It was a Thursday afternoon and I found myself awkwardly standing in Shooters. The previous night my friends convinced me, as good friends often manage to do, to attend Wednesday Night Shooters and “have a little fun.” Long story short, maybe I had a little “too much” fun because I woke up the next morning to find a Facebook message from my friend Chris asking whether I knew where his phone was. It was then that I realized it. Shit. Where’s my phone?
I eventually came to the conclusion that I, too, must’ve lost my phone sometime between dancing and attempting to walk back to West. [Sidenote: Probably not one of my brighter ideas. I ended up hitchhiking, as the journey is about 2.1 miles, so only attempt this if you are wearing comfortable shoes, preferably not heels, and are relatively sober.] So the next day, Chris and I made the embarrassing trek back to Shooters during the daytime to recover our lost items.
If any of you have been to Shooters during the day you will understand the strange feeling you get. Despite it being daytime, Shooters somehow managed to be even more dingy and gloomier than I had drunkenly remembered. And seeing the usually overcrowded club completely empty makes you realize how small the place actually is. For being the place where I’ve had the best college nights—and maybe some of the worst if I am to be completely honest with myself—Shooters during the day seemed more like a deflated version of its nighttime self.
After awkwardly asking the only other person at Shooters, the bartender, about our missing phones—which in case you were wondering weren’t actually there—we started making small talk with him. His name was Bubba, and despite our embarrassing reason for being at Shooters he was welcoming and he gave the place some much-needed vibrancy. But somehow the conversation shifted.
“You see this?” Bubba pointed at his face. Chris and I looked at each other in confusion, not really sure what we were looking at, but decided to nod anyways. Bubba was tall and solidly built. He was maybe in his late thirties, and when he smiled he displayed a set of perfectly straight white teeth. To me he appeared to be pretty much your typical average looking guy. “All this”—he was now wildly gesturing towards his entire body—“was all fixed up. I used to be butt-ugly.”
Again Chris and I looked at each other confused, but highly fascinated with what Bubba was saying. “You see, I had maybe over 30 different surgeries done on me.” He spoke with ease and had a hint of Southern twang. “I was on Extreme Makeover.” I think my jaw dropped at that moment. If that wasn’t enough to make Bubba interesting, he continued to tell us about his time being a professional bull rider.
Eventually I returned to Shooters (also during daytime) to get a full account of Bubba’s story. Here’s what I learned:
How would you describe bull riding?
It’s like sitting down on a two thousand pound piece of ticked off raw steak. As raw as it gets. You climb over the gate and you sit down. And you can just feel the pulse of that bull on your legs. You breath in deep and let it out slow. They pop the gate open and then it’s like they let a hurricane loose. And all you can do is pretty much hold on and pray.
What is the worst injury you’ve received while bull riding?
As a bull rider you are pretty much guaranteed that you are going to get hurt. You just don’t know when, or how bad. One time, a little fifteen hundred pound bull stepped on the back of my head, knocking me unconscious. The bull then turned around and came back for me, plunging its horns into my side. I was still unconscious. By the time the rodeo clowns rolled me over the bull’s back hoof stepped on my…
[He stopped speaking, looked down at his crotch and grimaced.]
Oh. [I understood, and tried to sympathize yet couldn’t really considering the fact that I a am girl.]
Yes. Image fifteen hundred pounds hitting you there. [I tried again. Nope, still nothing. I nodded in sympathy anyways.] I woke up when that happened.
Did you have to go to the hospital after that?
Nope, the traveling EMT stitched me up where I needed it, and put me in a new pair of jeans. My buddies then proceeded to take me to a club after the rodeo. They figured if I drank, the more I’d feel better.
And you continued to bull ride even after receiving all those injuries?
Yes. It was that adrenaline rush. It’s like a drug.
[Sensing my confusion he continued]
You see, my brother-in-law likes skydiving. With my luck the parachute wouldn’t open. And I’ve got friends that like riding horses. I cannot stand horses. I’d rather ride a 2000 pound bull than ride a horse.
Why is that?
I just don’t trust horses.
But you trust a raging bull?
Yes, because they’re always raging. It’s about consistency. You always know it’s going to be a rough ride.
How did you become a contestant on Extreme Makeover? How did that come about?
Well I was all broken up from bull riding. Mama was the one that discovered the casting call for Extreme Makeover at the local mall and insisted that I filled out the application. Mama’s like four foot five, so you ain’t telling her no. I completed the application and went to the casting call, where there were maybe 5,000 people also being considered. But out of those 5,000 people at the casting call they picked me.
How did you feel when they picked you?
It was bittersweet. I mean, I wanted to say to them, “You saw some of the other people here, right? You know how that makes me feel?” But it was a blessing that they picked me. I knew that there were other people who could have used the opportunity, and I was given it. And the fact that my family and my Shooters extended family were there for me at that moment when they told me. It was really emotional.
How many surgeries were you given?
As far as the surgeries they did brow lift, low nose surgery, lower eyelid lift, cheek lift and chin implants. Liposuction of the chin, abdomen, breasts, hips and love handles. LASIK, 6 root canals, 11 extractions and soft tissue grafting.
[In shock] Wow. That’s a lot.
Yah, I think that’s it. I might of missed one.
Were you scared?
I wasn’t scared going into it. The only thing that I was a little concerned about was being put under. I’d been knocked out by bulls, but I had never been put under before.
How did you feel after the surgeries and the entire experience?
Besides getting married, the day they finished everything was one of the best days of my life. Because I could smile without a gap here, and a missing tooth there.
[At that moment he smiled. And I saw that same smile that meant so much to him.]
Although, Chris and I returned to Shooters to find our lost phones, I instead found myself meeting one of the most interesting people I have ever met. Goes to show that you can never guess a person’s backstory, and that you can find the most interesting people in the oddest of situations.