12. Ride a Mechanical Bull... or...

I got a bee in my bonnet about a month ago. One Tuesday morning, the thought occurred to me that I had never been on a mechanical bull, had not in fact ever seen a mechanical bull and I was desperate to find one. I asked everyone I knew if they knew of a place where I could mount one. I came up with a handful of options, and then put the list aside to save for a day when I was ready to do the deed.

About a week ago, my husband called from a bar in downtown Minneapolis where he was killing time before a concert. "Honey, I'm at Bootleggers, they have a mechanical bull! You have to ride it." Of course, in the days before children and responsibilities I would have dropped everything and been there in about... 8 seconds. However, those days are far behind us now, and instead of rushing to the bar for a raucous night of boozing and bull riding, I tucked my son into bed and was not far behind him on the trip to dreamland. The next day, my husband regaled me with stories of the bull and we set the plan for me to meet the bull in motion.

Friends emailed tips, "#1, go to the bathroom immediately beforehand....the laughter combined with the saddle will make you have an accident. #2, do not drink a dirty martini to get loose beforehand. #3, name your bull something like "mean joe brown" and pretend you own that MF-er." Another friend said, "I have some pointers for you that will ensure a successful ride. Tip #1: don't ride the bull wearing a pencil skirt." And yet another suggested, "Ride it sexy like Debra Winger in Urban Cowboy or perhaps you've picked up some pointers for that at pole dancing." These mini-pep talks made me laugh, and more importantly got me excited to ride the bull.

The plan was made that we would meet up with friends on Thursday night for the ride. Preparation for a night out on the town is so different once you are a parent. Sometimes I wistfully recall the days when spontinaity ruled. These days, we almost always have to plan days in advance for even the smallest outings. Not to mention the fact that when we do have a sitter, there is still work involved. Getting the house clean enough, having dinner ready, clothes laid out, snacks lined up, and anticipating and preparing for any and all potential disasters. I get tired just thinking about it. Gone are the days of travelling with a toothbrush in the handbag just in case we never made it home. Before I was a parent, I couldn't imagine why it would be so hard to keep your social life in tact. Of course I knew that my social life would change, but I don't think I ever knew how much. Certainly it never occurred to me that there would be times I would actually prefer an evening of playing animals to an evening of partying like one.

That was the case Thursday morning when I woke up and had one thought in my mind, "I don't want to do this." I am sure you see what's coming. It's true. It was bound to happen sooner or later. I am human, after all. I chickened out. I didn't even try. At about 8:00 am, I told my husband that we could cancel the sitter and tell our friends to make other plans. The funny thing about it is that up until about an hour ago when I sat down to write this blog, I thought I had taken the easy way out. It turns out that the bigger challenge is owning up to the fact that I chickened out. Seriously, the easiest thing for me would have been to just get over the fact that I didn't feel like doing it,do it, and then blog about the profundity of the experience. Fake it 'til you make it, right? There is nothing easy about admitting failure. I am disappointed in myself, but probably more worried about letting people down. I was expected to blog about riding a mechanical bull this week, not about failing to do it.

This email from a dear friend made me feel better: "Don't feel disappointed, you're human and look at all the other things you've done so far. I'm sure your body is thanking your mind for chickening out. Next time you call me and i'll show up with some liquid courage, some attitude, and a pair of chaps. I have several." We all fail at some point. A lucky few of us do it more than once. The important thing is to not make a habit of it, cut yourself some slack, and don't take yourself too seriously.

I'll let you know when I get around to riding that bull, but next week - could it be true that the best way to get unstuck... is to get stuck? I'm going to get acupuncture!


  1. I think even those not riding the bull should make a trip to the bathroom! My friend and I were leaving a casino in Vegas (I think the Stratosphere?)and they had one in one of the hallways on a fairly deserted floor. It was fairly quiet so she got up there started to ride. I was alomost rolling on the floor with laughter as she was hanging on for dear life and falling off at the same time. We both had to compose ourselves before we were able to walk away from that one. It's one of my favorite college memories. Ever.

  2. Ooh, accupuncture is the best! I had it many times while pregnant for the horrible nausea. Sorry for so many comments...

  3. This most certainly does not count as a failure Colleen. It simply was not the right time. To face a challenge you must be prepared to do so. While weeks ago the impulse was there when it came to the moment it just wasn’t the right time. You have not failed; you just have not succeeded yet. I have faith that when the time is right you will meet this challenge head on and you will own that bull :)

  4. Failure... such a bad word. It can really mess things up for ourselves when we put that label on things. Consider it as possibly not the right time, and/or not the right activity for your interests.


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