No of course you don’t. For one, you didn’t know me back in 7th grade, when I was 13. Second, I’ve never told you. Third, even if I have told you this story, consider yourself privileged because this isn’t a story I go around telling at social or family gatherings to seem interesting or make people laugh. I say that because when I do tell the story, those I’ve told seem to think I’m embellishing details for entertainment’s sake, and or they can’t stop laughing. The laughing, now, years after it’s happened, I can understand. It is a funny story. The notion that I would exaggerate such an ordeal confuses me. I mean seriously, why would anyone make up a story about getting manhandled by a young bull? This is real life people, a real story, a very real event that occurred in my life. I’m taking the time to tell it here because two very wonderful & funny gals I know (@james&jax & @momgosomething) in the Twitterverse asked for a funny, distracting story….so, ladies, & readers…..here it is.
So. When I was 13 I lived in a little town in Texas called Pleasanton, a small blip on the map about 45 mins south of San Antonio. We had moved there a year prior when I was in 6th grade. We lived in a little housing development off a major roadway that split the development into two sections. In this development, everyone lived on 1-2 acre plots of land. We had two, and had kind of a rancher style, one level house near the front of the property. Now. When I say I lived in the country, I mean I LIVED IN THE COUNTRY. I’m talking livestock, dirt & gravel roads, cactus, & wild animals. It was normal to see an armadillo while waiting for my bus to take me into town to school….where I was the only black girl. Yes. Seriously. In fact, out of a population of 792, there was only one other black family in the district or town. They had all boys. I’ll never forget one of them-his name was Timothy Childs. We got into a fight during homeroom once…but that’s another post, where was I?
Ahh yes. Where I lived. Well let’s move on to my neighbors. They were close I guess you can say in terms of being able to see their houses from my property and just taking a 1-2 minute walk on over to where they were. Not super far apart, but not super close. On one side, were my neighbors…the Clarks. Their son’s name was Ricky. Didn’t really like his parents or siblings much, but he was cool. I played football with him & a couple of other boys from the neighborhood. On the other side, and this is where the story will focus on from here on out, were my neighbors Mr. & Mrs. Lopez, an elderly Mexican couple who had long been retired & were busy enjoying their later years.
Mrs. Lopez was always very quiet, but sweet. She was always up front, next to their house tending her garden or laying out laundry on the line, even on hot summer days. Her hands were soft but strong & I remember she would always show me what she was growing or offer me something to eat while my father & her husband talked about….I don’t know, whatever you talk about when you own land in Texas and are trying to tame it. Which brings me to her husband. Mr. Lopez.
He was a skinny man, wiry and bowlegged. His hands were gnarled from years of labor, but by looking at them & how he handled things you knew he was highly skilled at several things. He was always showing me or my dad how to fix something. When he spoke, he spoke with a brevity & softness that reminded me of Mr. Miyagi…I know, weird reference but go with it, that’s what I thought of whenever I spoke to him.
At the back of our property we had nothing…just cactus & probably a snake breeding ground (YUCK!). But Mr. Lopez? On the back of his property he pretty much had a makeshift barn. Chickens, goats, a pig, two donkeys….It was pretty much the backdrop you’d need for Charlotte’s Web….or the Nativity scene.
Sick of the backstory & descriptive storytelling? Good, then let’s fast forward a year. Toward the end of my 6th grade year, Mr. Lopez added a young calf to his livestock concoction. His name was Bandit. He had ginormous eyes, a tongue longer, wider than Gene Simmons-and it was blueish purple. He was white with large black spots and he became my favorite out of all the Lopez animals immediately. I’d stand at the back of our property, with my hand through the fence, and he’d come loping over, eager for a few pets or a treat. Mr. Lopez would invite me over sometimes to teach me how to feed him. It was fun & very 4H-ish. So we became pals Bandit & I.
I don’t know why I missed it, maybe you just don’t realize these things when you’re young, but it never dawned on me that Bandit was a male calf. Meaning he would grow into a bull. See, missing that very minute detail set the stage for what became the demise of our friendship a year later.
Like I said I was in 7th grade. Had about a month of school left before summer break. Hadn’t seen Bandit much-was busy on the weekends with debate & drama tournaments, so I didn’t really spend a lot of time outside those days. This one particular weekend I had off. Nothing to do but sit outside and watch our dogs, three Rottweilers, while reading a book. Well, I got so engrossed in the book, I didn’t notice that the dogs were no longer playing close by. When I did pull my nose out of said book, what did I see? Three Rottweilers at the back of our property, sliding themselves under the fence and into Mr. Lopez’s barn area-Bandit’s pen to be exact. Letting out a sigh, I got up and ran across our property to our back fence. When I got there (out of breath mind you, ) I beheld three Rotts happily scarfing down cow poop like it was a delicacy & chasing ol’ Bandit around the pen. Not liking where this was going, but having NO IDEA what I was really in store for, I climbed up & over our fence, being careful not to cut myself on the barbed-wire that ran across the top. Landing in the pen, my whole body cringed in dismay: it had rained the night before and had made it nearly impossible to tell what was mud….and what was cow poop. (did you just throw up in your mouth a little? Good, cause I did just typing that, ECK!)
