Blood, guts and get-me-out-of-here; bloody bullfights

Texas had football; Peru had bullfights.

In Lima, Peru in the 1960s, the world was smaller and less interactively connected. High-speed communication was by letters, telephone calls were too pricey for most. Yet even in those pre-social media days teenaged girls had crushes on teen idols. In Peru the hot teenaged idols were the bullfighters.

The girls kept scrapbooks, magazines and photos etc. of their favorite heartthrob bullfighters. Young trim hunks, in an oh-so-very-tight traje de luces (or suit of lights) that left nothing to the imagination. Just like what teenage girls saw in Elvis in his early hip-gyrating, sex symbol days.

My 1960s adolescence found me on the stands of a football stadium in Houston, Texas cheering on The Team. Yes, I loved the Beatles music. But as an outlier fan, for when I was asked "who is your favorite Beatle," I never thought of Paul. With his thick, straight hair and girl soft face, he wasn't my type. Now Ringo, of the generous schnoz and the decidedly quirky demeanor, was.

Despite different cultural backgrounds, Gary and I decided to get married where we lived in 1972, Lima, Peru. My parents, especially my father, were not happy with that, but then they weren't happy with any of it, especially my choice of husband.

My mother tearfully bemoaned her youngest daughter wouldn't get married in a church, but instead in the soon-to-be-new-in-laws living room. The alcade (mayor) of the area would officiate I noted, even bringing the official book to sign attesting to our marriage. It wasn't 1950s American enough for my parents who through gritted hearts agreed to come to Peru for the nuptials.

That became another problem. I thought my new husband and I might forget the date of our wedding, so I suggested we choose an easy to remember. How about October 31st? Like the Victorian father he was, my father said he was not amused. So I compromised on another date to get my parents to Peru; Gary agreed to whatever would keep the peace.

And yes, we have mixed up the date ever after.

Wanting to extend a hand of love and friendship to my parents, Gary decided to treat us to the equivalent of The Super Bowl playoffs. He paid big money that he didn't have for four of the best tickets to the unique experience of the bullfight that was in season in the spring in 1972. Our pricier seats were on the preferred sombra, or shaded side of the bullring.

The spectacle began, looking very similar to the bullfight scene in the film, Around the World in 80 Days. Then the picadors did their jobs, making dozens of small cuts to weaken the bleeding bull, readying it for what was to come. Butchery I realized. I was horrified, so were my parents.

"Gary, we have to leave," I sputtered to this strange man I was about to marry.

A look of horror crossed his face, as he wondered who was this woman he was about to marry?

Dashing for the nearest exit with my parents behind me, Gary followed explaining to the startled attendees that these crazy gringos didn't understand the beauty and the art of the bullfight.

All of which was absolutely true. The time for the masculinity blood bath was in the past tense then and is in my past tense now. Enough with public abbatoir. But clearly I am a hypocrite. I still eat an occasional hamburger.

So it may be said, no one is perfect.

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    Candace Drimmer

    I was an accidental expatriate; love and marriage led me to it. One day I was a bandy-legged kid sitting atop my dogwood tree looking out of my small backyard world in 1950s New Jersey, wanting to move somewhere--anywhere, different. Next thing I knew my father had accepted a job in Houston TX. I was ecstatic, it was a foreign land in 1961 America. After high school graduation, my parents’ gave me a matched set of fawn-colored hardsided American Tourister luggage. Taking the hint, I went to college; well four colleges in five years--it was the 60s after all. Meeting a young hirsute anti-war, soon-to-be-Peace Corps volunteer, I fell in love. After finishing up college coursework for my degree, but before I even walking a graduation stage, I grabbed the paper airline ticket my boyfriend had sent me, my brand-new passport, and was off to the airport and Lima, Peru.

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