The women, the men, the young and the old watched every fight during the big Feria de San Isidro in May. In the café they would say, “Ah look at the magnificence of the Spanish man. Every other man looks like nothing compared to him.” And Sebastiano would say, “That’s bullshit. These guys are just a bunch of sadistic pig fuckers with no balls of their own so they have to pick on a dumb animal.” Now if those aren’t fighting word. But we never got into a fight and I say “we” because where I come from if you get in a fight and I am with you I’m in the fight too. So, I was often on edge when he would go off like that. And it was often. He would bait people mercilessly. He wanted them to respond so he could blow off some steam.
Around nine o’clock Ruth would show up from her teaching jobs and we would go have dinner at one of the innumerable places in the center of Madrid, modest places with good food. And that was usually a good time, walking in the evening to a place we had decided to try. Madrid is one of the great walking cities. There are scores of restaurants and small businesses and parks. The smell of good things cooking, of olive oil and garlic and a million spices fills the air and the nights are warm and gentle in May. Nobody wants to go to bed and they delay it as long as possible. It’s fun to be with the crowd, run into friends, try a new tapas bar. Great seafood and shellfish are delivered every day fresh from La Coruna on the Atlantic and the din of the crowd is a positive, life-loving sound.
During the days, Sebastiano liked to ride on the back of the motorcycle and I would drive him over to the movie studio or to an agent to see if there was some commercial work for him. At the same time, I was also trying to get some order to my own life. Tagging along with Sebastiano and witnessing the unfortunate dynamic between him and Ruth was exhausting for me. She was the type of person who would not say shit if she was standing in it. And he took tremendous delight in saying the most God-awful atrocities in front of her. They were so outrageous and beyond the pale that she would first be shell-shocked and then pass beyond that and smile or even give a little laugh. I got tired of not knowing how to react to it all.