Oysters, Cowboys, and the USAFA class of 2019

It’s been said the first man to eat an oyster was near death with starvation. Having recently returned from the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, I can state with authority the first man to ride a bull was near cracked with testosterone-induced idiocy… or he was trying to impress a girl. Science shows half the fatalities of all male species occur trying to impress females, twice that for humans.

Walking into the grandstands, the air was hot with anticipation. This was a professional rodeo. I’d been to an amateur showing before, but this was like the National Football League of rodeos, or the World Wrestling Federation, depending upon your perspective.

The warm-up came in the form of mutton busting. That’s where cowboys strap our kids to sheep, set them loose in a rink, and call it entertainment. Four-year-olds wearing lacrosse helmets clung to the pelts of animals as they raced frantically, trying to free themselves from the meat-eating predator upon their backs. The kids would fall onto soft earth, then hop to their feet with fists raised above their heads to the cheer of the crowd. They start training young in the west.

Next, cowboys with chaps strapped tight strutted around metal stalls and into the rink, legs bowed wide from – did I mention cowboys can’t reproduce? It’s for the better. Some genes should not be passed along.

But the stands quickly filled with cowboys and cowgirls cut from different stock. The men stood straight-legged and women sported cutoff jean-shorts that would make a Victoria’s Secret model blush, not to mention riding a horse extremely uncomfortable. These patrons sipped twenty-four ounce beers as they whooped and hollered at real men tossed like rag dolls in the arena. The fact the smallest brew available for purchase dwarfed the imperial pint warmed my belly.

During the entire show, modern country music filled balmy breezes, sounding like a confused combination of Hank Williams and Eminem. But at their core, lyrics still held true to country roots. Melodies sung of women won, lost, and every stage in between. Base ingredients were still beer, hunting, dogs, and of course trucks, just combined in a different recipe.

But the question still stands. What led the first man to straddle a bull? Legend says it was a hot Colorado afternoon as the big sky burned onto a dusty corral. Men were finishing a day of colt breaking and two brothers had been in friendly competition as to which one could tame the most. But it had come up a draw. The younger glanced across a split-rail fence into the cattle pasture at a different animal.

“I dare you to saddle a cow and stay on for more than eight seconds.”

The older brother huffed and raised a finger toward their twenty-six hundred pound bull, agitated from heifers in estrus. “A cow? I could break Big Blue.”

“Not without a saddle.”

“A saddle just gets in my way. All this cowboy needs is a rope.”

“I could do that with one hand tied behind my back.”

Dust flew as the elder slapped his chaps. “Good idea. And speaking of tying, we’re gonna tie the bull’s manliness up so tight he sees red.”

Yes, we can safely eliminate the female species as being the pioneer of this field. Call me sexist, but they’re a bit too smart to take part in such a conversation.

Cowboys are a patriotic bunch and by chance this day at the rodeo was their tribute to the armed forces. To honor our men and women in uniform, the entire freshman class of the US Air Force Academy was provided admittance and filled one side of the stands. Across the rink from us, gold (not yellow) hats dotted camouflage fatigues like a field of blooming Netherland tulips. Ironic, since USAFA is my alma mater, and gold was my class color. And just like me, these freshmen celebrated the brief reprieve from their personal summer of hell by catching up on sleep. Except for during the national anthem, the sound of snoring drowned out even the most exuberant country western rapper.

So to you, USAFA class of 2019, remember that, unlike the bulls in the rink, the upperclassmen can’t kill you. It’s still illegal. I asked. But, they’ll train you for those who will try. Take a lesson from the bold western mindset. Remember no matter what bureaucrats believe, or the politically correct philosophy of the hour, you are not peace keepers. You are war makers. Kill. Destroy. And please, be skillful at it. This nation is depending upon you to be so.

And since you’re wearing the class of 1995’s colors, Semper Cum Spiritu!

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