I generally try to write about nice, relatable things, so what more relatable thing is there this week, the week after Tisha B’Av, than to write about a chasunah I recently went to that featured a mechanical bull?  It was set up right next to the tables on the men’s side. 

WEDDING GUEST: “What side are you on?” 

BULL: “I’m on the men’s side!”

In case you have for some reason never been to a chasunah, I should explain that a mechanical bull is a ride that you get on that is shaped like a bull that is frankly very irritated that you’re on it.  Even though you took off your shoes first.  So it keeps bucking to throw you off.  It also keeps changing angle and speed and even direction, because it’s trying to get you psychologically.  Just like a real bull would, if you tried to ride him at a chasunah.  But just so you won’t go flying across the wedding hall, there’s a tiny little leather handle on top that’s big enough to hold onto with one hand.  You wrap your other hand around that hand, like that’s going to help, as backup in case the first hand gives way. 

The bull also had its own area, surrounded by a moonwalk and a soft inflatable fence.  And anyway, no one actually gets thrown, apparently.  Everyone just falls straight down, usually in slow motion, with their legs still clenched.  Like they’re sitting straight, and then for a few seconds, they’re sitting so that their upper body is parallel to the ground, and then they keep sliding so that they’re basically straddling the bull upside down.

I did find this whole thing a little strange, but then I figured that every chasunah is the same after a while, except to the chosson and kallah I guess, so why not get a mechanical bull?  Make it exciting for everyone!  Except the great grandparents. 

The way I heard it, this particular chosson worked for a party rentals place, so as a joke, he brought along the mechanical bull.  Either way, they put it in the men’s section, because the women would have said, “That’s ridiculous.”  Whereas the men said, “That’s ridiculous.  But I can’t leave before trying it.” 

I really did not want to try it, but something told me that if I did, it would be three articles.  There would be the pants-splitting article, the losing-everything-in-my-pockets article, and the back-pain article.  I had in fact been looking for a topic for after the Nine Days, and when Hashem throws something like this in your lap unexpectedly, at a wedding, you don’t say, “No, my back is gonna hurt.”  You just do it.  Otherwise, Hashem might say, “Find your own topics from now on.  ‘Oh, my back might hurt.’  What do you think humor topics ARE?”

I mean, there’s only one way for this ride to end, and that is to fall off.  It’s not like you can beat the game.  It’s not like a real bull, where you could eventually tire it out or hurt its back enough that it stops bucking. This thing is plugged in.  The only way to win is to stay on until the attendants need to leave.

Also, I’m scared of bulls.  I’ve been learning Bava Kama with my various kids for 3 years straight now, and shor is the first damager listed.  Which toldah is throwing someone off, again? 

On the other hand, I don’t know what I’m scared of.  In the old days, people used to do this all the time, until they figured out that it’s easier to ride horses.  But back then, even when you bought a new horse, the entire way home from the dealership it would be trying to knock you off.  You have to get it used to you. Nowadays, a new car doesn’t buck, unless you have a manual transmission you don’t know how to use.  And even then it can’t really throw you off, unless it’s a convertible. 

Also, real cowboys kept their shoes on, I think.  It wasn’t all socks out there in the West.  I’m also not sure cowboys had to sign waivers.  Because we had to sign a waiver to get on this thing.  I’ve never had to sign a waiver at a wedding before.  Wait, what was that thing I signed at my wedding? 

So I sat down and watched it for a while, passing the time by eating the seudah.  Somebody at my table said that they should have put it behind a mechitzah, because the more you watch people ride it, the less you want to go on.  Also, they should’ve served liquor. 

I did notice that there seemed to be two settings, though.  When a little kid would go on, the attendants put it on “low”, and the kid stayed on for a few minutes.  Then, when an adult would get on, they’d put it on “high”.  That’s how they get you. 

In the high setting, the bull basically makes it a priority to throw you off so it can keep the line moving.  There’s no other ride that tries so hard to throw you off.  Well, technically, every ride does, but all the others come with seatbelts.  Like imagine you went on a roller coaster and they didn’t give you seat belts.  And all you had to hold onto was that little strap that comes up between your legs.  Low, on the other hand, is like those little rides outside the supermarket. 

Actually, the whole ride reminded me of those rides, if those rides were more active and could throw you through a plate glass window.  Has anyone ever checked to see if those rides have these settings?  If they did, I bet a lot more husbands would go grocery shopping.

Nevertheless, I decided to go.  I couldn’t just say, “You know what?  I’ll do this at the next chasunah.”  Also, there were also several members of Hatzalah in attendance, two of whom told me I had to go on it.  If someone from Hatzalah tells you that you have to do something, I think you have to do it.  They’re medical professionals.  Or something. 

Anyway, I found that the best time to go is when everyone’s dancing, so no one’s looking at you.  In case this ever comes up.  There’s no line, no one can hear you shriek, and you get to totally miss the boa constrictor. 

I actually looked up some tips, once I got home, as to what I should have done.  But then, in the old days, they couldn’t look up tips beforehand either.  If they survived, they came away with a tip for the next time.  (“Don’t do it like that.”) 

Chasunahs were a lot more leibedik back then.

I actually asked a guy who went before me if he had any tips, and he said no.  Thanks.  He clearly wanted to see me fall off.  So I gave him a video device so that I could see it too.

My instinct was to take off my hat and jacket.  But on the other hand, cowboys keep their cowboy hats on. And their cowboy jackets?  I don’t know.  They’re also probably not afraid of landing on their cowboy hats.  And the reason I took off my jacket was so that I could put all my stuff in the pockets.  Though I assume that cowboys do keep things in their pockets.  Where else do they keep their pens and their credit cards and their voice recorders?  This is probably why they wear tight pants.

In all, I lasted for about 15 seconds.  This might not seem like a lot to you, but the bull and I both felt like it was enough.  And the good news is that I didn’t hurt my back in the end.  Just my neck and shoulder.  The one attached to the arm that was holding me on.  And I, like a genius, had to pick my dominant arm.  (Basically, you pick which shoulder you want to hurt tomorrow.)  But you know what?  It’s fine.  When your neck and shoulder hurt, you just tell people that it hurts, and they say, “I know.  You just turned your whole body to tell me that.”  If your back hurts, you have to be carried out of the wedding hall by some of the same people who told you to try it.

Hey, you’re the one who decided you were willing to carry me.

The hardest part that the tips don’t cover, though, is how to get onto the bull.  It turns out that no one makes fun of you if you fall off, because everyone falls off, but if you can’t get on, that’ll do it.  The bull even stands still for that part.  The technique that I followed, which I saw some kids doing before me, is that you bounce on the moonwalk a couple of times until you’re jumping high enough to get your leg over, and then you just land on the bull.  And try not to overshoot.  This is what they did in the old days when they wanted to get onto an animal.  They stood next to it on a bouncy thing.  Boing, boing, boing, ON!

This does not look flattering on video.

Another thing I noticed was that when you’re on the bull, it’s bucking like crazy, but when you get off and watch the video, you’re like, “Why is this playing in slow motion?”

It looks like I had it on the kids’ setting.

Maybe that’s the painkillers talking.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia, a monthly humor columnist, and has written six books, all published by Israel Book Shop.  He also does freelance writing for hire.  You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.