Monumental Bar were extremely crowded now, and the daynfelt hotter than ever. At the service bar, boys with tongs werenbusy dragging in big blocks of sweating ice. A commercialnbus stopped beside the bar to discharge passengers, while thenpeople standing around took pictures.nAt last Jim said it was time to go. We finished the beer andnwalked through the gates toward the stadium, where mennwere offering cushions for rent at 1,000 pesos, about fortyncents. We paid for two cushions and entered through thennearest puerta to our places in the barreras (front-row seats)non the shady side of the ring, guided by the ubiquitous oldnman in brown to whom we gave a dollar. “Only one thing innMexico ever starts on time,” Jim remarked to me as wendropped the cushions on the tendidos (these are thennumbered places around the concrete tiers) and sat onnthem, “and that is the bullfight. Other events, includingnbusiness meetings, are frequently hours late. And I meannhours.”nWe were seated between an Anglo family on my rightnand, on Jim’s left, an elderly Anglo pair. The girl directlynbeside me looked to be about ten years old; she sat licking anvery large lollipop and appeared entirely unimpressed by thenspectacle around her. Above and to our right was thenpresidential box (AUTORIDA), and lettered signs above thenentrances honored the names of great artists of the bullfight:nPUERTA JUAN BELMONTE, PUERTA FERMINnESPINOZA, PUERTA JUAN SILVETI. In the callejon orncorridor between ourselves and the harrera, which is thenred-painted wooden fence that forms an inner boundary tonthe sanded ring, the radio broadcasters strutted, jabberingnexcitedly into their hand-held microphones.nHeralded by fanfares from the white-coated band aboventhe president’s box, the grand entry started — as Jim hadnpredicted — precisely at five o’clock. Through a door undernthe sign CUADRILLAS the three matadores with theirnbanderilleros came into the ring, followed by the picador onnhis padded horse and a young woman in a black satinncostume mounted on a lively black one, its saddle and bridlentrimmed with silver, which she made to prance sidewaysnaround the arena. The matadores — Ramos, Arruza, Silvetin—looked to be of Caucasian blood: all three were very tallnand slender, with aquiline features. Each carried on his armna pink cape with a lemon-colored lining, which he proceedednto drape over the harrera directly under the president’snbox. When the grand entry was concluded and the gid innblack had trotted her horse out of the ring, Arruza andnSilveti retired and a man came with a rake and smoothednover the horses’ tracks in the sand. Finally, Mariano Ramosnwas left alone with his banderilleros, all of them watchingnthe entrance below the sign that said TORILES.nWhen the bull came out he carried a divisa (a sort ofnrosette tied in the breeder’s colors that is stuck intonthe bull as he enters the ring) on the point of his rightnshoulder. He was the feisty black we had watched in the pennbefore lunch. For an instant he stood, not quite aghast but innastonishment, waiting to discover the meaning of this whollynunfamiliar situation. Then he began to charge around thenring, striking with his horn at the burladeros behind whichnthe banderilleros had taken shelter; while they, from theirnrefuge, watched to see which horn the bull favored to usenand flaunted their capes at him to goad him into using it.nYou would see the flash of yellow-and-pink over the top ofnthe burladero, and feel the impact as the bull struck thenwood with his horn before continuing his charge. Severalntimes he came to a halt against the burladero, and on thesenoccasions the banderillero would put a hand over the woodnto pat him gently on the nose while he talked to him, bullnand man with their heads only inches apart. Ramos watchednevery one of the bull’s moves intently. Then he signaled tonthe picador, who had been waiting just outside the ring.nBoos and hoots rose from the crowd as the picador —nvillain of the suerte de varas (trial of the lances), which is thenfirst of the three acts {los tres tercios de la lidia) of thentraditional bullfight — rode into the ring on his blindfoldednhorse, which was padded on its right side. The picador is ansuspect character on two counts: first, it is he who initiatesnthe process of breaking down the bull by weakening thenmorillo (the hump of muscle over the shoulders) so that henmust eventually drop his head for the estocada, or killingnthrust high up between the shoulders; second, the picador,nwho like the banderilleros works for the matador, takes hisnorders from his master regarding how hard to punish the bullnwith the lance (the sooner serious damage is done, the easiernthe matador’s job in the kill is going to be). The picador alsonwas thickly padded on his right leg. He worked the blindednhorse around to put its right flank against the bull, and thennhe made his thrust with the lance, leaning his weight on it sonthat the blade penetrated the morillo as far as the guard.n”Oh my God!” the woman seated by Jim said.nThe bull leaned into the horse, keeping his head turnednalong the padded flank, and stood quite still, as if he wishednto cooperate in the maneuver. After what seemed a verynlong time, the picador twisted the lance free of the morillo;nimmediately the hot blood pumped from the wound like ansmall fountain and ran in slow red sheets down the shinynblack withers while the crowd booed and hooted some more.n”He overdid it on that one,” Jim commented, lookingnintently at me under the brim of his Panama hat. “He’snweakened him badly — way too early.”nWhen Mariano Ramos came forward holding the cape innboth hands and cited the bull, the bull appeared to benalready lethargic. Five times Ramos passed the bull in frontnof his body, holding the cape just ahead of the horns andnbringing them very close in. (These passes are callednveronicas; they are named for St. Veronica, who wiped thenface of Christ with a cloth as He was on the point ofncrucifixion and who is always depicted holding this cloth byntwo corners, in the manner of the matador with his cape.)nRamos completed his veronicas. Then he swirled the capensuddenly in the face of the oncoming bull and turned hisnback contemptuously upon its abrupt halt, in what is knownnas a media-veronica. (By his veronicas, the matador expectsnto tire the bull further and weaken his spinal columnnthrough forcing him into a series of quick unnatural turns.)nAlthough Ramos’s veronicas had been impressive enough tonthe inexperienced viewer, I could not tell whether he hadnsucceeded in slowing the bull or not.nIn the second act of the bullfight, things can happen toonquickly for the untrained eye to catch and the brain tonregister and make sense of them. The banderillas are sticksnwith harpoon tips, about three feet long and furbished withnnnAPRIL 1992/23n