Hanging Up the Horns

 Today’s Drinking Story:

Here, we see Patrick Wensink grudgingly grow up and stop imitating livestock. 

Since the pioneers founded Reno, NV, people have filed divorce papers for a blizzard of reasons. Just ask anyone in Hollywood, most millionaires, or those people addicted to rented formal wear.

But has anyone ever been divorced for impersonating a bull?

It seems I might be just the husband to test this theory.

It starts, like so many of the high-water marks of life, with drinking.

“Is The Bull coming out tonight?” I hear people ask probably once per social gathering.

“We want The Bull! We Want The Bull!”

“Come on, please.”

Parties, family holidays, dental appointments, you name it. This question finds my ears over and over again. Like a tipsy buddy who forgets for the fifth time that he already told you about his sweet new apartment. It’s Groundhog Day, but with bourbon and imitation cattle.  

“You’ll have to ask Leah,” I say, usually chain-guzzling whiskey to help fight the bullish urge. My hands start to shake, aching to form horns. But, like a gentleman, I direct my fans to my wife.

Her answer, as always, is “Hell, no.”

And then I have to watch their smiles sink into disappointment. I have to pretend I don’t see the boozy glimmer in their eyes, thinking: He’s putting us on. The Bull has to come out.

It kills me to let people down like this.

The Bull, sadly, has hung up his horns in the name of marital bliss. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to strut out into that intoxicated ring one more time.

The Bull, you see, is a party trick I do.

Or, rather, a party persona I step into when my mood and blood alcohol level are just right.

Don’t get your hopes up, there’s nothing overly amazing about The Bull. At least from my hazy memories of Bulldom. The maneuver was born years ago, the night before my brother-in-law’s wedding. We went out for drinks, ending up at some empty townie bar within walking distance of our house. For reasons still unclear, we requested lemon drop shots and tequila. The bartender could pour tequila no sweat, but admitted the best he could do on the shot was vodka and lemon juice.

They were both bottom shelf and disgusting.

Therefore, we drank at least five each. Then, a piece of liquor-time magic stampeded into my life.

Bos Taurus. Texas Longhorn. Angry steak. Now known simply as: The Bull.

Walking home at closing time, I stuck out both index fingers from fists, situated them atop my skull and started charging at the rest of my wobbly group. I said I was trying to “gore” them. “Beware! I am The Bull!”

Eventually, imaginary red capes were waved. I stamped and snorted and usually tackled that unfortunate matador into a neighbor’s grass. I recall lots of laughter and others lining up for a piece of the action. I was Stallone taking on all arm wrestlers in Over the Top.

Inspired by blurred vision, I brought out The Bull a few more times after that. The inebriated duel between man and beast was always a hit.

Now, whenever my speech starts slurring, I hear cries of “Toro! Toro!” from various friends and relatives and law enforcement officers around the Louisville Metro area.

But, sadly, The Bull remains penned. I have a distinct feeling if I brought our four-legged friend out of retirement, I’d end up before a judge with my wife on her own separate side of the aisle.

Leah hates The Bull.

It annoys her. It scares her. It causes the two of us to fight.

She is a much more articulate arguer when drinking, which means I usually lose these fights. Which means I hate these battles all the more.

Why all the fuss, right?

As best I can recall, I don’t attempt to gore her. I don’t leave hoof prints in the carpet. I’ve never shat in the kitchen. Not once! But, still, when a party crowd starts howling for the horns she shoots a look that says: “Absolutely not!”

“I don’t know why,” she tells me tonight when I ask why she hates The Bull so much. “It’s embarrassing.”

“I’ve never tackled you, have I?”

“I just don’t want to have to take the bull home, is all.”

“But people love The Bull!”

“I think everyone likes it because they like seeing you make a fool of yourself.”

And like that—whispering in the kitchen so our newborn (Daddy’s little veal) doesn’t wake from all the bullshit—my feelings are hurt.

That sinking in my chest isn’t because Leah hates The Bull. Her vegan leanings in party entertainment are an established fact. I’m okay with that. Just like she knows I get annoyed when I have to spend more than twenty minutes at IKEA, she also accommodates. It’s called “Compromise,” bachelors, look it up.

That damaged feeling comes from the likelihood that my friends and family are laughing at me. Am I this popular because it helps them feel better, thanking God they’re not as drunk or as clumsy as this side of beef?

It’s confusing.

It reminds me of hearing through the childhood grapevine that the guys you thought were your buddies think you’re lame and do impressions of you behind your back. It’s like a girlfriend dumping you with little more than a shrug of the shoulders. It’s not unlike a cop just smirking when you say you don’t know the answer to: “Do you know why I pulled you over today?”

The confusion and sadness help me make a difficult decision. The Bull will stay retired.

The point being, sacrifices must be made in life. Sometimes you have to let down an entire room full of people in order to make one person happy. Sometimes our bovine needs simply cannot be met whether you are The Bull or the matador. It’ll be hard saying goodbye to my beefy alter ego. It will not, however, be difficult running my proverbial horns through any combination of tequila, vodka and lemons from here on out. Good riddance.  

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5 Responses to Hanging Up the Horns

  1. Leah - Pat's old lady. says:

    This article is Leah approved.

  2. Unemployed Matador says:

    This is the saddest story I’ve ever read.

  3. Bullophile says:

    As a Bullophile, I do want to clarify that, in my booze-addled opinion, those of us that enjoy The Bull are most definitely not laughing AT you, Pat, but rather enjoying an incredibly accurate imitation of a drunk Brahman in human form. It’s so accurate, it’s downright scary.

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