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¡Quapisima Elizabeth Taylor!

Bullfighting is more than the Spanish national sport. It is a rite signifying man’s supremacy over beast. From April to October on late Sunday afternoons and sometimes on Thursday, the only place to go in Madrid is the Plaza de Toros. There are other bull arenas in and around Madrid, but this is the biggest. It seats 25,000. It is the most desirable, because only the top matadores can fight there.

All visitors to Spain are expected to attend a bullfight. The gracious, hospitable Spanish people expect you to go and they get tickets for you before you can say no, even if you should want to.

There is as much excitement at the Plaza de Toros as there is at Yankee Stadium during the World Series. In a way, bullfighting is more exciting. It moves faster and it’s always a fight-to-the-death. The bull is the loser 999 times out of a thousand.

One lovely September afternoon a flower-festooned box in the Plaza de Toros was conspicuously empty in the fully-packed arena. Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Wilding were scheduled to arrive in Madrid on Monday. But in case they should arrive early the Madridlenos were prepared. A box for the bullfight was decorated and reserved.

Flash rumors spread around the bullring. Elizabeth Taylor might be coming in. The aficionados would rise en masse, look toward the vacant box and yell, “Elizabeth Taylor! Elizabeth Taylor!” with as much enthusiasm as they yell ¡Olé!” when a matador has bested a bull. It’s a rare day when a bullfighter must share the attention of the crowd with a beautiful woman.

But that Sunday the crowd was disappointed. Elizabeth Taylor did not reach Madrid until Monday. She was received with a warm, in fact a rousing welcome, and further endeared herself by her charming and gracious response.

The Spanish have a word for a woman who has beauty, sex appeal and style—quapa. It sounds like wah-pah, with accents on both syllables. When a woman is quapa and has charm and graciousness besides, she is quapisima, wah-pee-see-mah.

A Madrid movie critic telephoned Elizabeth’s hotel:

Quapisima,” he crooned. “I worship Elizabeth Taylor and I am going to ask her if she is interested in divorce.”





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