My parents loved to travel. When my sister and I were young and money was tight, the family would go on occasional road trips…usually within a day’s ride from home. In our teens, money was a bit more plentiful, so my folks decided to take us on a trip to Spain.
My sister was about 18-years-old and I was two years younger when we made our trans-Atlantic jaunt. The first city in Spain we visited was Madrid, a very large, bustling town rich with museums and culture. I remember seeing some of the sights with my parents, but my most vivid memories of Madrid were when my sister and I were left on our own to explore.
Latin men, as you may have heard, are not shy about pursuing women. My sister and I were young, attractive (if I say so myself) and we had long, very blonde hair. Apparently, we were irresistible to Spanish men, both young and old. As we would walk down the streets of the city, men would follow us, attempting to engage us in conversation. I spoke barely any Spanish, but from their gestures and insistent chattering, I surmised that they were trying to sell us something – so I kept walking briskly, waving my hand and saying, “No, gracias, NO gracias!” My sister began to laugh when we finally left the men behind. “You dork!” She snorted, “They were telling you how beautiful you were and what pretty blonde hair you had – and you were all, “No, thank you. NO, thank you!”
One evening, as we sat in an outdoor café for a late dinner, the very attentive and handsome waiter flirted with us as he provided excellent service. At one point, he asked us if we would like to go to the discoteca with him and a friend when his shift finished. It seemed fun and harmless – who didn’t like to dance? While my sister was hesitant, I had been recently freed from my nine-month stint in a bulky body cast and felt that I had a lot of living to catch up on. I pressed, appealing to her sympathetic nature and she finally, reluctantly agreed. From that point on, the waiter staked his claim. When other men who were passing through the square stopped at our table to express their admiration, our waiter, assisted by his coworkers, would swarm the table, firmly and loudly telling the interlopers to move along.
After his shift ended, the waiter and his friend came to our table to collect us and escort us to the discoteca. We had been to discos in America – complete with a large dance floor, light shows, and tables where one could have a drink and converse. Well, ATTEMPT to converse in our case — the friend spoke some broken English (the waiter nearly none) and my sister spoke passable Spanish (I only knew a few words and phrases), so the conversation was slow and uneasy. However, when we walked into the small, very dark discoteca, we were surprised and a bit alarmed. The alarm only grew as we made our way to our seats – passing by several high-backed booths, the couples pressed tightly together and, in some cases, writhing together in the gloom.
We four settled into our own shadowy booth and the waiter invited me to dance once or twice on an incredibly tiny dance floor. But mostly, we sat in that booth, my sister and I attempting to communicate and ignore the muffled noises coming from the neighboring booths. The waiter and his friend had other ideas and when they decided to make their moves and we shared awkward kisses (complete with waaaayyyy too much tongue), I decided enough was enough. But how to communicate this to my sister without offending or angering our “dates”?
I raised my eyebrows a bit as I looked at my sis and said, “I sincerely offer my deepest apologies for the misguided adventure and I surmise we should escape.” I was hoping if I used big words and spoke rapidly, the waiter’s friend would not be able to follow the conversation. My sister caught on right away, “I concur with your assessment, sibling. We are overdue for departure.” She then began to explain to our companions that, as it was late, we had to get back to the hotel before my father, (“a very angry man,” she embellished) became worried and came looking for us. The Spaniards exchanged alarmed looks! They tentatively offered to walk with us to the hotel, but my sister assured them it was better for their safety if they were nowhere near us when we arrived.
We parted ways with our Spanish acquaintances outside the discoteca (can you call someone who had their tongue down your throat an acquaintance?) My sister and I giggled with relief and about the absurdity of the whole situation as we made our way back to the hotel. I don’t think our parents even noticed that we were roaming the streets of Madrid so late that night – and it’s not something we did again during that trip. One experience with overly ardent Latin men was more than enough!