Like naive children, we watched, mouths agape, as the torture ensued. It began, innocently enough, with formal theatrical proceedings and a band of mounted trumpeters. Then, the bull was released into the ring. I only later found out that the testicles of the bull had either just been cut off or had been burned with a fire-hot ring of iron. Either way, the bull was physically pained to set off his rage. Then, toreros wearing colorful jackets lined in silver teased the bull with a pink cape.

    "Hey, I thought that was supposed to be red?" Gayathri asked me. I shrugged, not knowing the answer either. 

    "Maybe it's red but it faded in the wash!" I tried my hand at humor. She rolled her eyes at my effort. When we looked back, the torero had the gold side of the muleta, or cape facing the bull. He continued to alternate sides, casually jumping out of the way when the bull charged at him. After a few passes with the pink and gold cape, another torero entered the ring on horseback. The horse was covered with a leather padding, obviously to protect it from the bull's horns. The torero on the horse carried a lance that he jabbed into the bull's back, just under his shoulders. At this point, a man who was sitting behind us, offered some insight as to what was going on. He was a young Spaniard not at all bothered by the event.

    "This weakens the muscles holding his head. It will make it easier for the matador de toros to kill the bull later," he explained to Gayathri and me with a smile. We looked at each other in shock.

    "Wait, what?" I replied for both of us. "They are going to kill the bull? Today?" 

Sitting on a damp wooden bench, I ate my egg salad sandwich and studied the bright yellow daffodils that shone against the kelly green grass. Even on a cold, cloudy, Edinburgh day, those bright yellow daffodils gave hope for the coming warmth of spring. I considered for a moment how strong those wild flowers were, being the first blossoms of the season. I decided that day, my twentieth birthday, that I wanted to be like a daffodil: bold and bright, a trailblazer. They were the harbingers of spring, cheerful in the face of gloom. 

 She smiled as if she had just shared with me her  great grandmother's secret chocolate chip cookie recipe. I mumbled thanks as she walked out still smiling. I wasn't sure what to think of the woman's  advice but I did not have time to ponder it then.

  I still had vomit on my leg.

"You know there is no 'w' in coffee, right?" Tom teased.

"Actually, in New Jersey, we spell it c-a-w-f-e-e. So, yes, there is a 'w,'" I laughed. I agreed to the tea but only because I couldn't find any instant coffee.


Toilet Paper for Peanuts