I have always believed that a man should know his limits and not push his luck. Well that's not completely true, when I was a teenager I was like all teenage boys and thought I was ten foot tall and bullet proof. It took time and a few hard life lessons to teach me differently.
One of those hard life lessons came when I was the tender age of seventeen. Every year our little town had a big rodeo that lasted three days. So this particular year I decided that I was going to give bull riding a try. Hell I could handle any old bull, I mean all you have to do is keep from falling off for eight seconds. I had ridden my share of bucking horses and for a lot longer than eight seconds too.
The main reason I wanted to try bull riding though was that me and my buddies had noticed, at past rodeos, that those dang bull riders always had the good looking girls hanging all over them.
Oh hell yes. I could definitely do this.
I informed my daddy a few days before the rodeo that I was gonna give the bulls a try. He just looked at me silently for a minute then he grinned and said: "Well boy, there ain't but one way to learn and that's to give it a try."
I don't mind telling you that I was a bit puzzled the way daddy just walked away laughing, but I shrugged it off. Back then I believed that anyone over thirty didn't know anything anyhow.
I will never forget the first night of the Rodeo. there I was, all dressed up in my tight levi's and my cowboy shirt, with my boots polished to a high sheen and my stetson firmly in place on the top of my head. Oh yeah, I was a real chick magnet that night.
Soon enough it came time for the preliminaries in the bull riding and I made my way over to the chutes where the bulls were lined up. I walked up to my assigned chute with all the swagger of youth. I had a cute girl on either arm and I was in heaven. I told those sweet thangs to excuse me just a minute while I took care of business. They smiled and gave me a hug and I climbed up on the side of the chute.
I knew something was wrong right off. that damn chute was shaking and the big steel gate was rattling like it was going to fly off its hinges. It sounded like explosions were going off inside the chute.
This grizzled old cowboy was waiting for me on top the fence he was sitting and fiddling with this lariat rope and when I climbed up beside him he looked at me with a frown.
"You the boy that's drew my bull?"
I motioned to the big number five on my chest and back and said, "Yup, that's me."
He nodded and jerked his thumb down to the bottom of the chute. "Meet Man killer."
I damn near passed out when I looked down there. That had to be the biggest, meanest looking beast I ever saw in my life. He was coal black, had these huge horns whose points had been knocked off for safety. He must have weighed two thousand pounds and he was bellowing and tossing his massive head and with every toss of the head, snot would fly against the boards and high in the air.
Youthful bravado can only take one so far and my legs almost gave out on me when I saw this savage creature I was expected to ride.
"Uh.....You sure that's my bull?"
"Well what kind of name is Man killer?"
"Boy, that ain't his name, that's his damn job description." The old cowboy let loose a stream of tobacco juice. "Now let's get this party started."
I took a deep breath and eased down on top of the beast and quickly wrapped the rope strap securely around my right hand and reached up quickly and jammed my hat securely onto my head.
Then, for just a couple of seconds, the big bull stopped lunging and jumping. He felt me on his back. He knew what came next and he was gathering himself. I felt all his tremendous power like a gigantic ball of malignant energy pulsing between my legs and I knew in that second, that I had bitten off more than I could chew.
I had gone too far to back out now, so I looked up at the old man and I said, "Okay, open the...."
I never got to finish the sentence. The gate flew open and that dang bull covered a good fifteen feet out of the chute in mid-air, in one giant leap.
When he hit the ground I swear I felt my left nut lodge just over my right ear. It suddenly dawned on me that I was in the middle of a big arena, with hundreds of people watching as I tried to survive eight seconds on the back of a ton of pissed off hamburger with horns.
I was gonna die!
All this flashed through my brain in a matter of micro seconds which was how long it took the bull to launch himself straight up into the air again and turn a 360. Then he stood on his front legs and bucked his hind legs straight up in the air. That's all it took.
I was launched through the air, arms and legs flailing like a wounded bird. I hit the ground and had all the wind knocked out of me but I was happy. I had rode the bull and I was back on the ground...alive.
I struggled up on all-fours and began to take a mental inventory of my body parts....I was still worried about my left nut.
That was when the bull hit me like a freight train. He hooked me with his blunted horns and tossed me back into the air. I hit the ground and this time I didn't move. The bull then proceeded to do the Mexican Hat dance, stomping me from one end to the other until the clowns reached us and thankfully drew the bull away from what was left of me.
Two cowboys ran out and grabbed me by the arms and began to drag me out of the arena and to safety. We had almost reached the exit when I finally was able to pull away from my rescuers and stand on my own. I wanted to show everyone I was alright and no damn bull was gonna get the best of me.
I raised my hand to grab my hat and tip it to the two girls who I had spotted sitting in the stands. that was when I discovered my hat was gone! I looked over my shoulder and there was my brand new stetson laying mangled and crushed where the bull had stomped on it too.
that was the last I remember. I fell flat of my face, out like a light and those two cowboys finished dragging me out of the arena.
I had rode the bull for about two of the prescribed eight seconds. I had a cracked rib, a concussion, and deep bruising from my hair line to my ankles.
And those two hussies that I had been chatting up ended up partying with some damn bronc rider.
That was the end of my bull riding career.