Ride'em, Cowboy

In a previous life in San Antonio, each February our boss would send out a memo encouraging employees to wear Western clothes to work to celebrate the annual arrival of the stock show and rodeo. His assumption was that a bunch of pasty, pudgy people who worked every day in front of computers kept a stock of Ropers, Stetsons, Wrangler jeans, 6-inch belt buckles, piped shirts and dusters tucked away in the backs of their closets. For emergencies, one supposes. You never knew when a stampede might break out in front of the Alamo, near the Burger King and the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum, and all hands would be needed to rush downtown and calm the herd.

And the damndest thing was, he was right. Every spring, the city would be flooded with accountants, lawyers and secretaries all duded up like drugstore cowboys and girls. Men who think a longhorn is a type of cheese and women whose only experiences with stirrups involve a speculum would willingly walk about in public looking like Woody from Toy Story, only sillier.

And the damnder thing was, that was OK. Even if you didn't know the subtle but important--at least to the animal--difference between a steer and a bull, you could still slap a big goofy hat on your noggin, hook your thumbs in your belt loops and strut around feelin' fine. The rodeo was in town. It was time to feel like a proud Texan, even if you were an insurance adjuster recently transferred from Newark, New Jersey.

That time is coming to Dallas beginning this Thursday with the opening of the Texas Stampede, four days of nightly rodeo competition and country music at American Airlines Center featuring such performers as Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie Nelson, Sara Evans and Lee Ann Womack, among others. Texas Stampede also offers some serious rodeo competition, as top riders compete for a share of a $700,000 purse in the Copenhagen Cup Finale, part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's 2001 Summer Wrangler ProRodeo Tour.

Better still, proceeds from the event will benefit the Children's Medical Center of Dallas and pediatric programs at UT Southwestern Medical Center. So dust off those boots, get the hat out of mothballs and grease your hips so you can slip into those Wranglers. It's for a good cause, and really, you look cool in that getup, not like those other guys. Trust us.