Seeing I had no alternative but to trudge as gingerly as possible through the sludge to get the dogs, I set about to do just that. Only there was nothing gingerly about it. It was a total nightmare for a 13 year old girl who had just started puberty. The more I ran, the more I fell. I ran in one direction, the dogs, thinking it was a game, ran in the other. Meanwhile Bandit is trotting around all of us looking either annoyed or thrilled to have company, I couldn’t tell which-I couldn’t see much out of my mud/cow poo covered eyes. Literally every part of my outer being was covered by this point and I even think I managed to start crying. After about twenty minutes I was finally able to grab the dogs. As I was pushing the last one back under the fence, I heard a snort behind me, felt it hot & moist against my shirt. I turned around: It was Bandit. Only MAN OMG was he WAY bigger than what I had remembered….or even seen lately. He was taller than me at this point, his oversized eyes peering down at me begging for a quick pet from an old friend. I obliged him, scratching him behind his ears, rubbing him along his back, feeling how massive and thicker he felt. When I reached up to pat his head, my hands hit hard, concrete-like matter. Running my hand to one end of it, I realized that this wasn’t just matter, this hard object was the beginnings of HIS HORNS. And by beginning stages I’m talking they weren’t full grown, but they weren’t tiny either. These were horns baby. After this little discovery I decided it was time for me to go. “Well Bandit, ol, buddy, it was nice seeing you, but I have to go take these jokers (pointing to the Rotts) back inside. Sorry for bothering you!”
As soon as I put my hands and one foot on the fence, I felt that long, yucky cow tongue grabbing the back of my shirt and he actually started to CHEW on it! “Okay, look Bandit, playtime is over dude, I have to go. I’ll come back,” I told him, patting him again above his nose between his eyes and gently removing my shirt from his teeth. Seeming to understand, he started to back away….Looking back now, I see another detail that never registered on my radar: while backing away, he was lowering his head. As in, you know, “I’m about to charge somebody” mode? Yea, he was doing that. Only I missed that tell tell detail because I was too focused on trying to get home so I could wash this cow poo off of me. I was halfway up the fence when I felt the STRONGEST and most painful force land squarely on my back, making my spine scream in shock. Before I could even wrap my mind around what was happening, it came again, stronger this time, with more precision & a slight side toss to it, the force of it throwing me off the fence and onto the ground a couple of feet away. Scrambling to my feet, I saw Bandit, pawing the earth, snorting like he was inhaling a line of coke, and lowering his head. I tried to sound soothing and calm as I said his name, but he charged and I ran like hell. Or should I say ran & slipped? There I was slipping & sliding, running like a rodeo clown around a bull pen with a young bull charging after me. Sometimes he caught my legs, giving my shins & calves a good thrashing of the horns, others it was my arms & back.
Oh-in case you were wondering: those dogs? Yea, they were barking & running away while I was getting my patootie kicked. So much for fierce protectors. So there I was getting my 13 year old body beat up & tossed around like a rag doll. In my mind I saw visions of the stampeding bulls in Spain & footage from shows like “When Animals Attack”. Every time I tried to climb the fence, all I got was my legs kicked out from under me and barbed wire slicing into my arms. NOT MY IDEA OF A GOOD TIME.
Speaking of time, I remember thinking to myself, “Where is Mr. Lopez? Like he doesn’t see what’s going on out here?!” After what seemed like an eternity, God must have heard my prayers because all of a sudden I heard his voice (Mr. Lopez’s, not God’s) calling Bandit’s name. The problem? He was at the FRONT of his property. We were 2 acres away. And he was 75, I don’t have to tell you he didn’t walk very fast. So Bandit & I kept playing cat & mouse with my life until Mr. Lopez finally reached the pen. Hearing his owners voice and the sound of the feed can, Bandit forgot about me instantly and ran towards his food. Me? I ran & jumped back over the fence before Bandit changed his mind. I ran all the way back to my house, into the bathroom, where I washed myself off while telling my dad what happened. I won’t get into the rest or his reaction cause well…it’s less than ideal & irrelevant to this story.
Me? Aside from serious pain, bruising, & tattered clothing, I survived. Hobbled like an old woman for a few days, but I recovered.
Bandit? Well…Mr. Lopez came over & apologized for what happened, telling my dad it wouldn’t happen again, he could guarantee it. I didn’t really get what he meant until a few weeks later when he invited us over for burgers.
Bandit’s pen was empty.