People always like to brag “This ain’t my first rodeo.” It always implies that the first rodeo was the most terrible experience that this person ever experienced. You would not want to wish the first rodeo on your worst enemy. It resulted in many broken bones, a severe concussion, and it was so traumatic that it required years of therapy. I actually hear that there are psychologists who are actually trained and have this particular specialty to treat only those people who went to their first rodeo.
The question then becomes “If the first rodeo was such a terrible and traumatizing experience, why even have a rodeo in the first place?” Perhaps, there should be a law passed that would ban all future rodeos.
Another thing about these people who like to brag that “This ain’t my first rodeo.” They are telling the truth in one way. It is not their first rodeo because they have never been to a rodeo. In fact, they probably have not been a thousand miles from the nearest rodeo. These braggarts do not even know the first thing about the rodeo.
Doctors, and in particular, surgeons always like to brag, just as they are about to operate, "This ain’t my first rodeo.” I do not know about you, but if you ask me, personally, I would not be too thrilled if my brain surgeon told me as he was about to open my cranium that the brain operation ain’t his or her first rodeo. I do not want a brain surgeon looking at my brain as if the brain surgeon was about to get on some bucking bronco. This brain surgeon is staring at my brain, and the only thinking going on in the brain surgeon’s own brain is about going to Pamplona, Spain to do the Running of the Bulls. Why? It happened to be on his “bucket list.” I am sorry if I am a bit fussy, but when a brain surgeon operates on my brain, I want the brain surgeon to be solely focused on my brain.
The other interesting thing that I notice is how people like to brag that “This ain’t my first rodeo,” they do not have the same excitement when they say “This ain’t my first circus.”
Co-Worker One: So, what are you doing this weekend?
Co-Worker Two: I have to take all the kids to the circus. (He looks dismayed.)
Co-Worker One: That should be fun! But, you do not look that excited.
Co-Worker Two: Well, this ain’t my first circus.
Co-Worker One: Oh. I understand. Well, I hope you get through it.
Co-Worker Two: Thanks. Between the peanuts, the crackerjacks and those circus lights they sell you, I guess I will survive.
If you are reading this, you may wonder how the origins of the saying “This ain’t my first rodeo” even came about. Well, you are in luck because I happen to know the story how this line became famous.
There was a man named Mr. Schlemiel. Mr. Schlemiel, who was a real schlemiel, always had a dream of owning a chicken farm. He never could afford a chicken farm, but one day, he saw that a chicken farm became available at a price that he, Mr. Schlemiel, could afford. Mr. Schlemiel was so excited that he bought the chicken farm without even first taking a look at the farm.
It turned out for poor Mr. Schlemiel that the chicken farm had no chickens. It was the only chickenless chicken farm in the County. Apparently, all the chickens had crossed the road to get to the other side. Mr. Schlemiel’s farm was sitting right on top of a giant dust bowl, and no matter what Mr. Schlemiel did, the grass was always greener on the other side.
It was not very profitable to run a chicken farm without any chickens so Mr. Schlemiel, in order to earn some money, became desperate. He saw posted on a billboard nearby that a rodeo was opening up, and there was a “First Rodeo” competition, and the winner would get $1000.
Mr. Schlemiel was very excited, and he decided that he would enter the First Rodeo competition. He showed up behind all the other competitors who looked like big hulking men who appeared to be real cowboys. Mr. Schlemiel just looked like a schlemiel.
Because of this, they put Mr. Schlemiel on Pippi the Prancing Pony. However, once Mr. Schlemiel got on Pippy, Pippy thought to himself “what a schlemiel.” Pippi then put a bit of pep into his step, and poor Mr. Schlemiel fell off of Pippi. The handlers pulled Pippi away because he started to prance all over poor Mr. Schlemiel.
Though it resulted in a broken leg, Mr. Schlemiel was not deterred, and the following week, he showed up walking in crutches to enter the First Rodeo competition. This time, they decided to put Mr. Schlemiel on Dizzy the Dancing Donkey.
