There is a bullring for sale in Mexico. I call the real estate agent and we go out to view the property. It’s on a hill overlooking a valley where the Spanish priests and soldiers built a mission five hundred years ago. My idea is to form a business partnership with some of my friends to buy the ring and begin to stage fights for the general public. Many of my friends are animal rights activists and staunch vegans. My bullfighting proposal will put our friendships to the test, but I am confident of my salesmanship and how shadows often seem real.
“Are you an aficionado?” the agent asks.
“No, I’m a writer and I read Death in the Afternoon. I’m also down on my luck, but I have enough for one last deal.” We are both unfazed by my words.
“Well, at least it is a start, particularly the money,” he says. “A good corrida has a way of changing reality. What is your plan?”
“I’m thinking to start with a Sunday only operation, to get into the pageantry of killing, but then expand to Fridays and Saturdays as we find our footing. I envision a large concession stand with Sotol shots, arctic beer, and bowls of chili grasshoppers.” The agent nods his head. “Very ambitious,” he smiles, as he points out the many good qualities the ring has to offer. It seats 1,000 people and has corrals for both the bulls and the horses used by the picadors. The bathrooms are first-rate, with a ten-person black porcelain urinal that features a foam rubber head rest, running the entire length of the urinal, for men who like to lean over their business without falling.
“This will be a one lance operation,” I tell him. “Plus there will be no drugging of our bulls, no two-by-fours to the head. We want them totally alert.”
“That is good. The people don’t like to see confused bulls or bulls too weakened by the picadors.” Most bulls get a tranquilizer before a fight and some of the old rings might put the banderillas two or more times into the bull. When the matadors finally confront the animal in the “Dance of Death,” the bull is gushing blood and barely able to stand.
“Crowds hate that,” the agent says. He seems to be getting upset. “After a few drinks in the sun section, they might storm the ring and try to get their money back. Owners know only too well.” That didn’t sound very good. It is estimated that 250,000 bulls are killed in bullfights every year in the eight countries that still allow the fights. I wonder how many of the animals were almost dead before the matadors got into the ring. I also wonder how many bullring owners were killed by angry crowds. I doubt it was 250,000. I would have heard about that.
As I write this my mind is being pulled in a sexual way. Human bodies are like road maps and sometimes we get lost and can’t find where the pleasure begins and the pain stops. Some of us finally make it home, while others get caught in lonely little towns with rundown motels and bad food across the highway. I’m having one of those painful moments right now. I know a girl in Amsterdam who is a dancer. We used to trip together on the sidewalk and make our way from teashop to teashop until we found a suitable dark booth to watch the night unfold. The reason I bring her up is that her birthplace is Amsterdam, but she lived most of her life in Peru. Her father was a Peruvian matador who worked the international corrida circuit, but mostly fought in Lima, the City of Kings. Her name is Iza and she is often depressed, sometimes suicidal. She grew up in bullfighting rings and knows all about the pain they produce. A constant vision of her father being gored by a bull is burned into her memory. He took the horn in a big competition that pitted the best matadors from Spain against the best of Peru. She told me the story of how the bull ripped out his guts and the doctors stuffed them back in, but in the process, a slow, painful infection emerged and after a few weeks that seemed years, he died. Iza sat by his bed every night and by the end of the ordeal her hatred for bulls had become a psychosis. I can understand how she feels. Imagine the one animal in the world that you might really dislike, maybe even hate. Is it a snake, a spider, a shark, a vulture…it might be a bear or even a dog. There was a family in Mexico City attacked by dogs near the city garbage dump last year and a little boy and his sister were killed. It’s hard to blame the traumatized victims of a dog attack for rejecting the idea that a dog is man’s best friend.
Humans have an ancient history of hating animals. Think about the fight over bear caves and water holes and how humans were food for thousands of years. I am relying on these misty images to make my case for investing in the bullfighting business. Maybe something in my friend’s deep genetics will still be lusting for the blood of a bull. How many might trace their ancestry back to Rome or Athens, where the killing of bulls was totally accepted. Who among us still worries about the death of the Minotaur? These are issues I will pursue with my friends as I enter the psychology of bullfighting and investment opportunities as I see them.
I will fast forward for you dear reader. None of my calculations worked out. I have a google email trail of how the conversations went, since my friends and I communicated strictly across the vast virtual sea, from Lebanon, South Sudan, Texas, China, California, and Mexico. The subject line of the thread reads “This is Our Moment.”
