I just rode a mechanical bull so that the man I want to be with could go home with another woman.
Is the utter horror of that statement not stabbing you in the gut just yet? Not surprising. It was a slow, sickening realization for me too. So let me repeat: I just RODE a MECHANICAL BULL so that the man I want to be with could go home with ANOTHER woman.
The truth of those words unleashed a physical response in me like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. My entire skeleton began to vibrate as if it were an enormous funny bone that had just been smacked hard and repeatedly while simultaneously, a stream of acid hot bile crept up the back of my throat threatening to call upon its bigger, meaner friend, my partially digested dinner, for reinforcement. I became dizzy from a mixture of self-loathing and cheap beer and the room around me grew fuzzy but my epiphany was crystal clear. Something needed to change. I needed to change.
It’s harder than it looks. Not that I’d anticipated it being easy. Not at all. I’d been watching large, muscle bound men being tossed like rag dolls all evening. So I certainly wasn’t laboring under any false pretenses. No delusions of grandeur lurking here. But in the back of my mind, my slightly alcohol corrupted, obviously defective mind, I thought perhaps I could beat it. I’m small and strong and I thought that maybe, just maybe, that would work in my favor. Combine that scrappiness with my sheer hatred of failure, and how could I lose? I was determined. I would own that bull.
When it was my turn, I kicked off my flops, overwhelmingly aware that my heart had begun beating, more accurately pounding, in my chest. And in that moment I knew that it wasn’t because I was afraid I’d be thrown. So what? The ground was covered in padding much like the walls of the room I’m sure they have waiting for me back at the “home.” No, my heart was pounding, more accurately hammering in my chest because HE was watching. He and the dirty harlot he wanted to go home with; the reason I was about to mount a large, spotted carpet draped, hunk of bucking metal; the two of them together were watching. The other hundred drunken, cheering spectators were insignificant. I’d have forgotten they were there entirely if they hadn’t been there all night; living, breathing witnesses of the moment I lost my mind and my last tarnished nugget of self-respect….
“I’m gonna leave if you don’t ride the bull,” she threatened through laughter and sidelong flirtatious glances at my man.
Is it possible to think that someone you’ve just met is stimulating, witty and quite possibly someone you’d enjoy being friends with while simultaneously wanting to backhand them as they are surely the devil spawn of Satan and the Mother of all Evil? No, you say? I beg to differ.
“Jess,” he jokingly pleaded returning her sidelong, flirtatious glances, “she’s going to leave if you don’t ride the bull.” And then, in the moment that will go down in history as the day women all around the world inexplicably fell to their knees and began to weep, he turned those beautiful baby blues on me and uttered the one word that became my undoing, “Please?”
I smiled obligingly at the two of them as my heart sank into the pit of my stomach with the realization that I had just become the one thing no woman ever wants to be to the man she has feelings for; this had gone beyond friendship, beyond best buddies; in this single moment I had moved into the deep, dark abyss that no woman should ever know. I had become the wingman.
He’d made it clear from the beginning that he wasn’t interested, not in that way. But he enjoyed my company, he appreciated my friendship, and so for months I’d been painstakingly breaking in my “buddy” hat, convincing myself that it was better to be friends with this fantastic human than nothing at all. But THIS I was not prepared for. THIS I had never anticipated. I was caught off guard. So, without a game plan, I did what any loyal “friend” would do; I kicked off my shoes, tied on my wingman cape and mounted that fucking bull.
I was entirely unprepared for how painful the riding of the bull would be, not just for my ego; but quite literally full of pain for my entire physical person. With each buck and spin of the beast, its metal sides slammed against my thighs. Hard. My whole body whipped back and forth pulling muscles I was quite sure would never be right again. But after the initial shock, I began to welcome the pain; yearn for it; hoping that the bull beating would somehow beat the stupid right out of me. I began to reason, the bigger the unavoidable inner thigh bruises – the greater the amount of pitiful that would be smacked out of me. So I rode. And when the bull threw me, I got back up and I rode again. And somewhere just after whiplash but a few neck cracks shy of paralysis, my wingman cape flew off and I lost my affinity for beautiful baby blues that say “please.” And when that bull threw me the second time, I landed on my feet.
