Nathan's column: Cowboy life is a bunch of bullI will never be a cowboy. That horse left the corral a long time ago, around the time a middle school-aged Nathan took a trip out West and participated in a cattle drive.
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
I will never be a cowboy. That horse left the corral a long time ago, around the time a middle school-aged Nathan took a trip out West and participated in a cattle drive.
I remember being upset I had to wear jeans while I rode rather than the sweatpants I preferred. Middle school Nathan was pretty stylish.
Mostly what I remember, though, was hours spent in what you might call a vicious cycle of bovine motivation. I would ride up to a cow that had chosen to lie down rather than continue on in the direction I was trying to move it, yelling at the cow until it got up to walk again and watching as it meandered a dozen feet or so before deciding to sprawl out again in a fair imitation of the leather sofa I had started to wish it would soon become.
Some people choose to be vegetarians for health reasons or because of concerns about animal cruelty. I will never become a vegetarian for the simple reason that, after that cattle drive, I really, really hated cows.
We eventually got the cows to their destination and settled into a mountain cabin that was somehow even more remote than the ranch house where we started. We ate a dinner of cold fried chicken, and I went to bed only to wake up in the middle of the night in a room without electricity convinced my entire bed had somehow wound up in the middle of a herd of cattle.
Whether it was the cow vision or the cold chicken, I threw up then, and for the rest of the trip was referred to as Sick Boy by the rancher whose cattle we had just badgered through the mountains.
Somehow the notion of life on the open range lost some of its romance after that.
I bring all of this up because last weekend I came as close as I’m ever likely to come to the cowboy life.
I learned how to operate a mechanical bull.
It happened at Ramble Jam, a country music festival put on last Friday and Saturday by the Farmington Rotary. I filled a number of roles, one of which just happened to be spelling the operator of the bull, which had been installed to entertain drunk people in between bands.
There’s actually not much to operating a mechanical bull, but there was still a certain feeling of power that came along with the job. With a few twists of a knob I could determine how long each ride lasted. I could ease kids into their rides or quickly toss annoying drunk people onto the inflatable pat that surrounded the bull.
I learned several things while I stood at my post. I learned, for example, that it’s best not to ride a mechanical bull if you’re wearing a skirt. I also learned that anyone who throws up while riding the bull has to clean up after themselves. Apparently mechanical bull operators don’t get paid enough to clean up puke. I don’t think I’m paid enough to mop up vomit either, but there’s usually very little chance my interviews will make someone queasy enough that they’ll lose their lunch. It’s one of the benefits of the job, I guess.
I never actually rode the bull. It was enough for me to watch. It made me think of my cowboy days. And that mostly made me really want a burger.