Hey, it’s my little fucking cat, Noodles :)
In case you’re wondering when to visit Romania, this is the time. The spring is bursting out everywhere and it’s getting to be T-shirts in the daytime – a daytime that lasts for over 15 hours.
That’s right. While Romanian winters love to pound the shit out of its loyal humans, it’s all worth it if you can hang onto May skirting into June with a lovely touch of sunny July. Then God forgives us for our sins and gives us this lovely weather.
I myself will be taking a vacation, although not entirely so much of the physically traveling kind. I’ve got some things I need to do and there’s a hell of a story going on with my own freaking life on the legal front that I cannot write about.
Can you imagine a writer’s worst nightmare, not being able to tell their own story?
Because my gag is on about Romania, I am going to tell you a happy story about a crazy place called Spain. Let’s just pretend that we’re all going there on vacation together and we’ll be back in a bit, eh?
The temperature is hanging on nice and steady, a steely hot air supersaturated with the intense rays of the southern Spanish sun.
Overhead the light dapples through the leaves of the palm trees but as you get closer to it, your nostrils fill with the scent of old stone. It’s a Roman stadium, of provincial size and dimension, its historical shadow hanging over you as together you enter through the entrance tunnel and emerge into the seats.
Almost like magic, the sun appears and lights up the ancient sporting arena, complete with an authentic sand flooring in the pit – for the word arena itself comes from the Roman word for sand, and so it still is in this ancient place.
The crowd is close and already jostling. The locals are steely eyed as they measure the small signs to gauge with precision the deadly match that is about to commence. The foreigners, including myself, are salted throughout, many in what would be considered premium seats. They all know that they are about to witness something to blow their minds.
The chorus of trumpets blast out and the crowd becomes wet with excitement, all the small chatter forgotten as a gate swings open and out charges an enormous bull that is running at top speed toward a living man.
It is at this point that every single person in the crowd palpably can feel the intoxicating perfume of danger and death, for we know that the matador is risking his life but the bull is certain to die. And so he does, after a ritualistic taunting and weakening with what may seem to foreign eyes as a little bit of cheating, to wit, they stab the bull both with sharp (long) sticks as well as jab little sharp daggers in the bull’s spine.
Running away from a bull when the bull is unhindered (and uninjured) is true bravado. Slashing him 50 times with all those other things seems to defeat the purpose, in my opinion.
And die the bull does at the end. If it is a majestic performance and the toreador is at the top of his game, it ends in a fountain of blood, a spectacular magic trick made all the more powerful precisely because a real animal gave his real life to make this happen. And that’s real bull’s blood squirting on you in the good seats.
One of the three American women in front of me utters a brief cry and then faints in a dead slump, her two friends propping her up as they instinctively turn away from the carnage before them. An elderly fellow lower down and to the right calls out some kind of complicated Spanish expression of approval through the gap in his teeth. A couple of men in suits tut-tutt and then light up cigars.
I admit to be shaken a bit myself by the time we left. My girlfriend suggested that we sit down at a nearby tapas bar until I recovered. The food was excellent, and if you’re ever in the area I highly recommend the beef. It was delicious, cooked to perfection.
On the way back home we passed by a slaughterhouse and went inside for a brief tour, nodding out of politeness as we sat back and tried to maintain interest in their tedious and boring procedures of how to kill and cut up thousands of cows into different kinds of meat. Later, all of our friends were amazed we’d been able to stay awake as it was widely considered to be the most boring thing, ever.