I don’t know what it is about me and mechanical bulls but we seem to be drawn to one another. That magnetism becomes a little stronger when it includes a bull riding contest between Hooter’s waitresses and a local strip club to raise money for breast cancer awareness. Yes, you read that correctly – it was a buckoff between the ‘delightfully tacky, yet unrefined‘ girls of America’s favorite wing restaurant and the girls who get paid to take off their clothes – all in the name of a good cause. Who says charity events are stuffy?
I get why some of my married friends are hesitant to hit the town with me on a Saturday night. Even before Ike brought hookers into my kitchen, I had plenty of success finding mischief on my own. There was a time when I believed in the devil but even back then I realized he couldn’t make someone do something. All he could do was present the opportunity. Thus, by the same reasoning, I could be the devil in my married friends’ details. I wasn’t trying to get anyone in trouble but events like sexy bullriding competitions have a way of falling into my lap and sometimes those turn into late-night wet t-shirt contests – but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Ike actually sent me the invite to the event via email. I was sitting at my desk, sipping a hot cup of java when the email lands in my inbox. It takes me all of three seconds to open the email, read it and respond in the affirmative. I didn’t even take note of the day or time because I knew I could make it. I was going to this event.
I might have to change some plans around but I would be there.
“Hey, sorry but I can’t be in your wedding this weekend after all.”
“What do you mean?”
“I forgot I have this rodeo thing I have to attend.”
That conversation never gets easier no matter how many times you have it.
Ike said he sent the invite out to eight guys and all eight responded ‘yes’ within five minutes. That is the beauty of technology; it can bring people together.
It turns out the event is on Saturday so I don’t have to back out of any weddings or cancel on a Groupon, which makes the day all the more enjoyable. The rodeo events start later in the evening so we decide to meet up for dinner and drinks somewhere before heading over to Union Cattle in Manhattan Beach.
I have no idea whether this was an officially sponsored event of Union Cattle or whether it was something informally arranged by the other two establishments, but the invite and the details seemed a little hush hush. When we get there the place is crawling with dudes, all of whom are hovering around the mechanical bull arena. We’re in pretty high spirits as we arrive ready for whatever kind of hijinks await.
Despite what I said earlier about some of our married friends showing discretion as to when they hang out with us, every one of them Ike invited showed up. If I had a wife, I’m not certain how I would go about asking her if I could sneak away for a little while on Saturday to watch strippers ride a mechanical bull. I’m sure there is some kind of domestic etiquette one uses when broaching such a subject, but the finer points of that kind of negotiation are completely foreign to me. Regardless, they all seemed to navigate that precarious discussion with relative ease so I’m certain there is something I am missing.
We find a place among the rabble that will accommodate the ten of us and give us all a good view along the railing. We have large steins of beer at our disposal and are giddy like five-year olds at the circus by the time the emcee of the event gets things going.
The emcee hands a megaphone to a group of guys next to us who look like they just got back from a Robot Battles competition. Some people might refer to these kinds of guys as the Chess Club or the crowd from Comi-Con but both of those groups hold a warm place in my rotten little heart and so I will just pick on the hobbyists who design robots for gladitorial jollies. Needless to say, these guys don’t appear the kind who will add any extra spice to the event.
Things get started and it’s just ok. If you’re reading this, then you’re probably like me and when you hear there is going to be a Hooters girls vs Strippers contest on top of a mechanical bull, your imagination runs to the wilder side. Then it gets started and it’s sort of – lame.
Here’s the deal, if I invite you to come to an event that will have free food and drink all night and you show up and realize the free drink is Kool-Aid and the free food is Fritos, then you may be a little disappointed. There was nothing dishonest in how I advertised it to you. There is indeed free food and drink when you arrive and we will be serving it all night but it’s not quite what you expected. You wanted wine, champagne and caviar – or at the very least those little mini-quiches you can hold in one hand that are slightly upscale and conveniently tasty. You simply expected more.
So it was with the event. We were hoping for champagne and being served Kool-Aid. The bullriding was so-so and the girls must have been instructed to dress conservatively as there wasn’t a sight of either a Hooters outfit or a pasty. The robot club next to us was doing nothing to urge on the competitors as they just handed the megaphone back and forth to one another and occasionally mumbled something inaudible into it.
I’m not the kind of guy to just stand around and watch the Titanic sink. I am a man of action and so if the ship can be saved, I will do everything in my power to save it. I ask the robot boys for the megaphone and they look relieved to be done with it. I step back over to my circle of friends and lean into the arena and start my own emceeing.
I was born with a loud voice – I mean from the getgo. Growing up, I would be in trouble all the time for talking in class because my voice would carry and the teacher would overhear me. It turned into more of a blessing as I got older and had the chance to do a public speaking event here or there but where it really comes in handy is in a crowded place where I want to be heard. If you add a megaphone to it then it becomes a weapon I can wield at my discretion. It was time to get this event on track.
