When the movie Urban Cowboy came out, I remember the local movie theater set up a mechanical bull in an adjacent, vacant lot. It was good publicity! People wishing to test their machismo lined up to ride the bull! Subsequently, people driving by were likely to stop and check out the hullabaloo, then, people having just seen the movie could participate in bull riding too. The movie was very persuasive! It could make even the weakest, sickliest person feel they were big, strong, and could conquer the world. I wasn’t able to ride the bull because I wasn’t tall enough. I did enjoy watching other people ride (or try to ride). I have always had it in the back of my mind that, if I have the chance to ride a mechanical bull, I’d take it! No wimps here. Flex my girl machismo!
Fast forward twenty years. I found myself living in a city that had a country-western night club. Actually, it was a huge club divided into two parts. The right side was a rock club and the left side was country-western. The rock side was the same as any other rock club in town but the country-western side had something extra special. It had a mechanical bull! I lived in this city, knowing about this bull, for approximately five years before I had the opportunity to go inside. I’d fantasized about what it would be like to ride that bull. In my mind, just my sheer presence would be enough to somewhat tame the beast!
Monty, a friend of mine, played in a rock band. One Friday night, Monty’s band was hired to play a gig on the rock side of this sprawling night club. Monty called all his pals in his tight-knit social group, and told us to come hear him play. Of course, anything for a buddy! (And, it didn’t hurt that there was a mechanical bull either!) We all loved an excuse to kick up our heels and let loose so we happily went to hear Monty play.
Well, how do I dress? Should I look like a rock-n-roller or a country-western cowgirl? Ha! This was a no-brainer; I went cowgirl-style like Debra Winger in Urban Cowboy! I didn’t put on a 10 gallon hat, ‘cause that would mess up my hair, but I did put on some tight jeans and cowboy boots. As soon as I arrived, I said hello to all of my friends, went to the bar to get a beer, then began to roam the country-western side looking for the bull. The place was packed so I pushed through the crowd inch by inch scouting for my nemesis. I didn’t see it! With each new area of the floor that I scoured, I became more and more disillusioned. I couldn’t find it! I would look for bully, drink another beer, then keep looking for bully. I was determined, that if that bull was still there, I would find it! My heart fell to my toes. They must have taken the bull down because it wasn’t anywhere to be seen. I propped up against a decorative wagon wheel to re-group and sulk. My thoughts were negative and I beat myself up for living in this city for five years and not coming sooner. I took for granted that they’d always have the bull so I could come anytime. What was the rush? Now, my dream of taming the bull would never be fulfilled! I didn’t know of any other place that had a mechanical bull so now I would never be able to test my girl machismo. The dream was shattered!
There were four bars on the country-western side and I’d already been to three of them. The fourth bar was across the dance floor practically diagonal to me. Giving into my need to keep things equal in sort of a rational symmetrical way, I decide my next beer should come from the only bar I hadn’t been to. I slowly pushed through the crowd, skirting the perimeter of the dance floor, to get to the bar on the far side. I separated people, pushed this way and that way, gently elbowed folks, maneuvered around couples, and low and behold, out of the cigarette smoke filled room, the crowd parted at just the opportune time for me to spy THE BULL!! Hell yeah. It was tucked away in a hard to see area behind the bar. That’s why I hadn’t seen it! It was behind the bar out of plain sight! Woo Hoo! My dream of taming the bull wasn’t dead after all! I sauntered over to get a good look at the apparatus and watched the movements the operator was making. My intension was to learn his style, which should help me stay on the bull longer. I actually thought, “Eve, what are you thinking! Playing cowgirl is one thing and riding a mechanical bull is another. You’ll break your neck!” Yeah well, there was no way I was going to let this opportunity slip through my fingers. I mean, just a minute ago I was lamenting about how I should have come sooner to ride the bull. I wasn’t going home that night without trying my luck at riding ole bully. No way, Jose! Woman versus beast…let woman prevail!
