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A Night of Manliness at the Rodeo

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Dallas Boyd
Dallas Boyd

It was dark on the highway last night and the car in front of us hit an old man, then sped off without stopping to see if they’d even killed him or not.

We pulled over and the mans leg was completely snapped in more than a few places, twisted and bent at sickening angles. Despite just being smoked by a speeding car on the main road, he’d managed to hang onto his cheap bottle of piss. When you have no family and earn a dollar an hour working in snake-invested palm plantations, you can be forgiven for this. I started motioning for all the traffic to slow down - the obvious mangled body on the ground did not stop the men slowly driving past from hissing and hollering at me. The man went to the hospital. We went to the rodeo.

By the time we arrived, it was spot on beer o’clock and my hair had puffed up in the humidity like the tail of a fox. We trotted into the dusty stadium with our warm beers to watch the cowboys ride the bulls, who were perhaps less entertaining than the handful of male spectators peacocking themselves around inside the ring. As each cowboy entered the arena on a bucking bull, the men inside the ring would furiously sprint around the outskirts of the ring, zigzaging wildly. Perhaps this would not have seemed so ridiculous if the men did not continue their frantic manoeuvres after the bulls calmed down and stood idly in the centre of the arena, wondering where the exit was. For every step the bull took, the men would sprint wildly across the ring. For every half turn the bull took, the men would run around the bull at least five times, as if they imagined the bull was chasing them.

Cowboys on horses gallop into the ring with tassels and lassos flying. The bull stands motionless in the ring. The cowboys swing their lassos like men possessed, throw them at the bulls, and miss. The bull sniffs the ground and casually saunters off to see if he can find the gate. The cowboys on their horses gallantly run around the arena a couple more times for entertainment value and finally get the rope around the bulls neck to lead it away. The moment the bull is attached to the end of a rope, the male spectators leap back into the ring and bravely try to annoy the bull.

This carries on until they go a little too far and tie ropes around a bull’s stomach and hind legs too tightly, where it strains on his testicles and makes it hard for him to breathe. The bull bucks furiously until he falls. He gets up and falls again, lying in the dust, trying to catch his breath. Men pour into the ring and begin to show their heroism by pulling the bull's tail. I wonder how long it will be before God notes this stupidity and decides to smite someone - I didn’t have to wait long.

Out of all the bull riders, very few will choose to wear a helmet and protective vest, because everybody knows cowboy hats are way cooler. The gates burst open yet again and a young rider rocks into the ring, like all the guys before him, except this time he loses balance and slips to the side. The bucking bull manages to  twist sideways and uses his horns to deliver a few powerful smacks to the riders head. This is extremely exciting for the crowd. The rider is unconsciousness long before he ever hits the dust and then it’s only a matter of seconds before the bull stompity-stomps all over his head and chest. Just another day breaking necks and cashing cheques.

The boy is either dead or lucky but we will never know, because just like the driver of the hit-and-run I witnessed earlier knows, consequences are such a buzz-killer.

The crowd keeps cheering and the beer keeps flowing. Between the men and the beasts, I did not have to look twice to see who had the biggest balls.

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