Shawn Davis knows what to say and when to say it, but even a man so efficient with verbiage is at a loss for words.
The woman dressed as Marilyn Monroe, pawing at him as if he’s a prize teddy bear from the county fair, has a lot to do with that.
After several minutes of unexpected, and possibly unwanted, attention, the National Finals Rodeo’s top gun blurts, “It’s about rodeo time!”
Yep, when a woman dressed as Marilyn Monroe is kissin’ all over ya, givin’ ya the some-like-it-hot treatment on yer 70th birthday, it’s about rodeo time.
This is all happening on Tuesday, the day of Davis’ 70th natal date, and the summoned impersonator is Janet Valentine of Las Vegas. The scene is the production meeting at a Cox Pavilion conference room preceding that night’s National Finals Rodeo action at the adjacent Thomas & Mack Center.
Around the room are the respective NFR, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Las Vegas Events officials of note, among them PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman, LVE President Pat Christenson, South Point owner Michael Gaughan and Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins.
“Is it getting hot in here?” Valentine calls out.
“No!” Davis shouts. But his blushing face says otherwise.
Minutes later, Davis is still a bit overwhelmed.
“I had no idea,” he says as an NFR staffer uses a damp cloth to wipe his face clean of Valentine’s burgundy lipstick. “She got a good audience, at least.”
It is, without debate, one of the great practical jokes in NFR history, a brainstorm of LVE officials who were tipped off by NFR official Ann Bleiker that Tuesday was Davis’ benchmark birthday.
“What makes it even better,” Christenson says, “is he’s not even a Marilyn Monroe fan. I don’t know what made us think of using her, but it worked.”
Sho ’nuf did. That was one flummoxed cowboy.
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