Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Royal Palace

By Rosario Charie Albar

There I was, only on my second day in Madrid and shopping already. I had a good excuse though. I needed to buy some pantyhose because I had brought only 2 pairs for a 10-day trip. And it was freezing cold. On approach to Madrid’s Barajas airport, I could see the countryside blanketed in white. Local television reported on various accidents caused by foul weather. They also showed weekend vacationers who were stuck for hours on their way to ski resorts because the roads were closed from heavy snowfall.

The salesgirl at El Corte Ingles was very helpful. I told her I needed the thickest pantyhose they sold and she showed me two different kinds made by a famous French designer. On examining them, the 11-euro pantyhose was much thicker than the 8-euro one so I decided to buy the former. I wanted to kick myself for forgetting to buy nylons at home where it is far cheaper. The salesgirl congratulated me for choosing a really good pair and what’s more, she added, it was also very sexy with an embroidered bikini that had the appearance of lace. I told her I didn’t really need sexy pantyhose, only a warm one and if she could find me that, it would save me some money. She assured me that what I got was the thickest and warmest pantyhose they sold and the embroidered bikini came with it. Humph! I should be so lucky that my skirt would be blown away by heavy winds and reveal the elegant and sexy black nylons I’m wearing in front of Don Juan himself.

I saved my new pantyhose until I got to Granada because I saw in the news how cold it was there and I wanted to keep warm when walking around the Alhambra which is situated on a hillside above the city.

In order to see as much of the former palace of the Moors and to learn its history, I decided to join a tour which lasts about 3 hours. There were at least 30 people in my group and we viewed the beautiful rooms decorated in the Mudejar style, the courtyards with its whispering fountains and pruned orange trees, the crenellated walls and towers and the bedrooms of the Sultan, the Sultana who bore him his first son and the cubicles of his other wives. Halfway through the visit, the guide gave us a 15 minute break before walking to the Generalife, the summer palace and gardens of the sultan which is located uphill from the Alhambra. This is when my problems began.

Wearing layers of clothes is alien to me blessed as I am to live in mild California climate. On the day of the tour through the Alhambra and its grounds, I deliberately didn’t wear a half slip because on the previous day in Madrid, my slip fell to my knees and I had to hide behind some buildings in the Plaza Villa Real so I could snatch it before it dropped to the ground. It was difficult because my skirt was so tight so I couldn’t grab it from my waist, but after painstakingly pulling it from the side under cover of my long, bright purple coat, I was able to guide it back in place. There was a couple chatting there and a guard was watching me from the entrance to the Science Institute but I didn’t care because I had no choice. I suspected that a nylon slip worn over nylons made for a slippery pair. And as I had been walking since lunch, it had slowly slid down my thighs.

After that precaution, I was alarmed when I felt my new 11-euro pantyhose had escaped my waist and hips and was now loosely hugging my thighs. I decided to walk behind the pack so no one would see me and started pulling my hose up, first from the right side and then from the left. But with each stride, it would fall again and I was back where I started. I kept repeating the process until I finally managed to raise my hose to my hips when a couple sidled up to me and started chatting. I don’t know if they had seen what I was up to and took pity on me but they were nice and I enjoyed our conversation. For the moment my troubles took a back seat as we toured the gardens. But I discreetly pulled my hose whenever the group was engrossed in the lecture and when they were busy taking pictures while hugging the legendary tree of romance. I was too shy to hug the tree but I gingerly touched it and wished for my hose to stay in place long enough for a special someone to appreciate it.

When the guide finally released us, I walked as fast as I could to the aseos, all the while clutching my hose from behind my wool coat. The restrooms were quite a distance from the Generalife but I made it without a hitch. Once there, I yanked my hose firmly into place. After taking a few more pictures of the grounds, I boarded a public bus back to my hotel, relieved to finally take off my sexy but flawed pantyhose. I never wore it again during the rest of the trip. I didn’t really want to give today’s Don Juan the chance to smirk when, standing on top of a blower, my skirt would fan out, a la Monroe, exposing my pantyhose dangling inelegantly from my thighs. Que horror!