And when I did, I took a bite and everything shot out, but I was on my second Texas-size margarita, so I didn’t care.
People told me, “Don’t ever use your car horn here.” And I didn’t.
And they said, “Don’t ever give anyone the obscene gesture,” and I stopped.
Twenty years, next month, of finger-free driving. I’m going to get my chip from Fingerholics Anonymous. But the time I feel most like a Texan is when I’m driving on, I get on 635, and someone does it to me, and I roll down my window, and I say, “You go back to New York.”
I got the cowboy costume. Don’t go to Cavender’s and ask for a cowboy costume. But I’m not at my low point yet.
Now, the low point is — I’m going to stop. Neural brain endings — permission to die. The low point is the part that we care most about because I don’t care about your success; I want to hear about your failure.
I want to hear how you took something bad that happened and turned it into heroic and became who you are today because I’m going to learn from that. That’s what I focus on, and my low point was pretty damn low.
I decided that what I needed to do to impress all y’all was go ride a bull in a rodeo. And I found a rodeo that let me enter; it was a church rodeo. But the bull didn’t know that.
And I will say to you on the oath of TED that I was on that bull for 10 of the longest seconds of my life. The only problem was the bull stayed in the stall for the first 8.
And when some guy slapped him, and he took off, that’s when I got the other 1.6 seconds. I didn’t care though; it was a joyous ride because when I landed, I knew all y’all were going to like me.
And I landed, and I was in the lights, and there was 200 Baptists laughing, and I forgot the next part of the book, which started with the word “Run!” and I wrote about it in the paper, and everybody thought that I was making way too big a deal of 1.6 seconds on a bull, you know?
So that was my low point.
So how did I get out of this? Well, I have lived what I call “Dave’s magic, V-shaped storytelling formula” because at that turn where I had to get out of this — I was about to quit because Texas was killing me — I decided to do what a Texan does: I decided to pray.
And I knew what to pray for. It was the spring of 1994, and I said, “Lord, I have been here for nine months, and these Texans are killing me. If I hear one more Texan say, ‘That Dave Lieber guy, he fell off the turnip truck,’ I don’t know what I’m going to do, because I don’t even know what a turnip truck is. But Lord, please send me a good, strong, mature, wise woman, and if you do, I’ll treat her with respect and dignity. And if you can’t send me one right away, send me a sign that a good woman is coming my way, and I’ll hang on. Amen.”
Because nobody would fix anybody up with me because they’d go, “I know a guy you can go out with, a Jewish bull rider.”
But do you know what happens when you pray in Texas? Yeah. So one week later, I’m introduced to this amazing woman. Her name is Karen, and she has two kids, a nine-year-old boy who looks like Dennis the Menace and an eleven-year-old girl who’s taller than me, even in my new cowboy boots, and Desiree calls me “Little Man.”
And so I say, “Hi, Desiree, how are you?” and she comes up and she grabs me by the chin, and she playfully warns me, “You better not hurt my momma’s feelings.”
And I went, “I won’t.”
But they also had this dog, a little runt retriever named Sadie, who was mean and snarling at me. She just couldn’t stand me. I went over to her, and she had a panic attack — just flipped around and let off a smell that cleared the room, and I said, “What’s wrong with your dog?”
And they said, “She hates men,” and I said, “Why?”
And they said, “Because a man abused her, and we rescued her, and now there’s no man here and you’re giving her flashbacks.”
This is what Sadie, the poor doggy, looked like, okay? And so I tried so hard to win her over; I would take her for walks and give her oatmeal and bones and anything I could think of that she liked, and she’d just look at me, and she’d go, “Hunh,” and it was demoralizing.