The Stampede is on in Calgary this week, so the medical clinics are bracing for the annual surge in syphilis cases. No, I’m not making this up.
Forget your sensuous blues, your hard-pumping rock, and your suave, sophisticated classical music. The true aphrodisiac is cowboy boots and country music. Apparently, something about the Stampede just strips off your inhibitions, rolls them up in a ball, and kicks them under the seat, steaming up the windows and rocking the pick-me-up truck.
Except for those people who get direct economic benefit from the Stampede, like western-wear vendors and penicillin manufacturers, most Calgarians fall into one of two camps: those who love the Stampede, and those who loathe it.
I’m firmly in the “Love the Stampede” category. No, it’s not because I partake in the randy rodeo. It’s because during the ten days of the Calgary Stampede (inexplicably referred to as “Stampede Week”), the entire atmosphere of the city changes.
All the suited-up, buttoned-down businesspeople vanish from the downtown core, to be replaced by swaggering folks in western boots, shirts, and faded jeans. The smell of horseshit and pancake syrup floats on the air, and country music blares from every restaurant and lounge, regardless of its musical orientation prior to Stampede Week. Bales, rough wooden fences, and hand-daubed signs drawling, “Howdy” crowd the lobbies of the sleek highrise office buildings.
Every morning, there’s a free pancake breakfast somewhere. Just go downtown at 7:30 in the morning, listen for the music, and follow the smell of bacon and syrup. Every afternoon, there are dozens of Stampede parties. No need to follow your nose; you can hear them from across town and navigate toward them by following the trail of inebriated cowboy wannabes staggering along whooping, “Yaaaa-hoooo!”.
Some suggestions for safe Stampeding:
- Don’t stand close to anybody in an enclosed space. You’ll get drunk just from the fumes wafting off them.
- Don’t light a match, either. One of the staple foods at Stampede parties is baked beans. Flammable fumes abound.
- Use protection. Or, if you really want the gift that keeps on giving, try http://www.plentyofsyph.com/.
Stampede strips away food inhibitions, too. Fifty-one weeks out of the year, the thought of eating a corn dog makes me gag. During Stampede week, I salivate uncontrollably at the mere thought.
Also, after dedicated research, I have determined that there is, in fact, no upper limit to the number of mini-doughnuts I’m capable of eating at one sitting during Stampede. A couple of years ago, I topped out at twenty-five, but that was only because the bag was empty. If there had been more, I would’ve eaten them.
If your tastes are a little more adventurous, there’s a bar down on 10th Avenue where you can eat prairie oysters. (For the uninitiated, prairie oysters are bull testicles. Or… ex-bulls’ testicles, I guess.) Mmmm-mmm good!
And the midway vendors vie each year to offer the newest, oddest foods. A few years ago, it was deep-fried Coke. I haven’t been down to the grounds yet this year, but I hear they have deep-fried Pop-Tarts.
Hell, those aren’t new. You can find them after any Stampede party. Just follow the sound of hiccups and look for the Daisy Dukes.
It’s Stampede time! Save a horse, ride a cowboy! Yaaa-hooo!