I got my first exposure to real tough leather at a Mexican bullfight... and I was the one fighting the bull. I didn't understand much Spanish then, but from what I gathered, they said to just shake the heck out of this cape thing and the bull would go for it. What they didn't tell me was... that if anything else were shaking too i.e. my leg, the bull might go for that instead. Well, he was uglier than your average bull since he grew out of his head one curved horn and one straight one. The bad thing was that he was smarter than your average bull too. Anyways, the shaking the cloth thing worked, but it only worked... the first time.
You know how when Bugs Bunny fights the bull, the bull stands up and sharpens his horns, drops down on all fours then snorts real loud and lowers his head and kicks up some dirt? Well, he didn't stand up and sharpen his horns, but he did all the rest without ever losing eye contact with me. And he didn't start running at me slowly either. He charged me from about 30 feet away as hard as he could. He looked kind of big and fat and out of shape from a distance, but when I felt his body against mine, I realized that looks were deceiving. He was pure muscle. I don't think I've ever had so much adrenaline flowing through my veins ever. I smile every time I think about that.
Anyhow, the first pass was so much fun. I mean, the whole thing was really cool, but the first run was absolutely the best. The bull came barreling toward me, hit the cape and kept on going and then all at once, hundreds of people cried, "Ole!" It was so cool. The bull was distracted by another person in the ring for about 20 seconds as I moved out to the middle of the ring and that's when things started going downhill. Good thing Mom wasn't there, because it wasn't pretty.
The second pass was a little different. Actually, I'd say it was really different. It started the same way with the snorting and kicking up dirt and all, but instead of hitting the cape full force, about 10 feet before he got to me, he changed his path about 10 degrees in my direction. Well, it was obvious that I missed something in translation beforehand. I could have sworn they said it was really easy and that all I had to do was shake the heavy cloth thing. He hit me hard full force and now the same people who cried "Ole" all gasped in 2 full lungs of air in unison. I remember that part pretty well. It really sounded cool with everyone sucking in at the same time (I know I keep using the word "Cool", but I can't think of a better word for what happened). I guess the cool part was that hundreds of people were gasping for me. I never really thought that I would ever be the reason why hundreds of people would gasp for air all at once. Maybe cheer or clap or boo, but not gasp. So, since I never expected it to ever happen, it was cool.
Lucky for me, he hit me right square in my lower abdominals with the top of his head and his horns on either side. He broke his neck at that very moment on my abs of steel. Not really. Well, I dropped the cape and grabbed his horns and pushed off just as he tried to flip me up. I did shoot a couple of feet off the ground and landed off to the side, but the fun wasn't over yet. The bull skidded to a stop and came right back around. I don't know why he was so mad, but he was. Not like I was trying to kill him or anything. By the way, this was one of those non-killing the bull bullfights. I think he thought it was a fight to the death. Well anyways, he whipped around before I knew what was happening and came at me again and so I turned and outran him. Once again, not really. Without hesitation he was right on me and once again, I pushed off his head. Right about then, I was surrounded by the distraction guys and they did their job and distracted him. Well, at that moment I realized that I had best leave the bullfighting to the bullfighters. I had more productive things to do, like making a leather bag.