Sunday, June 21, 2009

Well, that didn't go as I planned...

Some Ibuprofen please.

Or, in the immortal words of “Juno” : “Ow! Jesus! Ow! fuckity- fuck! Ow!”

This year’s Capea didn’t turn out as well as last years. It had its ups and its downs. I am surprised I did not do better. I have been practicing passes in front of the TV when Bullfights are on, and watching intently to see how the cape is held and how they move their feet and all that stuff.

We are told the Capea is at a different ranch this year. It is closer and quite a bit different. While still a functioning, actual farm, it also has two bars, dance floor, tables with parasols outside, and shade. Much less bugs dust as well, so that’s good.

I get Wendy and I a couple of beers and we wait for them to get organized and release the first bull. And by bull, I mean small female cow. And by small female cow, I mean something with horns that hits like a truck and is meant to hit things like a truck and has evolved to do it very effectively.

People finally start to file up to the stands and a few people into the ring. I make my way across the ring to one of the hiding walls and lay my beautiful and folded Capote across the top and make small talk with the guy next to me. Behind us is a little opening, and when I enter it, I can see the bulls that are going to be used. There are a few that are the same size as the ones last year. Most of them are bigger, and one of them is about six inches higher at the shoulders than the others. That one is enormous. I hope they let that one out.

The first one they let out is medium sized. It is bigger than last year, but not the biggest one in the pen. He circles the ring a couple times and no one does anything with him. I learned last year that your passes don’t look impressive if the bull is tired, so I grab the stage early and step out with my cape and shake it at him, I lift the left side swinging the cape a small amount and then as the bull approaches, swing it way out to the right.

The bull completely ignores the cape and smashes right into me. It hurts a little but not too bad. I get up and the bull is on the other side of the ring. I grab my Capote and adjust my hands (one of which is bleeding) and try to get the bulls attention for another charge. The guy I was talking with earlier motions me behind the barrier. “Dude, you have blood all over your face. And your hands. And arm. You need to go get that looked at.”

“Nah, I’m fine.”

“No, you really need to get that looked at. It’s more dangerous for the other people if you’re in here bleeding.”

I think he’s confusing bulls with sharks, but I do as I’m told and go find someone to patch me up. I head to the bathroom first to clean the sand and gravel out of my arm and fingers and check my face in the mirror. Wow, I really look quite the mess.
Wendy comes into the bathroom to make sure I’m okay and has one of the organizers with her who knows where to take me to a guy with a med kit. They patch me up and I make my way back out into the ring.

Now this is truly fucked up.

The bull I was fighting is still there and it is clear why I am so banged up. This bull has been in a capea before! He knows the cape is an illusion! They don’t reuse bulls for a reason. After fifteen minutes a bull will figure out where the man is and ignore the cape. In one of Hemmingway’s books he talks about a bull that killed a number of people until it was finally shot in its pen by a brother and sister who came to avenge their matador brother who was killed by this bull.

Most of the time in a capea there are few guys who do what I try to do. They like to try and get as close to the bull as they can and touch its horn or its ass and run away. Or they just dash from barrier to barrier. One of the other things they like to do is get a capote and each hold one end. They approach the bull and as it charges they leap to opposite sides, stretching the capote between them and the bull charges through that.

Not this bull.

Two guys try to do that to this bull he picks one and takes him out right at the knees. Completely ignores the capote.

They let the bull out and everyone files back to the shade and the picnic area. Soon some food is served and Wendy and strike up a conversation with Seth Jensen and his wife. Neither Wendy or I know him well, but we all went to the same high school and I became good friends with his dad when I was a tech there. He had a CAD lab that had twenty computers in it so I got to chat with him a lot. Great guy. Seth married a Spanish woman and they now live in Vermont where he teaches Spanish and for a couple of months during summer break they come to Spain to see her family.

I take Wendy over to see the bulls behind the wall and she notices the floor of the arena. “This is why you’re so busted up! This is concrete with some gravel over it.”

The rancher says it’s too hot for the bulls now so we have to wait for a while until another one can be let out. Well, that turns out to be five hours later. In that time, everywhere I go people stop me to ask me if I am alright, if everything is okay? I assure them I’m fine, but feel like an idiot. This was supposed to be the year of “El Jamie!” not the walking wounded.

I do much better on my passes this time, except once a bull catches me in the knees and I fall face first into her back and I think I broke my nose. It starts bleeding, is still swollen up and still hurts today. If it isn’t broken I’ll be amazed, as it feels broken, but it’s still straight so I’m still dead sexy. A guy next to me gets swiped by a bull and falls to his knees and when he gets up, they are scrapped to the point of bleeding. Just from falling on his knees. Another time I am near my barrier and a guy asks me if I’m okay. I assure him I’m fine. He makes some other comment and I assure him I am okay. Distracted by this conversation, I don’t see the bull approaching and it catches me right in the knees but I don’t go down this time but oh my God odes it hurt. I so wasn’t expecting that. I hand my capote to someone nearby and step behind the barrier to let the pain fade. Holy crap that hurt.

They let loose three bulls and we get to play for a while then it’s back to the shade for some dinner and wait for the buses to take us home eventually. A couple people come over to say hi and tell me I did well, but I feel like an idiot with all my bandages and scrapped face. I talk with one girl who has perfect English and she tells me everyone thinks I’m very brave. “My friends and I have started a fan club.”
That was pretty cool. So, I guess, all in all my performance wasn’t a total disaster.
While my performance was nothing to write home about, the day was very good. There was lots of shade, lots of talking with Seth and his wife, lots of planning the next year with Wendy, lots of very nice, welcoming people and a bunch of cool photos.

Check back later for a possible video.


  1. Jamie..sometimes I am just so proud of you...and then...really ok, I am still proud of you..but Jamie SERIOUSLY!??

  2. Awesome! :D

    I went on a M:tG nostalgic trip yesterday and wanted to find out if you were still writing ... and i found this blog!
    It's good to have you here in sunny spain. If you ever want to graba a beer in Madrid, just fire an email.

    Recover quickly and have some more fun this summer. :)

  3. Killer bull + concrete floor = good times?

  4. a tastes sweet doesn't it? A person with less zeal for it would have sat down the rest of the day. The ones who truely live get back in there and try it again :)

  5. And the Philistines said "Post a picture of you wearing your pink cape!"