When I was four I wanted nothing more than to join the rodeo. My grandfather took me to my first one in Eastern Washington, and from that day forth I ran around the backyard in a blue t-shirt bearing a cartoon bull crossed over with an x.
No-bull was my motto.
My grandfather at one point in his life had been a dentist, but had grown up on a farm, and in later years would breed ostrich. With bow-legs, pointy boots, and a big roaring laugh-his very presence sparked my cowboy interest. But it was the first trip to the rodeo that really sealed the obsession.
Sitting next to my broad shouldered gramps in the stadium, coke in one hand, hot dog in the other, I witnessed the event with complete fascination, and vowed to myself that one day-I too would be a great cowboy.
It didn’t occur to me that I would make a better cowgirl.
After that trip to the rodeo, I set about lassoing various objects in the backyard with my jumprope. The old stump next to the fence, my tricycle, and on occasion our snoozing german shephard all fell victim to my hand. Sticking a long piece of grass out of the corner of my mouth, I tromped about the lawn riding imaginary horses, bulls, and tipping my baseball hat at passing wildlife (birds, flies, and once again-our dog).
One evening my grandfather showed up to take us out to dinner. I was ecstatic because:
1. My grandfather was a real-life cowboy. Perfect for studying so I too could master the art of bad-assery.
2. Eating out with Gramps meant I could order soda. The forbidden fruit of my childhood, I would have sold my soul on any given day for a swig of Coke.
On this particular eve, I asked my him what his favorite restaurant was. His response would rock my already cowboy-infested mind.
The Golden Corral.
The dark walls, the western theme, and the good-old fashion American cuisine made this establishment my grandfather’s favorite restaurant. So of course, I was happy to pretend that I too, had spent my four years on Earth loving the Golden Corral.
It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the cowboy themed restaurant. The emotion was hastened by an item that would become a part of my upbringing. An item filled to the brim with that delicious, sugary, caffeine-infested cola my young brain so desperately desired. An item that was refillable, gloriously shiny, and best of all-mine to take home after the meal. Let me introduce you ladies and gentlemen, to the boot mug.
For anyone unfamiliar with the joys of drinking out of a glass mug when your four year old mind has already convinced itself that you are a real-life cowboy; let me sum it up in one word:
Sitting there at the table, I could barely wait to get the mug home and drink everything I would EVER drink in my future out of this mug. I vowed that all milk would miraculously taste better out of the boot, that juice would never be so glorious, that even water would somehow become exciting. Picturing myself sitting on the lassoed stump in the backyard, backwards cap, no-bull -shirt, and mug in one hand-I was sure to send a cowboy message to the neighborhood.
Flies and birds beware, there was a new sheriff in town.
Begging my mom to clean it the next morning so I could use it, I quickly discovered the greatest feature of the boot mug. I had failed to notice at the restaurant because I had been swigging my Coke from a straw. The next day in the backyard however, the mug sang to me. That’s right-it sang.
Well, burped really.
I discovered as I casually meandered the lawn in search of wandering cattle, tumbleweeds, and bad-guys; that when I drank from the side of the glass with the handle-the mug would loudly bubble. Which, when I closed my eyes, could easily be interpreted for the sound of gunshots.
Instantly the boot-mug became my joyous dinnertime companion.
Bubbles of milk spattered my freckled face as I chugged for the satisfaction of hearing the pop. Gasping for breath at the end of each swig, I’d giggle in delight as my parents sat sighing at the dining table.
It was the missing piece to my cowboy persona, and from then until six months later when my profession of choice changed (that’s another post), the boot mug was my best-bud.
I haven’t been to the Golden Corral in years, but for the sake of all young budding cowboys, I really hope they still give away the boot mug. It is truly the accessory of choice for anyone willing to repeatedly lasso their tricycle.