I had no idea how to ride a bull. None. I’m just a simple sandwich suit-wearing radio DJ from the small town of Brooklyn, and the big country ways of rodeo folk confuse me. But the bull rope was being adjusted around Viagra Thunder’s ribs and I had a job to do. I looked over at Applebuck, standing outside the bucking chute nervously chewing her hoof. She knew that her brazen behavior had gotten us into this mess, and the only way for us to get out of it was for me to…
Suddenly, I was up in the air, floating gently for an instant before falling towards the earth and crashing with only the foam padding of my chicken and Brie sandwich suit to cushion the violent impact. Viagra Thunder, that rotten bovine, had bucked me off to put a scare into me before we left the chute. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him laughing and then my head cracked against the hard arena floor, and everything went black.
When I opened my eyes, I found myself standing in a rodeo arena, but instead of bleachers surrounding the fence, rolling towards the horizon was an infinite prairie of billowing white clouds. “Bet you’re feeling a might confused, eh there buckaroo?” I turned towards the source of that gravy-smooth voice, and there, standing before me was rodeo legend Smokey Snyder dressed in the finest cowboy splendor and glowing faintly.
Knowing nothing about rodeo except what I’d learned from the movie 8 Seconds and a Wikipedia entry I’d read on my phone while walking into Madison Square Garden, I wasn’t sure how I recognized Smokey, but I did. “I’m here to help son, here to learn you how to stay on that bull. And hell, it ain’t so hard. Like Jim Shoulders said, ‘bull riding is just putting one leg on each side of a bull and making an ugly face for eight seconds.’” At this, Smokey smiled, the light glinting off his teeth just as brightly as off his silver bolo tie slide.
Smokey schooled me in the art of bull riding—how to get some daylight under my pockets when the bull bucks, and then drive with my riding arm to get into the sweet spot and stay out of the house of pain. After my lesson, Smokey told me, “If you’re half as tough as a three day old bulkie roll, I think you’re gonna be all right partner,” and with that, he tipped his hat, and walked away.
I awoke still lying on the ground next to Viagra Thunder, two Juggalo rodeo clowns standing over me, one holding a jar of horseradish under my nose like smelling salts. “You all right there, ninja? Almost went to the Dark Carnival there, I think,” said the one with blue penis-handled hatchets drawn on his cheeks. “After a fall like that I don’t think you should ride,” I shook my head, and pushed myself up on my elbows. I looked over and saw Applejack, terror in her eyes, knowing that if I couldn’t ride Viagra Thunder he’d be the winner of the Round Robin Rodeo, and Applejack would get an awful thrashing. “No,” I said, spitting out a little blood and starting to rise. “I can ride.”
Back onto Viagra Thunder I climbed, rubbing more rosin onto my comically oversized white-gloved hand and gripping the bull rope. When I was settled, the bucking chute opened and Viagra launched out into the arena, kicking his hindquarters high. I heard Smokey’s calm voice in head, leading me through the movements. For the first few seconds everything went perfectly. Viagra bucked heard and spun quickly left, but I just kept raising up to get some daylight, and then setting my riding arm and driving my hips into the rope on the way down.
A bull ride can change in instant though, and suddenly something went wrong and I was back in the house of pain as Viagra kicked high. The impact from his rump jolted me and I felt myself falling into the well, sliding over the bull’s right side as he spun left. Viagra felt my shift and called back to me, “Welcome to the rodeo city boy! I’ma stomp you on the way down and then go get yer friend!” His cockiness infuriated me, and just before my left leg pitched fully over Viagra’s spine, I pulled hard with my right hand, dug my left spur into Viagra’s ribs and heaved myself back onto his crest. With a whoop of joy I grabbed the brim of my ten-gallon hat and waved it into the air, raising up and then driving back onto the rope one more time. I celebrated a might early, though, and with another spin and buck Viagra sent me to the dirt and the Juggalos ran into the area waving “Show us your udders!” signs and blowing bong rips at Viagra. Seven seconds I’d stayed on. Maybe it would do and maybe it wouldn’t.
Viagra threw his weight onto his forelegs and gave the Juggalo coming up behind him double barrels right in the chest, blasting him to the ground. Then he settled right down and sauntered towards the bucking chute, shooting me a confident smirk as he passed. “The hardest thing about riding you is gonna be keeping my butt from laughing,” he said with a self-amused snort.
We’d both ridden Applebuck for the full eight seconds and tossed her in less than half that time. There was no doubt that for all her bluster, ponies weren’t the toughest in the arena, but whether bulls or sandwiches stood on top was still in the air. It was my turn to be ridden by Viagra Thunder, and if he stayed on for the full eight he’d be the winner, and with that the right to beat down Applebuck for her insult in the bar. If I could buck Viagra in under seven seconds, though I’d be named toughest and Applebuck would be spared.
Naturally, weighing a ton and a half and being known as the rankest bull in the PBR, Viagra thought he had the competition in the bag. What could a DJ in a sandwich costume possibly do to buck him off? In fact, there was only one thing I could think of. I walked into the bucking chute to prepare for the ride. First, one of the jugalettes tied the bull rope around my chest and snugged it up. Then she took the bucking strap and went to cinch it around my hips. I looked into her pancake makeuped face and said, “Bind my testicles.” She froze, shocked by my order. “But sir, that’s just a myth created by PETA. We would never do that to bulls.”
“I know that, and I know what I said. It’s the only way, though.” I got down on all fours and the ninjette silently pinned my nuts beneath the heavy cotton bucking strap. The pain was excruciating, but I hoped it’d give me the extra strength I needed to beat Viagra Thunder. The deed done, the jugalette climbed out of the bucking chute and Viagra, standing on the platform above me, climbed on. His weight was nearly unbearable and every muscle in my body strained to support his prodigious bulk. The effort, though, was nothing compared to the pain caused by the bucking strap, and that gave me courage.
Viagra gave his nod and the bucking chute gate flew open. With a fury that could only come from having one’s man parts crushed by an abrasive rope, I leapt into the arena, launching my legs into the air and whipping violently to the right. Viagra stayed on like a seasoned rider, knowing just when to rise and fall. His right forehoof clenched the bull rope tightly and I could feel its hard nail through the foam ciabatta covering my back. Desperately I bucked and spun, trying to change my rhythm and roll my shoulders like a proper eliminator bull. Seconds ticked away and I felt that any moment the buzzer would sound and Viagra would be the winner. I had to get him into the house of pain.
In a flash of inspiration I knew what to do. I kicked my legs to make Viagra pull himself down onto the rope. Then I made like I was about to rear up my shoulders and he rose up to avoid the impact. Just when his rump got in the air, though, I dropped my shoulders again, puffed out my stomach to make the bucking strap get as painfully tight as possible, and channeling that agony, bucked my hips and kicked as hard as I could. My lower back slammed into Viagra, catching him off guard and knocking him forward, down into the well. I bucked again and it was over. I felt his forehoof slip from the rope, and with a pathetic, “Moooo!” he toppled ass over teakettle and collapsed in the dirt. I whipped my head around to look up at the timer and it stood at 6:59.99. I’d won!
Viagra Thunders was humiliated and bitter, but to his credit, he honored the Bull Rider’s Code. Applejack was left in peace, though her ego was badly bruised by the whole experience. I was offered the chance to join the PBR to either ride, or be ridden, but declined the offer. My rodeo legacy lives on, though, in the form of a new trick some of the ranker bulls have learned to throw a rider. They call it the ciabatta feint.