After the third rider completed her less than memorable ride, my voice came bellowing from the megaphone:
“It’s time to put the sexy back into bullriding! Make some noise if you want to see real entertainment.”
Finally, the place starts to come alive. Guys start cheering and the cowboy operating the bull looks up at me and smiles. Even the staff seemed a little disappointed up to this point. The emcee pointed to me as the new rider approached the bull and so I complied with a hearty, “Let’s give a hand to our next lovely rider!”
Now people are cheering. Now it’s starting to resemble a party.
All of the bull rides so far have been slow, which should give the ladies an opportunity to show off their skills for dance or just being hot. Let’s be clear here – this is a contest and as far as I can tell the scoring metrics should be hotness charted against sexy moves with a standard deviation factored in. Take that robot boys!
So far, we have seen some pretty ladies atop the bull but nothing that ventured into hot territory and most looked slightly embarrassed, which brings the sexy portion of the scoring down to zero. The next rider is a Hooters girl and once she’s on top of the bull it starts its slow pacing again.
She seems to have a little more life than the rest but is still holding back. I step in to let her know.
“Ladies, this is a contest. Let’s see what you got. This isn’t bull sitting, it’s bullriding!”
The rider looks to me and laughs and the crowd reinforces my suggestion with a few solid ‘fuck yeahs!’ She starts to feed off the vibe and her ride instantly becomes a little more enticing. Now there is promise for the event to resemble what I first pictured when Ike sent the invite. She completes a respectable ride and dismounts. There are more cheers this time and the audience is once again engaged.
The next rider is from team dancer. She has platinum blond hair, a wasp-like tiny waist and breasts the size of which go beyond questions of human intervention. She is marvel of bipedal locomotion as there really isn’t any way she should be able to move without falling over. She’s wearing a pink cowboy hat, painted on jeans and t-shirt with the club’s name on it. I think she is the perfect candidate for Stage 2 of saving the Titanic.
She starts her ride and is miles ahead of the competition already. She is leaning into the bull and obviously is an artisan of her craft. Once she gets into the rhythm I decide to give her a little extra incentive through the megaphone. In my loudest voice, I rattle the walls with the phrase:
“Skin to win! Skin to win! Skin to win!”
I don’t want to toot my own horn but that was something I thought up on the fly. It works because it’s short, it’s easily repeatable and it rhymes. Chants are so much more effective when they rhyme.
The chant spreads like wildfire. The emcee looks at me a little nervously but the cowboy operating the bull is nodding his head and chanting along. Now you can’t even hear the music in the arena because the whole place is reverberating with one communal chant.
The wonder of bipedal movement atop the bull gets our drift immediately and the pink cowboy hat is flung seductively out into the crowd. She’s holding the bull with her left hand while her right arm swings languorously off to her side. Then she grabs her shirt and in one fluid motion it comes off and joins her pink cowboy hat. The arena transforms into the exact scene we thought we were going to find when we first came in. There is a gorgeous, if not entirely anatomically believable, woman astride a slowly gyrating bull in the middle of the room who is clad only in a red bra and painted on jeans. She has a tattoo of what looks to be a pin-up girl on her shoulder and someone in the crowd has the good sense to toss her the pink cowboy hat so her outfit would be complete.
If you took all the previous scores combined they couldn’t match the show bipedal girl just put on. The emcee is still smiling at me nervously as she dismounts to thunderous applause. A Hooters girl is next, a drop-dead sexy black girl who is wearing a black cowboy hat.
As she’s getting ready to mount the bull, the emcee walks over to me and asks me to keep it down. I tell him of course and as soon as he turns his back to me, I start the ‘skin to win’ chant again. He whirls around and rips the megaphone from my hands but just like on the streets of Egypt and Tunisia, the people’s voice would be heard. And hear in Manhattan Beach that voice was telling the establishment: Skin to Win!
The new cowgirl knows what to do and before the ride even starts she has removed her sexy little western shirt and begins her ride in short-shorts, a pink bra and a black cowboy hat. Her ride trumps the last, despite the protestations of the emcee demanding she put her shirt back on. The walls continue to rattle with my chant and there is great joy amongst the patrons and the competitors.
The bipedal wonder rider is now going around the room taking donations for the cause in her pink cowboy hat and the money is flowing. I lean into the arena again and even without the megaphone am able to bellow out above the noise: Gentlemen, empty your wallets for breast cancer awareness!
Another hearty cheer rocks the room and the bipedal wonder walks over to me and extends her hat. I give her the entire $287 I have in my wallet. She smiles at me and asks if we would like to come to an after-charity event hosted at a late-night spot.
I tell her we would be honored. She smiles at me, kisses me on the cheek and says, “Great, you guys can judge the wet t-shirt contest!”
I turn to my friends and immediately ask, “Ok, what is everyone’s curfew and who feels like judging a wet t-shirt contest?”
The devil can’t make you do anything; he can only present you the opportunity, a fantastic and wonderful opportunity.