Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shannon Goes to Anaheim, Part 1

Here it is, what we've all been waiting for--the first installment of the divine Shannon's report from Anaheim. She tells me there is more to come--what riches! Friends and neighbors, without further ado, I present to you her auspicious account.

Where do I start?

Maybe I should start with a couple of confessions:

First, I was in a friend’s store the other day and saw a small, impersonal item that I couldn’t resist picking up for Kasey and his new wife. I brought it home, wrapped it in a small box, and stuffed it into my purse, hoping that I’d see him and figuring that if I didn’t, I could unwrap it, take out the personalized card I made them and give it to either Cord, Shane, or Cody Nance—-whoever I ran into and felt good vibes from. The rest of that story will come into play later.

Second, I’m a Christian. Yes, I go to church whenever possible. I just don’t prosthet . . . prostety . . . talk about it . . . unless I’m asked, except for the occasional comment about church on Sunday or something small like that. However, that didn’t stop me from bringing my Bible with me, thinking that it could open up some interesting discussions with the more religious-based riders. Unfortunately, it would seem that that particular base of riders stay at different hotels, so I’m left not only having not really talked to anyone, but having to confess to God on Sunday that I was using the Bible for personal gain—something I’m not sure He’d take kindly to. But, I digress. . . . Now, back to my day.

Why do I do this to myself? Really. I’m 40 years old and after all this time, I know darn well that I’m a shy person and no amount of bravado or psyching myself up is going to change that and when I try to force it, embarrassment ensues. I’m a bit of a paradox, actually, in that if someone not shy and very engaging makes the first move, then I turn into chatty Cathy. Unfortunately, I’m going to guess that at least 90% of our riders are not open and engaging (although, I’m sure that number is relative to the age, sex, and general appearance of the fan attempting to talk to them). But, nonetheless, I once again trudged my way through the rain to spend five relaxing, and at times fun, hours in the lobby.

When I got there, the first pleasant surprise awaited me in an unexpected manner: Chad Berger was there and remembered me from last year! Seeing as he’s not any more engaging with strangers than I am, we didn’t exchange too many words, but enough for it to be one of my better encounters. I watched later as someone presented him with a beautiful painting of Big Tex and how he showed it off to one of the riders before heading up to his room to put it away. I was also amused to hear him call a friend and ask, “What is that drink you always order at Starbucks?” (Answer: a vanilla latte—my personal favorite.)

At one point, I watched with curiosity as a woman approached him enthusiastically with a hug. After a minute, she sat down near me, noticed my boots, and asked if I was a PBR fan. When I said yes, she told me that she was a Diamond Resistol Relief supporter and that this year the event fell on the weekend of her 50th birthday. One of her ways of celebrating was to get a hug from everyone in the PBR. She was well on her way that day as I watched her approach several riders with her arms spread saying, “I turned 50 today! Hug me!” They all responded well as I sat there wondering why I hadn’t thought of that for my 40th, then remembering that I’d chicken out every time anyway. Anyhow, Dee, as she liked to be called, spent a bit of time with me gossiping about some of the guys (I won’t divulge anything in a public forum—some of it was nice and funny, some not so much), then took off with her family for lunch. It was a whirlwind every time I ran into her, but she definitely made it interesting.

The next person I met was a lovely, elegant looking older woman. She was sitting across from me, looking as classy as ever, when she stopped the bellman and asked about all the guys in cowboy hats. He said they were bull riders and left and when she glanced at me, I grinned and said, “Yep. The cowboys are in town.” This started a conversation that turned her into student and me into teacher. Not only did she want to know about the rules, the tour, and where to watch it on TV, but, she wanted me to alert her every time a rider or someone involved walked through the lobby. I listened with amusement as she told her husband over the phone, “Honey, guess what? The top bull riders in America. . . ” (at which point she looked at me questioningly and I said “the world”) “ . . . in the world are here. They have an event in town. Apparently, it’s a big deal. . . .” When that conversation was over, she turned back to me and gave me a mental image that I will carry with me for a lifetime:

“Well,” she said, “that explains what I saw the other day. I was in the fitness center here and there were these three young men in there working out . . . ” (by her hand gestures, I’m guessing treadmills) “ . . . and they were wearing shorts, t-shirts, and cowboy hats.” Ha! Thank you, ma’am, I needed that. What an amusing image to carry around with me.

Anyway, the day went on and because of the weather, there weren’t too many guys walking around. I had the pleasure of seeing and saying hello to the Brazilians again, got to see Robson’s pretty young wife and adorable new baby girl, watched Renato laugh and joke with McKennon and his girlfriend. Reese Cates and Brian Canter provided me with an entertaining look at their bad weather clothing, proving just how different we all are: Reese in baggy, black sports shorts (like the kind you see on soccer players) that went to just above his knees, a black t-shirt, and slip-on white sneakers, Brian in a thick, blue hoodie, red-and-black flannel pajama bottoms, and slippers.

