Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Channeling Ruby

This was one dreary weekend around the Stockyard. Of course, the most immediate cause of our sorry state was the fact that we will have to endure THREE FULL WEEKS with no new PBR action, which is enough to make any fan mope. On top of that, it has rained every day for nearly a week, and now there is flooding up on the Gallatin River north of town, so we’ve pretty much been stuck inside to enjoy the gloom. In November, we would expect this, and would cheerfully cozy up to our natural gas fireplace, gleefully sending that fossil fuel straight up the chimney and watching NCIS reruns till our eyes were gritty, but it’s damned near June, just two weeks from the official start of summer, and we haven’t even gotten our sweet peas planted yet! Our local meteorologist, whom Barn Cat has lovingly christened “ChromeDome” in honor of his shaven pate, has assured us that this has been the third coldest May on record in Montana. That just makes us feel worse.

But the lack of PBR action has given me time to think about some issues that I’ve been promising myself I’d take off the backburner one day. In the past week, I’ve been mulling over AZPonyDriver’s comments on the TWoP forum about the lackluster (and sometimes just dumb) commentary we’ve been enduring from the Versus broadcasting booth, and I am compelled to say I agree with her. When he’s up there, Justin McKee at least usually comes up with some hillbilly descriptions that are mildly amusing, but lately he’s been working the floor, and neither Justin McBride nor J.W. Hart is keeping me very entertained. AZPonyDriver’s remark that Don Gay was more colorful has reminded me that Gay and my mother use some of the same expressions, which has led me to imagining what it might be like if my mom, Ruby, got hired to work in the booth. You might hear something like this:

When a rookie makes his first appearance on the Built Ford Tough Series: “That boy has been riding bulls since he was knee-high to a grasshopper.”

She might even opine that some of the riders are still about that size. Those cowboys will remain nameless, for the sake of saving our own skins, because that small as they are, I’m betting they might take a swing at me to defend their honor, even if I am a girl.

When a bull throws a rider out the back door: “That bull left him like a dirty shirt!”

I’ve heard both my mom and Don Gay say this. Usually when she does, she’s talking about a truck driver who left her in the dust on the interstate. (She considers the drivers for one particular trucking line, also to remain unidentified here, agents of the devil himself because of their unsportsmanlike conduct on the road.) It also brings to mind poor Travis Briscoe, who on top of his sad streak of buck-offs got pitched off Hot Pistol in San Antonio and arose up with his shirt ripped to shreds. I hope he keeps a change of clothes in the locker room, because I’m pretty sure there ain’t no tailor backstage at the PBR. They need every spare inch back there for portable medical equipment.

When a bull is acting up in the chute: “That chute’s so small, you can’t cuss a cat in it without getting hair in your mouth.”

Typically, she’s talking about a room or a car when she says this, but Ruby is nothing if not adaptive—she’d change to suit the situation in the blink of an eye.

When a rider manages to stick for eight seconds, and it ain’t pretty: “There’s more ways to kill a cat than choking it to death on butter.”

My mom has at least a half dozen expressions about cats, none of which I've ever heard anybody else use and almost all derogatory, which is interesting because she really prefers cats to dogs. This is yet another difference between us. Oddly enough, I’ve never in my life heard her say anything so common as, “I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.” I was grown and gone before anybody ever said that in my presence.

When there’s a particularly nasty wreck: “That would gag a maggot.”

Actually, this is my dad’s expression, which my mom has expropriated, because after being married nearly 60 years, you should at least get to steal your partner’s thunder, right? Barn Cat probably has something to say about that, but for the moment, I have the floor.

When nothing (the judging, maybe?) is making sense: “If the Lord don’t know where we are, we’re lost.”

Better, don’t you think, than, “Beyond me and over my head”?

When a bull rider acts up: “That boy is as wild as a March hare.”

I’m not sure what this alludes to, but I’m convinced a March hare must be pretty wild.

When a bull rider really acts up: “If he were my kid, I’d kill him and tell the Lord he died.”

When Mom said this to us kids, we knew we were in deep trouble and no mistake. She was, and is, absolutely determined that nobody will ever think her children were born in a barn.

