The Bull on Wall Street
Up for Grabs
“I want to grab the bull by the horns! "
“It’s just an expression” Mela said, wondering, first, where her cousin had heard it and second if she knew what the expression meant.
“We have a list of things to do and see today…” Mela’s voice trailed as she looked at her cousin’s crestfallen face.
Carla sighed loudly, eyeing the open map in her hands, scanning over the bright yellow highlights that had been marked the prior evening.
“It’s my only time in New York!” She stated plaintively. It might have borne some weight with Mela if Carla hadn’t used the same reasoning for each “only" she wanted to do.
“It’s the only time we will be at the Bronx Zoo”
“It’s the only time I can ride the ferry”
“It’s the only time we will be able to eat hot dogs from a cart "
The list grew longer as each “only” became an additional experience that Carla begged to enjoy.
Mela looked at her cousin with annoyance.
“Today we are doing Central Park and Times Square,"Mela stated calmly.
Carla nodded in agreement.
“The bull is downtown, in the financial district, near Wall Street”
Carla continued to nod and Mela realized that “downtown” meant absolutely nothing to her cousin who came from a provincial village in Sicily. A village that had been frozen in the year 1946. A village of 805 occupants; A village where goats and sheep walked freely in the middle of the piazza accompanied by their shepherd; A village where most girls were still chaperoned and engaged by the age of sixteen; A village that people left, only in death .
Carla was here as a tourist; a graduation present from her parents who thought a trip to New York City would stifle any desire she might have for life outside the perimeters of the village. Her parents considered Mela to be a matronly chaperone. She was 38 years old compared to Carla’s age of 18. She was a professional, owned her own home and was located in New York City. She was single and childless therefore able to spend time watching Carla to ensure she did not get into trouble while visiting.
Carla gasped when she had initially walked around the busy city streets. Her head was gazing upwards, incredulously commenting that the buildings were so “tall “.
Columbus Circle, the Metropolitan Opera House, and the Museum of Art had been realized dreams for Carla who had only read about them.
A visit to the Bronx Zoo and Botanical Gardens followed by a City Island dinner were immense pleasures she had never imagined.
The Coney Island Boardwalk, Aquarium and Prospect Park had been carefree and fun.
Visiting their mutual aunt in New Jersey had been a mandatory detour; The familial visit had been suggested warmly, then stated clearly, implied, demanded and finally threatened until Mela drove Carla to their aunt's home for a polite forced visit and homemade Italian dinner. Their aunt was convinced that Carla must be homesick and needed a familiar meal in order not to feel lost . Mela watched as Carla pushed the overcooked pasta on her plate, then smiled when she asked to stop for cheeseburgers, in the car, on the trip home.
Mela and Carla shared many things, despite their age difference and upbringing. They were both slender and crowned with a mass of dark curly hair. They were both named “Carmela” after their great grandmother, a centuries old family naming tradition that refused to die. They both loved new clothes, 80’s music and French fries.
Carla was extremely desperate to be immersed in the magical city. Mela didn’t share her cousin’s amazement. The Empire State and Woolworth Building were just office buildings. They had offices where people worked. They were old. People passed them every day , trying to get somewhere else.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral was just a large church to Mela who had secretly stepped away from her childhood beliefs and indoctrination of the Roman Catholic church Yet, Mela obliged , sitting beside Carla who insisted on visiting on Sunday, so she could attend a mass and take pictures.
Mela was starting to regret agreeing to host her cousin and was feeling guilty relief when her departure date became closer on the calendar .
They had reserved the day before Carla’s departure for shopping in order to purchase any last minute souvenirs or gifts she might want to bring back to Sicily. Later that evening , while Mela helped Carla pack her new treasures into her new suitcase, she asked casually and without commitment ,”Do you really want to see the bull on Wall Street ?"
Carla looked up from packing and repeated , “ I want to grab the bull by the horns. "
Mela sighed, “Carla, that’s just an expression, it doesn’t ‘mean’ anything “
Carla stared at her cousin incredulously .
“It means everything “ Carla insisted, “ Just look at everything you have , everything you’ve done , and every place you’ve been ! "
“I’m older," Mela began , “I’ve graduated college ...”
“Because you COULD” Carla interrupted , silencing her cousin in slight confusion .
“So can you” Mela continued , “ you just graduated high school... "
“No” Carla replied , “ I can’t .”
Carla looked at her cousin , her eyes brimming with silent tears .
“You can do anything ! You are free to work, make your own money , live alone in your own home without being married first . You can come and go as you please . You can drive . You can walk on the streets alone . "
Mela watched as her cousin fought tears . She sat down to hug her. Carla pushed away .
“ You have everything," Carla said, " Right outside your doorstep! Nothing can stop you”
“No”, Mela snapped in retort, “ I put myself in major debt to go to school , and I’m still paying it off . No one gave it to me . No one sent me on vacation when I turned 18 . I worked two jobs during AND after college . It takes a lot of money to live here and work here and be here. I know you think my parents are wonderful , but they barricaded the door of options at every turn, insisting that I marry some guy they had picked out . "
Carla stared at Mela.
Mela continued, “ 60 years ago , my grandfather brought us here physically, but mentally , they are still in that village that time forgot. I rebelled. I did whatever it took to get to where I am now. "
Carla spoke softly, “ My parents have someone picked out too. "
Mela laughed , “well, there’s no doubt we sprout from the same tree trunk.”
The bull on Wall Street represented financial prosperity and optimism. It had become a tourist attraction, summoning thousands to lower Manhattan. Many believed, that rubbing the bronze would transfer the opportunity of wealth onto their hands .
When the city began to awaken , the next day , Mela and Carla were at the bronze sculpture of the bull on Wall Street .
Carla did not hesitate , approaching the bull and placing both of her hands on its horns . She attempted a mock pull on the horns, laughing.
“I’m grabbing the bull by the horns !” she exclaimed . “ I’m going to grab every bull by the horns . I’ll go looking for bulls to grab by the horns , just like this one . "
She turned solemnly to her cousin, “ and I won’t miss a single one”.
In that moment , Mela realized that Carla had known the symbolism of the expression. Mela was the one who had forgotten its meaning.
She moved towards the bull, grabbed the right horn of the sculpture, turned to her cousin and said, “Let me show you how the grabbing is done."
About the Creator
Polyglot. Sapiophile. Live in Slave for 2 rescue dogs. You can't make this up; Fictionalized Reality, names changed to protect the truth & the guilty. Everyone will think they are the heroine. What fools these mortals be...
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