Finally, when it looked like running into Kasey was going to be a bust, he walked in and to the elevator. Looking at my watch and seeing how much time it was until the event started, I knew that it was going to be now or never. I crossed over to him, present in hand, called him and said that I wanted to congratulate him on his marriage. Handing the gift to him, I told him that I’d seen something in the store the other day that I couldn’t resist getting for him and his wife. He thanked me for the congratulations, but seemed surprised that a fan would get him something and said, “You didn’t have to do that.” Of course, being who I am, I couldn’t simply smile and say, “I know. But, I wanted to.” I had to mutter something mushy about romance, while the little voice in the back of my head said, for the first time that day, “Shut up!”

Sadly, that was the last encounter with Kasey for the weekend, save for one brief moment of eye contact the next night during autograph signing, where it was obvious that he either didn’t recognize me, or hadn’t opened the gift yet. Some other friends were hoping I’d get a comment on what I bought him and Leah.
After sitting for a bit longer, it was time to hit the road again and go to the event. This year, I had my trusty navigator with me. Sadly, when what she wanted me to do didn’t sound right, I thought maybe I typed the address wrong and headed down a different road and once again got turned around. How embarrassing. I really hope that Cord and Jet fare better across the world than I do in Anaheim, CA! Turns out, she was right, and I was wrong. Oh, well.

(To be continued…..)


Anonymous said...

Oh, Shannon! I just spit out my coffee when I read your comment about the guys in the gym in shorts and cowboy hats!

Glad that you mustered up the courage to give Kasey the gift! That was so sweet of you.

Looking forward to the next installment!

Shawk said...

It's good to know I'm not the only one who has given Chad Berger a drawing of one of his bulls. He seemed a bit nonplussed when I gave him a little copy of the drawing with Big Mac and I wasn't sure what to make of it.

The fan/star thing is always weird, no matter who you are. Personally, if I were a star, I'd appreciate the fans who respect personal space over ones who want to hug me, so I try to act in kind to stars I admire, but I guess not all people worry about it.

Thanks for the post! Looking forward to the next installment. Too bad there are no picture of the cowboy workout, but good job on working on a new convert. ;)

shannon said...

S, I think Chad is just very low key. I ran into him quite a bit and didn't see too much joi de vivre out of him at any time. He did better at the an signing booth--he seems to coming around to the fact that he has fans.

As for the 50 year old fan, the only one I saw really embrace her was Renato and after watching him joke around with McKennon, I'm convinced that the only reason we see any hesitation with him is because of the language barrier. But, I do agree with you--she was too much. The only time I've approached the guys outside a PBR sanctioned event is when I felt comfortable with it and remained very low key for their sake as well as mine.

And to both of you: Just the thought of getting a picture of the guys working out in cowboy hats makes me wish that for once I could put my morality aside and get paparazzi-ish for the day!

Stockyard Queen said...

He's also tight-lipped, which I learned to my sorrow when I tried to interview him. The only worse interview I had was with his dad, but in fairness, I think his dad may have hearing issues. Chad finally warmed up when I told him I'd seen his bull Why Not Minot chase Flint around the arena about four times in Bozeman. He seems like a nice guy.

Stockyard Queen said...

Oh, and he also called Flint "The Clown." That alone was worth the price of admission.

Shawk said...

I first saw Chad showing off his mad Segway skills at the finals, and he seemed pretty chatty at that moment; he seemed much more shut down later. I try not to take things personally because there could be million factors behind why someone responds in the way they do, and 999,999 of them hopefully have nothing to do with me, but there's still that niggling, "Was I weird?" ;) His Facebook is pretty amusing, certainly.

I had the disturbing realization during Sports Jobs with Junior Seau that Flint sans makeup reminds me of David Coultier (dopey guy on Full House)... yikes.

Stockyard Queen said...

Shannon, I'm not drawing any conclusions here, but I got a great chuckle out of imagining the priest assigning you 100 Hail Marys for using your Bible for such tawdry purposes.

shannon said...

lol! Well, SQ, I guess a good thing that I never got the chance to use it or it would've been worse :) That's probably for the best, though, since my church and it's interpretation of the bible is vastly different than those of our riders who grew up in the bible belt.

I like the stories about Chad. S, I can just see him riding around on a segway! And, I'm glad I'm not the only one who wonders "was I weird?". SQ, I can see him being difficult to interview, but I'm willing to bet Brian Canter is even worse. Love that he called Flint (Dave Coulleir? I see it! ugh. ;) the clown!

Black Boots said...

...because Flint IS a clown. I always snicker when he calls himself an "entertainer."

Would give anything to know who the cowboy-hatted gym guys were! What a great visual.

And part 2 is here, yay...