Monday, September 22, 2008

The Bull Diaries

Ladies and gentlemen, the Stockyard Queen proudly presents the latest installment of Mr. SoCal Jay's ongoing initiation into the addictive sport of professional bull riding. She assures you all that she will be posting something in a day or two about the Jacksonville event, but in the meantime she begs you to enjoy this stellar contribution to the literature. Without further ado, here is:

Episode Five: Cooking Beef vs. Watching Beef Buck--an Inquiry into Values

Sugar Muffin and I arrived at the rather palatial estate of Al and Sue, up there in Arroyo Grande, just in time for cocktails. I’d no sooner put my bag down when I asked, “Are you SURE you get the Versus channel, sir?” Al assured me that he did, and directly inquired if I might care for a glass of champagne. I did.

Soon thereafter, he showed me the small, round, thick filets, each wrapped with a strip of bacon affixed in place by a large wooden toothpick. “I may need your help with these,” he said. “You’ll be fine,” I nodded. “Sear them on a medium-high heat for a minute or two on each side, then reduce the heat to cook ’em to everyone’s preference.” He replied, “It’s that ‘preference’ thing that I’m worried about. Especially when it comes to the girls.”

An hour or so later, five minutes before the start of the broadcast, I interrupted a conversation on the back porch that had something to do with the American financial crisis and related matters. It wasn’t easy. “Mr. McClaren,” I said, “Might I ask you to set me up, now, to watch the bulls?”

He took a quick look at his watch and said, “Follow me.” When an ex-Special Forces hero from the Vietnam War who was special among those most special forces says something like that to you, you follow. Within a minute, the Versus channel was on, and I marveled at the display. We’re talking a five-foot wide screen, and polyphonic sensuous-surround sound. Ye brethren, this is DIFFERENT than our little TV that we open a closet door to watch.

Well, the first ten or fifteen minutes were interviews. Quite naturally among those gathered, I suppose, I was left alone to “enjoy” these conversations. But by and by, competition commenced, and I was blown away. I could see, like, EVERYTHING. Facial twitches on bulls and men. Sponsor’s patches, in detail. Bull slobber flying in wide arcs. Superstars I recognized from essential “Turn Him Out” postings and comments. It was . . . fantastic.

Unfortunately, about 45 minutes into the broadcast of the Jacksonville Invitational, Al came to me and said, “Uh, I’m recording this, so we can watch it later, pal! Any chance you can join us out back? I could use your help on the filets.” Within the first nanosecond, I recalled how many, many times he and I had burned beef on the barbecue, and that it had never mattered before. But within the next second I recalled that there were ladies with us, this time. “Of course,” I said. “I’m right behind you.”

Well, I never saw the rest of the bull riding competition. Missed the last hour or so altogether. But I did have the opportunity, for the first time, to see some bulls and several bull-riding all-stars do their thing where I could SEE what the heck was going on! It was . . . a treat.

And Al and I only screwed up—two geniuses working together—ONE of the filets.



shannon said...

I guess Al doesn't understand that nothing is more important that PBR viewing :)

But, it's great to hear that you got to see some of it and with such great clarity! How I'd love to see one on a big screen like that. Glad to hear you're still enjoying it. One day, you'll get the see the whole thing and, if your lucky, a live event.

As for the steaks, I'm glad I'm not the only one who burns them more often than not. I just can't get the hang of it!

Jay said...

Shannon: You'll get the hang of it! Barbecuing steaks is just like asking a girl or woman or even a wife out for a date: IT TAKES PRACTICE. (Sometimes you under cook it, sometimes you burn it. It's a "touchy-feely" thing...) Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing it all live, come the Spring. Weird plans are afoot...