Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Wild Ride

Hello everybody - This story stands on its own... Enjoy! Dave *********************************************************************************************** A business trip from a gracious employer and it was off to New Orleans. It was his effort to get the entire team together in one spot to evaluate the past year and prepare for the next. Once the group dinner was over it was out into the mayhem of Bourbon Street. A crowd of about twenty of us wandered into a little country bar. Clever as the name was, “Bourbon Cowboy” this place was really kicking with upbeat country music that made you want to be inside. Inside the center piece was a mechanical bull. Made famous (for me) many years ago by films like Urban Cowboy and Bars like Gilley’s in Houston – This was a temptation that I could not pass up. A small line had formed to purchase the 5 dollar ticket and sign a waiver of liability. Long ago I heard that riding this kind of bull had more to do with the skill of the operator than that of the rider. Although a real bull may be unpredictable (and a lot more dangerous) it just knows that you are on its back and are intending to stay there …. The bull operator has a whole different perspective. He can see exactly what’s going on and make adjustments against you. First person to ride from our group was Eric. A strapping Marine, he removed his shoes and stepped up the mechanical beast. Saddle hopping himself onto the top, Eric looked confident. Then the bull started moving. Within seconds the bull went into convulsions flying abruptly left, down, right and up all at the same time. Eric was quickly hung up on the bull, not really riding him, but more flung forward in what the Pro Bull Riders call “Kissing the bull”, meaning that his face has met the bulls back. In layman speak, he was holding on for dear life. Eric got 3 rides with each ending with the operator violently shaking the bull till Eric was dispatched back to the floor in a heap Watching as I paid my entry fee I was doing my very best to cowboy up and remembering every vision of rodeo bull riding that I had ever seen, I quickly decided on a strategy. Shoes off, hopping aboard – I straddled the bull. Its back was slick with no way to hold on except for the large knotted bull rope protruding from its center. One hand in the air, I gave the operator a nod of pseudo confidence indicating I was ready. The Bull quickly fell forward and I leaned back trying to keep my center of gravity, in an effort to emulate a real bull rider. Then a sudden shift left with an equally sudden swing to the right I began to lose my grip. My body’s momentum was still headed left when the bull raised its head enabling me to regain and then lose it again just as quickly with the next abrupt movement. This was a Fighting Bull, you know, the kind of bull that you would like to give your mother-in-law. The room seemed to be spinning, but it was me. With a primal yell of excitement I was expelled face first into the mat on the floor. Feeling more like a rodeo clown than a cowboy, I climbed back on. 3 times. The rides were all similar in that although I put up an honest effort they were all destined to end the same way. Bull: 3, Rider: 0 As I walked out of the riding pit, thrilled and exhausted… the laughing voices of my friends buzzing saying that I had done well and that all that yoga must have made me flexible enough to stay on the bull. I just smiled, knowing that the real skill in riding this bull was in paying the operator twenty dollars to ensure I had a good ride.

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