Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Bull Rider

I’ve got a bull rider coming over here to pick up some rolls of carpet padding. I got all excited when I found out that’s what he did. I told him we were barrel racers. I should have told him I have a broken back from my horse bucking me off. That would have impressed him.

I just checked and he’s the one that won the bull riding Saturday night at Cowtown. Won five hundred-and-something dollars for eight seconds worth of work. Of course it takes more than that to get there. A lot more. He probably has a few broken bones himself.

Turns out, here in Woodstown, New Jersey (this is Jersey I’m talking about), I’m only ten minutes away from the longest continuous running rodeo in America. We even beat out Texas. Oklahoma had rodeos but everything was far. When parcels like my 110 acres out there were considered tiny, you can imagine that just driving over to your neighbor’s house two thousand acres away, is a trip, never mind going down 40 to one of the rodeos. A couple of times we went to Oklahoma City and Tulsa, but they were far. I always wanted to go to the prison rodeo in McAlester, but we moved before we got around to that. Still, it wasn’t as close as Cowtown is to me now. By all rights you can ride your pony over there if you wanted to. And I don’t think any of them ran continuously. Here, every Saturday night from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Cowtown Rodeo is hopping.

We got lucky when we got this place. Of course every place we house hunted there were horses because that’s what we were looking for—acreage. And when people have acreage, they stick horses on it. But I had no idea this was such a horse community. We not only have the rodeo, but we have a half dozen tack stores, feed stores, trainers, Traffic Supply, the ag center, the fairgrounds where the kids attend their 4-H meetings on horseback, and country-and-western bars where the adults blow off steam. Everyone has horses. Horses even pass by my house on their way to trail rides or the old golf course which is owned by the parks department and which you can ride on.

Truth be told, if I would have known all this was down here, I never would have left New Jersey in the first place. But I had no idea. I assumed that all the land was as expensive as it was in Jackson and when the idea came up to sell our place, take the equity and buy land out in the country, I didn’t even think about South Jersey. It didn’t even enter my head.

Kurt asked me how much padding the bull rider needed. I said, “Uh, I don’t know. But I can tell you that he won the bull riding Saturday night (not that he was bragging—I looked it up) and his name is Mike Adams.”

“Well, what’s he using it for?” he asked.

“Uh, I don’t know.”

“Did you answer the phone?”

“Well, duh. There’s no one else here, is there?”

“We’re in the carpet business and you don’t know how much padding this guy needs but you know he won the bull riding Saturday night?”

Obviously I’m a little more interested in rodeos than nylon berbers and polyester saxonies. One time we sold some carpet to the guy who wrote “Jaws.” Talking about the beach was a lot more fun too, though not as fun as when Max Weinberg’s wife came over to look at a horse. Granted, it wasn’t Bruce. But I did speak to Max himself when he called me on the phone to persuade me to let his wife buy the horse. This was a special horse. You know, the one you shouldn’t have sold. I was deciding between letting her buy him and another lady who was married to a surgeon and spent all her husband’s money rescuing animals. Even squirrels. She was in the market for another horse because all the others she bought to putt-putt around on her manicured property were the kind that break backs, if you get my drift. But she kept them. Once she got a horse, he had a home with her for life, even if he was a bucker or reared or kicked. So now she was on the search again for that perfect horse who this time was well trained and well behaved and would spend the rest of his days moseying down to the end of the driveway to get the mail and being fed apples. So I had to pick her. But it sure was exciting talking to Max.

The bull rider arrived with a fellow bull rider named Billy Love.

Turns out they only needed some padding to pad the cans he and the other bull riders practice on during the week while they’re waiting for the rodeo. He said the cans are hard. We gave him a roll of padding for free. Then I got them to sign Kelly’s hat. Kelly collects rodeo guys’ signatures. I know they thought it was for me. But it’s not. What do I look like some star-struck teenager? I mean, these boys could be my children. I don’t even think they were born by the time I was running my first set of barrels. I just wanted to support the community.

The pictures though. I’ve got to admit. They are mine. I just wish I would have gotten one of Mrs. Weinberg.