Moneypenny’s Milonga - Part 2
Moneypenny is headstrong. I suppose that is a perennial hallmark of youth. Seen through aging eyes, it is dangerous - mistakes await, problems to be encountered, disappointment to be endured.
But maybe maturity has left me too cautious. What happened to excitement, challenge, new experience?
One thing I do know from experience of life, is that Alvero is bad news. I am sure Sabrina knows it too, so why did she leave Moneypenny in his clutches? What is wrong with the woman? Isn’t Sabrina supposed to be taking care of her?
After Pugliese, it was Firpo. At the time I thought it was an odd follow-on tanda; maybe the tango DJ had gone for a smoke. Moneypenny left the pista, but only as far as the corner, to return once again in Alvero’s embrace.
Most women develop an instinct at milongas. They can spot the lothario, the bottom-feeder, the cad, the ‘teacher’ looking for a student. Maybe their piropos (one liners) are too slick, or their insistence - too insistent. So I was surprised that Moneypenny appeared simply to fall into his arms. The regular tangueras looked on with pity. I watched with a protective dismay.
These days, my milongas tend to be ‘to the point’. With a bottle of sparkling water, I survey the pista. My regular tangueras mirada for their special tandas - Fresedo tango, the vals, and maybe a slow Canaro milonga. Additionally I allow myself a couple of tandas with new tangueras - partly responsibility, partly exploration. Then I leave. And if the milonga is not working for me, I leave anyway.
That time had come, but as I reached for my shoe bag I spied Alvero returning towards Moneypenny’s table. She, on the other hand, is fiddling once again with her shoe strap. I will-her to look up to catch my cabeceo. He is approaching fast, cutting past the corner tables as if he realises the contest. Another tanguero is trying to catch her attention from across the room.
I rise, to take a direct line to her table. There is no time for the codigo. The moment is passing, and once lost, will not return. The cortina has finished and a Biagi tanda is starting. As I close to her table, Moneypenny looks up. But where is she looking?
Sabrina: ‘He’s coming back for you, the vulture. One Pugliese wasn’t enough, he wants the Firpo also, two tandas in a row, you know what’s on his mind. I’m telling you he’s bad news, stay away from him.’
Me: ‘Why has everyone taken it upon themselves to take care of me and advise me like I’m some sort of stupid teenager?’
Sabrina: ‘I think the answer is in the question my lovely.’
Alvero: ‘Buenas noches Sabrina, que lindo verte aca, it’s been so long since you have graced us with your presence. I’d love to ask you to dance but I fear I cannot bear the pain of your refusal’, with that he turned to me and gave me a light cabeceo. I know Sabrina will hate me for accepting him, especially after that little show he just put on for her and maybe that’s exactly why I will accept.
He whisks me towards the dance floor, in the corner of my eye I see Mr Bond seemingly walking towards my table, did he want to see Sabrina? Ask me to dance? Or is he also here to protect me against the evil clutches of this Tangero as if I don’t know how to take care of myself? And what about them, what about their mistakes? Maybe I should be telling them what to do!
The tanda starts, it’s Firpo ‘Volver a Vernos’ the literal translation is ‘Return to see each other’ but in practice it’s more ‘See each other once again’. Six months ago I knew nothing of tango or tango music aside from the fact that it’s all about depressed men singing about how much they miss they mommy and how terrible a life without love or fortune was; then Mr Bond made me a 200-tango compilation as part of my ‘tango learning’ experience’ he said, ‘You can’t just dance, you need to know who is who, who made tango what it is today and why it is how it is, Troilo, Firpo, D'Arienzo, Osvaldo and of course Gardel, these need to be more than just exotic sounding names to you MoneyPenny’, he told me. So, I took the UBS key and have been listening to all the greats for the past 6 months and when it doesn’t make me want to kill myself, I do love listening to it.
Alvero: ‘What an appropriate tango, I am so happy that you have returned to see me again.’
Me: ‘I didn’t return to see you, I returned, that is not the same thing and now shush, you know I hate talking while we dance.’
Alvero: ‘You will be a great tangera you know, you have so much potential, those legs, that dissociation, your feet… those ballerina arches, it drives me crazy. Come take classes with me, in 6 months we’ll win the Tango world competition, I promise you!’
Me: ‘Shush and dance.’ It is that true he never stops, were Sabrina and Mr Bond right about him? I think he’s harmless, he’s just trying to make a living like everyone and using everything he has to do it, is that so wrong? He is incredibly charming and he does make me feel like I’m flying when I’m dancing with him, the way he dominates me, which I usually hate, but he does it in a way that just makes me want to follow him blindly, feel what his body wants me to do while gently feeling his breath on my neck, the makes me feel like the most important girl in the room, but I know better….. (or at least I think I do). He has such a bad reputation though I wonder if any of it is true.
We continue dancing, it’s simple at first, say that you will about Alvero but he can lead, not only can he lead, he knows what you can do and what more you could do. He starts off with slow ochos, ocho cortados, a simple cruce and then when he feels my getting more comfortable with him he takes me off my axis and then one volcada, a second volcada, a colgada and so on, I feel like a prima ballerina. It seems like all eyes are on us, they aren’t of course because the place is filled with professional dancers, no one would be looking at me, except for two pairs of eyes which haven’t left me all evening, what are they worried about?
Our tanda ends, as always Alvero takes my arm and starts walking me back to my table, I can see Sabrina is about to leave.
Alvero: ‘Come home with me tonight? Nothing will happen that you don’t want to happen, but I want to be with you tonight, I’ll give you a massage, make you taste some new Malbec I got from Mendoza last week, we can dance, talk tango, drink…’
I do love a good Malbec…..
What did I have to lose really? I had made no real plans, I just bought the ticket, threw a few things in my backpack and ran away....
Moneypenny I take the note, start to walk towards San Telmo while trying to make sense of what I had just seen. Was this a secret...
Mr Bond I flash a smile towards Nancy the waitress, and without a word she arrives with a second champagne glass for Moneypenny, who...