"It's college night! Drunk co-eds undulating on a mechanical bull!" I said enticingly. I was hardly sincere about my enthusiasm, I must admit, but I needed a story.
My friend, I suspected, was a little worried about how such an outing might reflect on his Porsche-driving rock-star image. But with a little reverse psychology ("No, really, I'll be OK... I drive down to Hollywood late at night by myself all the time") and a hint of unspoken desperation (the biggest, most vulnerable look my blue eyes could manage), I finally roped him.
"Call me 'Bob,'" he insisted in the car, to prove that I hadn't entirely broken him.
So I got a sidekick, and "Bob" got his anonymity, and before we even ordered our first drinks, he had loosened up.
"She's hanging on for her life!" he squealed as a young woman clung to the thin fabric on one side of the saddle, her knee hooked around the bull's hump while her mount twirled to toss her.
Then the mechanized beast slowed. Its slender rider was laughing so hard, she was still having trouble sitting up. She'd barely righted herself before the bull began toying with her, jostling her just enough that she finally slid to the padded mat where she continued to spasm with laughter. Then the steer sobered her by nosing her in the ass until she crawled away on all fours.
There was no lull in this show.
The DJ spun Justin Timberlake's "Sexyback," and the next hottie hopped on. With a bounce, bounce, hop on the cushioned floor, she mounted her ride and raised her left arm to signal her readiness. The tauro-robot began to buck again, and she rose and fell with it, arching her back as it kicked and grinding into it as it reared.
It was more than the standard Urban Cowboy stuff, and not just because of the hip-hop music. The bull master in the "Meat Market" T-shirt was really putting a Dirty South spin on things. Bouncing the beast until its hump was positioned in that critical pleasure point between the rider's legs, the beast master provided the young woman a series of quick, rhythmic bounces as she collapsed over the hump, her thighs still gripping her mount.
Meat Market had a devilish grin on his handsome face as he similarly pleased each young woman to music by the likes of Jay-Z and Fergie. As they rode, a camera snapped photos of the most compromising and sexiest moments and displayed the best images on notebook-sized LED screens.
"Those are some really good shots!" Bob exclaimed, giving me a little nudge. "You should get up there."
After seeing the hot brother with the well-defined cheekbones so obviously enjoying translating the standard bucking bronco into his own bump-and-grind bull ride, well, it was more than a little tempting. It would take more than two margaritas to convince me it was a good idea, though.
I shook my head. A safety-first girl (it's true!), I'd Googled "mechanical bull, injuries" before I'd made the trip. Whether you want to call it "Urban Cowboy Syndrome" or "Empty Saddle Syndrome," I certainly wasn't signing on for sprains and contusions or worse. I love my lady business too much to sustain "urethral injury and significant retroperitoneal hernatoma" for one good ride.
That was my excuse, anyway. The truth was, I wasn't keen on the idea of the public stimulation of my private places, especially in front of Private Bob.
It sure did look like fun, though. One woman had taken off her shirt and lay back on the bull, giving the audience the best view of her wobbly bits as the mirrored ball, which hung from a huge, illuminated wagon wheel overhead, sprayed light over the scene. She writhed there with her long hair falling down the sides of the creature, whose handler now provided a slow, satisfying ride.
"You looked good up there," I told her later, when she was basking in the afterglow.
Jennifer happened to be a law student who had come down from Providence for her spring break. The afterglow, it turns out, was actually only partially the result of her exertions. The rest was a nuclear sunburn.
"You have to try it!" she gushed of her bull ride.
I explained my reluctance to risk it.
"They do make you sign a contract, but I read it, and I'm like, 'I hate to break it to you, honey, but that's bullshit,'" she said, her bravado aided by both a legal education and a healthy dose of hootch.
As far as legalities, I guess the place wasn't concerned with equal opportunity. Guys definitely got short-changed in their riding experience. Some invited the discrimination unwittingly.
