Saturday, 13 March 2010

Sevillian Sock Shopping with Jesus

Sevillian Chronicles Part I

I had a plan with a friend, and needed to buy some socks. Can't tell you what the plan was, as is personal, and not really the point of the story; but I REALLY needed some special new socks, which is the important part here. As I was only living in Sevilla for about three weeks, thus slightly insecure about venturing out into the wilds all on my own; I mentioned my need for socks versus fear of Sevilla dilemma at work one day. Upon hearing this,my collegue Jesús very kindly offered to show me where HE would go, were he a woman in dire need of socks. So we made a date to go after work that day. I have to admit that I was very impressed that a man was taking my wish to buy socks so to heart, as to offer to accompany me; and dear Reader, after reading more of my Sevillian Chronicles, you will surely throw out the window any existing stereotype of macho Spanish men! Just wait until you have read the Change My Tire Incident, which also involved Jesús-my main partner in escapades in these early days.

Jesús took me to a teeny shop near his home. The entire store was probably no more than 20 square meters, with a counter; and all items for sale were displayed behind the counter. There were tons of women's sock-things, in every color of the rainbow. Hmmm!! It was a very cozy and old fashioned kind of shop, and it suddenly occurred to me that this was quite likely to turn into a situation where I would have to rely on being able to communicate with at least one of the two women working there, in Spanish, in order to accomplish my mission. Jesús must have read the brief look of panic in my eyes, judging by the huge smirk on his face. His look told me that he was going to enjoy watching how this exchange would work very much.

When it was my turn, I ended up with having the younger of the two women ask how she could help me. I told her, in limited Spanish, and with lots of bewilderd glances at the still-smirking Jesus, that I needed to buy some socks (so far so good, she understood me). She asked me what sort of socks I wanted (so far so good, I understood her). This was the point where things got a wee bit verbally challenged, from my perspective. I knew what I wanted, but could I tell this in Spanish? So I did my best to describe long white knee socks, which was obviously not good enough, because not only did this extremely kind and patient woman proceed to show me almost every pair of socks in the shop, explaining about each one at great length; but the older woman seemed to feel compelled to join the first one, in order to add her moral and professional support. Both were being very sweet, speaking v-e-r-y- s-l-o-w-l-y, trying not to giggle amongst themselves, and also gesturing quite a lot- blissfully ignoring the line of other customers that was forming behind me. I noticed this line though, and also how it was getting longer by the minute. It got much harder for me to admire the vast array of socks on display, and listen to lengthy descriptions of the merits of each pair, as was distracted by marvelling at the patience of people in line. Six, seven, eight people behind me. Nine people, who seemed to be chatting happily amongst themselves, about how X´s mother is doing after her surgery, and did Y know that Z had run off with N´s husband, and what a cute dog; (or is what I imagined they were discussing, from the words I understood, and the facial expressions with accompanying hand gestures) and who didn't seem to mind in the slightest that the two clerks had been giving me their undivided and exclusive attention for the last 40 minutes or so. In Germany one person would be absolutely aggravated to have to wait for more than .25 seconds to be waited on, thus my initial fear started to swing towards amazement.

After processing the fact that the twelve or thirteen other waiting customers were so happily occupied, I finally relaxed and got down to chosing my new socks. I ended up with buying three pairs, plus a particularly shocking shade of scarlet nail polish that these women both assured me was “absolutely necessary” this fall (dear reader, I LET them push me into this sale of nail polish consciously, as was so highly amused by the whole new situation, and was wondering what would happen, or what they would try to sell me next), and FINALLY left the shop, after being helped for a good fifty minutes.

As soon as the door closed behind Jesús and I, we looked at each other for a second or two. He snorted once, then twice; which led us to collapsing in helpless giggles. We laughed and sniffed and snorted and chuckled our way down the street, holding on to each other to remain upright. Wandering off towards adventure number two of that night.

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