Sebastiano and his “Senora” became my close friends. Sebastiano was a tall, dark, handsome, Latin-lover guy to look at. He had black wavy hair, a goatee and a full set of perfect teeth. He was strong and could grip a stop sign and hold himself parallel to the road. He met Ruth in England where she was married to a dull upper-class man. They had children who were almost grown. Ruth was at least ten years older than Sebastiano. She had red hair and milk white skin and all the education and breeding one would expect from an English woman of her station.
They had met in a café while having a coffee. Sebastiano was attracted by her refined beauty, and, no doubt, by the class she represented. He was hard on the women. She fell like a ton of bricks and gave up everything, disgraced herself and her husband and children and followed him first to France and then to Spain. She was a good person but a sad, tired person because her life with Sebastiano wasn’t really happy and she had been disowned and renounced by both her husband and her children. Still, she managed good humor as much as possible and could laugh even though she was worn out from supporting him and from his verbal abuse, which was so extreme at times it was almost comical. He had his devils…
The little parts in the films being made and an occasional TV commercial spot provided him some money but not much. He lived off women. The French would call him a macaro, which is the third type of man. To French women there are only three types of men: con, pede, et macaro, which is: asshole, fag, and pimp.
Sebastiano had an outrageous personality to go with his impressive looks. His charisma was amazing. He would walk into a café and, in a few minutes, draw all the attention to himself. He would insult people and challenge them, all in broken Spanish, but somehow, he did it in a way that didn’t cause people to dislike him. I can’t say they liked him either because fear was mixed into the equation. I often expected to see someone haul off and punch him in the mouth but it never happened. And the women just wanted him plain and simple. He was the first man of this type I ever got to be around and observe. This type of guy really doesn’t like women but the women go wild for them. I still find this confusing.
We got along and he enjoyed having a sidekick who looked up to him, someone he could trust. Because, for all the bluster and noise, he was full of insecurities. And without the great looks and his giant cock, which he called “the brute” and bragged about, he was just a poor, uneducated, Italian kid from the north end of Boston. A fire burned in him and threatened to burn him down but, to his credit, he passed through it time and time again without becoming a drunk or an addict. He’d say, “Let’s walk,” and off we would go on the streets of Madrid for hours until he calmed down.
Lots of times he was in a crisis in his relationship with Ruth. He would go off with some beautiful Swedish girl who was passing through town and Ruth would always find out about it and threaten to leave, pack her bags. But she had no place to go and even if he secretly wished she would go, he was dependent on her for the money and for being there, the loving mother figure in the old Oedipal way. His own mother he hated, which explains a lot no doubt. But explaining things doesn’t change them.
The Korean War took its toll. He went in at age seventeen, lying about his age, and saw some brutal fighting there, something history has ignored for some reason. I still don’t know much about it and most people don’t. His best friend was killed right next to him. He brought the bloody tee shirt home and had it stored under his bed with his private treasures. One day when he was out of the house his mother threw the shirt out. I think that’s when he left home for good. He hated her for that and for lots of other related insensitivities and coldness.
Other indignities he had suffered stayed with him. He told this story to me more than once: “When I was just a little kid some bigger kids grabbed me in the playground and pulled my pants down and pissed on me and rubbed my face in it. I swore I would get them back. And I never forgot. By the time I got back from the army I weighed two hundred pounds and was all muscle. I went to each one of their houses and, of course, they didn’t know who I was. But I would say, ‘Didn’t you go to school over on Madison Street?’ I would watch them as I added more information and saw them begin to realize who was in front of them, in their house. And then I beat them to a pulp.”
Even at the time I wasn’t sure this was a true story but it was an important story somehow. And it could be true. He wasn’t afraid of anything physical as far as I could tell. For example, the bullfight is the heart of Spanish culture even today and at that time even more so because there was so little else of popular culture to compete with it.