Toro

Ah, the memories of Spain...in a previous life many years ago, I don’t care to admit how many...I began going to the bullfights with Orson Welles who loved the 'sport' of bullfighting, as did Hemingway of course...the whole atmosphere was intoxicating to be around; the sheer drama, the incredible bravery, the spectacular colors...Orson had been going for many years and he knew most of the toreros on a first name basis...these men who were cut from a different cloth were revered as national heroes by the adoring crowd...they came from different schools and each had their own individual style...it wasn’t enough to defeat the bull...the toreros would stamp their form of artistic flair on the event; like Picasso signing one of his paintings...it was an overload to the senses and the crowds loved it.
I fell in love with Spain immediately...nothing could be better than rising in the late morning and eating some fresh bread and butter purchased from the old man who ran the bodega on the corner, not far from my friends’ house...we’d enjoy a leisurely breakfast with the best, richest coffee I ever drank bar none...my native friends would regale me with their wonderful stories...then there was the incredible light; a light so pure and spectacular that artists have tried to capture it in their paintings for thousands of years although I’m not sure any of them have been successful...we would meet Orson and his friends over at the arena in the afternoon hours before the bullfighting was scheduled to start...we would go ‘backstage’ and would mingle with them before the matches would commence...
Once it was time to begin, we’d take our place on the weather beaten wooden seats and light up our cigars and wait for the pageantry to begin...the crowd would be buzzing with anticipation as we sat under the hot sun...the afternoon would progress and the patrons would react enthusiastically with every daring move by the toreros...after the event was over, we’d retire to the local restaurant for Spanish delicacies and plenty of sangria, and yes, more cigars and even more sangria...
We made it a point to rendezvous here for many years...one year though, Orson said that he was going to take a pass on it...I thought that perhaps he was committed to a film project or trying to raise money for one and couldn’t get away...however this was not the case at all...he told me that he had seen enough animal deaths and regretted it...he also felt that he had wasted too much time at the bullfights, living vicariously through the toreros and that it had also been a mistake on his part...he still went occasionally on his own, unable to completely give up his fascination for it.
(This originally was published in Gravel magazine)