rodeo logo.
This was accomplished by first licking the top of the girl’s breast (often for a good 5-10 minutes) to make sure the tatoo would stick. Then he had to carefully rub the tatoo paper onto the wet spot, holding the breast still with his other hand so it wouldn’t smudge. I tell you, this guy was a master!
The girls all had this vague deer-in-headlights look, like they couldn’t quite believe they were letting a complete stranger in a cowboy hat lick them, but couldn’t think of what to do about it. They all stood verrryyy still, even the ones that giggled. It was sort of like watching a train wreck and I wouldn’t be surprised if those girls occasionally wake up in the morning, in some guy’s bed, with no clear idea of how they got there.
Having been to the rodeo last year, and having experienced some groping of our own, my female coworker and I wore tops with no cleavage, stayed mostly in one spot, and kept our backs to the wall. To give you another idea of the scene, last year one of my male coworkers found himself suddenly surrounded by 4 women, one of whom said, “Hi there, you’re new here aren’t you?” At which point, he ran away to find us, and told us rather indignantly that he “felt like a piece of meat!”
The rodeo itself was interesting to watch. Having had 3 drinks in 45 minutes, my take on it was perhaps a little skewed, but these were my thoughts at the time.
“Bronco riding = get the fuck off my back!”
“Run little calf, run! No! Don’t stop for a snack!”
“Steer wrestling is not unlike pug wrestling”
“Boy, that had to hurt”
“Bareback riding in a loin cloth seems like a bad idea.”
It was fun to watch the animals run away when they’d beat the cowboy. I was happy to see that when one of the cowboys incorrectly roped a calf, they let go of the rope rather than risk injury to it.
The steer wrestling was completely insane. Imagine racing on a horse at 30 mph, jumping off the still running horse onto a running 600 pound beast with really big horns, grabbing the beast by the horns as your heels skid for 50 feet through the dirt until you finally come to a stop, at which point you lever the beast (600pounds!) onto its side before it succeeds in goring you, which it clearly would like to do as being grabbed by the horns really pissed it off.
That in a big nutshell, is how I spent a fun day with rednecks.