Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Sweetheart Of The Rodeo

I was channel surfing the other weekend when I came upon one of those wrestling programs – you know, the ones that don’t seem to have as much in common with wrestling as they do with soap operas or improvisational comedy troupes.

The announcer, famed for the popular catch-phrase he intoned each week like a wounded water buffalo, was in the midst of some emotional turmoil. It seems that he had determined that one of the show’s wrestlers was his illegitimate son, and he was having some difficulty figuring out which of the show’s steroid addicts he had actually sired.

On cue, a contorted mass of flesh with a head appeared, to the wild applause of the audience. The wrestler, whose nickname appeared to be Bitchslap or Asswipe or some such, confronted the announcer who began to mug for the camera as if he were making a silent film.

I wasn’t exactly sure about what all of this had to do with wrestling, but I hung in.

Asswipe played to the crowd, striking poses and making faces. He then walked up to the announcer and kneed him in the groin. Apparently Asswipe had not forgiven the announcer for all of those years when they should have been playing catch, tying knots, etc.

He then picked up the announcer, apologized to him, and kneed him in the groin again.

The show still had a good hour and 15 minutes to go.

It was a show with sponsors, an enthusiastic audience, and 90 minutes of network airtime. I couldn’t figure it out. Who watched it? Who made a living with it? Whose mind had evolved it?

What was this sick miasma at the heart of America?

As we walked back to the car in the parking lot, the wife and I began to feel extremely self-conscious, as if the Toby Keith crowd could tell who we were at a glance. The Union Jack on the wife’s Who t-shirt seemed to clash with the American flag shirts that seemed to be everywhere.

More and more we began to notice the messages on the shirts, the bumper stickers, and even the tattoos, messages about the war, guns, Jesus, Nascar, and George W. Bush. They were very supportive.

There were six-packs and small grills everywhere, football games being played by guys with crew cuts in between the rows of parked cars, many of which had Marine insignias visible in the rear windows.

We stared straight ahead as much as possible and tried not to make eye contact.

This parking lot must contain the last remaining pool of citizens that still support George W. Bush, I thought. Where had they come from? Where did they live?

But they were real, they were here, and they had come to hear Toby Keith’s anthems of defiance like The Taliban Song, She Ran Away With A Rodeo Clown, and Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue:

And you'll be sorry that you messed with the U.S. of A
Cause we'll put in a boot in your ass
It's the American way

The woman who had let us in told us that the only way out was forward, so we pulled the car out slowly and looked for the emptiest aisle.

It didn’t seem to matter what aisle we went down – we’d either run smack into someone’s makeshift barbeque or into a dead end cordoned off by cars.

I tried to follow the fence looking for the exit, but it just seemed to go on forever. Each dead end seemed more conclusive than the one before, offering fewer and fewer places to go. Each aisle seemed to get narrower and filled with more people, many of whom seemed surprised to see a car trying to negotiate its way out. I did what I could to not paint us into a corner and kept hoping I had picked the right exit strategy. Because all it would have taken was one confrontation...

I didn’t want a boot in my ass.

Finally, we could see the exit just ahead. Creeping nonchalantly towards the hole in the fence, we crossed gratefully back into the world we knew, confident and happy in the knowledge that we would soon be providing aid and comfort to the enemy once again.

“My god, that was close,” I said, turning on the air conditioner.

“Go like hell,” said the wife.

I gunned the Honda like Dale Earnhardt, Jr. trying to get to the Wal-Mart before closing and was over the bridge into Philadelphia in no time flat.

It could have been worse, though.

It could have been Ted Nugent.


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