I was born in a small town: Raymond, Alberta, Canada--home of the first Canadian Rodeo. After a few stints in larger places (various cities in Utah and California and British Columbia), I headed back to cow poke country. We lived in Calgary for 6 months--home of the ever famous Calgary Stampede, which I never went to...but I do remember when we moved there, in December (not Stampede season) we stopped at a McDonald's for dinner and I saw all these men dressed up in authentic cowboy-ish garb.
"Why are they dressed like that?" I whispered to my elder, and thus wiser, brother.
"The Calgary Stampede, duh." he responded.
"Oh," I said, as if that explained everything. I had no idea what the Calgary Stampede was and his answer had nothing to do with the Stampede because a lot of people dress like that all the time. If you don't believe me, I will gladly show you my yearbook.
After our short Calgary experience, we moved back to a small town, this time High River, which was a lot smaller when I lived there. I remember getting our very first traffic light...those were the days. I don't even know how many we have now. Maybe even as many as ten? Curse those traffic lights--our small town took to them like Jordanians (not well).
High River's motto (I guess you would call it that) is: A Modern Town with a Western Tradition. Yup, we're pretty cool. We have our own rodeo, too, complete with chuck wagon races and the whole shebang. I've had friends gored by bulls...stepped on...thrown...etc. People walk around with pliers in their front pocket so that they can do up buttons and such because their fingers get severed off in the ropes they hold while bull riding or bronco riding...
As I mentioned, I've never been to a rodeo (I was spared that) but, I will confess, we did watch some of the rodeo events on TV. Bull riding is actually quite thrilling, and those little kids trying to ride the sheep? Priceless, really.
I did once do a service project with my ward at the High River rodeo grounds...and we watched fireworks at the Raymond rodeo grounds.
I had 2 pairs of Wrangler's growing up: one blue for everyday (they were actually my mom's from when she was younger) and one black (for marching band).
Marching band. That was good. We wore cowboy hats, cowboy shirts, tight black jeans, cowboy looking shoes, and a nice shiny...belt buckle. Yes, yes...a belt buckle.
I helped rope and brand calves at my uncle's brother's farm. Helped a vet tend to a calf that had been gored by a buffalo (okay, so I didn't really help. I just watched). Spent many a day rock picking. Water tubed down the canals. Slept out under the stars. Skated on ponds (and lakes).
I suppose you could say Andrew married a country bumpkin.*
With all of this "cowboy" exposure, however, I never:
-thoroughly enjoyed dressing up for marching band and would purposely untuck my shirt as much as possible so that my belt buckle wouldn't show. My band teacher also exempted me from wearing "tight" black jeans since those were nigh impossible to find for my toothpick frame.
-attended a rodeo
-wore a cowboy hat for a school picture or dressed up like a cowboy to do everyday things, thinking it was normal (for me, it wasn't)
And I certainly never, ever, ever gained an affinity towards country music.
Oh, there's the odd song that's alright. There are even a few that I might go so far to say that I like. But country is certainly not my favorite genre of music.
All of a sudden, though, Jacob (Andrew's little brother) has taken a right fine liking to the stuff due to his wish to emulate Matt Longson, his boss for the summer. Here is a clip explaining why country music is the best...and also what exactly a "hemi dually" is.**
*not that there's anything wrong with that.
**in case you are wondering, a "hemi" is a hemispherical combustion chamber in an engine and "dually" simply means that there are four wheels on the back of the truck instead of two...two on each side...dually...get it? I certainly wasn't sure from Jacob's explanation. But, I hear Matt's an okay person to want to emulate, so we'll let Jacob continue, I suppose.
***this star doesn't lead up to anything but I just thought that I would mention that when I lived in High River, my Torrie cousins would call me a "city slicker" and it really would upset me. But I couldn't deny it...High River was a pretty big place...
Until I took Andrew back there to show him, I was still under the illusion that it was. We drove in and I asked my mom if we could give him "the tour." So we did.
"That's the High School...that's the police station...that's our old house...Sunshine Lake...Joe Clark Elementary...Emerson Lake...the graveyard...Senator Riley...George Lane Park...Spitzee School...the church...the library...the train tracks--where all the grain elevators used to be...the Rec. Plec...and...the High School again...."
"That's it?" he asked.
"Yes." I said.
Only then did I realize just how small it really is. Next, I'll have to give him a tour of Raymond--that shouldn't take long.