I’ve never been a good flyer. It’s my one flaw. In those wretched moments of turbulence when the plane starts to bob up and down like a yo-yo at the end of a devil child’s string, I’ve actually been known to grab the arm of the poor passenger sitting next to me and refuse to let go until the death drop is over. Afterwards, I’ll act like I never knew you. It’s less awkward for both of us that way. It’s not the actual flying part that I’m opposed to, I’ll admit that’s pretty incredible. Two thumbs up Wright brothers. It’s the “crashing” part that I have a severe aversion to. And can you blame me? I find nothing romantic about the notion of plummeting to my death inside an oversized speeding bullet surrounded by hundreds of my closest non-friends all of whom are being tossed about the cabin like ragdolls in a wind tunnel whilst screaming for someone to save them. Here’s a tip guys: no one is coming. No one is coming because we are in the middle of the sky in a glorified tin can with wings on a journey to the end of our lives that the rest of the world was far too intelligent to embark upon. So if you could go ahead and use your inside voices, I’d really appreciate it, ‘cause my head is pounding after getting smacked in the face with that fat guy from Row 32.
I’ve always been like this. I don’t know why. But when I was 5, it was not the promise of Epcot and It’s a Small World After All that finally got me on a plane to Disneyland. Honestly, it IS a small world, and I had no intention of making it smaller by willingly mounting the flying death machine. No, in the end, what finally got me on the plane was the realization that if I stayed behind while the rest of my family boarded the beast and then it took a nose dive out of the sky, I would be the only one left. I would be all a lone. I was not about to let that happen. “The family that flies together dies together.” At the age of 5, that became my motto.
These days my air travel tends to be a more solo oriented endeavor and I’d be lying if I told you that my morbidly over active imagination had stopped conjuring up images of death by air monster. But without the company of my family, I can no longer turn to my motto for comfort, so I’ve had to come up with some new tricks. My first impulse was to scour every flight for MacGyver. As long as there was a safety pin, a piece of string and some duct tape, he’d know what to do. But as luck would have it, MacGyver isn’t on tonight’s flight. So tonight I’m forced to consider my life. I’m forced to consider my life, my mortality and the fact that I haven’t done anything yet. But I’m sure I’m on the brink of something. I don’t know what, but something. Something. And people don’t get tossed out of the sky when they’re on the brink of something…. The hopefulness tastes like lying and I have to cover my ears to drown out the laughter of all the almost someones on the brink of something who were spit from the sky before the world knew their names. Sigh. The MacGyver plan would have been so much easier but it seems he’s never actually around when you need him. So in his absence I scrounge up a piece of courage, a spool of daydreams and a small length of naivety, and I fashion myself a bit of Hope.
I’ve been putting it off. Avoiding it. Despite the encouragement of my tens of fans, I’ve been stalling. I’ve been procrastinating because when all else fails, at least I know this much to be true: at procrastination, I am Queen. I can sit around stewing in a pot of good intentions without even a pinch of follow through better than any other person on this whole damn planet. And no one can take that away from me. Oh come on, don’t be jealous. We all have that one thing we’re really, really, exceptionally good at. You’ll find yours. Promise.
And then, of course, there’s the whole “what” of it all. If I were a blog, what kind of blog would I be? And as I pluck this question off the page, rolling it around through my fingers like a blind kid discovering shit; touching it to my face as though the sharp tips of the “w” poking against my cheek will somehow reveal all the answers; holding it before my eyes and examining it from every angle possible as only the Queen of Procrastination can; it occurs to me that the “what” of it all IS the thing.
Hidden not so deep inside the question of “if I were a blog”; lurking just below the surface of a writer’s indecision; is the mirror I’m so loathe to peer into. How can I begin to pinpoint the “what” of a blog, when I can’t begin to pinpoint the “what” of me?….. Woah. Deep. Careful, don’t slip in my dripping sarcasm.
And so it begins. The rush of tears, fears and indecision about the “what” of me bursts forth with the ferociousness of a river finally freed from the prison of its dam. And my procrastination, the last vestige of my armor, crumbles already drowning and rusting in its wake.
And yet, just on the other side of tears, fears and indecision there is ridiculous laughter. I know it. I KNOW it. I know it so hard that I’m positive one day, possibly tomorrow, I’ll look back on right now and fall to the ground in a fit of hysterics. See? I’m already half way there! Glass half full….and half empty…..and half FULL. Of vodka. And in the meantime, I’ll blog. I will lay my weary head on the cool metaphorical edge of the porcelain bus that is the internet, and I will blog. I will blog and I will blog and I will blog. I will blog until I’m empty. And I won’t even make you hold my hair. But if you want to, that’s ok too.