A voice sliced through the background noise and said, “Hey Eve, ‘ya gonna ride that thing?” It was one of my friends, Simone, who had come from the rock side to find me. I answered, “Hell, yeah!” (Realize that I just verbally committed. There won’t be any backing out now.) I went over to the bull operator and told him to let me give it a whirl so he said okay as long as I signed the waiver. Waiver? Yes, I had to sign my life away but, since I’d had a few beers, I didn’t mind. As I was signing the paperwork, Simone called our whole gang over to watch me ride. I stepped out into the bull pen and people applauded and cheered vigorously. I felt bigger than life, invincible, unstoppable and 100% confident that I would stay on the bull a respectable amount of time. I mean, why would I not? I’d seen Urban Cowboy maybe ten times, I knew how to ride a horse, and I had on my boots. There wasn’t anything that I couldn’t do when I had on my boots, even stay on a mechanical bull until the person running the controls gets tired and gives up. Really, how hard could this be? Piece of cake! Y’all step back!
The bull pen was one massive air bladder just like stunt men set up when planning a fall. Simply maneuvering to the bull was a feat because the air bladder was so, well, mushy. Guess what – I couldn’t even get on the bull! Man, I felt defeated. Every time I’d get ready to swing my leg over the beast, my fan club cheered! Then, immediately they were let down because I couldn’t get my short, stumpy leg high enough. A nice young woman onlooker, who I later learned was Liz, jumped over the railing into the air bladder and crawled over to give me a lift. Good for me! (Oh and by the way, that damn bull was really high. When I was just standing beside it, the back of it was about as high as my arm pits so there wasn’t any way I could have gotten on it without help.) Liz made a stirrup with her hands so I’d have a place to put my left foot to get a good swing over with my right. One-two-three and YES, I’m on, but my tush wasn’t on the “saddle.” (I put that in quotes because it wasn’t a saddle at all. Rather, it was some make shift leather throw that someone tossed over the back of the bull. I suppose if there had been a real saddle, I would have had a stirrup so I could have gotten myself on the thing easier, but, I digress…) Liz wasn’t strong enough to give me a good leg up and I only got up high enough to flop my torso over the back of the beast. On my way up, the leather throw got bunched up and it was in a wad underneath my breasts. I was able to wiggle my body parallel with the bull’s back, then swing my right leg over and straddle the beast. The problem was, the saddle was still bunched up underneath me! So, I raised myself up and Liz straightened out the saddle so it would be in the correct position when I lowered my tush. (Great girl, that Liz. I’m glad I eventually learned her name.) Now, I’m up on the beast and vertical. My new girlfriend gave me a great tip before she left me. She said, “This thing is really dangerous and the last time I rode it, I sprained my wrist. So, be careful and really get your wrist under that thing tight.” (As she told me this, she pointed to the rope that had been attached to the contraption’s neck area. It was tightly secured and looked just like the rope rider’s put their hand underneath when riding a real bull. I know this because sometimes, I watch bull riding on the country music channel on TV.) When Liz said the word sprained my ears perked up a little bit but not enough for me to back out of my plan. I was going through with this even if I sprained everything in my body. So, I secured my hand underneath the rope and gripped tightly, just like they do on TV, then, I lifted my left hand to signal that I was ready and away we went! I stayed on about 5 good bucks before I went sailing into the air and landed quite ergonomically on my back. Pain? Pain? Do I feel pain? Nope, no pain! The crowd was cheering and all my friends loved it! As I was crawling on top of the air bladder to get myself out of the coral, I saw many of my friends head for the waiver forms so they could sign their life away and ride too. Oh man, everyone had so much fun that night riding the bull and laughing at each other. I didn’t ride again because my better judgment kicked in and told me to count my blessings and keep my feet on the ground. I was quite mad that I didn’t stay on longer than 5 bucks. All my friends said that was a respectable run but I didn’t believe them. I just knew I could stay on long enough to make the bull operator get tired and give up! You know, with my boots on, it is certainly do-able.
Well, I suppose I am not the Debra Winger type. It is fun sometimes to play a role, like pretending to be a cowgirl, wearing tight jeans, boots, and riding a mechanical bull. We had a ball that night and I wouldn’t trade the memory for anything. I’m also very thankful none of us got hurt. None of my friends, or me, are the type who could successfully ride a bull for more than a few bucks. Also, the bull operator that night wasn’t being easy, so I suppose in retrospect, staying on for five bucks was really pretty good. I still enjoy the movie, Urban Cowboy! When I watch it, I project myself inside Gilley’s and become one of the women whose husband doesn’t mind if she rides the bull. That’s right, because my cowboy would think I’m sexy riding the bull with my tight jeans on and boots. I’ll always forgo the hat, though, because it would mess up my hair!