Duke: Hi Dr. Bill, Leland, and Keith. Click on the info below…bullring for sale. I am thinking we could split the cost four ways. $150,000 per person would earn an equal share of the equity and profits. I’m thinking that the payback on the initial investment will be about three years and then everything will be gravy. I’m taking guidance from an old hacendado who used to be in the bullfight game. His name is Don Javier and he used to own a giant ranch along the Texas border in Tamaulipas. He raised bulls for the big ring in Mexico City. We are friends and he will give us consultation for only 5% of the eventual net. Of course, I realize that Janet, Jaqueline, and Amira might have an opinion about this, given their left-leaning inclinations, but I am hoping for the best.
Dr. Bill: Seems like a poor idea. Janet, is this something you might go for?
Leland: I’m in. I’ve always dreamed of being a rodeo clown and this is my big chance.
Duke: Leland, you have the wrong idea about this. This is not a rodeo, but a bullfighting operation steeped in history and tradition.
Keith: Why not go whole hog and make it a gladiator arena?
Duke: You can’t fight gladiators in Mexico. That is not what this is about!
Leland: I’m rethinking this…I mean Jaqueline has finally got me on a plant-based diet. What do we do with the dead bulls? Eat them? Just wondering.
Duke: Yes, the dead bulls are sold for meat consumption.
Keith: Duke, your liver must be completely shot. Is your blood infected? I’m getting negative feedback from Amira.
Duke: Listen everyone, there is nothing like a good bullfight. Someday people will ask, where did those guys go? The answer will be they are retired and fighting bulls in Mexico. Everyone will be amazed. The money potential for this is sky-high.
Dr. Bill: Well, I’m known for fighting, that’s true, but it’s a battle with the cows up on the tenth floor of the HR Department of my old company. Fighting real bulls in Mexico does have a nice ring to it however.
Janet: I appreciate being given the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a stupendous money making deal, but there is no way in FUCKING HELL I would be associated with the fighting of animals.
Dr. Bill: I suspected my sweet lady would be less than reticent on this subject.
Jaqueline: What kind of friend are you? Damn! Leland has told me many good things about you, but he must be totally wrong.
Amira: I agree with Jaqueline and Janet. How could you?
Duke: As with any partnership there will be a period of adjustment and I think the comments from the wives make that point. I was hoping Janet, Jaqueline, and Amira would be willing to book matadors and scout new talent. They’d have to travel extensively in Mexico, Spain and Peru. Perhaps that possibility might be premature on my part. All of these ideas should be looked upon as pre-planned plans which are not much more than cigarette smoke in a bar. At any rate, Dr. Bill could handle the picadors. Keith and Leland general staff management and running the concession stand. I’d line up the bulls and horses as well as bull meat sales.
Janet: I wouldn’t mind the travel, but can’t you come up with a different idea?
Duke: Well, I might consider a “soft” bullfighting venture where we allow the bulls to win and actually buy property adjacent to the ring where they could raise families and eat corn all day. So hold your fire. All of you are getting ready for the good life. Remember, retirement is very similar to encountering a high-speed train in a tunnel. At least that is the way mine has gone. I’ve been injured more not working, than working…go figure.
Janet: Here’s an idea. How about we buy the ring and open a “Live Puppy Bowl”?
Duke: Don’t know if the market is there, but I’ll ask Don Javier.
Keith: Just on general principles a Puppy Bowl might work. Couldn’t do it in China however.
Dr. Bill: I suspect bullfighting in Mexico is a bit more than watching puppies play around, I’m not sure if any of this makes sense. This whole thing reminds me of the time Duke said he would build a log cabin on some of my peach property and got the floor in, but it ended there. I had to bulldoze the whole thing. Maybe that was an omen of this project.
Jaqueline: Well, there’s good bullshit and bad bullshit and as long as we can stick to the Puppy Bowl, this is good bullshit.
Leland: Okay, we all agree. I can spare $100 to kick the thing off.
Amira: Me too! Long live puppies!
As I reread these email exchanges it occurs to me that there is only one thing worse than communism and that is groupism. All dreams eventually die and so it is with my vision of a bullring atop a hill in Mexico…que lastima, que triste…somos más pobres por ello and now I need to feed my new puppy. He’s adorable. His name is Bully.