I don’t normally devour the Trib sports section; it can be a bitter reminder to athletic has-beens on Social Security. Besides, one can’t read everything; there are only so many hours in the day and so many TV shows to watch.
But while skimming recently, a rodeo photo caption caught my hauntingly beautiful, baby-blues. My fascination with names and their effect on futures is well documented. While certainly no rodeo enthusiast, as a tyke in Pennsylvania, my toy requests were always cowboy gear: cap-gun six-shooters in studded holsters, drawstring hats and kerchiefs. I even rode a “horse on a stick” — all the rage in those days.
The first time I sat on a real horse, at around 8, was our neighbor’s pony, “Fury.” My big brother Paul was seated behind me when Fury dropped his head to gorge on grass and I rolled down his neck like a Slinky down a staircase. I broke my arm on the nearest landing rock, and I think that’s when I said, “Screw this Bonanza crap; I’m gonna be a roofer.”
Thus, I don’t spend much time reading Northwest College rodeo news, but this photo really stood out. Atop a gorgeous horse was a handsome, rising-star roper named, “Bubba Boots.” Are you kidding me? How can a Bubba Boots possibly avoid rodeo stardom? Not since Timber Tuckness have I heard such an ordained name. Had Bubba made the scene back in my day, he’d have been on giant billboards smoking Marlboros.
And without Fury raining on my dreams, I’d have chosen “Buck Ropeburn” as my rodeo name, although destiny probably only applies to birth-given names. Also keep an eye on freshman bronc-rider “Weston Mann,” another name brimming with promise.
I made a too-rare trip to Powell recently for a roof repair on Rick Hortichoke’s (not sure what to make of that name) Best Choice Motel. I enjoyed getting to know motel manager, Robbie, and on the way home made my usual stop in Ralston for a cold prune juice at the spirited Heart Mountain Pub.
The always-personable owner/bartender sports a common name not normally associated with unlimited potential, but “Jimmy” is perfect for a pub proprietor. Jim, or James, would not suffice, but “Jimmy” fits the Sam Malone persona.
I looked up at the TV to see one of those depressing commercials of a woman with a hole in her throat rasping anti-tobacco warnings. You know, those ones that tempt a man to immediately jerk the Copenhagen from his lip. A burly smoker on the stool next to me obviously shares my facial deformity fears, so we struck up a chat.
Soon we were gabbing like old fishing buddies. He said he recently moved back to Powell from Maine, apparently a state back East somewhere. I find his name, “Zeke” sleek and unique. An old Pennsylvania best friend was named Zeke Zellam. This Maine Zeke turned out to be one heck of a nice guy, and he introduced me to his pretty, long-time girlfriend, Tracy. She seemed as impressed as I was, saying she’s been reading and loving my columns since the beginning in the early ’90s.
She even gave me a big hug, and it’s been so long since my last female hug, I feared Zeke might have to pry me off. I hope fate throws me, Zeke and Tracy together again one day soon.
Also at the friendly pub shooting pool that evening was my old Humane Society colleague and friend, Stan Bearpaw. Ex-postal worker and now committed biker, he was with a couple of his boys from their motorcycle club, “Galloping Goose.” I’ve always been fascinated with biker clubs and once watched a documentary about the Goose on a favorite show, Gangland. But when there’s more than one, as there was that day, should they be referred to as Galloping Geese, or still the singular Goose? I’m not sure which is proper and I certainly don’t want to perturb any group of large men prone to moodiness.
I’m from the Pittsburgh area where the “Pagans” ruled, and I’m intrigued with other club names like the Mongols, Outlaws, Banditos and always high-profile Hell’s Angels. It’s little known, but I once rode with an outlaw club called, “Purgatory’s Pansies.” After we took a pretty serious beat-down one night from a bunch of Quakers on Suzukis, we felt it wise to disband.
So what’s in a name? Plenty. Just ask Rocky Studwell or Percy Lamegoat.