Once Mr. Schlemiel got onto Dizzy, Dizzy thought to herself, “what a schlemiel.” Dizzy then started to spin like a spinning top that got Mr. Schlemiel so dizzy, Mr. Schlemiel fell off of Dizzy. Dizzy then grabbed Mr. Schlemiel by the collar of his shirt and started to disco dance, and bob his head up and down, and poor Mr. Schlemiel’s head got bobbed up and down on the hard ground until the rodeo handlers had to intervene and pull Dizzy away from Mr. Schlemiel.
Though it resulted in a severe concussion, and so many scrapes all over his face that it has to be bandaged, Mr. Schlemiel was not deterred. He showed up the next week, still walking with crutches, and his face all bandaged up. Again, Mr. Schlemiel signed up for the First Rodeo competition. This time, they decided to put Mr. Schlemiel on Kung-Fu, the Kicking Billy Goat.
Once Mr. Schlemiel got onto Kung-Fu, Kung-Fu thought to himself, “what a schlemiel.” Kung-Fu then swung quickly around tossing poor Mr. Schlemiel to the ground. Kung-Fu then started to do Kung-Fu Kicks on Mr. Schlemiel that made a “chop-chop-chop” sound. Everyone could hear the bones in Mr. Schlemiel’s arms make a cracking sound. It also appeared that a few of Mr. Schlemiel’s teeth got kicked out as well. The rodeo handlers then came in and pulled Kung-Fu away from Mr. Schlemiel.
For the next six weeks, Mr. Schlemiel entered the First Rodeo competition, and every week, the result was the same. More broken bones, and it was so bad that Mr. Schlemiel was confined to a wheelchair, and now had to hire an aide to push Mr. Schlemiel from one place to another.
Even though Mr. Schlemiel was now confined to a wheelchair, he was still not deterred,and sure enough, the following week, he once again showed up for the First Rodeo competition. The people who were running the rodeo were getting tired of Mr. Schlemiel showing up at the rodeo. They talked amongst themselves and decided that in order to get rid of him once and for all, they would enter Mr. Schlemiel in the Tenth Rodeo competition. Mr. Schlemiel was placed on Bully the Bucking Bronco who had the reputation of being the most dangerous bronco in the entire competition. Even the world champion bull riders had rarely been able to stay on Bully for more than thirty seconds, Poor Mr. Schlemiel would not last a second on Bully.
Once Mr. Schlemiel was placed on Bully, Bully thought to himself “what a schlemiel.” Bully then went around the rodeo ring swinging back and forth, bucking up and down, and shook violently across the arena. However, no matter what Bully tried, Mr. Schlemiel would not fall off. Five minutes went by. Ten minutes went by. Mr. Schlemiel was still on Bully. Everyone started to stand up and cheer for Mr. Schlemiel, and amazingly enough, Mr. Schlemiel was the winner of the Tenth Rodeo competition.
Mr. Schlemiel, after being given his trophy, and the $10,000 prize money, was immediately surrounded by a group of reporters. They all wanted to know how Mr. Schlemiel was able to stay on Bully. Everyone can see Mr. Schlemiel crack a smile through his bandages, and he had just a few modest words to say.
“This ain’t my first rodeo!”
Mr. Schlemiel became a crowd favorite, and he was no longer called Mr. Schlemiel. He became known as “Rodeo Joe” and after he retired, he was entered into the Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Because of his success at the rodeo, Mr. Schlemiel was able to buy a proper chicken farm with thousand of chickens. His farm was on the other side of the road where the grass was greener, because as we all know, the grass is always greener on the other side.
In finding our path to effective crankiness, we remind ourselves that we all have had the experience of our first rodeo. Some people who are, unfortunately, ineffectively cranky, just keep going back to the same rodeo. However, with our CrankaTsuris Method, it slows down, and we take a close look. We become more mindful of what had happened. We think about the ways we can use more skillful means to deal with a particular cranky moment.
Then think about the feeling of “this ain’t my first rodeo.” It is a feeling of not being fazed, and not getting thrown off the bucking bronco. Of course, the bronco is still bucking. And, of course, this time, you are in complete control.
