Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Howdy Doody!

Roll up, roll up! See the high falootin’, rootinest, tootinest, gun twirling and slinging, shootinest cow gal in the West!
AKA Pistol Packin' Paula!
I am not going to mock – for several reasons, not least because she has two REAL nickel plated .45 Cimarrons, weighing 2 ½ lbs each. Try twirling them on your pinkie! Besides, she was great! Authentic, with holsters and chaps and tassels and everything.
We had the delight of heading off to the floodlit basket ball court to watch Paula after a delicious Thanksgiving dinner during our long weekend on a ‘dude’ ranch. Dude ranches are where city folk pretend to be cowboys. We were staying at one that reminded me of a Butlins camp, only with horses and cacti! We had our own little chalet with wardrobes that had doors covered in piebald pony hide! Nice! We certainly looked the part in our bandanas and Stetsons. Tourists! No real cowboys would have dressed like us! We arrived at the ranch with Glen Campbell's Rhinestone Cowboy blasting out of the car stereo. We are nothing if not cliched and predictable! John Wayne, Slim Pickens, Willie Nelson and a whole ‘bunch’ of people I ain’t never heard of had stayed at this ranch. By the way ‘bunch’ is the collective noun for anything and everything in America!
Two elderly cowboys sat in the corner during the Thanksgiving meal, one playing the guitar and the other singing country. They didn’t look as silly in their Stetsons as we did! They were so good. There is something about the country warble that makes you feel you are longing for something… usually home!
Is anyone out there?
Pissed up Paula… sorry Pistol Packing Paula (she was sober, had I been pissed I might have really really enjoyed the spectacle!) was the gala entertainment.  I won’t hear a bad word said about the star turn….although I think I might have missed it, there were so many turns, twirls and twists! I, for one was mesmerised by the twirling guns with moves like the butterfly and the helicopter. I disagreed, when my 9 year old said after about 2 minutes of watching, that she wasn’t very professional. She has won the World (as in World Series – only in America) Gun Spinner championships twice! I did have to concede to the poo-pooers that it wasn’t that difficult being the ‘Best lady Gun Spinner’ in the US when she was the only professional lady real-gun spinner in the US. …and although I made the suggestion that using real bullets, and not just real guns, would make the show far more exciting, I was only trying to keep my family engaged. My suggestion of glow in the dark, neon guns was just to point out that in the pitch black, in the middle of the Texan desert with only a couple of spot lights, the guns were hard to spot and I might have missed a crucial spin. It was only a passing thought that had I been a real outlaw in the wild west and I had come across the world champion gun twirler and faced her in a gun draw I could have shot the silly f**ker while she was still twirling.  I only had to get up and leave half way though because the bleacher seating was uncomfortable, not because there is only so long you can watch guns twirl before losing the will to live.
Besides… The camp fire was calling. You wouldn’t be a cowboy without sitting round the campfire but perhaps real cowboys don’t eat s’mores. S’mores are toasted marshmallows and melted chocolate between two graham crackers (which are sort of like digestive biscuits only crap). A must for any camp fire.
No Dude ranch experience would be complete without mounting your trusted steed and galloping off into the sunset. I suspect then, no Dude ranch experience is complete! We did go ‘trekking’ on our old knackers: Horses that don’t stray from the beaten track – nose to tail – apart from the one that my daughter was on that in it’s panic of losing the whiff of the horse’s arse in front tried to take a short cut and came very close to a ravine!
I asked if they had anything on offer for the more experienced horsewoman. Billy Joe Bob – who appeared to be at least 90, he was so gnarled, chewed on his bacci, spat it out and growled! They used to offer advanced rider experiences but the city folk kept falling off and suing the ranch. How can you fall off an American Saddle? – it has a built in handle to hold on to. My son seemed to elicit something more from Billy Joe Bob than the utter contempt he showed everyone else (maybe he was still bitter about Brokeback Mountain). My son’s saddle slipped round and the ‘wranglers’ ignored me pointing out it was ‘wonky’ (as they had no idea what that meant). I thought my son was about to fall off and called out to say so. For an old git he could move. In a flash, faster than a twirl of Pistol Packin’ Paula’s guns, Billy Joe Bob had leaped from his horse, to my son’s rescue. He said it was the first time in 20 years he had done that. I wondered if he had just left other city slickers to fall on their heads. No wonder they sued!
The Dude ranch was set in a one horse town complete with a spit and sawdust saloon bar. It was almost perfect… if only the two old cowboys singing had recognised that they were the real thing and all the entertainment that was necessary. No amount of fancy gun twirling was gonna convince a city slicker otherwise!

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