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Courtesy of My Generation.
This 50+ couple couldn’t get into the Vatican because their clothes were too sexy. Hey, how good is that, asks BRIAN O’FLAHERTY?
Well well well…
By the time you reach our age you might think you know pretty much all about yourself. But no. We learned something new in Rome of all places: we're too sexy. Specifically, our knees are too sexy. For the pope.
Went to the Vatican, see; passed the security check no trouble - x-ray and all that. Queued again for ages and finally got to the second line of defence - the censors. Went to walk through under a canopy sheltering several clean-cut young men in white shirts and ties. Got to the front of the queue and - "no signore; no signora." No English going on but the sign language made it clear that our shorts - not only Jean's but mine - were just too short. Too much flesh. Too much rippling muscle, sensual calves, finely sculpted ankles.
Bugger. It was a long way to the seat of the one true church from where we were living. Couldn't be bothered rushing back to the pub for a change of wardrobe. Gave it away. Went to the catacombs of San Callisto instead. No complaints there. A few admiring glances, I noticed. At me. From the very numerous clergy. The Vatican will keep till tomorrow.
It’s tomorrow. We've bought a couple of burkhas and we're off back to St Peter's home base. What are our chances this time? We'll be turned back the first time. Jean's going to remove her top (1st layer only) just to tempt (not in a biblical sense) them to be inconsistent. Me, I'm too shy...
Twenty four hours later, praise the Lord. We're saved. We are redeemed! We have seen the error of our ways! Maybe we're suffering from the opposite of hypothermia but we are God's chillun again. Oh Yeah!
Much longer queue in the heat of St Peter's Square, made even longer by cunning old Italian crones of both sexes insinuating themselves wherever, pretty much, they please.
But we made it.
True, Jean did as she threatened, turning up at Security with shoulder straps, bra straps and lots of skin and was turned away. "Mama Mia," she protested loudly, but the suave fellow with the No.1 haircut, white shirt, black tie just smiled mechanically.
Anyway, she was ready for him - dived into my backpack, withdrew the top she had prepared earlier and smiled graciously as he waved her through, nose in the air - hers, not his.
In contrast I, recalling the beatitude about the meek inheriting the earth, had covered the captivating calves, done up my shirt to the neck and just resisted the temptation to purchase a dog collar. Humbly I followed my troublesome wife past the guardians, head down, hands clasped.
Round and round the basilica we went, viewing extravagance upon obscene extravagance and shockingly - I turned away - naked boobs and butts in painting after painting.
Cleansed, if not purified, it was back into the heat and a small route march around the corner to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. Curiously, Jean had no difficulty proceeding without her top layer into the Sistine Chapel. And I got away with shorts and curved, sensual, rippling calves. Admittedly, a bare chest was a step beyond grace and I was asked to button it. I don’t know exactly what he said. What's Italian for "you'll frighten the horses..."? What horses we saw looked back stonily, manifestly unafraid, but maybe something was lost in translation.
So there it is. We made it. Off to the beach now, rippling, curvy and wholly unbuttoned. Or should that be unplugged? Or possibly unrepentant....
Brian O’Flaherty spent two months in Europe assisted by nothing more than a sceptical attitude.