Ricky Harpole column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cowgirl ropes attention for prematurely served entree

I never was much of a rodeo man. I was too busy ‘til I got too old. Still, I kept a toothsome taste for snuff dippin’ cowgirls and fine horseflesh. Nowadays I prefer good cookin’ women and sure footed mules.
One thing that my taste never changed on was a properly prepared beefsteak and when I was haulin’ feeder calves out to Colorado I knew where to get one. There was, in those days, a large truck stop restaurant on the trucking route that was a five star establishment among the truckers and cowboys just outside of Oklahoma City.

You could get a 24-ounce steak on a platter for about $20 and if you cleaned your platter (including the trimmings) it was free. Didn’t cost you a dime if you could get it done in an hour. As good as those steaks were, there very few diners who managed to collect a “freebie.”

One thing I hadn’t counted on that weekend, it was the week of the National Rodeo Championship Competition, which in those days was held in Oklahoma City, and the geography was wall to wall with riders, ropers, bull riders, barrel racers, clowns and about a half million fans. (They have since transferred the event to Las Vegas.)

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There was not a motel room to be had in the whole damn town and barely a parking spot for a Kenworth. The restaurant was packed to the gills and there was a line for a table when Ol’ crazy Jake Laughter spotted me and arranged for me to “cut the line.” Normally, that wouldn’t have worked but he was a champion bronc buster so I was allowed to join his entourage at his table in the time to put in my order.

There were about 10 of the top contenders at that table, some of them way ahead in more than one category. Among them was a lady bulldogger billed as Abilene Jene, who obviously was hot on Ol’ Jake. Well, we all got our orders in amongst the general mayhem of the crowd, which, bear in mind, was unwashed and not too “fresh” from the arena, particularly the boots which mostly still had the spurs on.

Well, Ol’ Jake wanted his steak well done but when it was served up it was raw as Mississippi politics.

Jake brought this to the attention of the waitress and politely requested that it be re-attended, and the harried little lady complied. Sort of. That dripping piece of Ol’ Bossy showed up on Jakes plate 10 minutes later just about as lively as it was the first time.

Whereas Jake is a patient sort of cowboy, Ms. Abilene Jene was ready to dispense with the preliminaries and find out what sort of a “trailer rocker” Ol’ Jake was, and to expedite matters took over the show. Flourishing a steak knife she stabbed that piece of half-cooked cow right there on the restaurant table, scattering dishes, mugs, tea glasses in the process.

She then fetched her piggin’ string from her shirt pocket. All bulldoggers carry a three-foot length of plaited rawhide string or rope to tie the calves’ feet together.

She tied that string through one of the puncture wounds and “drug” it to the foyer while the entire crowd watched open-mouthed, fork in mid trip, while she jumped up and down on that semi-raw steak, spurs and all for at least two minutes.

She wrapped what was left of the steak in the rest of the piggin string, threw both arms in the air to verify her time and carried it with both hands back to the platter, saying to the poor waitress, “I’ve killed the damn thing, now if you’ll be so kind as to have it cooked we’ll be on our way.”

She got a standing ovation. And I got back to the Kenworth with my compass set on Fort Smith.

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowgirls,