I went to a Wild West show last night.
For those of you now patiently awaiting some kind of a punchline here, there really isn't one. I went to a Wild West show.
"Why?" is a fair question. The outdoors (in June, no less), animals larger than me, and an array of porta-potties* the only sign that I haven't fallen into the nineteenth century like Twain's Connecticut Yankee. It isn't exactly a 20th anniversary screening of Fargo at the Circle. It's a little outside of my comfort zone.
Well, after eight and a half years I've come to a very important realization about the job-I-do-because-I-like-to-afford-food. Work is pretty dumb. It's a necessary activity. If we all stopped working, the world would descend into some kind of Ayn Rand fever dream from which there would be no escape. Plus, that previous crack about the food thing. But, taking away its utilitarian trappings, work is pretty dumb. I've got my distractions from the drudgery. You're reading one of them now. Life is not made up of last year's performance appraisal, or the next round of promotions. It's something deeper; it's something else.
In the past year, I've really started enjoying talking to some of my coworkers, especially if we're talking about anything but work. So, when my cubicle mate told me she was playing Annie Oakley in a Wild West show, of course my first instinct was to politely decline, and then find the other engagement that will keep me from going...
That instinct was wrong. Just because other people don't try to put Alfred Hitchcock in charge of the A-Team in the space of 55,000 words**, doesn't mean I shouldn't be interested in their outside activities. Hell, I'd like them to be interested in mine; it's only fair.
So west I went. To Pawnee, Oklahoma and Pawnee Bill's Wild West Show.
And, no jokes, it was really cool.
Between the exploding wagons, death defying stunts***, and pure magic with a lasso, the performers at the show aimed big, and delivered.
Then there was quick-shooting Annie herself. Thundering around the arena during the introductions, I heard children cry out, as clearly and unironically as they could, "Wow! She is really fast!" This wasn't mechanized, pre-packaged spectacle slowly oozing out of a cathode tube****, this was legitimate wonder at a thing actually happening.
This was before she brought out the guns. Let me tell you, Annie Oakley and I are buddies, but I'm going to be very, painfully careful not to piss this person off in the future. Twenty shots, not one missed. Stationary targets, moving targets, moving targets that should have been stationary. Shots straight ahead, shots over-the-shoulder with only a mirror as a guide. It was a sight to see.
I don't know if I'm going to become a horsemanship and trick shot afficionado from here on in, but I'm glad I went. As I return to my spaceships and DGA lists, I encourage all of you too look up from your cubicles once in a while and find out what your fellow indentured servants are up to. There's a wealth of interesting stuff out there, and it sure as hell beats the Thursday morning staff meeting.
* A term that may have so rarely been put into print, that the pluralization rules are the last true American frontier.
** You'd be shocked by how many plot ideas I get from trying to come up with ridiculous examples to prove other points.
*** Seriously, some of these people were doing things on horses that should only be depicted through the use of computer generated imagery.
**** Cathode tubes? God, how old am I?