|This is not C, but the picture captures the mood. Courtesy of morguefile.com.|
I had the conversation below outside of a milonga at Esquina tango, about 3 months after I started my tango journey.
C was visiting from out of town and was staying only that night, then she was off again to Chicago. About two hours ago, C. emailed me just to say, "What I told you two years ago is a hundred times more true in Buenos Aires. Have fun, dear!" (and to give me permission to publish this.)
Esquina Tango, 2009
C. waved me over with her cigarette like she had something very urgent to tell me.
C: I like your blog, honey - you write great. But I think you are way too naive about tango.
Me: *scowling* How so?
C: Look, in tango, you're gonna be attracted to men, you understand? Very attracted to a lot of men. Okay? (She said this with such a grave tone that I thought she was going to follow it with 'and it's going to ruin your life', or 'give you leprosy', or 'turn you into a communist!' Something serious, anyway. )
C: It's natural. You're a woman - you're not dead. They're not dead either. And this is tango. (She shrugged like this was completely obvious to everyone but me.)
I nodded agreeably and wondered if this conversation was going anywhere in particular.
C: . . . and you will be shocked by the men that attract you (squinting one eye and jabbing her cigarette into the air for emphasis) Shocked!
C: You will dance with some old man with 3 teeth, an old suit and no hair, with great cologne, but bad breath who stumbled into the milonga with a walker! (I couldn't help thinking that was awfully specific.) This little man, he will dance you to the rafters and back. Then, then (she repeated, pointing to me, both eyes squinting at me this time), when the music stops and you part for the cortina, you will look at him and think to yourself, "My God, what a man this is!" she shouted, clutching her heart dramatically.
(She leaned in close, the same way you lean in over a campfire, talking low, when you're telling ghost stories and the bit about the man with the hook for a hand is coming up. )
C: Don't you think for a single moment, (lowering her voice even more, and jabbing the air again with her nearly extinguished cigarette) that he (jab) doesn't (jab) know it! (jab).
(C. leaned back, winked and smiled knowingly, satisfied with her proclamation.)
Me: (I'm sure my eyes were wide, wondering over the deep significance of this revelation.) So what do you do?
C: Dance! You dance! Dancing tango is for saying things you can't say, doing things you can't do. All the stuff you didn't do and should have - and things you did that you shouldn't have. All of it!
Let him know in the dance. Then there is no harm. If he is listening, he will know. If he is not listening (and by the tone of her voice I would not want to be one of the men who didn't listen), he is not worth the message.
(I nodding again because that's all I could think to do.)
C. crushed her cigarette out in the pavement, picked up her bag and started toward the steps into the milonga. With her hand on the door handle, she looked over her shoulder and laughing, added "and for God sake don't write about it in your blog!"
Which is why for two years I never blogged this conversation. With my last email exchange, I got her permission to share this, in honor of planning to visit Buenos Aires.
I'll be looking for a little guy with a walker and 3 teeth . . . If you see him, send him my way.