I have been to over 2,000 appearances or community events in four years with Oklahoma’s favorite bison, Rumble. But last fall, there was one evening that stands out as probably the most entertaining – at least for me.
I should begin by saying that, over the years, I have seen Rumble showcase spectacular athletic feats that no bison (and not many humans) can perform. That evening, I can only surmise that the cold may have gotten to our dear bison.
The night began like many others with Rumble: lots of hugs, tons of photos and the usual tail-pulling by one mischievous person. As Rumble perused the art and looked over the culinary delicacies being offered, it became apparent to me that Rumble was looking to liven up the party.
One of the wine vendors casually suggested that Rumble jump over his table. Not one to shy away from an athletic dare or challenge, Rumble took his suggestion as a command, cleared a path, took a few steps back and poised himself, ready to roll …
Side note: This is the point when I usually take out my phone and tell Rumble to wait before doing whatever crazy stunt he is about to do so I can capture it on picture or video. But when you have seen this bison descend from the rafters of Chesapeake Energy Arena, rappel 30 stories down a building and perform acrobatic dunks as often as I have, you think jumping a 3-foot table is probably not going to be photo-worthy.
That night it was. And I missed it. As did Rumble with his landing.
As he took off, something felt wrong. There was a strange silence that came over the crowd and a stillness in the cold air, and as he hit his stride I thought, this just doesn’t feel right. And … it wasn’t.
One minute his happy bison tail was flopping along, and the next: crash, smash, and broken glass!
As quickly as he launched in the air, Rumble’s hoof caught the table he was attempting to scale. He front-rolled down into another table, smashing and spilling bottles full of wine and shattering glasses. Huge mess. Total disaster.
Yet despite the fact that he was dripping with red wine and surrounded by tumbled tables and broken glass, in his Rumble way, he somehow got up to cheers and laughs. The only exception was a woman next to me, who suggested that “he’s getting a little too rowdy!”
Luckily, it seems there is nothing that a Rumble hug and a couple of Rumble T-shirts can’t fix. The wine vendor whose bottles were smashed simply laughed it off with Rumble. He knew the spirit of the event was charity, so what’s a few broken bottles for a good cause?
For those of you who don’t know, Rumble does not drink alcohol products, so he had do face down a new challenge later that night: trying to get red wine out of his white Thunder jersey and shorts. So Rumble took that challenge head-on and swiftly delegated laundry duty to me. After all, a bison needs his rest, and Rumble had a full day ahead of him the next day!
Even with all that, Rumble wasn’t quite finished with his hijinks that night. After he greeted all the guests upstairs in the VIP room, he tried to slip out the back. Smooth as silk, he wound up setting off the building’s fire alarm, causing us to have to find a police officer and alert him that it was not an emergency. Rumble, of course, tried to pin the blame on me. Truly never a dull moment with that bison.
- Jon Brooks