If you’re a bit, um . . . how do I put this . . . “socially lazy”, as I am, it’s wise to pair yourself up with someone a bit more outgoing. I don’t think I’m antisocial, I honestly just never have the desire to go out to bars or clubs, and that’s what the majority of people my age enjoy doing. At heart I’m 60, so I like to do things like go to dinner or to a show or to a lecture or a museum. Embarrassed by this, for good reason, I am rarely the one to initiate plans, unless they’re with 40 year old gay men. John is far less socially anxious than I and always stuns me with his ability to connect with people.
He tells me that it’s a European thing; that people take relationships much more seriously there, and often times he and other Europeans will complain about the superficiality of Americans when it comes to community and staying connected with each other on a deep level. When it comes to friendships, I’m unfortunately more stereotypical American – bad at keeping in touch, flaking out on plans, and only superficially interested in getting to know people. I’ve always blamed this difficulty to connect with many people on my oddness, but John has shown me that not everything happens immediately as I’d like them to; relationships take a lot of maintenance.
I’m not completely learned of this lesson yet, so I’m glad to have John and other European friends who are much more proactive. Case in point, I went to a rodeo on Friday night.
I’m not sure I would have ever expected that phrase to come out of my mouth. I went to a rodeo on Friday night. I spent my Friday night at a rodeo. Rodeo rodeo rodeoh-what-the-hell? Rodeos? In Manhattan? I didn’t even have time to say no to my French friend – and these are precisely the kind of people I need in my life.
Though I wouldn’t normally think to go to a rodeo (especially in New York City in Madison Square Garden), I’m always open to trying new things, and so I decided to go for the experience and to give my country the benefit of the doubt, just like I would do with any other country’s traditions. Besides, this is Manhattan; I think it’s safe to say that the crowd would be more Brokeback than Bonanza . . . on the other hand, Bonanza was kind of . . . well, nevermind.
So there we sat, the Germans, the French, the Bulgarians, the American, trying to figure out what the rodeo was all about: “Oh, eight seconds! Yes, that number must be important. There is a movie about the rodeo with Luke Perry called 8 Seconds”.
It turns out that’s really all you need to know: a bunch of guys try to stay on a crazed bull for eight seconds each. No semi-finals, no finals, no contest to see who can stay on the longest, just . . . eight seconds. It’s the perfect sport for my short little American attention span.
But then we notice the sheep . . .
German accent: “I vondah vhat they are going to doo vith all of those sheep!”
American accent: “Hmm, maybe they’re going to have some sort of herding contest? You know, like on The Amazing Race!”
French accent: “Mebbe zay ave meedgets ride zhem!”
Midgets, kids, what’s the difference? Yes, they had a rodeo for the kids . . . on sheep. They weren’t exactly bucking like the bulls, but . . . well, just take a look:
Is that not the most awesome thing you’ve ever seen? I have to mention that most kids fell off immediately, but this little girl held on for dear life and then did an AMAZING victory dance which I sadly didn’t capture. Hilarious. When John and I went to see The Nutcracker a few weeks ago I whispered to him, “If we have a kid, it’s doing ballet . . . even if it’s a boy.” So naturally during the sheep races I yelled, “Oh my god, if we have a kid they are SOOO doing this! And ballet!”
All in all it turned out to be a fun night. It’s funny how things I would normally be inclined to run away from turn out to be worth the experience. The next morning I remembered that tidbit, and decided to head over to Lincoln Center to wait in line for discounted tickets. It had been a late night and though I had planned to get there by 9 when they started handing out wristbands, I just couldn’t pull myself out of my nice warm bed. Finally around 11 I jumped up, threw on some clothes, and yelled “what am I doing?! $20 tickets! I have to go!!”
The box office opened at noon, and while people had been waiting since much earlier, I was still able to get a wristband and so it looked like I would still be able to get tickets to something that night. I waited and waited and waited. Two and a half hours went by, and my first choice, South Pacific sold out. “That’s ok”, I thought, “I really want to see Turandot too.” So I waited and waited and waited and another hour went by and it was finally my turn to get in the ticket booth line. I was so excited, “Turandot produced by Franco Zeffirelli for TWENTY DOLLARS! I am SO glad I got my stupid ass over here!” So I waited and waited and I was almost to the window, just a couple people away, when “Ladies and Gentlemen, this evening’s performance of Turandot has just sold out.”
WHAT?! NO! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!
I went John McEnroe on the Lincoln Center . . . but I kept it all inside. I left the line and stomped my way across town through Central Park in a big, angry, teeth-gnashing, Hunter boot stomping huff, cursing the rodeo and my friends who made me stay out so late and drink so much so I didn’t get up to my 8 AM alarm, frustrated that I wasted nearly five hours of my Saturday eavesdropping on middle-aged Upper West Side-rs.
Clearly my rodeo antics upset the art gods, so I just want to put it into the universe that it was a one time thing. I’m ready to be elitist again. I probably won’t really enroll my future children in a junior bull-riding league. Ok ok, I definitely won’t enroll my future children in a bull-riding league. If you find you need to make a human sacrifice to make up for this shift in axis, I recommend Luke Perry. I promise I will never do anything like this again, and I most certainly am not looking at working ranches in Montana as vacation destination for this summer . . . no way.