Today I took a trip down memory lane and realized it’s been 25 years since the night I let my mouth overload my behind and talked my way into riding my first bull.
It all started one night in Bardstown, Kentucky. Me and my buddy Carl were bareback bronc riders. Our event was over so we were killing time trying to find out if a redheaded cowgirl preferred tall thin cowboys like him or short stocky ones like me. We were giving her ample opportunity to make up her mind.
Well, the bull riding event came up and the first bull came out the shoot bucking like his life depended on it. Carl said, “I just don’t think I could do that.” I said “do what Carl?” He said, “Ride a bull.” To which I responded, “It’s mind over matter Carl. If you don’t mind the bull don’t matter.” That’s when he looked at the redhead on the fence, then nodded at me and said, “I want to see Gorilla Nuts here try it.” Now I’d had a bit to drink and wasn’t really thinking about what I was saying or who I was saying it too. Before I knew it I popped off with, “You bring a bull rope to New Albany and by God you’ll see it.” New Albany, Indiana was our next rodeo. Carl never said a word.
The next Thursday night before the rodeo on Friday, I hurried home from work as fast as I could. I went straight to the phone and called the stock contractor who put on the rodeos. You see, there were more cowboys that wanted to ride than there was stock to put them on. So if you didn’t call quick you might not get to ride. That’s why Carl and I had a deal with the stock contractor that whichever one of us called first could enter us both. You can see where this is going can’t you?
I called and the stock contractors wife answered the phone. “This is Jerry Orange calling to enter for the weekend,” I said. She replied, “Jerry, Carl’s already called and entered for you.” I swallowed hard and asked, “How am I entered?” She answered, “You’ve got a bareback bronc on Friday and bull on Saturday.” When I didn’t say anything she asked me, “Is that OK?” My voice cracked when I said, “Yeah.” My stomach turned over and I thought I was going to be sick. I started shaking so bad I almost dropped the phone.
Friday night I got to the New Albany fairgrounds and as I was coming through the gate, the couple selling the entry tickets told me the stock contractor wanted to see me. I looked him up and he said he wanted me to ride the bronc and the bull both that night. I told him to let me see if Carl brought a bull rope. Sure enough, he brought the damned bull rope. I was scared to death but there was no way in hell I was going to back down. So I said I’d ride them both the same night.
I still hurt from that bareback ride. That horse beat me half to death. Then she flung me so high that I had a cup of coffee with the man in the moon before landing on my head at 45 degree angle with a twist. I didn’t know it at the time but I was 1/16th of inch from my neck being broke. I staggered to my feet and almost got run over by the pickup horse. Carl saw that I was hurt so he jumped in the arena and led me to the fence.
Now my Mama and Daddy and my little sister happened to be in the stands watching that night. My Dad came back behind the chutes to see if I was OK. When he walked up I was standing beside Carl who had a beer in his hand. They told me later that I repeated myself a few times but all I remember is looking at my Dad and saying, “I’m sorry Pop but I need this.” Then I took Carl’s beer, turned it up and drank it all. My father is a Southern Baptist Preacher.
The next thing I knew they were calling “Cowboy up!” for me to get on the bull. Now I’d never even been on a mechanical bull. The only bovine I ever rode before that bull was my Papaw’s Friendly Cow that he used to set me and my brother up on when we were little kids. I told them I had no clue what I was doing so they all gathered around and talked me through it. Daddy told me later that Mama cried when I climbed in the chute and got tied down.
I got tied down on this Black Angus bull with a bubble and a twist in my rope. He laid down in the chute and when we got him back on his feet we re-tied my rope. Dang if he didn’t lay down again. This time I tried to go down with him so my rope wouldn’t come loose. As soon as he came up I told the guy on the gate to “Let us out.” He opened the gate and the bull spun out of the chute. The world went into slow motion for a split second and I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that at that moment in time I was exactly where I was supposed to be in the world. It was THE most awesome feeling I’d ever known to that point in my life. It was better than my first jump in Airborne School. The bull made three jumps straight ahead then he ducked to the left and went back to the right. I kept going left. I hit the ground and the bull stomped my leg as he went after the clown. My friends said I hit the ground and bounced back up on the arena fence like a rubber ball.
When the rodeo was over we all went to the dance hall, The Village Pub in Jeffersonville, Indiana. I paid my cover at the door and a girl I knew came up to me and said, “Lisa saw you ride that bull tonight. She wants you to come over to our table.” Lisa was a very pretty blonde woman that I had been trying to go out with for months……………………………