Bullfighting School: ¿Quién es Más Macho?

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  03.13.06 | 12:50 PM ET

imageI don’t talk about this much because, frankly, it just intimidates people, as it should. But back in 1998, when I was but a young magazine freelancer with a dog-eared copy of Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” on my bookshelf, I enrolled in bullfighting school. The California Academy of Tauromaquia in San Diego, to be specific. That’s me in the photos. It was for a story for Men’s Fitness magazine.

I studied the art of bullfighting for several weeks, learning the ins and outs of cape-handling, among other essentials. For homework, I studied episodes of the TV show “When Animals Attack.” And then, wearing the traditional white shirt and cap of a bullfighting student, I stepped into a stone bullring in Mexico under a hot desert sun (actually, it was rather cool, but “hot” sounds more unforgiving; stick with me here), and went mano a mano with a snarling, charging 400-pound heifer. I graduated with honors.

imageBefore any of you send angry e-mails: Not only did I not harm the animal, but at the time, I was a vegetarian who wouldn’t go within 10 feet of a Big Mac, so send your notes elsewhere. But I digress. I bring this up now because Gadling just pointed out a recent New York Times story in which the writer attended the same bullfighting school and faced a 300-pound heifer.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Three hundred pounds? That’s it?

Exactly. That’s the first thought that ran through my mind.

Back in the day, if you wanted to prove yourself in the ring and deliver a meaty story to your editors, you made sure you faced at least 350 pounds of lumbering beef. Know what I’m saying? And honestly, if you were an editor worth your salt, you wouldn’t print a bullfighting story by a writer who faced anything close to 300 pounds. At the New York Times, you’re just giving more ammunition to those in Red America who claim the liberal media elite are out of touch. Don’t you editors know your heifers? Get back in touch. We need you. No bull. Okay, a little bull.

As for the California Academy of Tauromaquia, it offers an excellent bullfighting education, and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in learning the basics. And really, shouldn’t we all know at least the basics? No? Okay.

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