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Author's profile photo Jonathan Becher

This Ain’t My First Rodeo

/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/aint_my_first_rodeo_150x150_689646.jpgA few weeks ago, I asked a co-worker to take the lead on a complex situation involving a partner. When I asked him whether he was comfortable being on point, my co-worker replied:

“This ain’t my first rodeo.”

If you’re not familiar with the expression, it’s a colorful way of telling someone you’re prepared for a situation and it doesn’t offer a significant challenge to you. Where I grew up, locals used a similar vivid expression:

“I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.”


In my experience, both expressions have a touch of sarcasm. They are often used when someone is being given unjustified and unwanted advice. Apparently my co-worker didn’t think the situation was particularly challenging.

Since I’m interested in the origin of phrases, I spent some time trying to figure out where the rodeo expression came from. The earliest instance I could find was from the 1981 movie, Mommie Dearest, which chronicles the life of Joan Crawford. When told she is going to be removed from the Board of Directors of Pepsi, Faye Dunaway (the actress playing Crawford) responds “This ain’t my first time at the rodeo.” This classic scene is a fiery performance with strong language:

Who gets credit for inventing the rodeo phrase? The phrase isn’t in the book that the movie was based on and I couldn’t find any evidence this scene happened in real life. As such, the quote should probably be attributed to Frank Yablans, who wrote the screenplay.

For those of you who prefer an exact quote, I found it in the 1988 Judd family biography. From the book,

Naomi is not a shy woman; she has never claimed to be.

“I’m divorced and I’ve been to the circus and I’ve seen the clowns,” as she put it “This ain’t my first rodeo.”

It’s a fantastic thought that Naomi Judd might have been channeling Faye Dunaway.

Now if I could only figure out where that turnip truck came from. Any ideas?

This blog was originally posted on Manage by Walking Around on April 19, 2015.

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