Like a hip-hop cowboy, the first male rider busted a B-boy spin on the saddle as he mounted. Thereafter, his ride was brief.
"Three, two, one... goodbye!" Meat taunted, showing the rider who was in charge by throwing him with a herky-jerky spin on "goodbye."
The next male rider evidently didn't understand the tipping system.
"A dollar?" Meat Market exclaimed into the mic. "Hold on, boy; you're in for a bumpy ride!"
Later, the show reached a lull while another guy sat astride a barely kicking bull. The rider kept checking over his shoulder to see what was up.
Bob spotted the problem.
"He's not even looking!" he observed of the bull operator. "He's flirting with that girl!"
We caught up with the first Y-chromosomed rider, who identified himself as "Sam Bam." Despite the apparently disappointing experience, he was completely satisfied.
"I'm here all the time," he told us. "I'm 36 I'm an old ass but they call me the Seminole Hard Rock Kid."
I strained to hear him over the din, but Sam, who had lots of nervous energy, upped his wattage to compete with the music.
"This place is hard. You'll party your life away," Sam Bam warned with a casino's Player's Club card on a lanyard around his neck. "You should be here on the weekends when it's activated. I don't sleep if you sleep, you die I live here. I don't even work anymore."
I wondered aloud how he could afford to be a player.
"I got 20 bucks from my parents," he admitted. "But you don't even have to spend money here to have fun."
True. You can always have someone else bankroll your good time.
Soon, I spotted Jennifer under the beer-bottle chandelier trying to dance with a new friend a handsome kid rocking the business-thug look in a blazer and lots of long braids beneath his Yankees ball cap.
"Want me to hold those?" I asked her, extending my hand for the half-dozen photos of her on the bull.
"Are they going to end up in the paper?" she laughed, holding them out to me. "Isn't he cute?"
Pulling out my camera, I offered to preserve the moment. Evidently, she wasn't worried about the fate of these pictures. The next thing I knew, I'd squeezed off a bunch of shots of her with her new stud all over her his arms around her, his hands on her breasts (over the shirt), and the grand finale his tongue on her nipple (shirt pulled aside) with her e-mail address written on a piece of paper held beneath her exposed mamms.
She seemed to care less about whether what happened at Hard Rock stayed at Hard Rock than whether what got rock hard would stay rock hard. And I appreciated that party aesthetic.
Near 2 a.m., the crowd was starting to thin. I didn't understand why. I mean, nothing says "good times" like the smell of bleach, and now it was plenty potent as an employee mopped. When the lights over the bar came up and the bull retired, I made my introductions to the man behind the bull, 34-year-old Corey Davis, who'd been sent down two and a half years earlier by the Chicago club where he worked.
"You look like you're having so much fun!" I said.
"Would you want to get a ride from someone who looked like this?" he asked, scrunching his handsome face into a cartoonish grimace.
His look was paying off the tip bucket was stuffed with bills of all denominations.
"What kind of credentials do you need for a job like this?" I queried. (It's never too late for a career change.)
"I guess you gotta know someone," he said, his dark eyes still sparkling with mischief despite the late hour. "I didn't even want to do it at first. You know, I expected the whole country thing."
When he smiled at me, his cheekbones became little cliffs, the kind a woman might leap from if he spurned her.
"On the weekends, it's really crazy. Everyone wants to outdo the next person. If one girl takes her top off, the next one will get naked."
"You gotta ride the bull," he enticed.
He almost had me.
"C'mon, there's no one here."
He was right. Other than Private Bob, who was hanging with a casino bartender he knew, only a couple of staffers remained. I wondered what sort of agave-induced undulations he could produce from me. Taking a deep breath as I deliberated, I inhaled a lung full of the bleach that was evaporating from the floor. It had a sanitizing effect.
Giving my tempter a wink, I replied, "You can't play a playa."
He gave me an appreciative laugh and a knowing nod.
I would be leaving with my dignity. But at what price? Because, in truth, I wanted to ride that bull until the cows came home.