Thursday, December 9, 2010

the girl who cried wolf

Or: how, drinking my dinner, I came to a deeper understanding of tango through chicken sexing.

Boy . . . Girl . . . Boy . . . Girl . . .

B went on in his brogue to detail the phenomenology of gallus gallus domesticus sex determination, how the untrained, unscientific eye can, after a period of seeing a visual put to purported fact, just tell.

I suppose I started it when I said tango was an impossible conversation between man and woman, a six minute moment strung between two human posts, crystalline, glossy, but false. For leaders, I said, it is chess. For followers, meditation. You see what we close our eyes to. You stare, you steer, you peacock, and we are free in flight. But then I took the mallet to the chisel when I said, our objectives being disparate, the moment itself is never wholly shared.

That's when he brought up the chickens. As if to say, sure, but see . . . we are not always navigating. The shared moment can only happen with both parties present. Which means the leader must reach a place in the dance where his lead will bypass his navigational brain and he moves from inside the music. When he is no longer being told boy, girl, boy, girl, but sees a conveyor belt of chicks and just knows which is which—without knowing why. That is the moment you feel, he said.

B is a dreamboat I dared not entertain. Tall, broad chested, blue eyed boy with a lucid wit and a lovely embrace. We've sent a few pithy emails, whiled away the odd tanda or two in impromptu chat and practiced once on a Saturday morning. It is all I can do in class not to blush with his bicep beneath my palm, my eyes turn to his chest, a loveworn swatch of grey green sweater, as we dance. Then on Tuesday, with all the nonchalance in the world, he tucked his arm around my grey wool coat and steered me through frigid midtown west to the nearest pub.

Going Guinness for Guinness, it was established that I: had a rocky childhood, wear a Claddagh, enjoy whiskey and believe in God.

You do? You mean, an omnipotent paternal presence-in-the-sky, creator-of-the-Universe, judger-of-our-every-action kind of deity?

No, of course not.

Well good, that's good.

We talked about astrophysics, art and the intersection there between. We covered theism, theatre, Nietzsche, the question of monogamy and the creation of the state. Somewhere in there we talked about Dionysus—and Apollo—the finer dynamics of the lead-follow relationship, the psychics versus the scientists and how it's all the same.

And that. That is what I believe in, I said. Sharing atoms. If you and I sit here long enough, we will eventually become each other.

It takes a rare breed of man to have patience with me when I wax quixotic, and a rarer one still to suggest a walk through the cold to a deserted hotel bar for ice tinkling Negronis and another round of laughs.

You mean to say the man/woman moment of transcendence we seek in tango is nothing more than the mutual sexing of chickens?

Precisely, he said. An epiphany.

It was a fierce rout of intellectual foreplay. I am still reeling in the brain chakra, not to mention select others, far more dazzling.

At three, the lobby bar closed around us, the Ecuadorian Italian barman shooing us out with a wink and his best wishes. We traversed the marble to the glass doors and into the wall of frozen wind. He had his arm around me again, but I swear it was of necessity. It was bitter cold.

I had one hand clutching the side of his coat, the other shoved between breast buttons. He flung one arm round my shoulders and the other around my waist, walking almost sideways. We stopped for a light and he leaned down to my face as I leaned up. Behind glasses, his blue eyes twinkled with the icy air, the traffic lit intersection. My hat slipped over my eyebrows, obscuring all but my nose. He righted it, smoothed the black knit backwards off my face. The light was still red . . . and then—

I have become a girl who dares not hope, a consummate assumer of the worst. Therefore, this evening, for all its merit, must stand alone, regardless of the way he brushed my hair from my face with both his hands and said, as if laughing, I've been wanting to do this for ages. Dunno why. Just this."

I realize also that I said—and just last week—there must be something more to all this courtship and coupling. If nothing comes of this (and round these parts, we fear the worst), at least I know. This is what was missing.

Thank you, Universe, for my philosopher.

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