by the Sword

I’m in the middle of nowhere. Thirty minutes from a decent bakery and sixty minutes from a repair shop with any hope of fixing the coffee grinder, not that I have yet been able to find a third wave coffee roaster. Tango music is coming through the wall.

This is not welcome.

“Why didn’t you come to the party last night?”

“I don’t like tango music.”

That, of course, is not true. Tango music is excruciating when there is no one to dance with. To be more precise, no one who has the skills to use my body in a joint assault on ecstasy.

I am here to pick grapes. I continue to train every day, but not to that music.  I dance alone to the teenagers’ band practice, a medley of American pop songs.

I also serve the coffee after dinner, trying not to answer any questions.

But it seems that after I carelessly chased tango around the world, now it chases me. My voleos are stronger, my balance is better, but I don’t know what I’m training for. I’m less and less desperate, certainly not sufficiently desperate to abandon caution for another fleeting deception. After finally doing the accounting on the costs of tango, I have become entirely risk-averse.

And because the only remaining interest I have is pleasure, I watch blearily as so-called professionals blunder through the countryside, posing and bragging to impress anyone who might own a camera or become a student. Why are you wearing your tango shoes at 0800 in the morning? Why are you teaching a class to drunk people at midnight?

Tango is indeed addictive, but it seems that professional tango is a proper psychological disorder. And I recognize everything I watch across my cup: The obsession with being watched, the self-aggrandizement to any captive audience, the competition equally vicious and irrational, and, most poignantly, how all that overrides and scorches the rare and precious possibilities for tango’s grace: the spontaneity of dancing with a stranger, a new artistic experience, a friendship…



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