A funny thing happened to me on the way to menopause; I became a fan of professional bull riding. As if that weren’t enough, I bought a musty smelling, second-hand snakeskin and suede western jacket – WITH FRINGE. Did I mention that it is dyed forest green and has long dangling laces at the cuffs with heavy miniature musket balls attached to the ends? Each time I reach up to brush the hair out of my eyes, these decorative yo-yos from hell swing away from my body, gathering speed before arcing back to bludgeon me in the face. Not everyone can pull off that look.
I’m pretty sure that hormones are involved, because at the same time that I started listening to Tim McGraw, I lost all desire for chocolate. I bought a jeep and tuned my radio to WEZL, “the weasel,” for the best in country music, and the worst in names for a radio station. At this point, my family started gearing up for an intervention. I agreed to go only if they had a bluegrass band and a hayride.
I saw no mention of any of this in the brochures at the doctor’s office. I think there should be some kind of warning that the symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, irritability, weight gain, night sweats, and a desire to visit Dollywood.
I decided to run with it and paid top dollar for the best seats when the PBR (Professional Bull Riding) tour came to town. As the cowboys were introduced, I cheered and clapped, smacking myself repeatedly with my jacket laces. We were in the front row, right next to the gates. From this distance I could see every pimple on the faces of the kids who were riding thousands of pounds of angry pot roast. The cowboys didn’t look old enough to shave, and the lineup included one Amish lad on his Rumspringa. Can you imagine? After living a conservative life for sixteen years, you’re given a year to go nuts and you choose serial trampling over Jäger?
Soon I found myself staring into the bloodshot eyes of a huge white Brahma bull, with only two feet and a flimsy rail separating us. He had just thrown his rider halfway across the ring, and now seemed to be fixated on my green jacket. He stood staring long enough to give me plenty of time to reconsider my recent fashion decisions. When he finally returned to the chutes I had made up my mind – I’ll cancel the line dancing lessons.
I suppose there are worse things to do than reacquainting my fingers with my old guitar strings and wailing out country hits. I could be singing “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” in a karaoke bar Friday nights. I’m sure there’s an intervention for that as well.
I don’t know where this mid-life affinity for all things country will take me. I only know that when I get there, I’ll smell like Grandma’s attic and have tiny pellet shaped bruises on my face.