Billy Bob’s, Ft. Worth
Maudie and I drove all the way from Jacksonville to Dallas, just so I could rejoin my crew selling tools again. We would go door to door pitching anyone that looked like they could write a check. The object is to keep pitching until you find someone to buy your load. Just get them on the phone with Rita, back at the plant and your working day is over.
The first working day, I figured I would take Maudie out with me and show her a deal. I cruised over to my territory that I had outlined on the map. On the way there she kept asking me “What’s wrong with that place, or how come you didn’t stop there? There were a lot of us on the crew and every one signed out separate territories, so we wouldn’t cross paths. She didn’t believe me, she sucked on her lip to show me she didn’t believe me. Why would I make that up? She started staring straight out the window, ignoring me.
When we got to my area, Maudie really turned negative. “This area sucks, or, Aw won’t nobody buy nothing here.” The first couple places I hit, either the boss wasn’t there or they already had a load that they bought last year. After a couple of hours Maudie turned “toasty brown.” I wanted to take Maudie back to the motel and dump her, but she wanted me to make some money so she could go to “Billy Bob’s,” home of the world’s largest bar and indoor rodeo,” over in Ft. Worth. She was afraid that if she wasn’t with me, that I would just go find a nice cool cantina somewhere, play pool and listen to the juke box. I could almost close my eyes and think about, oh it did sound tempting.
Finally I told her, “Look if we’re going to go to Billy Bob’s, you’re gonna wanta wear some nice boots and maybe an outfit Before we go shopping for boots, you’re know you’re going to want to take a shower, right?” Cool, that made sense to her, it was that easy to get rid of her, made me think, “Why didn’t I do that earlier?” After I left her back at the room, I drove back to my area and hit a place where the “bossman” wasn’t in earlier, but I had seen a nice crew cab four wheel drive Chevy diesel parked up front while I was driving pass. I don’t remember what type business it was, but there was a roll top garage door on the side of the building. My pitch was a little rusty, I stumbled and stuttered, it had been about six months since I sold a load of tools. Once I got the boss man on the phone with Rita, it was over. Twenty minutes later I’m at the bank to get a cashier’s check. I “hammered my check” (exchanged it for a cashier’s check), went back to the motel, squealing tires and doing donuts in the parking lot, (it was a jackman tradition).
Maudie came out of the motel room with a face full of smiles, she was beaming. “You dropped our load, how much did we get?” I was almost scared to tell her, what if it wasn’t enough? Well it was more than we had, so I told her I made almost $1,600 bucks and she was ecstatic. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was at a place we had already pitched. I didn’t want her to think she was bad luck.
We went to Shepler’s Western Wear. I got her a pair of cowgirl boots with fringe up the side, a pair of new jeans, a matching vest and a bright red shirt. We both wanted a hat, so we got matching straw “Roper’s.” I bought me a pair of Tony Llama’s made from “Cayman” skin. Of course I had to get some “boot cut” jeans and a pearl button shirt after all, we were going to “Billy Bob’s.”
“Billy Bob’s,” if you ain’t ever been there is a huge place. They got every thing under the sun in that place; you can even get a haircut or get your nails done. They had a Bar B Que and they had pizza too. The dance floor could hold over a thousand people at once. After a few shots of tequila and some beer chasers, I showed Maudie how the cowboys like to dance, two stepping backwards, every once in a while a twirl or two, always dancing in a circle. She made a cute cowgirl, with her being a rock an roller, I wasn’t sure if she would like it or not.
After a couple of dances and a pitcher of beer or two, it wasn’t long before she started yammering that she wanted me to be one of the riders for the bull riding contest. Uh oh, I knew I was in trouble then. “Like hell,” I thought, “Why would I want to ride a perfectly good bull that ain’t ever done nothing to me?” Then to motivate me, she started making eyes at the guys walking around the bar with numbers pinned to their backs. Catching their eye and acting like she wanted to dance. I knew what time it was. The guys walking around with their number pinned to their back stick out and are real popular. The girls all roll their eyes at them. They walk up to you, drink out of your glass, make eyes at your girl, like you aren’t there. I stood in line for 30 minutes, laid down $25 bucks for the entry fee, got my number and watched Maudie smiling like a little kid as she happily pinned it to my back. Everything was alright then, back to normal. You should have seen her dance then. Hopefully, they wouldn’t draw my number.
Thirty minutes before the riding event, the head honchos hold a drawing and take 15 entries out of a jar. Out of that 15, there will a couple of “no-shows,” guys that change their mind. If your number gets selected you get to ride, if not, you just donated $25 bucks to the winner. I knew I was in over my head. I had ridden mechanical bulls before. I thought that I was somewhat good at that, but I knew it wasn’t the same thing. You couldn’t tell that to Maudie though. I had taken her to go see that movie, “Urban Cowboy” and she wanted to relive the moment, at my expense. If a fellow came up and asked her named, she would roll her eyes back and say “Sissy.”
When I heard my number announced over the loud speaker, my heart went in my throat. Not good news for me but Maudie was ecstatic and gleeful. I was a willing lamb being led to the slaughter. My luck was good though. There were a couple of “old hands” with a twinkle in their eyes, they gave me pointers, they loaned me a pair of gloves and told me not to worry. Just get a good grip, pinch inwards with your knees, lean forward and hang on. They told me that “when the chute opened the bull was going to go left, when he puts his head down, just lean back and try to rake his shoulders with your spurs.” Feeling defenseless I said, “Wait a minute I don’t have any spurs.” To this they just laughed and one guy said that he didn’t really mean that I needed spurs; it was a figure of speech, “Just act like you got some on and rake his shoulders with the heels of your boots. Hey those are some nice boots, where you’d get them?”
They forgot to tell me they were going to yank that “cod strap” around his nuts. Just as soon as they did, through my legs I could feel his muscles tense up. As his chest muscles expanded started swelling up, ready to jump, crushing my legs against the sides of the pen. I looked up and hundreds of faces looking at me. I couldn’t recognize any body, it was all giant a blur. Just then, the chute opened and it was over in less time it took to get ready. What I remember most are the words of the two “old hands” that coaxed me into giving it a try. “These ain’t real rodeo bulls Hoss, they just old docile bulls that are a couple weeks shy of the slaughter house.”
I bet them was tough ass steaks. After the turn, I lasted about two jumps and a crow hop, when he put his head down again there was no time to lean back, I was out of there, head over hills. Nothing was broken except for my pride. I had cow manure all over my new pearl button shirt, but Maudie was as happy as a pig in slop. I mean, she was tickled pink. I guess it was a woman thing. We went back about a week later and I tried it again, this time, I don’t think I was quite as scared but the result was about the same, the bull was better at it than I was. The worse thing about it my privates were swoll up. Maudie started teasing me, calling me “Bud.”