When I was growing up I loved hearing this story from my mother:
There was once a bullfighter who came over the border from Spain to show off his illustrious matador skills in Lisbon. This was in the 50’s, but my mom was not present because, well, her family was apparently far too snobby to regularly attend bullfights. We’re funky like that. Or they were broke from seeing all the Westerns that she would eventually force me to watch unwillingly 30 years later on Sunday afternoons. I am not sure. I leave it up to you for your own Salzar-era Choose-Your-Own-Adventure.
So anyway, though no Savages were present (yes, that’s our family name, deal with its Irishness….) this renown bullfighter mounted his horse, and fought valiantly his worthy opponent, a Luso (meaty meaty) bull. Mmmmm. Except. Um…. The bull was supposed to become the meaty meaty treaty AFTER the fight was over. Out of the sight of the public. This is what Portugal considers “Kissing up to the PETA folks.”
Being Spanish, our guest bullfighter freaking killed the damned bull right there in the ring before God and everybody. Amor de deus!
So he got arrested. His defense was (and this is where my mom would begin a sweet girlish giggle that would let you know that the story was coming to a close only to end AWESOMELY!!! So imagine that sound RIGHT NOW!!) ummm… sorry to recap, his defense was that he forgot he was in Portugal and killed the bull out of habit.
But the mo-fo was on a horse. Matadors do not hoof it in Spain, unless they are using their own matador shoes. Honest. You think he would notice that there was a giant animal creaking and crawing and pulsating between his legs. Most people notice that.
Maybe he was just getting too popular as a matador. Yes, that means the nasty thing I’m implying. Go ahead and call my Portuguese Teacher and my mom and report me for lewd insinuations between man and horse. And hookers and bananas and blow. I am just that ordinaria. Like I had my finger in my nose and was cleaning the salon. You. Bet.
My mother would then go off on a tangent about how difficult it is (and therefore BETTER and requiring SUPERIOR SKILL) to control both a horse and a bull in the ring, over the thin, anemic, airheaded skill of just being on the dusty stadium floor with a cape. Yay Portugal. Boo Spain. Even though Miss Savage has only ever been to one bullfight (in the 70’s) and ONLY because her cousin gave her the inside scoop that the President was going to be there that night, and so it would be an especially exquisite pagan bloodletting event, she is poised to make such a delicate judgement. And I have only heard about it, so —so am I!
Our wayward Spaniard sat in jail till the Portuguese officials had the decency not to completely shag his career, freeing him. Despite his brush with the law, he went back to waving capes, probably cursing Portugal forever on the way out, and swearing he’d never sit in a jail for killing a bull 15 minutes early, ever, ever again.
Well, today, I notice as I round out my bottle of Portuguese wine this abomination:
The other abomination is the dust on my antique mirror. Screw off, dust haters. I’ve had a hard week. There’s more about the mirror here.
Clearly, it’s Portuguese wine. It was made in Portugal. Really. It says so on the back!!! Nevermind that I never heard of the city. I haven’t heard of EVERYTHING!
And um… can’t you see that “velho” has an “h?” Clearly NOT SPANISH!!??!!
Um… so where’s the matador’s um.. .HORSE? Did my mother make that story up? Am I going to call her and admit I’m questioning her integrity over a wine bottle label? Do I admit I didn’t buy it out of luso-loyalty, but because it was one full liter rather than 750 mL, or will that cause her to suggest I attend meetings?
Seriously, here’s a closer look:
That could be the dude in Ferdinand the Bull. The fricking SPANISH bull. There is no way that bratty flower-smelling bull was Portuguese. He didn’t miss or long for anything and was happy smelling the flowers. Puhleeeze. No saudades? He might as well be one of those happy California cows from the cheese commercials.
I looked on the web (which is always reliable, right?), and I was quite disappointed to actually see that Portuguese matadors weren’t ALWAYS on a horse. But the majority were. And of those who weren’t horsemounted, they were coupled with captions that clearly lumped Portugal and its bullfighting tradition in as an afterthought. Thanks, folks! Other than that, there were the kamikaze guys in knickerbockers who jump on the bull’s horns- my favorite part, always!
Why didn’t they put those guys on the bottle? Come on, man belly-to-bull-forehead contact takes real balls. Those guys are much cooler than any party dance you can do with a cape (unless you’re Nosferatu) and at least if they had graced my wine bottle, I would never have felt the need to complain on a Saturday night about a sport that I have only seen on RTP. And that kind of balls would sell the hell out of wine in a fair and luso-aware world. In our world, however, the real one, people see that and say “I bet that wine was made by Ferdinand’s owner!! Cool!!”
I love my mom’s story anyway.
You should hear my mom’s story about the lawsuit over the chamber pot with the Lady of Fatima emblazoned on the front. It’s a real high point of Southern European Catholic lore. You don’t think I’m serious?