Thursday, July 12, 2012
Bulls,Boxers or Briefs
Most people first encounter the Running of the Bulls in Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises." If,like me, you are a devotee of Hemingway, the idol of many a sportsman, you have a romanticized idea of going to Pamplona, donning a red scarf and boozing for 9 days with a few gory jogs and bullfights mixed in. Readers in 1971 were again treated to a romp through the festival of San Fermin in the 1971 Michener novel. '"The Drifters." This book sowed seeds for new generations to embrace this event.I read this later fictional account while in Law School and could not help but feel that the Pamplona scenes constituted a sort of literary piracy due to the similar manner in which Michener used the festival as a catalyst in his group of protagonists.
Like one of the Michener characters, some wine fueled putz always gets into International headlines for tripping on the route and having a horn jammed into his sternum. This year we see a kilted runner having his naughty bits tickled by one of the doomed Bulls and some other wanker running about with his briefs adorned with what looks to be the corporate symbol for a 2nd rate retailer or a taunt to have his junk poked with a horn. Another unlucky chap is seen being flung into the air and having his light blue boxers exposed by one of the angry beasts.
The festival celebrates a Roman named Fermin who was converted to Christianity, ordained and came to Pamplona as its first Bishop. He was later beheaded and martyred in France. To honor St. Fermin, the Spaniards party for 9 straight days and the enthusiasts dress in white and scarf-up to run in front of the bulls released for that day's slaughter in the Bull ring. There are many other events and facets of the celebration but nothing captures the imagination like the running thanks to the literary accounts.
I admit that one day I would like to go to Pamplona for this gig. It would be a cliche Hemingway pilgrimage, but it looks like a great time nonetheless. I think I would rather limit the morning activity to early drinking and kissing like the one couple we see pictured in the post-running streets. That, or I would rather chase that fetching blonde than run in front of 2000 lbs of angry bull ring fodder.