Rodeos and Books and Glass Cases

by Joni Abilene

Do you remember those summer reading programs at your local library where you had to read a certain number of books and mark them down in a folder? The prize for reaching a certain number was a free ice cream cone, or movie pass or something like that. I knew kids that would read a crapload of easy reader books just so they could rack up the points and get their free ice cream. I always followed the rules and read challenging books. At that time, for me, it was Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables, Jane Eyre, Gone With the Wind, things like that. By the end of the summer, I’d traveled all over the world, and been through all sorts of human emotions of romance and tragedy. Summer has always meant reading to me.

I also loved how our county fair was in August, so all the reaping of the year came to fruition; upheld in glass cases with ribbons and bows. I still have an itching to draw up a picture for the judged art show, or to grow the prettiest tomatoes. I’ll probably urge my kids to get on it and make some art for this year’s fair. And this time I might even go see the rodeo. I love the idea of rodeos, they’re so romantic to me with the cowboys all over the place riding around on their wild bucks. But then I see cows getting roped and thrown to the ground. I see their frightened eyes that are usually so soft and peaceful, and I get all riled up inside. I think of how cowboys are the epitome of MAN and how he destroys everything in his path: his woman, his pets, his lover, his children, his land. Everything is to control. Everything is a potential neck to be roped. So, you see, I can’t watch rodeos. I just can’t.

A woman has to bigger and better and has to hold a bigger rope. She has to know how to conjure, to lure, to throw, to tie. And yet, with one whisper we are reduced to the buck, the bull, the soft-eyed mare.