Taking the Peeps by the Horn

Hospice Hoedown

The Palm.
Shannon Kelley

Line dancing, Mac-tinis, and John Palminteri, riding a mechanical bull. ‘Nuff said?

Nope? Well, allow me to elaborate. Several weeks ago, I got an invitation to “Spurs and Sparkle,” a country-inspired Sadie Hawkins benefit for Hospice of Santa Barbara. And while those details alone are relatively unremarkable, it was the two words at the bottom of the note card that sealed the deal: Mechanical Bull.

It’s not that I don’t love a good hoedown, although I’ll admit line dancing has never really done it for me (there is, as one Wrangler-wearer put it, something undeniably fascist about the whole endeavor), or that I don’t think the world of the work Hospice does, or the people that do it, because I do. It’s more that it’s so rare for a function in Santa Barbara to bravely feature something so sublimely ridiculous, so borderline inappropriate, so technically dangerous as a mechanical bull; there was no way I was turning it down. Truth be told, I became mildly obsessed.

And so my date and I made our way to the Carriage Museum, wearing dresses. (“I hope you’re wearing cute underwear,” her roommate said as we bid her farewell. For the record, I had leggings on, too; I’m no fool.) The museum itself is like a Hollywood set-old carriages, wood paneling, Western storefront fa§ades with names like, ahem, Fine Beaver-and the peeps were dressed for the occasion. We wandered around, chatted with cowboy-hatted DJs Scott Topper and Brian Lee, happily milking any and all Brokeback references, and were quickly drawn to the food, which was also in character: fried green tomatoes, chili, cornbread, and martini glasses filled with mac ‘n’ cheese (whoever decided macaroni and cheese is perfectly acceptable for cocktail-party noshing, may I be the first to say god bless you). The only thing that was missing was bull-riding. The bull sat lonely and forlorn outside, patiently waiting for its moment of glory. Would it ever come? Cocktails were flowing, and I had faith.

News reporter about town The Palm (John Palminteri) appeared shortly, to work the live auction, while my date and I made ourselves comfortable on one of the couches in the VIP area. (That we didn’t belong there is a given-but nor do we, starving writer types that we are, belong anywhere near an auction. Besides, the VIP area was really close to the bar.) Post-auction, we commenced Operation Get People on That Bull Already! And it didn’t take long for a line to form, or for Palminteri to step up to the plate, suggesting that donations might be in order. I promised him $50 in exchange for 30 seconds, but approximately seven seconds later, The Palm took a spill of epic proportions. (Check youtube.com for the evidence.) As for yours truly, I was graceful, a natural, and lasted longer than any cowboy.

That might be the truth. Or it might just be a bunch of bullshit.


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