In early 1990, I was on board the USS Josephus Daniels when we pulled into Malaga, Spain. Some of the crew attended a bullfight. Wherever American sailors go, the leadership does their best to make their men culturally aware and culturally sensitive and tries to avoid situations that could turn into international incidents. When I went through boot camp in 1980, we heard about one group of American sailors who attended a bullfight in Tijuana many years earlier and had almost managed to set off a second Mexican-American War. How did they manage to infuriate their Mexican hosts?
They started cheering for the bull.
For some time now, I have been trying to determine if this actually happened, or whether it was just a colorful Navy legend. In any event, the Armed Forces now tell anyone on leave in a Spanish-speaking country not to cheer for the bull.
I did not see such a spectacle, though I did hear that the Maluagan bulls lost the battle; perhaps they could have done better if they’d gotten Michael Jordan.