Pine Nuts: No dignity in almost being killed by a cow |

Pine Nuts: No dignity in almost being killed by a cow

McAvoy Layne
Special to the Bonanza

Someone asked me the other evening in passing, “When do you suppose you were ever the closest to death?”

Nobody had ever asked me that question before and I had never given it any thought. But I blushed at the very memory of it, for it was an ignoble moment, perilously close to getting stepped on by a cow.

I was living on the Island of Maui at the time and a cowboy who happened to be there for the Makawao Rodeo announced to a crowded bar that he could ride a bull backwards better than I could ride one frontwards.

Well I had never ridden a Brahma Bull before, so I didn’t know whether he could or whether he couldn’t, but I was young enough to put up $100 to find out.

So up country we went to the Makawao Rodeo to ride the same bull, me facing out the front while holding onto a rope, and my new found friend facing out the back while holding onto a tail.

This was bad judgment, and everyone in the arena seemed to know it but us.

The bull’s name was “Governor” and with the exception of Linda Lingle and Brian Sandoval, I have never been able to be familiar with a governor of any state since.

Governor was not in a good humor that afternoon. I’m not a psychologist, but I can tell you if an animal rolls his eyes when you jump onto his back, then snorts and kicks the slats out of a holding pen, he is not in an agreeable mood.

But when yet another human being jumps onto his back and grabs his tail, well, put the women and children out of the arena, for all hell is about to break loose.

I have been scared before, but never quite like this. I didn’t mind getting bucked off and loosing my bet, but I didn’t want my obituary in the Maui News to read, “… stepped on by a cow.”

As it happened, a horn sounded, the gate opened, and the cowboy at my back was suddenly and mysteriously gone.

The announcers later reported that they saw his hat rise to their second story level, then and drift out of sight again.

Now alone, I found myself dancing with Governor in the middle of the ring, and this dance was not your regular Tango in Paris. I wanted desperately to get off, but could not figure a way to do so without putting myself in harm’s way.

This brief consideration of mine was surplusage however, as Governor had his own ideas about how I might dismount, and his ideas were more fruitful than mine.

Finding myself airborne was a pleasant and welcome sensation, until it occurred to me that Governor was waiting for me back on Earth, and wanting to teach me a thing or two about Brahma Bulls at the Makawao Rodeo.

My liver curled into a tight ball, and I knew my life was over. And it most surely would have been over were it not for my cowboy friend who waved his hat in Governor’s face and got Governor to chase him up a fence.

That cowboy was the best friend I ever had and I donated the hundred dollars he paid me to the Maui United Way.

There are several ways to get promoted to glory from this earthly realm, and many are dignified and noble, but getting stepped on by a cow is not one of them.

So if you ever run into Pat Hill, and he remembers riding a Brahma Bull with an equally ignorant person in the Makawao Rodeo, tell him there’s an old cowboy at the north end of Lake Tahoe waiting to buy him the drink of his choice … maybe two.

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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