You Spin Me Right ‘Round, Baby


Do I enjoy moving at a high rate of speed without really getting anywhere? Hello? Have we met? You just described my lifestyle.

So apparently I was perfectly suited to participate in the second annual Ride-A-Thon, a fund raiser for A Carousel For Missoula. (I’m going to just do like everybody else and call it the Missoula Carousel.)

People volunteered to ride nonstop until they raised $200. Having ridden in the event last year, I was somewhat more prepared this time around. Park closer. Charge up the phone. Gold Bond Powder.

“I’m Bob Wire, local celebrity,” I said to the volunteer at the check-in table. Unimpressed, she pinned a number to my back. We were to mount up at 5:30.

The pizza and beer had not yet arrived, so I sat at the bank of phones and started making calls to friends. Okay, I made exactly one call. It was to my father-in-law in Chattanooga. My wife is at his house right now, and I could hear her yelling at him in the background. “Twenty, Daddy! Don’t give him more than twenty!” Well, so much for Plan A. I was hoping he would come through with the full $200 it would take to liberate me from my indentured ponytude.

We riders were supposed to download the donation forms from the Carousel website and distribute them to our coworkers and acquaintances to drum up pledges. Then we gather the cash and checks and bitcoin and Krugerrands and deliver them to the overseer at the Ride-A-Thon.

Well, I’m self-employed. I don’t come into contact with people sometimes for days at a time. So I hit the dog up for five bucks. He lost the donation form.

My plan was to issue relentless Facebook posts and a shower of text messages while circling on horseback at an estimated 38 mph.

The challenge would be to figure out how to operate my phone (which in the best of circumstances takes two hands and a nine-year-old) with one hand, fill out the donation form with the other hand, and hold on for dear life with the other hand.

BobCarousel (2)

Gird your loins, Cannonball, we’re going after that brass ring!

So you can see where a couple of beers would come in handy.

I climbed aboard Midnight Rose and they hit the switch. Off we went. Along the wall near the entrance were large sheets of paper listing each rider and a running total of their donations. The riders from local media outlets had some pretty good totals. I swooped past Charene Herrera from KYSS, who was sitting in a folding chair, holding her phone, idly watching the horses cruise by. She’d already raised her $200, therefore didn’t have to ride. I was jealous. She looked smug. If I wind up throwing up, I thought, I’m throwing up on her.

I passed my sheet again, and saw that I was at $85. Kind of pathetic. Donation forms and legal pad clamped between my teeth, I broke out the phone and started texting. The first message said something like, “Hey dy to yu sect ticdrynsye $ to crur;uides rudest gib?” For some reason I got no reply. I snapped a quick selfie, slid the phone back into my pocket and waited for the ride to stop so I could compose a legible text.

Four rides later I’d sent a dozen texts and heard back from a couple of people. I took a video and posted it to Facebook. Somehow my Facebook saturation campaign got buried beneath a little story about same-sex marriage being legalized in Montana. It’s all about timing.

Time for some sustenance. I hopped off Midnight Rose and helped myself to a couple slices of Zimorino’s Pizza. I chose the supreme, because I thought it would look best on my shirt. Also, it would be quite colorful when I strafed the onlookers with puke. Snagging a bottle of Big Sky IPA, I grabbed a seat at the phone bank table next to a well-known local media personality. I won’t embarrass him by telling you his name.

“So,” I said, chewing on the pizza, “when you do the weather for KPAX on the evening news, does it bother you that so many people are watching? What about when they get mad at you when the forecast is wrong?”

He said he enjoyed his job, and as a softball umpire, he’s used to people heaping unreasonable amounts of abuse on him. He added that when he is out in public, say, grocery shopping, people recognize him and treat him like a good friend.

“I know what you mean,” I said, taking a gulp of IPA. “I’ll be in the cereal aisle at Albertson’s and someone will say, ‘excuse me,’ and I’ll say, ‘yes, I am Bob Wire.’ And they’re like, ‘that’s cool, but can you move so we can get to the Raisin Bran?’ So, you know. It’s tough being a celebrity.”

The Carousel was loading up for the next ride, so I shoved a third slice down my gullet and drained my beer. “Let’s ride,” I said, wiping my mouth with a paper napkin, wadding it up and slamming it down on the table. A woman was on the phone, and she cut her eyes to the man on the phone next to her, who just shrugged.

This time I chose a small horse on the inside, to cut down on the G-forces for a couple rides, maybe let the pizza digest. As I strapped in, I realized I’d made a huge mistake. This small saddle was designed for kids. Have you ever made a sandwich and tried to squeeze it into a Ziploc bag that was obviously too small but you squished it in there anyway? Yeah, I think you get the picture.

So after that painful ride I transferred back to a large outside horse. As we got underway, I started yanking rings out of the dragon’s mouth. They were giving away prizes for the brass ring, and if wasn’t going to raise squat for the Carousel I’d at least leave there with a free pair of socks or something.

I grabbed a ring every time around, and stacked them up in my horse’s ears. When I came around and the brass ring was there, gleaming in the dragon’s mouth, I reached up and got my hand on it. It didn’t budge. What the…?

I turned back and saw the three riders behind me also fail to pull it out of the dragon’s mouth. How was this possible? There were only two explanations: either the brass ring was slightly oblong, wedging it in the slot, or it was being held in place by a system of powerful magnets. Does brass even stick to a magnet? How the hell should I know? I’m an equestrian, not a scientist.

On the next revolution I snatched at that brass circle like I was Frodo grabbing the One Ring so I could take it to the Crack of Doom in Mordor and destroy it in order to keep it from Sauron the Dark Lord, thus foiling his quest to dominate Middle-earth. The ring came loose from the slot—o joy!—and clattered to the concrete floor with a damning chime. A chorus of catcalls and derision rose from the riders behind me, who were all holding their arms out to their sides, Tony Soprano-like. I decided to have a security guard accompany me to my vehicle after the Ride-A-Thon.

My phone buzzed. It was a text from Rich at Kronos Kustoms. “I’m in for $10.” That was cool. The phone buzzed again. Rich: “If you vomit and get video evidence, I’ll up it to $20.” Very generous indeed.

Somehow I managed to keep all that pizza and beer on the inside. The Carousel was slowing down, and I looked at the tote board. I was at $160. The place was emptying out. I’d been riding for over an hour, not counting my one-ride pizza break. Thirteen rides in all. At about 20 revolutions per ride, that meant 260 times around. At one point I had begged the operator, please, just one clockwise lap. No go.

I dismounted, the last rider to leave the Carousel (save for a ten-year-old girl who may or may not be carved out of wood).

I unlocked my 4Runner and started it up. “”Wild Horses” came on the radio. Um, not right now, Stones. I changed the station. “Round and Round” by Ratt. Nix. I tried another station. Aerosmith was playing “Back in the Saddle.”

I turned the radio off. My ass was sore, my pride had taken a beating, and I was left with the feeling that my efforts didn’t make much of a difference. My phone buzzed. It was a text from home.

“The dog threw up. Looks like he was eating paper.”

Ah, the glamorous life of a local celebrity.

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.


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