Subourbon Mom

You Can Take the Girl out of the Country…

This weekend I spent the afternoon being the “Parent on Premises” for Daughter #2 and her friends at our local fair.  Like lots of small county fairs, there were the usual pens of 4-H animals, sketchy carnival rides that I can’t even look at anymore without getting nauseous (ghosts of funnel cake past), pig races and truck and tractor pulls. The scents of kettle corn and fresh-cut grass immediately took me back to the years I spent in painted-on Jordache jeans, trolling the county fair for boys on whom I could practice (what would later become) my barfly stare; knotted bracelets transported me back to the tents where I would peruse cheap jewelry made from “real shark’s teeth,” and hair clips.

These days, the teenagers are still trolling, the jeans are still tight (only now they have a fashionable name for it—“Skinny Jeans”), and there are still booths selling cheesey jewelry. Not much may have changed, but I realize now how much I missed with my teenaged tunnel vision. There was an entire world of gut-churning, fist clenching tension and excitement out there that I never knew about.


The Truck Pull


If horse racing is the sport of kings, truck pulls are the farmer’s equivalent. For the first time, I paused long enough to watch the truck pull. Once I was standing on the hill looking at the red dirt track, I couldn’t walk away. There was something visceral about the growling engines as they forged ahead and made the earth rumble and shake under my feet, the same way the pounding of racehorses down the stretch gave me goose bumps. Even the run-up to each competitor’s attempt had its own tension, like horses entering the starting gate. Once the truck and weights were connected, there was a pause.

The driver gunned his engine.

Smoke billowed, and I could feel the pistons churning in my chest. Adrenaline shot through me, even though I was nothing more than a suburban mom trying to take pictures with her iPhone.  It made me want to run out to my Highlander and start 4-wheeling all over the parking lot.

But that wasn’t the only visceral experience I had that day. Late in the afternoon I caught the last bull riding competition. It wasn’t anything fancy like PBR that you see on t.v., but this tiny corner of extreme sports had its own atmosphere, complete with “I wanna be a cowboy, baby” by Kid Rock booming in the background. Mud flew into my camera as bull after bull exploded from the shoot.  I stood against the rail amid a crowd of cowboys, wanna-be cowboys, skanks, and yuppies walking around with the Jack Russell terriers on leashes—all cheering and secretly hoping for blood.

We waited, standing on tip-toes to get a better view as the riders got situated, and held our breaths when the rodeo crew swung open the gate. As the bulls exploded from the shoot, the crowd was silent until the cowboy fell into the mud.

IMG_1285The first rider fell off immediately and hobbled back to the gate clutching his groin.  It was already better than NASCAR—things were turning in more than one direction, the audience was constantly being sprayed with debris, and the riders were lucky to finish at all. No caution flag there.  I’d like to see Kyle Busch try sitting on top of a half-ton of twisting, bucking, hopping bull—I don’t think he’d be in any kind of shape to be picking so many fights on Pit Road if he did.

The second bull somehow got busy in the shoot and fell over, tangling himself in the rails. Although I could practically see the PETA people swiping their phones as they speed-dialed their lawyers, the bull was fine and hauled himself back up without help.  This was almost as good as the NFL—watching that bull get back up was like watching an offensive lineman get to his feet after a play—a lot of head shaking and swaying rump.

When the bull riding was over the crowd filtered away, off to gobble more funnel cakes, fried pickles and homemade ice cream.  I stayed by the ring and pried my hands from the rails.

I was tired, and invigorated at the same time.  I had a hard time going to sleep that night, even after a full day of sun.

I guess the old saying is true: you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl. I may have spent the last twenty years away from country fairs and truck pulls, but the country didn’t stay away from me.

3 Comments so far
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Good one! I remember the first time I saw bull riding up close was at the Colorado State fair, and I about fell over. That was before they wore football helmets… just big black cowboy hats. When the bulls came bucking up near the rail where I was standing and I realized they were as big as a pick-up truck I figured the guys who got on them were either the second bravest on earth or the stupidest. Bull fighters are clearly the bravest.

Talk to Kim about the female attraction to roaring engines, she worked for NHRA for a while and even drove a top-fuel dragster at Englishtown..


Comment by Bruce Anderson

Keep the engines and the daring-do. I prefer my bull on a plate. With fried everything on the side.


Comment by Don

More memories of long ago days. Great job of letting us see and hear the action.


Comment by Sharon

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