Although I lived in the States from when I was a young girl until my early twenties, my Husband and children have spent the bulk of their lives here in Oman or in Stone's case, Europe. America to them is something strange and exotic, the place where wonderful things like MTV, Ford Mustangs, and Gangsta rap come from.
The trip was fantastic for me because I got a chance to look at the place that I now realise will always be "home" with a new set of eyes. For example:
- I think of Crack Heads and Crazy people on the bus as a nuisance, the family thinks they are the most entertaining thing ever. One of the adolescents even had a slow dance at a bus stop with a forty something woman who was so high on Crack that we were not entirely certain she was speaking English at first. The kids were like "Wow! Mom! we love Crack Heads! Why don't we have crazy people at home?"
- Old people, out and about, on their own, chatting to the kids from the next table over at breakfast, or pointing out books the kids might enjoy in the book store. The kids were like "Mom! there are so many old people here! And they're soooooo Nice!"
- Fantastic divey Jazz bars. Hole in the wall places where the Budweiser costs a buck a bottle and the Jazz is so good, so authentic, so fabulous, that Stone was literally clinging to my ankles begging not to ever leave America, or that particular Jazz bar ever. Ever. Ever. Pleeeease.
More about that tomorrow, but for now: One of the Highlights of the trip, and a story that the Male Adolescent will be telling his therapist about in twenty tears time, was the Gay rodeo. Or ROWDAYO (as in Rodeo drive in Hollywood) which is how Stone was pronouncing it until I clarified.
Stone and the kiddies wanted to see a Real Rodeo (Cowboys! Cows! Horses!)while we were in town. Before you can go to the rodeo you need Cowboy duds. We went to a Huge western wear store, and spent slightly more than the GDP of Saudi Arabia on Cowboy hats, Boots, Wrangler Jeans, Checked shirts with snaps, and crazy belts with buckles that could be mistaken for hubcaps.
I need to add here that Stone looks So, So, So authentic and absolutely fantastic dressed as a cowboy. I mean goddamn, my husband is hot. I will post a picture of his ass in Wrangler blue jeans next week for the benefit of my female readers who might be contemplating Wrangler Jeans for thier men. Seriously, you will be awed. Sadly, the Awesome Cowboy Authenticity only lasts until he opens his mouth and calls somebody "mate"or says "Blimey, it's hot!"but whatever.
Where was I? SHopping. OK, so having attired the family in the Cheeziest Western Wear I could find, we set off to the Rodeo. Here is the best Part. The only Rodeo that was on while we were in town was the local round of the US gay rodeo. (Given how homophobic a lot of rednecks and cowboys are, it is no surprise that Homosexuals have thier own rodeo, it's just like a regular rodeo, except everyone there is gay) The Male Adolescent didn't know it was a Gay Rodeo, because we decided not to tell him and just let him figure it out for himself. Keep in mind, that the kid has never been to or even seen a real rodeo, so he doesn't know what to expect.
We arrived, and were welcomed by a number of shirtless guys with multiple body piercings who take our money, stamp our hands, and give the adults paper bracelets. Everybody gets a gay pride Rainbow sticker, as well as a bumper sticker for the local country music station. I take the Baby to go look at the horse trailers on display, while Stone takes the big kids to go get refreshments.
At the refreshment stand, Stone and the Adolescents are greeted by three six and a half foot tall guys in over-sized women's Lingerie, who have deyed thier Chest hair fluorescent colors to match the wigs they are wearing. One of them Asks the Male Adolescent if he wants to See his "Beaver" The Kid says sure, (Beaver? A woodland Creature? At aRodeo?) and the guy flips up his skirt to reveal a picture of Beaver, from leave it to beaver, the famous TV show from the 50's. Stone Almost choked on his drink laughing.
Still, the penny has yet to drop. Drinks in hand, we mosey up to the grand stands to watch the barrell racing, Steer wrestling, and Pole bending competitions. From the stands, everything is just like in a normal rodeo except the demographic makeup of the couples in the crowd. There are lots of guys dressed as cowboys, walking side by side, hands in each other's back pockets. There are small families with two mothers and a couple of cute kids, the women sitting holding hands as the kids watch the action in the ring below.
We watch the action for almost half an hour, and the kid looks baffled, but seems accepting of this weird but quaint American Tradition. Even the banners advertising a website called homorodeo.com have not tipped him off. We're well into the Pole bending when the Announcer says over the loud speaker
"I want you all to know that this is the Fifteenth Annual, State Gay Rodeo here, It's a big anniversary for us"
There is a pause, and then the kid looks over at us and says "Gay???"
Another pause, and then "So that's why the men in underwear were serving us drinks!"
I don't know if I have fully captured the moment, you really had to be there, but even the people sitting around us laughed for like five minutes. The Kid Laughed too, in case you were wondering.
After the Rodeo, there was some musical entertainment, and Dancing. Stone took the baby out on the dance floor and watching him dance with our beautiful, beaming, squealing daughter was gorgeous. As We were sitting there watching them Dance, the Male Adolescent turned to me and said, "I'm really glad you brought me here. I like this better than anything else, because I can just be myself and not have to worry about impressing girls.... Because the girls here are totally not interested in me!"
True, my man. True.