Juju was seated on the edge of the bathtub, watching her mother get ready to go to the rodeo. The mist of Aqua Net hairspray rained down upon her and she instantly felt green. Juju was six and puking was kind of a hobby for her. The placebo her mother had garnished from Dr. Bulloch had worked for her 1st grade, nervous tummy spewing. This was different though, she felt really sick this time. Yes, she was sick!! The only thing she had allowed herself to eat that day was an entire bag of jelly beans. Dare she tell her family? Tonight was the annual pilgrimage to the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show and Rodeo. The night they all dined on big slabs of beef, as other forms of the animal were chased and roped below them on the arena floor. Juju took a deep breath and continued to watch the bouffant form above her, she tapped her toe to the Johnny Cash song playing on the radio.
They all loaded up in the Cadillac for the twenty-minute ride to Fort Worth and the Will Rogers Coliseum. The steakhouse had a glass wall and sat high up on one end of the arena. Reservations were impossible to get, but Juju’s father was a chef and worked the food service at the Stock Show every year…everyone knew him. The best table in the joint, front and center was awaiting Juju’s family. She sat in the backseat in her blue jeans and jacket, tan cowboy hat, and red Justin boots. The motion of the car had her head swimming. The bouffant was driving, her father was in the front passenger seat, Juju was surrounded by sisters…and nausea.
The family took their seats, the rodeo started, and smiles were all around. High dollar meals were ordered, even Juju was getting a Texas T-Bone on this night…with french fries and ketchup please!! Besides Christmas, the Stock Show was pretty darn special for Juju’s family. Her father had been associated with it for thirty years…it was a source of income and pride for him. This was his night to show off his family and indulge in a special meal, one he didn’t have to prepare. The plates hit the table and all the smells wafted under Juju’s nose.
What she had been holding back for over an hour let loose. People packed into the restaurant looked on in horror as the little cowgirl did her best to imitate Yellowstone’s mighty blow. Juju’s mother grabbed the collar of her jacket and drug her to the restroom. Not one person in the place was spared from the spectacle. Juju left a trail across the dining hall, as all eyes left the bull riding to see her mother, Jewel, jerk her quickly away…it was surely more than eight seconds.
Returning to the table, Juju had a cold compress to her head. Her family was left staring at their uneaten plates as the busboy threw down white towels and beginning quickly clearing the area. Her father could feel the judging stares upon him. Juju’s family made their exit and were quickly back in the car, heading back to their home in Hurst. The silent ride back was only broken once as Jewel said, “This is going to be one of those nights we laugh about later.”
Juju’s parents settled down in the living room, back to their usual, the TV. Her sisters went their own way too. Juju put on her pajamas, bummed she had not gotten to see the entire rodeo. Jewel and Jim turned their heads to the loud crunching at the same time, their hunger having left them for at least a day. Juju sat alone on the couch, chomping happily, diving into an open box of Frosted Flakes…her red boots dangling off the edge.
The bright, flickering light of the console TV lit the room, the Bonanza opening theme began to play. The bouffant turned to her and smiled lovingly. Juju smiled back and thought….it must have been the Aqua Net.