Saturday, October 09, 2004

Country-Western party!

Damn, I forgot to tell everybody about what I did for Friday night's party! Sorry, all. I was bidding on these old board games on eBay right up until it started. (I got an original 70s Mousetrap, the old quality piece construction, before they replaced all the plastic and metal parts with cardboard, and also an old version of Monopoly from 1935 where the "Chance" cards say things like "Your negro spilled soup on a Senator!" and "Your only son is a confirmed bachelor, pay $50 to finance his musical.")

Anyhoo, the theme of the party was Country Western. I saw Urban Cowboy earlier in the week and it was straight-up blumpity, so I went to Salvation Army and bought them out of old yoked western shirts, tight jeans and cowboy hats. Then I stopped by to see the guy who sells flags down by Samoleans' BBQ cart, and he set me up with his cousin who operates a portable mechanical bull, so the main event was locked. Dimitri set us up with a few kegs of Michelob and Michelob Dark, plus Ten High whiskey, and I contracted a guy called Danger Chuck's Cooking to serve chuck wagon-type cowboy food from his special old-fashioned cart. For music, I got the guys from Black Irish to come pick some rockin' lowhills bluegrass.

Téodor and Lyle showed up kind of early so I dudded them up and had them start drinking—this way it would seem like there were already rowdy cowboys at the party when folks showed up. For about an hour while he's gettin' plowed Lyle likes to be real chummy and optimistic, so he was all about helping Danger Chuck get his rig set up (Lyle occasionally works in food service as a cook). They finished off some real nice dutch oven pot roast, simmered the chili beans, baked up scrumptious biscuits and cornbread, basted the rotisserie chickens, and even made mile-high apple pies for dessert. The chow wagon was lookin' good when folks started flowin' in.

First to arrive were Molly and Beef, and I don't want to be a gossip but they were having some kind of dispute. They got into the costumes alright, but they were pretty steamed and couldn't wait to get some beer and separate from each other. Beef went to help Lyle and Chuck with the cart, and Molly cooled it with Téodor, who had set some bottles up and was throwing baseballs at them, like a carnival. Meanwhile, folks started to stream in and get into the duds. The Black Irish struck up and it was all of a complete, promising scene.

Some guys I wasn't expecting to see showed, like old Smacks Peel. I blogged about his baby shower a little while back - you might remember. Anyhow, his wife apparently kicked him outta the house and told him to get lost, so he came and wound a couple on. Turns out he is not happy to be a dad and she has postpartum depression and he wants to die. I know when Smacks says stuff like this he'll get through it — dude is a straight player. I slapped a straw Stetson on him and poured out a Dark faster than you can say Raymond Quentin Smuckles.

Over in a corner Téodor was setting the bottles up for Molly, and when she pitched a ball that took down his pyramid, they hugged. Beef had been watching all this from the sidelines, and then he tried to do that thing where the country guy pulls the country girl off the premises by her forearm. Molly was having none of it and kicked him across his butt cheeks (Beef! Dude!). Anyhow, the guys in Black Irish got all into it and started to defend the lady, and before you know it Beef was fighting the Black Irish. He banged one guy over the head with his own mandolin before the rest tackled him and forced him into a pretty bad position. I had to go in and bail his ass out, and let me tell you, I was none too pleased about it. I love my friends, but a dogg does not have to be a dirt dogg at his friend's party.

About this time the mechanical bull was getting pretty heavy use, so folks started lining up to take rides. Damn but if Lyle isn't a dynamo on the mechanical bull! He didn't fall off once, and by about eleven he had the whole crowd cheering for him. I know the dogg has seen some serious days, but I never thought he had experience in honky-tonk pastimes.

He kept going beneath the base of the mechanical bull and cranking up the difficulty level, and this had the crowd hooting and hollering. He'd get up, it'd throw him around for all it was worth, but he never let go. He'd be a little dizzy when he got down, but he never fell. People were all over him, slapping him on the shoulder and getting him beers. I thought he had the thing cranked up as far as it would go, but then I saw him talking to the bull operator, who nodded and gave him this special red metal key. Lyle went under the bull, pulled up this sliding door, stuck the key into some kind of lock and gave it this really hard turn. Then he got on the bull, cinched up his glove, and raised his free hand to signal that he was ready. What happened next kind of confused and scared me.

I guess that red key-lock thing is like the turbocharger for the bull, because it started bucking so fast that the whole thing pretty much became a blur, whipping Lyle around like a rag doll. At first people tried to cheer, but then they just became slowly concerned, and then genuinely terrified. It looked like Lyle was having all his bones broken inside the sack of his body. There was no way his spine was handling all the heaving and dropping and whipping and turning — he looked like if you've ever dropped a raw chicken into a laundromat washer when it's on spin cycle. I ran up to the operator but he just set his jaw and pointed: Lyle was still holding on. I guess that's part of the honky-tonk credo: if the cowboy is still holding on, you've got to let him ride. People were starting to yell things like "Call 911!" and "Oh my god, make it stop!" and a few women (plus Smacks) started screaming and crying.

The bull has an automatic shutoff feature, so it won't keep going indefinitely. When the bull finally shut down, Lyle was leaned over, limp in the saddle, his face resting on the foremount. His left leg twitched once, and then he lay still. No one was sure if they could go near him, or if the bull was still dangerous. The operator got up, walked over to him, and took the key out of the lock. He whispered something in Lyle's ear and then, lifting his head up by the hair, poured something from a small flask down his throat. Lyle fell back down onto the chassis, but then, ever so slowly, his body seemed to draw back into form, and he began to sit up. It had been dead silent all this time, and now people started to cheer and holler with a passion. Lyle squeezed his forehead, spat, and stood up on the bull, his fists raised in the air. The crowd was deafening. At the back, I saw Beef and Molly turn and fall into each others' arms.

Later on I went up to congratulate Lyle and he was standing alright, but he wasn't making too much sense when he talked. I asked him if I could fill his beer and he said things like "a muscle in a poke, baby strawberry pie!" Not a good sign, but probably temporary while his brain settles back down inside his skull. If there's one guy I don't worry about after physical torture, it's Lyle.

So, a pretty good party! I nibbled on some chili beans while Danger Chuck and the bull guy wound down their operations, and soon all you could hear on the property was the low buzz of the floodlight.