Thursday, July 15, 2004

Sitting Beside the Lonely Bullfighter

Dont forget, he said, youre a tall white boy. You can have any man here. Just say, Take me, homo -- although you may frighten some.
How did I end up here? What time is it? The woman I´m with is dancing in the windowsill with some Spanish boys wearing Camper shoes. Earlier, we´d been in a vermouth bar, a nickel counter, faucets mixing soda water with the cold vermouth. I love how the Spanish are rough with their drinks. They twist the glasses under the taps, and slam the drinks onto the nickel counter. There is spillage of vermouth and beer and wine.
We met a retired journalist, and a tooth fell out his mouth. He picked it up, stirred it in his glass of vermouth, and shoved it back in. Yes he was a little embarrassed.
We sat in leather chairs, cones of garlic hanging in the rafters, we have eaten plates of bull´s tails in a restaurant that had a reserved table, set aside for the bullfighters. There are pink oleander bushes waving in the open windows.
But all that was before this disco bar.
It was even before the five pints of limon and vodka. It was before the oval dishes full of grilled asparagus and fresh strawberries that are growing now by a river thirty miles south of Madrid. Euros are whizzing out of my wallet. What are euros. Get rid of them.
A bullfighter, my friend says, he came in here yesterday. He sat at that table with his two handlers. He is poor, this bullfighter. He is from a small town. He fights all the time. Last week he had his own two bulls, and had to finish off another. Each time, he was bruised by the bull. He came out that third time with a white bandage on his knee. But he finished it off. And now he sits here, with more money than he´d ever make in his village, but still poor, he sits there with his two friends and three women who are dressed plainly, and he will have the attention of all the waiters dressed in white shirts and black bowties. We will lose our waiter to him, but it will be worth it, to have sat beside the lonely bullfighter while we peel meat away from the bones of our bull´s tail. It tastes like kidney.


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