Once you feel confident that you can say “this ain’t my first rodeo.” you can find yourself finally on the other side. And as they say, it is true. The grass is always greener on the other side.
Title: A Grownup Guide to Effective Crankiness: The CrankaTsuris Method
Author: Steven Joseph
Genre: Self-Help, Humor
Publisher: Archway Publishing
The Last Surviving Dinosaur: The TyrantoCrankaTsuris introduced the kid readers to the tiniest, most dangerous dinosaur on the planet: The TyrantoCrankaTsuris.
All humans descended from this tiny dinosaur-and this follow-up book for adults examines how "crankiness" is part of our nature.
Using good humor throughout, Steven Joseph observes that we typically do not hesitate to pour out our CrankaTsuris all over our spouses, kids, parents, and siblings-and then there can be a CrankaTsuris retaliation. Before you know it, you are in the middle of a CrankaTsuris food fight.
We're all cranky at times, but it's imperative we find a more effective way to be cranky while still making the world a happier place. In this book, learn how to:
- Create space for both yours and your family's crankiness - Utilize a fun "team" approach to crankiness - Take steps to avoid being too cranky - Improve communication with friends and family - Handle cranky dinosaurs in your life (including children) - Effectively diagnose and treat the "Common CrankaTsuris"
I wrote The Last Surviving Dinosaur: The TyrantoCrankaTsuris last year, as a kids’ book. This book, however, was written not only with kids in mind. As the narrator says, “Even Mommy and Daddy can be a TyrantoCrankaTsuris and TyrantoKvetchaTsuris sometimes!” So, it is important for us to acknowledge our own “CrankaTsuris.”
Imagine if a family member is standing on a very expensive rug. This close family member informs you that he or she is feeling very ill. You observe that this important person is in fact sick and is about to throw up. This sick person politely asks which way to the bathroom.
The response is never, “No. I insist that you do it right where you are standing! What better place for you to do it than on this rug. It is a priceless antique. The rug used to be on display at the Museum of Art. Do you know that this rug was on the floor of the main living room of Buckingham Palace? Of course, you have to know that you are standing close to my Picasso, as well. How about you try to shoot some of that outgoing projectile from your mouth that way? Do you think you can reach the Picasso? I can push you a bit closer, and I would consider it a bonus!”
Actually, the normal response is, “Not on the rug! It is a precious antique! Go to the bathroom! Do not worry. If you can’t make it, I will just push you in!” Then the poor sickly member of the family rushes to the bathroom.
All of us are aware that all of our family members are much more important than the very expensive rug. Despite this, we typically do not hesitate to pour out our CrankaTsuris all over our spouses, kids, parents, and siblings—and then there can be a CrankaTsuris retaliation. Before you know it, you are in the middle of a CrankaTsuris food fight. When it is all over, just like the rug, it can be very difficult to clean up a CrankaTsuris.
So, we try to feel it coming. We feel it inside. It starts in the pit of our stomach, and it moves up to our throat. Instead of just letting it all out, stop for a couple of seconds and breathe. Warn the person you love so much that you have a CrankaTsuris inside and it may be coming. Say why you are feeling this CrankaTsuris inside you. Say what you may need to make it less messy. But, remember one thing. If you were not able to help yourself, and you did pour out a CrankaTsuris all over your loved one, apologize and say you had a little “CrankaTsuris” when you finally calm down.
So invite the TyrantoCrankaTsuris and the TyrantoKvetchaTsuris into your home. Begin with your own CrankaTsuris practice, and have fun with what is really our true nature!
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Steven Joseph is an attorney, professional negotiator, marathon runner, comedian and zen master. He lives in Hoboken, New York, and is a proud father of a grown up daughter Vita. He is also the son of a Holocaust Survivor, and his writings lean on the concept of survival, which was ever present growing up as a child, and acknowledgment which he has learned through his zen practice. His book websites that continually explores themes of crankiness are www.StevenJosephAuthor.com and www.thelastsurvivingdinosaur.com. He explores the path to effective crankiness in "A Grownup Guide to Effective Crankiness: The CrankaTsuris Method."
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