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Tale of Two Cocks
Tale of Two Cocks
This adventure began on our honeymoon. I call it Tale of Two Cocks. No, it’s not what you’re thinking. Two cocks as in roosters.
I won’t mention the year but we went to Havana, Cuba for our honeymoon so you know it was some time ago.. My husband loved sports – any kind, any place. He had always wanted to see a cockfight and he had heard that they were legal in Cuba.
The concierge in our honeymoon hotel – that’s another story – suggested we ask the senores in the bodega (bar) down the street for directions. Since Rocky, my lovable husband, didn’t speak Spanish at the time, I was the principal interpreter with my limited vocabulary of high school Spanish.
We marched fearlessly into the bar and I approached the bartender. But first, how was I going to ask? What the devil was the name for cocks, or more exactly, roosters? Well, I did know the word for fighting – luchando – and although I didn’t remember ever learning a word for roosters, I did know chickens – pollos – figuring that was close enough.
So in my best bilingual manner, I asked him, “Donde estan los pollos luchandos?” Where are the fighting chickens? He looked at us for several moments without a word and I could imagine wheels spinning inside his brain. Then he understood. “Si, si,” he said. “Yo entiendo.” I understand.
He gestured that we should follow him as he walked out from behind the bar and straight out the door. The four viejos (old) men who had been in the bar followed us, too. We paraded for several blocks until we came to a bus stop and the bartender, our guide and interpreter, motioned we should wait there for the bus. So we did and so did our five-man entourage.
Soon a very old, rickety-looking bus with open sides came along and our guide motioned it to stop. He had a short conversation with the driver gesticulating at us, the gringos , and we boarded the bus. There were about 20 local folks on the bus, and it wouldn’t have been so crowded except three of the passengers had goats with them. Real live goats – on the bus. I remember wondering if the goats represented pets or dinner.
For the Folks Who Love Cockfights
Mercifully, the ride was only about twenty minutes because as we soon discovered, the bus had no springs and the city streets were not paved – they were actually bricks set in a haphazard manner. It felt like riding in a vehicle, and I use the word loosely, that had square wheels.
We arrived at our destination. We knew we were there because the driver stopped the bus, got off, followed by several of the bus riders who wanted to watch this action, and one of their goats. The driver pointed up the nearest street and said, “Los pollos luchandos estan dos calles.” We started up the block with the driver, the passengers and the goats watching us go.
This was real adventure. We were excited. My high school Spanish was working for us. Two blocks up we saw an enclosure with a ticket taker in the front and a very large sign, “ZOO.” My husband was hysterical; I didn’t think it was so funny. Our bartender/guide had given us the directions to the place where we could find fighting chickens – if they were angry at each other – the local Zoo.
I’ll never know if we were victims of a local joke or victims of my poor Spanish, but the ticket-taker saved the day. He knew where the biggest local cockfight was and phoned for a taxi. We arrived at the fight site without incident and seated ourselves in the stands.
Now Rocky not only liked sports, he liked to gamble on sports so he looked around and saw a fellow waving pesos in the air beckoning for someone to match his bet. He motioned he would bet on the other cock and a second fellow held the money.
The fight started. There was a small problem. One of the cocks was white, the other mostly black. But we didn’t know which was our cock. Who should we root for? The solution was to watch the other bettor.
The two roosters wore little sharp steel razors strapped to their heels so thankfully, as far as I was concerned, the cockfight did not last long. One of the cocks was killed. Now the problem – how do we know if we won or lost? “Watch the other guy,” I said. “If he looks unhappy, we won.” Sure enough, he looked like it was the end of the world and the middleman approached us with our winnings.
So Rocky made ten pesos and saw his first and last cockfight. To end the story with a moral: It’s a wise man who knows his own cock.
© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2010, 2012. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So."
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