Have you wondered how I came to call this blog “An Adventure A Day”? Stick with me long enough, and I’m sure it will become rather clear. One thing I truly believe is the importance of trying something new each day. The size of the thing doesn’t matter, it’s the experience that makes the difference. Whether it’s a new food, a new approach to an old quandary, or something completely out of the blue, I try to add one thing to my catalogue of experience every day.
So when my five-year-old told me that she would like to ride the mechanical bull at the Hohenfels German-American Folksfest, I was all for it. Hurray for her I thought, she’s just like me. I’ve never ridden a mechanical bull before, and it looked relatively safe. A lady standing nearby assured me that an even smaller girl had not only successfully ridden the bull, but she kept her hat on. How bad could it be? I handed over 2.50 Euro to the German cowboy operating the bull. My daughter looked over at the two German cowboys operating the controls, and then at the brown and white spotted bull, with horns as big as she was. She started having second thoughts.
“I’m scared” she said, “I don’t want to do it. I changed my mind.”
Hmm… I’ve already given the German cowboy my money, I thought. I don’t really want to ride the bull, but…
“Well, how about if I do it with you” I offered. She hesitantly nodded in agreement.
Together we approached the giant mechanical bull with trepidation. I threw her up on front, hiked my Dirndl over my knees and heaved myself aboard. Oh, did I neglect to mention we were wearing dresses? Yeah, we were absolutely ready to ride a bull.
My son was the only person in the whole festival to witness our spectacular ride. It was glorious. I could tell that the two German cowboys were impressed. They increased the velocity of the bucking with every successful turn we made. My daughter clung to the small stub of a rope, gripping it between both hands, her little body tensed in front of me. I held on to the inch or so of rope that she didn’t have in her death grip. I tried to maintain my balance by clutching the bull with my legs. It has been years since I last rode a horse, and to put it mildly, those muscles are out of condition. With one arm around my daughter, one hand on the fraction of rope she allowed me to touch, and my knees sunk as far into the solid mass of moving cowhide covered plastic below me, I tried to focus on just staying upright.
Then there was my son running from side to side yelling at us. At first he offered encouragements, but the longer we stayed atop the bull, the more concerned he became. Then he started telling us to just fall off, because it was never going to stop if we didn’t. He was yelling at us in English, the two German cowboys shouted instructions in German as they lazily smoked their finger-length cigars, my daughter kept tightened her grip on the rope, and I could feel the muscles in my legs becoming permanently bowlegged as we continued up and down, around and around.
I’m not sure how long we remained on the bull, but my legs were beginning to shake from the prolonged muscle usage. Our Dirndls continued to flow gracefully in the wind – the only graceful part of this expedition. Finally, I had enough. I began to wonder if my six-year-old knew something I didn’t, after all his German is markedly better, and he’s not hanging onto babe the big blue ox for dear life. I quickly reviewed our options and decided the best thing we could do was take a dive. I grabbed my daughter, launched both of us sideways and fell like a drunken college student to the mat below, Dirndls flying every which way.
My legs were still unsteady beneath me as I stood on the mat, only managing to shake my head in acknowledgement at the German cowboy at the controls when he asked me if we wanted another go round. Seriously, I thought, how could we possibly top that ride?
We walked back over to my husband, who somehow managed to miss the whole thing. Our glorious bull ride went completely unwitnessed. As for my daughter, the bull ended her night. As soon as she stepped off that mat, she was ready to go home.
If you’d like to take on the bull yourself, the Festival runs from 30 April to 5 May. Valid identification is required for entry to the fest.