Despite her unmistakable chops, Ruby probably wouldn’t last long in the booth, mostly because she’d be threatening to wash mouths out with soap about every other breath. This is of course unsupported speculation, but I bet what we hear live is considerably cleaner than what’s said in there the rest of the time. So the sport will have to limp along without my mom’s contribution, which is a damned shame. Both my parents moved as young adults from the boondocks to the big city, and between them, they have created a life out of gumption, hard work, and the recognition that you’re never too old to learn something new. My respect for what they have accomplished makes my mom’s hard-won wisdom very precious to me, since it reminds me that her upbringing created the bedrock of her character. Sometimes we disagree, but I will always be proud to be my parents’ daughter. Several of those bull riders could learn a thing or two from Ruby, and not just how to cuss a cat in a small room. Though as she herself would proclaim, she wouldn’t say “shit” if she stepped in it.


shannon said...

She sounds great! I love the expressions and have even heard a couple of them myself while growing up. I'm sure she's as proud of you as you are of her (same with your dad).

And because we have "THREE FULL WEEKS with no new PBR action" to mope over, I looked up "March Hare" for you. It's from Alice in Wonderland:

The March Hare, often called the Mad March Hare, is a character most famous for appearing in the the tea party scene in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

The main character, Alice, hypothesises,

"The March Hare will be much the most interesting, and perhaps as this is May it won't be raving mad -- at least not so mad as it was in March."[1]

"Mad as a March hare" was a common phrase in Carroll's time, and appears in John Heywood's collection of proverbs published in 1546.

Finally, "You're never too old to learn something new." Funny you should mention this because I've been forgetting it lately. I'll have to be sure that that advice stays with me from now on.

Stockyard Queen said...

I really appreciate the research, but most of all I appreciate the kind words about my folks. I'm sure there have been points at which they weren't so proud of them, but I've always been proud of them.

Stockyard Queen said...

Correction" points at which they haven't been so *proud of ME* but I've always been proud of them.

That's what happens when you type after hours.

Jean said...

I love Ruby. The only phrase mentioned in this blog post that I heard prior to adulthood was "Nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs". That one I had to hear on the Beverly Hillbillies, how sad. I have a bathroom that is so small I can't cuss any of the cats without getting hair in my mouth. In fairness, however, with three of the horrid beasts I'm surprised I don't have hairballs.

My mother would have never dared utter any such colorful commentary. She spent all of my youth correcting our pronunciation because she thought southern accents made us sound ignorant. She was wrong. A true Mississippi accent makes people sayound druuuunk. Even though she'd been born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, she didn't have this accent. I think she left it in her desk drawer in her first week at college.

I do know, however, what a March Hare is. I happen to have them. Probably 100 or so of them, in fact. I saw two out by the driveway just before coming in to post this. "Mad" or "Wild" as a March Hare comes from the fact that hares and rabbits go a little nuts during the spring breeding season. They stand up and box at each other, spring over one another in rapid games of Leap Bunny, race around in tight circles throwing in sudden leaps straight up into the air. They're barking... no... I guess that would be squeaking "mad".

Jean said...

Sooo, did I forget to shower (I am an old fot, these things happen) or has my cloaking device malfunctioned?

Not only do I have no bullriding to watch, I have no hubby to watch currently. He left on his family's annual jaunt to Mexico. Since beaches and wheelchairs don't mix, and Mexico has no ADA, I'm here trying to figure out what to do with myself.

I could clean house... blech.

I've thought about going to buy something. I have a current need for a fax machine, but none of the stores around here seem to have them in stock, they want me to order one... blech. No instant gratification there.

I need a couple of gates and other stuff for the barn but sheesh, I'd really like to do something a little more exciting than Home Despot right about now.

I could go bird dog some Ben & Jerry's and pile up in front of some movies but that would just remind me there isn't any bullriding.

I should be blogging on my own danged blog. I should be working horses. I truly should be vacuuming up cat and dawg hair. I can't even see the surface of my desk. I should be doing something worthwhile and grand with my LIFE for heaven's sake. How the heck can I be BORED with all this stuff to do???

:::slams head on mouse pad:::

no bullriding... no inane commentary... no flights of fancy chaps... no bull.

Ronelle said...

As someone who majored in English in college I can say that you can count me among Ruby's fans. Can't cuss the cats without getting hair in your mouth has to be my favorite. For your consideration (as well as anyone else's) I submit one of my dad's-"That cowboy couldn't ride a stick horse down a staircase without getting slivers."
I agree about McKee and Don Gay too. Between the two of them, they always have a bunch of them, and they are pretty amusing.