We flew back from Vegas on the Galoot Express, an Allegiant Air flight packed with guys in cowboy hats coming home from the National Finals Rodeo. All were identically arrayed in tight Wranglers and oversized snap-button shirts and belt buckles the size of turkey platters, and all swaggered onto the plane braying about their drunken exploits in affected drawls taken from movies and crappy country music. They all wore cell phones, tilted forward for a faster draw. This is the vanishing breed of rugged individualist that made this country great.
Even after four days of galumphing around Vegas in painful cowboy boots, they were an ebullient, self-satisfied bunch. They had accomplished much in a short time: guzzling gallons of Bud Light and making lewd propositions to dozens of cocktail waitresses and keeping awake countless tourists unlucky enough to have a room on the same floor. As one guy on our flight yelled to his companion: "Life's too short not to have a good time." Boy howdy. Straitlaced Las Vegas, which doesn't see a lot of boorish hedonism, never knew what hit it.
I was reminded of Bike Week in Daytona -- another event built largely on apparel. There it's all Harley Davidson regalia, even down to underwear and earrings, and people wandering around reveling in the conformity of the tribe. At both events, people sport clothing commemorating the event while it's still going on. That's just in case you don't get it.
There are no real bikers, of course, just as there are no real cowboys. You need a real-world job to pay for all the merchandise and travel to these annual bacchanals. That means a real-world life in the long months between party time, selling auto parts or insurance or shuffling papers or any of the other prosaic pastimes that can't be expressed in the clothes you wear. I don't blame anybody for donning a different persona once in awhile. I do wish they'd give it a rest on the packed flight home.