The Bungle Years: A day at the rodeo

I groggily was sitting through what I thought was a routine morning meeting for the Student Alumni Association, trying to stay awake as our adviser made the announcements.

“So we will be helping out with the fundraiser . . . Grant applications are due by the . . . Last item of business, I signed all of you up to wrestle a bull at the Weber State Rodeo this Friday.”

I snapped awake. Early-morning mental lapses and morning throat syndrome prevented me from making a coherent sentence. All I could manage was a “Bubu whow is this holy abut I bull the heck you kidding me?”

She was serious. I was about to compete in a rodeo.

If you are unfamiliar with what a rodeo is, let me describe it to you this way: It’s like a gladiator match, but with more chili dogs. Participants in the rodeo have typically entered for one of two reasons: to prove their bravery or, as in my case, because they are a slave and are forced to battle for the delight of the audience.

The night of the rodeo came. As I waited for my turn, I witnessed lone cowboy after lone cowboy attempting to conquer a wild beast. I kept shouting things like “These people are nuts!” and “Holy cow! That guy jumped off a galloping horse onto a goat! These people are crazy!”

After a while, I looked around at an arena full of cowboy hats and flannel shirts, and I began to realize that this was the first time in my life I felt like a dork because my shirt wasn’t tucked in.

Our event was the group bull tackle. Five teams of four were to go out into the arena at the same time. Six bulls were to be released from their cages, meaning there would be one extra bull running around looking for unprotected organs to puncture. Our job was to grab one of the bulls, pull it to a stop by the mighty strength of our human arms, put a saddle on it and then ride it to the other side of the arena. Easy enough, right?

When our event was called, we walked down into the pit, inspecting the bulls locked in their cages. One bull was already going nuts. It was kicking, jumping and stomping. Next to the crazy bull was a bull that was so docile, it looked as if it was asleep.

“I think this is the one for us,” I said to my teammates.

As each team waited by its gate, the guy giving us the instructions said, “One of you needs to open the gate, and the rest of you need to grab the bull as it charges out.”

“I’ll open the gate!” I quickly responded.

A giant horn sounded and I threw the gate open.

As my teammates were trying to slow down the bull, I ran to the other end of the arena and grabbed our saddle. I was running back to them when I realized that I had no idea how to tie on a saddle. Figuring a fighting bull wasn’t the ideal first time to try, I handed the saddle to one of my teammates. I had no idea if he knew how to tie it on, but I knew he liked country music, so his odds of succeeding were much greater than mine.

Once the saddle was fastened, one of my teammates jumped on the bull’s back. Immediately, the bull took off running and the saddle came flying off, taking our rider down with it.

Apparently, a love of country music doesn’t correlate much to real-world cowboy knowledge. We watched the bull run away, leaving our saddle, and taking with it our hopes and dreams.