Out driving last week, I suddenly realized I was smiling.
I couldn't figure out why my cheeks hurt, so I glanced in the mirror to see if I were bleeding or bruised and saw a smile so wide it stretched the skin.
Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it.
Why? I wondered, then started to check off reasons why I'd be happy. Light rain. I love rain. New green grass almost lime green in its newness. And Willie Nelson in his suit years on a CD - "Night Life" with "Hello, Walls," "Touch Me" and "Bring Me Sunshine."
That's a powerful combination of happy, even without thinking of Ty Murray dancing with those stars.
The professional bull riding fan that I am, I knew who Murray was and always admired his straightforward look at life when I'd hear him talking. And I always felt I'd like to be a friend of his - the kind who calls and says, "Hi, you guys want to catch dinner and a movie?"
Listening to the people talk about him on the dancing show reinforces that feeling - that he's the kind of cowboy who always wears the white hat, even if he sometimes wears a black hat.
Still, I'm drawn to cowboy outlaws, too. I've met Willie Nelson - talked to him for almost half an hour. I would love to be his friend and go on the road again, making music with our other friends, with me wearing my own black hat.
That just shows to go you - there's a little bit of bad in the best of us and a bunch of good in the worst. And if it doesn't show you that, just take my word for it.
But, getting back to Ty and his dancing. There's likely not 10 people in the entire country who would have bet good money that Ty would make it past the second week of Dancing with the Stars competition, let alone be in the semifinals. His first dance seemed wooden and clumsy, for sure, but his fan base kept him in the competition.
Honestly, I'm so engrossed in how he dances, I've had to give up my favorite show of all time - "The Big Bang Theory." Both shows claim a 7 p.m. Monday slot. Usually, I turn on the kitchen TV and stand in the doorway trying to keep tabs on both.
Ty and his partner, Chelsie Hightower, are now in the semifinals, and he looked almost apologetic when rapper L'il Kim was knocked out of competition. The rest of the dancers, including Shawn Johnson, the Olympic gold medalist from Des Moines, are very good. Ty's not so good, but he's got heart and determination.
Like soft rain and new green grass, he makes me happy. And I'm pretty darn sure I've got that idiotic smile on my face when I watch him dance.
Shoot, just looking at him does that. He might be my hero.
So long friends, until the next time when we're together.
Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org