By Greg Evans, Tennessee.
One day at school, eight-year-old Roberto’s teacher asked each student what they wanted to be when they grew up. One student wanted to be a doctor, and another dreamt of becoming a famous soccer player. His best friend Juan wanted to grow up to be a lawyer like his father, and his neighbor Sonia wanted to sew beautiful dresses for all the princesses around the world. Then the teacher asked Roberto the same question.
“When I grow up, I want to be a famous bullfighter,” Roberto said.
“Have you ever been to a real bullfight?” His teacher asked.
“No, not yet.” Roberto said, “But I have seen pictures of matadors in the newspaper many times.”
“I think you would be a wonderful bullfighter,” his teacher said. For the rest of the day, Roberto could think of nothing else but dressing in the fancy sparkling outfits and dodging the piercing horns of a ferocious bull.
That night at dinner he told his parents about the exercise at school and that he wanted to become a bullfighter when he grew up.
“I think you would make the family very proud,” said his father.
“I would love nothing more,” his mother said. Roberto decided that he would spend the rest of his life pursuing this dream. He wished to attend an actual bullfight but his mother told him that it would be better if he waited until he was a little bit older because bullfights were for grownups.
As the years went by Roberto never lost this desire. When he reached the age of fifteen, his father told him one day that he’d soon meet the man who would teach him how to become the greatest bullfighter. Roberto was so excited. He was finally going to get the chance to follow his lifelong dream. The only problem was that he had never actually seen a real bullfight.
“When the time is right, I will take you to watch a bullfight,” his father promised him.
The first instruction was agility and understanding how to successfully maneuver forward and backward without tangling the feet. In the days that followed Roberto worked on his footwork and practiced using a capote de brega, the red cape the matador holds. During the bullfight the bull charges toward it.
Roberto’s teacher told him that he was gifted and would achieve international fame and celebrity status. Roberto cherished the adoration from the great master.
After a few weeks, he was given a stick with a red cloth hanging from it. It’s called the muleta. It is used in the third and the final run with the bull.
Roberto’s natural technique and obvious skill were noticed and soon a crowd of townspeople showed up during his instructions with the master. Day after day more and more people showed up to watch the local boy that would bring the town great fame.
Finally, Roberto and his father arrived at the practice arena. Standing in the middle of the fenced area was an actual bull. It was a small bull but its mighty muscles rippled, and it stomped the ground with such tremendous force that Roberto could feel the vibrations at the gate. He shuddered and felt his pulse rise.
This was the moment of truth. He would finally face off against a real bull after so many years of dreaming about this very moment. And after all that hard training he had been through, he felt he was ready!
Accompanied by the master he faced off against the bull. Using extraordinary skill and maneuverability, he moved and dodged the young bull’s charges and lunges. The bull didn’t have any horns but to be struck by it could cause serious injury. Roberto was excellent and the crowd gathered cheered him with every successful action. After a while of using the cape, the master brought Roberto the muleta. He also handed him a wooden stick. “This, my boy, will be a sword in the real bullfight arena.”
“A sword?” Roberto asked, “Why do I need a sword?”
“To slay the bull, of course,” the master said. This wasn’t what Roberto had been anticipating.
“I don’t want to kill the bull,” he said.
“But that is the finale of the fight. To be a famous matador you must slay the beast to the great cheers of adoring fans.”
“No, I won’t do it.” Roberto said. His father entered the ring and pulled Roberto aside.
“My son, a big part of being a great bullfighter means finishing the fight gloriously with the kill at the end. That is what the fans expect. That is what they are there to see, a great fight.”
“To kill a bull for sport is wrong and I won’t do it,” Roberto said. His father explained to the master that they would go home and discuss the matter. This was all new to Roberto and he needed time to think about it.
That night both Roberto’s parents encouraged him and explained that bulls expect a real do or die fight. That is how it has always been. In soccer, you score goals and in a bullfight, you slay the bull. But still, Roberto refused.
Roberto refused to return to the arena to fight the bulls, much to the disappointment of his parents and the entire town.
Roberto eventually entered the veterinary school and became a very prominent veterinarian helping heal animals instead.
By Greg Evans, Mexican American, Tennessee. Greg attended a bullfight outside Mazatlan, Mexico when he was ten-years-old. It was not a memorable experience and he vowed never to return to one again. He is the Associate Director of Communications at King University in Tennessee. He is also a columnist for several newspapers.