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Miami County sports editor Gene Morris waves his right arm while holding on tightly for his eight-second ride on the mechanical bull at the Paola after prom party at Town Square Events on Saturday, April 24.

Against my better judgment, advice from friends, including my health and life insurance agents and watching the kids make it look so easy, I gave into some peer pressure and signed my life away before riding the mechanical bull at the Paola after prom at Town Square Event Design.

I saw a few crazy rides, but here is the thing, I wasn’t riding for a time. When it got bad, I was just going to bail. I thought to myself, how much harm could it do? I mean the mechanical bull is surrounded by cushioned matting.

I am not a member of the MBRA (Mechanical Bull Riders Association), if there is such a thing.

I called my friend Jill Kimbrough about riding the mechanical bull that evening, before I had decided on whether or not to mount that big beast at all. She gave me some very strong suggestions, none of which I followed, much to her dismay. But mind you, she is no professional bull rider, either. Jill could not emphasize enough how important bare skin was, pleading with me to wear a pair of Speedos or some shorts.

OK. First of all, if you think I own a pair of Speedos, you are out of your mind. If you think I would ever wear them, if I did, well, you are O-for-2. I have also not worn shorts in more than 40 years, so there was no way I was going to cause a white out. Besides, if I rode the mechanical bull, I was going for style points as the best dressed rider ever with my sport coat and the whole nine yards, including my dress slacks, my favorite yellow shirt for the Panthers and my argyle socks, all of which apparently offered no additional grip from the waist down.

She was fairly certain I would not be riding the mechanical bull, or if I did, the ride would be short lived due to my choice of apparel. Quite honestly, I didn’t think there was a possibility of doing it either.

However, I kept seeing the high school kids do it. And again, they made it look soooo easy.

Forget about the eight seconds. Carson Gleghorn rode the mechanical bull multiple times and was closer to eight minutes than eight seconds and that machine was cranked up there for a while.

I saw Morgan Clark ride the mechanical bull as well, and when she had enough of it, she simply stepped off of it. I thought, now that is genius. Just get off the mechanical bull on my terms — right — how hard could that be?

I did see one pretty horrific dismount from the mechanical bull, where a student went flying between the two horns and over the head of the bull before doing a forward tumble roll and coming to rest on the mat.

That vision almost kept me from trying it out. But, I had never ridden a mechanical bull before. No matter what my age, I was determined to face my fears, have some fun and enjoy the ride, even if is my last ride of my life. Obviously, since I am writing about my adventure, I survived.

I am pretty sure I strained both of my quad muscles just trying to get on the mechanical bull. I mean you are trying to leap onto the bull from a surface pretty much identical to the moon walk game.

I was not even close the first time. The second attempt, I thought I was going to flip over it. I looked at the ride operator and said this was getting a bit embarrassing.

All I could think about after two failed attempts was the movie Chicken Run, where they were trying to figure out why their plane was not able to get off the ground and remain in flight very long. They needed more thrust. That is what I was missing.

Julie Gleghorn, the Paola Panther photographer, asked if she needed to come out there and give me a boost. I said, please, do not embarrass me any more than I already am.

I remained determined and finally, praise the Lord, made it on top of that massive beast on my third attempt.

Julie did, however, capture plenty of pictures to prove I did it. I have seen several videos as well.

There are a couple of awesome pictures of me riding the mechanical bull. I have to say, the pictures make my ride look a lot more impressive than it was. The operator took care of me, as a near senior citizen, and the machine was going very slow. I also asked Julie to take pictures in a hurry, assuring her I would not be on the mechanical bull very long.

As it turns out, I was on it for more than eight seconds, but again, it was not turned up very fast. The mechanical bull’s strap must have been loosened, because he was not bucking hard either. That or the operator must have a heart for geriatric bones.

Once it started moving faster, still pretty slow, I tried to move back on the mechanical bull and could not. My weight soon shifted to one side and once the momentum had started, there was no recovering.

I was now second-guessing myself, maybe Jill was right and I should have had more skin in the game.

I stared taking Ibuprofen when I got back to the office, knowing full well I would not be feeling the full extent of my aches and pains for another two or three days.

In the end, it is not the seconds in your life that count. It is the life in your seconds.

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