Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Balls Like Mexican Churchbells

In 20 years of watching bullfights, we’ve seen quite a few failures of nerve, and occasional displays out outright cowardice - including our own, like the afternoon in Mexico City in 1994 when a bull flew over the first barrier (but not the second) not too far from where we had splurged on front row seats, causing us to squeal like schoolgirls at a Jonas Brothers concert. But we can say with some confidence that we’ve never, ever seen anything like the show Queretaro's own Cristian Hernández put on this weekend during a novillada at Plaza Mexico.

In a sight rarely seen in the bravado world of bullfighting, Hernandez made a spin with his red cape at the charging bull, then ran across the ring and leapt headlong over the wall to safety, dropping his cape in the process. The crowd hooted in derision.

Several months ago, another bull grievously gored Hernandez in the leg.

Officials did briefly convince Hernandez to return to the ring on Sunday, where he put his hands over his head and pointed upward before he made a second exit, shaking his head.

He later said he would retire from bullfighting.

As if suffering one of the worst humiliations in the history of the corrida wasn't bad enough, Hernández was then arrested and charged with breach of contract for refusing to fight the bull. The Mexican and international press are of course making great sport of the kid, leading us to wonder whether it's possible to literally mock someone to death. Indeed, we were ready to join in the fun ourselves, until we read Hernández's post-debacle comments to the press:

"There are some things you must be aware of about yourself," the 22-year-old Mexican matador said in a television interview. "I didn't have the ability, I didn't have the balls, this is not my thing."

Admittedly, standing in a traje de luces in the middle of Plaza Mexico opposite a 900-pound, charging bull does seem rather late to discover that this is "not your thing," but the sheer honesty of this statement - one that would most assuredly apply to 99% of the people laughing at Hernández from the safety of their comfy armchairs - melted the icy core of our cowardly little hearts. He didn't blame the bull, he didn't blame the crowd, he didn't blame the American Invasion of 1846 - he simply said, "I chickened out." If there's anything that takes bigger balls than killing a wild bull with a sword, it's standing up in front of the Mexican press and admitting you don't have the balls to kill a wild bull with a sword.

For displaying a level of courage unimaginable from the vast majority of his macho countrymen, Cristian Hernández is the 2010 Burro Hall Sportsman of the Year.

Suerte, torero, in whatever you decide to do next.


Anonymous said...

This is great because the bull won. What was his prize?

Burro Hall said...

To be killed by someone else another day.

Anonymous said...

Frank.. you never fail to amaze me! What a wonderful insight into your soul..not unlike your piece about the chicklets kids. Thanks[when you are away for awhile, you always return with something powerful] Love your work!

Burro Hall said...

My soul is a big fan of cowardice! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

All I can hear is the song about Brave Sir Robin.