Column: Full-blown truth eventually replaced the innocence of youth

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 30, 2005

“To the pure all things are pure,” as the Bible says. And I’m not for a moment confessing that I was not a pure teenager, not as pure as I am now, of course, but pretty pure. Though now I wouldn’t even consider going to a bull fight, dog fight, rooster fight.

To be honest I just wasn’t thinking about it at the time from the bull’s point of view. I had lived all my life &045; or about 15 years of it &045; in a little southeast Nebraska town, and while I felt happy and at home there, I pined for new vistas.

The bull fight took place back during the drought and depression years at the hottest time of the year. I’m not sure whether it was in July or August, but when I say it was hot I’m not talking about Minnesota heat that now and then includes a soft little breeze. I’m talking about Nebraska heat, absolutely breezeless.

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I didn’t mention my plan to attend the bull fight to my parents. It was held, as I recall, on a Saturday afternoon. I didn’t go alone. My companion was the lass who a couple or three years later would be the class valedictorian. During her 11 years of education in Nebraska City’s public schools (she skipped one year) she had received one “B” on her report card, the rest were all “As”.

She didn’t bother her parents with her afternoon plans either. After all, the bull fight was free. We had each saved a dime for the afternoon treat, a large cherry Coke at the Sweet Shop. It would be, we knew, delightully cool. We would enjoy the Cokes if we didn’t suffer a sunstroke first.

A whole block had been roped off on Central Avenue for the event. There were no seats. The audience stood outside the ropes and waited and waited and waited. There was rather a large crowd.

My friend, Marie, and I were both a bit on the short side so we had arranged ourselves to stand right against the ropes.

The owner of the bulls, a small worried man, obviously from south of the border, wore a somewhat threadbare cream-colored velvet suit and a brightly banded sombrero.

He ran around and around the enclosed space adding more and more ropes. Looking back, I realize he had probably been threatened within an inch of his life if one of the dangerous beasts got out and trampled one of the watchers.

There were two bulls. Both about the same color as the owner’s suit. It had knee-length pants and he wore silk stockings and flatheeled pumps with it.

Because of the way he was dressed, we supposed he would enter conflict with at least one of the bulls.

Marie and I were both shaken by the thought he might be going to fight both of them. But both of them at once? The horror of it!

We needn’t have worried. He would battle neither of them. The bulls would fight each other. The whole thing was a little late in getting started.

Marie and I consulted. Should we move back a little? After all, we were at the very front of the ring. What if the brutes in their rage were to break through the ropes and trample us?

Again we needn’t have worried. Like the later famous bull, Ferdinand, they would rather smell the flowers. They adored each other. We found their actions strange beyond strange.

Then almost as soon as it began the event was ended. A policeman approached the owner of the bulls and the show was stopped.

There had been murmurings in the crowd almost from the start. A sunburned lady, a farmer’s wife, just behind Marie and me leaned forward and advised us to leave.

“This is not fit for children to watch,” she admonished. “Go home.”

We were a little put out at being called children, but nothing much was happening, except there

was a lot of whistling and cat calls.

We’d both been brought up to follow adult commands and most of all, tired and hot, we had both begun to long for our cherry Cokes.

We discussed the bull fight over our drinks and in charity decided that the bulls were too hot to put on much of a fight.

It speaks well for my purity, I think, that I was years older and half way through college before a

stray recollection of that bull fight revealed to me the shocking truth.

Those bulls were gay!

(Love Cruikshank is an Albert Lea resident. Her column runs Thursday.)