We are at the rodeo and I am six. I want to be entered in the Mutton Bustin’ competition because I think I could hang on the longest and win. I am not entered, because it’s too late for entries and I watch in envy as the other six-year-olds hang on to their respective sheep while I eat the obligatory cotton candy and proudly wear my pink cowgirl hat.
We are at the rodeo and I am eleven. I wear the pink cowgirl hat. When I see the teenagers with every color hat except pink, I am suddenly ashamed of my hat and carry it the rest of the night. I want a black one, like the pretty rodeo queen has. I beg my parents for a new hat, and some Indian fry bread. I’m allowed the cinnamon-sugar fry bread and become content with this and forget about the hat.
We are at the rodeo and I am fifteen. I avoid all of the food stands and get water. I am positive the rodeo queens don’t partake in greasy vendor food. I spend all night wishing I could take a bite of my brother’s hot dog. Tonight is not the night to give in to anything, I tell myself. Our parents are on the opposite side of the rodeo in the VIP section and we are unsupervised. No one is paying attention to me, I can easily get away with not eating a single thing. And so I don’t.
We are at the rodeo and I am nineteen. I bring my boyfriend, who my father isn’t in love with but doesn’t necessarily mind. We are all in the VIP section, but I am not old enough to drink so my boyfriend and I are the only sober ones. I don’t eat much but nobody pays attention because everyone is drinking, socializing, and watching the rodeo. We leave and I offer to drive which turns into a fight over who is sober enough to drive and who isn’t. I sit in the back seat; defeated, hungry, and embarrassed my boyfriend is witnessing this.
I am livid with my dad, and vow to not eat anything for the following 2 days.
I am livid with my dad, and suddenly become angry at myself.
I apologize profusely to my boyfriend in private, somehow all of this chaos is my fault.
I apologize the next day for offering to drive and insisting he wasn’t sober enough to drive.
Because it somehow makes much more sense to not talk about any of this and be mad at myself for not being thin enough.