A rootin’-tootin’ good time

A few years ago I went to a rodeo in a country town in New South Wales. I like rodeos, the carnival atmosphere, the celebration of our pioneering heritage, the opportunities for singles from far-flung rural outposts to meet and match up. My grandfather was a professional horse-breaker, a drover and a rodeo champion.

It was a beautiful sunny day. I lounged on a grassy bank, drinking beer and enjoying  the spectacle in the arena, the fearlessness and skill of the contestants and also the passing parade, young men and women dressed flamboyantly in studded, spangled, embroidered jeans and shirts, beautifully tooled boots and hats to die for, swaggering and posing, flirting, generally having an outrageously good time.

After a while I felt the need to empty my bladder and headed for the toilet block. The organisers, in their wisdom, had declared the toilets unisex, so that there was a line of people, male and female, waiting for the next available cubicle. Immediately in front of me was a young cowboy, in his going-to-town finery, and in front of him a pretty cowgirl similarly attired. They were engaged in some mildly inebriated cuddling and whispering.

When the cowgirl’s turn came, she strode up to the toilet, disappeared for a few moments, then re-emerged and called out “Do you want a root or not?”

The startled young man in front of me piped up “Yeah!”

“Well come on then!” she cried challengingly, whereupon the object of her desire sprang forward and joined her in the cubicle.

From the ranks of those waiting, amid the general hilarity, came a masculine chorus of “What about me?” “Can I have one too?”  and “I’m next, OK?” A few female voices added “Can you wait while I have a pee?” and “Good on you honey! Go for it!”

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