Monday, May 5, 2008

Squaring the circle

Do you remember that hilarious short story by O. Henry called "Squaring the circle"? If not, do read it. You won't regret it. It's about a feud between two Kentucky families that "flourished for forty years”. The last two Cumberland feudists, helplessly lost in NYC, meet "in the angles of Broadway, Fifth Avenue and Twenty-Third Street" and shake hands, relieved to see a familiar face . There is a human twist to it as to any other O. Henry story which makes it applicable to … well, anything.
Bear with me, there is a point to the tale.
Friday night I went to a far, far, far away milonga. I had a personal reason for wanting to break away from my tango routine. Recently I got caught up in a tangle of other people's relationships, but instead of taking sides I just went into hiding. I would write it off my chest, but don't yet know how to.
Anyway, on Friday night I found myself out of my natural habitat.
It was a nice enough place: small and snug, smooth timber floor, a friendly DJ and decent music.
The only problem was that no one was there apart from two or three older couples working on their cool moves.
I decided to give it an hour, before calling it a night. So I slumped back into the armchair and closed my eyes.
As I opened them again, I didn't believe whom I saw.
There is one leader in our tango community. He is very good and - borderline arrogance aside – treats those "beneath" him relatively friendly. But he would never, ever dance with me, because he considers me to be waaay out of his league. To make sure that our kind doesn't get any wrong ideas about it, he tends to give us this glazed over "Oh, you here?" - fake smile - moving swiftly on” routine. Most of the time I find such conduct fairly amusing. Once he caught me out bitching about such kind of behaviour, and although I never got as personal as to mention his name specifically, he knew enough to ignore me from then on.
I still don't know how he managed to end up there, in this godforsaken milonga. Hunted by his own devils, I suppose.
He lumbered indecisively by the entrance.
Then he saw me and his face virtually lit up. He waved (I had to look around to make sure he really meant me) and crossed the dance floor to give me a kiss.
And then I laughed. I couldn't help it.
Because exactly in this moment the short story about two foes stumbling upon each other in a big strange city came to my mind:
"Howdy, Cal! I'm durned glad to see ye."

4 comments:

NYC Tango Pilgrim said...

Ha, La Tanguerita,

I met some people from NYC in BA, exchanged some pleasantries and kisses, and even managed a tanda. Soon as they got back to NYC, they just gave me a little cold nod if we bumped into each other dead on. Otherwise, it would be just pretending not seeing me.

Which is fine. I don't tend to get along with the nuevo crowd anyway.

Alex said...

Cute story. So did you dance with him? Part II?

tangobaby said...

Ha ha! That is a great story, La Tanguerita.

Hopefully, this dancer has gotten "over himself" and now will invite you to dance wherever you may meet.

Thank you for the reminder to read more O. Henry as well. ;-)

La Tanguerita said...

Hey TP:-)
I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on in the heads of these people. Not that I cared much.

Hi Alex:-)
yes I did, and it was nothing short of spectacular. He is good…no question about it. And I did fairly well, but there is not much of a sequel to the whole story, I’m afraid.

Hey TB:-) Nay, he won’t, but honestly I couldn’t care less:-)
I love O. Henry! I‘ve been brought up with his stories. As a child I knew some of them by heart (even though in russian translation:-)