A large number of people will visit Spain or Mexico this year. Ninety-nine percent of them are expected to see at least part of a bullfight, and 83% of these are expected to write a novel about blood and sand.
For those who do plan to write a novel upon their return and who wish to dispense with tedious research into the subject of la fiesta brava, I am happy to offer a capsuled guide to this most interesting and romantic field.
For a would-be novelist, the preparations begin the day before the scheduled fight. On that day the purely physical preparation is limited to the purchase of a ticket, not to be confused with postcards of dubious nature but similar in size, sold by the natives to the unsuspecting.
The morning of the bullfight, if at all possible, should be bright and windless. (Too much wind will prevent many of the more modest ladies from attending, depriving the spectator-novelist of some of the color.) By all means, get up in the morning and shower briskly, if shower and water are available. Breakfast lightly and proceed on a short, stimulating but not overstrenuous tour of the town. Drink moderately or heavily, as is your custom. It is very important not to depart drastically from the accustomed way of life. But I would advise you to lunch lightly; some bullfighters dispense with food altogether in anticipation of goring. Should a totally unexpected sortie of the bull into the stands result in a spectator's unfortunate wounding, an empty stomach would be a help to the attending doctor.
Two hours before the start of the fight, a true aficionado, and all novelists, should induce an emotional feverishness. (This state in a neophyte bullfighter can easily be provoked by hypnosis, but this is not recommended for fledgling authors.) If, on the other hand, your nerves are too shaky, have a drink of cognac in each of the cafes on the way to the ring, spacing your stops and timing your arrival to coincide with the sound of the practice trumpet.
Before entering the plaza, try to spot an obvious tourist and engage him in a heated argument. The following can easily be learned by heart and has the advantage of being applicable to all and any prebullfight conversations:
You (the aficionado or novelist): Do you call those bulls?
Tourist (or mere onlooker): Beg your pardon?
You: Those mangy, underfed, underweight novillos? Saw Aparicio at the age of 10 fight calves twice as big and kill with a lace handkerchief—
Tourist: I fail to—