I grew up in a town with a population of 600 if you don’t count the influx of people for bingo at the VFW on Saturday nights. We also hosted our fair share of foreign exchange students.
When I was a senior in high school there were two female students, one from the United Kingdom and one from Japan.
As any good friends would do, we decided to show the girls all about their temporary homes. This meant us introducing them to our favorite fast food restaurants and them teaching us what certain words meant in their home countries. There was one hilarious conversation that changed what I called Pop Tarts for a year.
We also decided to take them to a rodeo.
This seemed like a good way to introduce them to cattle, horses, and handsome cowboys all in one convenient place.
The bulls were a little scary with their big horns, intimidating snorts, and pawing at the dirt. The horses were a popular attraction with their velvety noses and twitching ears. The cowboys, well, they weren’t too bad to observe from afar either.
The one hiccup we didn’t foresee was their reaction to the calf roping.
If you have watched it most of your life you don’t see a problem with it. If you have never seen it before this event looks like a harrowing experience for the calf.
Those poor girls were shaken. There were tears. Lots of them. We had to calm them down and quickly.
With some reassuring words and them seeing the calves trot away once they were untied, they could handle watching it without shrieking in horror.
Thankfully we all graduated after that so no more exchange students had to suffer through our well-meaning but traumatizing efforts.
Those of us who initiated the outing learned a valuable lesson in seeing something as familiar as a rodeo through new eyes.
I don’t go to as many rodeos anymore because I wrangled my own handsome cowboy almost 23 years ago. I still can’t read a Pop Tart box without giggling a little.
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