The Rodeo Incident

Haven’t written for a while, right? Mostly cuz I have nothing to say… so today it’s a throwback:

Friday, August 27, 1999. My twenty-third birthday. Was supposed to be my first date with my future ex-husband. I got home from work that day a little early, to find a message from him on my answering machine (remember those?) with some lame excuse cancelling our date. (In his defense, he did not know it was my birthday.)

So crap, it’s Friday night, it’s my birthday, and I have no plans. But fear not, there’s a rodeo in town. So, I decide to take my nephew (age 12) and my niece (age 8) to the rodeo!

We get there, and kids being kids, they want to sit way up at the top of the bleachers. We climb the bleachers, get all settled, but we’re early. We want something from the concession stand, but we don’t want to lose our seats. I can SEE the concession stand from where we’re sitting, so I give my nephew money and send him on his way, while my niece and I stay behind and hold the seats.

The concession line was quite long, but I can see my nephew at all times, so I’m not worried that he’s gone for a long time. I start chit-chatting with the family sitting behind me, some people I know.

It’s getting dark. The bleachers are filling up. I look to see how my nephew has progressed in the concession line… and I can’t find him. That’s fine, though… he’s probably got our stuff and he’s just making his way back.

I scan the crowd for him. I can’t remember what color he’s wearing. It’s fine though.

The national anthem starts. It’s getting darker… the bleachers are getting crowded. I think about how hard it can sometimes be when you’re looking for someone in the bleachers. When you left, they were almost empty, you think you know exactly where you were sitting, but when you come back you’re disoriented. If I lose my nephew at the rodeo my brother will murder me…

I decide to ask the people behind me to keep an eye on my niece while I go in search of my nephew. I start down the bleachers, stepping between people, excuse me excuse me oh crap was that your finger I’m so sorry… I get to the edge and look over the side.

So… here’s a good time to tell you that I have depth perception issues. At that time (I later had surgery to try to correct it) I was completely blind in my right eye. This makes things look closer to you than they actually are. Which actually is fine most of the time… it annoys other people in the car when you wait too long for traffic to clear but in most scenarios it’s better for things to look closer than for them to look further away.

Unless, of course, you are on the edge of the bleachers and you are contemplating how far of a jump it is over the side.

So… I jump.

It’s further away than it looked.

And just as I make the move, some guy darts out of nowhere… and I… well… I land on him. Almost perfectly… like… he’s giving me an unintentional piggy back ride.

And HE certainly didn’t see it coming. He doesn’t know who or what or why… just that something has landed on him, so he does the most reasonable thing and …. more or less body slams me.

So here I am, flat on my back… people come running all around. He’s looking down at me, horrified, with this look like what the hell just happened?!?

Anyway, still flat on my back, I look up and the first thing I see is my nephew, hands full of concessions, looking down at me in ultimate horror and embarrassment.

Paramedics who were no doubt intended for the bull riders show up, I refuse medical attention, dust myself off, back up the bleachers we go… enjoy the rodeo. It’s fine. Everything’s fine.

A year to the day later, Sunday, August 27, 2000. My twenty-fourth birthday.

I can’t remember why, but I’m driving in a part of town I don’t go to often. I get to a four-way stop sign. I stop. I see a big white truck coming, but he has a stop sign, so, after I stop, I start my way through the intersection.

Except. He doesn’t stop. And the reason he doesn’t stop, in retrospect… is that it’s actually a two-way stop sign. I had a stop sign. He did not.

So he hits me.

We get out of our cars, someone calls the police (this was before everyone had a cell phone) … witnesses are helpfully pointing out to me that I had a stop sign and he did not… the man is actually being pretty cool about, but he keeps looking at me kind of funny. I know why, but I keep hoping he won’t bring it up.

Finally, he can’t take it anymore. I had written down my name and phone number and insurance policy number, etc. He asks me… Have you ever gone by any other name? I feel like I know you from somewhere.

No, that’s my maiden name. But I’m actually getting married next weekend, I tell him (which was true).

He asks what my fiancé’s name is. I tell him. He doesn’t know that name either.

He asks me where I work. I tell him. No, it wouldn’t be from that.

He asks where I went to high school. I tell him. No, not that either.

He asks if I have brothers. I tell him. No, not that either.

Did I ever hang out at such and such local bar? No, not that either.

“Man,” he says, “I just can’t shake the feeling I know you from somewhere!”

I take a deep breath. “I know what it is,” I admit.

“You do?”

I nod… “So do you remember last year… at the rodeo… and some chick fell out of the sky and landed on you?”

His eyes get huge… “Oh my God! You cut your hair!”


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