Monday, April 28, 2008

Mysteries of the argentine woman

breakfast in buenos aires normally consists of a big mug of sweet hot chocolate along with a couple of churros: deep-fried donuts filled with dulce de leche and sprinkled with sugar. three-course lunches appear to be at least widely available if not universally consumed. dinner, as most people already know, generally orbits around a large hunk of cow and patas fritas, hold the vegetables.

this is all very encouraging.

until you go into the palermo soho shops, which tend to have three sizes: size 1, size 2, and size 3. small, medium and large, you are thinking? no: tiny, tinier, tiniest. in a cruel and bizarre twist on the traffic in women, it's as though after the currency crisis (precipitated in part by former president menem's decision to stop pegging the argentine peso to the US dollar), designers decided to do something to stop the terrifying freefall, so fixed clothing sizes in a 1:1 ratio. sizes 1 and 3 match the 3-5-7-9-11 scale, with a size 2 thrown in for those who prefer the 2-4-6-8 system. here's how tiny the palermo sizes are: we stopped into a parisian design shop today, where the clothes were designed, built and flown in from paris. after a several hours of palermo-based designers, the parisian outfits looked brobdignabian. and before you raise the obvious: these clothes were flown down here well before the new french anti-anorexia laws.

who are these women? i do see women in the restaurants, and they do appear to eat. the straight couple at the table next to us at lunch opted for the three-course meal. he had a salad and stir-fried vegetables while she tucked into black bean soup, hungarian goulash and flambeed bananas. i couldn't see where there was room in her skinny jeans for a full plate of goulash, but down it went. and she was schlepping shopping bags, too. it's a given that the servers at restaurants could all wear a size 1 or 2, but for the most part they are 18 or 19 years old, and i have to believe they can't afford to shop in these palermo boutiques. (c'mon, i'm carrying 20 years and 20 kilos: give me something to hold onto!)

at the same time, i don't see women out exercising madly, either. i attracted way more than my fair share of stares on the avenida de la libertador this afternoon, when i went humping around the trails. following this beautiful circular path around a nature preserve with paddleboats, swans, and sycamores, i was initially worried that i might be running the wrong way around the circuit. maybe there's a secret counterclockwise code that locals know, and maybe it's a huge offense when ignorant giantesss turistas mess it up. then i realized, oh, no, it's just that i'm the only woman in a hundred miles. the rest are probably tiding themselves over from lunch to dinner on potato chips and treats from one of the many panaderias about. marcia tells me i'm overreacting and overgeneralizing and don't know what i'm talking about because so far i've only gone running at the end of a weekday: wait til sunday morning, she says, and it's a whole other scene. maybe.

until then, it's handbags for heather. eh, maybe i'll actually preserve some pesos to put in 'em. i mean, it. in it. singular. i do not need to buy multiple handbags to compensate for the fact that i can't buy cute palermo clothes.

do i?


Anonymous said...

uh, YEAH you do.

ClanQueen said...


What a vocabulary you have! Yummy:) I think you deserve an extra handbag to put all your words in...and no doubt these teeny little women have regular sized feet? Perhaps some shoes too then...:) After all, today *is* your birthday...