Some folks just don’t know what they’re supposed to do.

He never wanted to be anything else. Sitting at a desk and pushing pencils in an office just
wasn’t his style.

The nubby grip of a good suede glove, the creak and groan of a broken-in saddle, the strip of
rawhide wrapped around his hand—they felt right from the first time he climbed to the top
fence rail to watch his daddy work the quarter horses.

His left wrist hasn’t been the same since that last trip to the emergency room in Abilene. His
walk has a bowlegged roll that will never go away, even if he takes to wearing wing tips and a
three piece suit, which ain’t likely. A little sawdust, a lot of mud, and the smell of every darn
thing that lands in both never bothered him a bit.

His head doesn’t feel quite covered without that hat, and he never met a woman who wasn’t
charmed when he tipped it. When he wears a bandana, it’s not for show; it’s for sweat and
blood and the dust that never seems to settle. There’s a worn, white circle from the tin of
chewing tobacco on the back pocket of his jeans. Maybe someday there’ll be a championship
buckle on that hand-tooled belt.

Then the clock starts, or the buzzer sounds, or the gun fires, or the bell rings, and, in the center
of an arena, it’s just a calf, a horse, a piece of rope, and him.

He never really wanted to be anywhere else.

This article originally appeared in Minnesota Monthly, July 1996

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