Defying the mid-day sear, the women of Sevilla shoot down Calle Sierpes. They don’t walk, meander or stroll. Stacked heels attack the pavement with the same ferocity they use to verbally barrage their lovers in the cafés at night. “Why don’t they sweat?” I wonder, rolling an iced bottle of Barbadillo across my forehead, attempting to stave off hyperthermia.
Sevilla may be famous for its Cathedral, flamenco, and bullfighting, but infamous for its heat, aptly nicknamed “the frying pan of Spain”. Fabric sails installed above the shopping avenues that connect Plaza Nueva and Plaza del Duque offer minimal protection from El Sol. Only tourists and masochists venture out during siesta.
And the Andalusian women. With sleek chignons and strappy sandals, they stride purposefully and perspiration-free. My sister and I carefully observe their migrations and, after finishing our wine and a platter of bacalao fritters, decide the secret must be their dresses – brightly colored cotton shifts with exquisite embroidery. They’re flattering on every body that’s passed our way, loose-fitting yet superbly chic. Effortless. It’s a secret European women possess that I do not. We must purchase these dresses. Or have more wine. Dresses! Then wine!
Without success, we scour El Cortes Inglés, a large department store. Returning to Calle Sierpes, we scan the closed storefronts. When I heard my sister squeal, I knew we’d hit paydirt. Our reverie at the Niza Moda boutique was shortlived however. The salesclerk abruptly stopped us from rifling through the racks and pointed at our chests and then towards the staircase.
“What’d she say?” I ask Nancy. “She said the larger sizes are upstairs.” “She called us fat?” “No. Not gordo. Just big.”
She was right. I needed a 3X to clear my chest. But I didn’t care. The chocolate brown shift was my Spanish dream fulfilled. Altered with a bit of nip-tuck around the waist and hips to reduce the volume and it fit perfectly.