Wednesday, January 18, 2017

About Angels

My angel came to me
flawed and battered,
searching for answers
in all the wrong places.
Hair white as snow
She drew me to her
like a ski junkie to powder.

I was never satisfied with her
Yet she satisfied me completely,
An algorithm hard to explain.

The cosmos is beautiful,
All chaos,
It expands exponentially.

She was far from perfect;
only I could see that.
She had flown high
On wings now broken.

That’s how the Universe sent her to me,
Armed with humility, fragility and insanity,
The only way into my world,
My dull and lifeless planet.

The Universe prepared her for me,
Like Zopyrus in the fall of Babylon:
Mentally mutilated beyond belief,
the key to the city.

She let me into the world of academia,
Taught me the joys of pillage and plunder.
It’s what I needed,
The broken daddy,
The kayak hombre.

She killed me with her honesty,
Brought me back from the dead;
Nurtured a new me
And sent me off again.

Wings healed,
She flies low over the Earth,
more certain of her uncertainty,
Stronger but still frail,
at ease with her insanity,
Saving others to this day.

Now, too,
I am an angel,
Bringing relief and disillusionment.
My comfort brings joy
Which helps them to see
The world is not so perfect

As they thought it to be.

Saturday, January 14, 2017


What is Love? Nobody really knows for certain; it’s kind of like gravity: hard to measure. Like gravity, it is a force of nature yet science refuses to treat it as such. I think Love wants it that way; it is coy.
One of the best things about being a parent was seeing my children when they were brimming with Love. It was coming out their eyes, filling their cheeks and straightening their spines; it was compelling them to give Love to us, their mother and father and I still have it to this day.
Love is a dimension all to itself as I tried to describe in my last book, Revelations of Wiccans. It is like a hole in the fabric of the Universe, a hole that I have fallen into four times in my short life. Once you’ve dropped into it there is no getting out although you may feel at times that you have.
That is what happened to me the first time I fell into Love; I thought I had climbed out of it only to find it was bigger than anything I could ever imagine and that understanding this fact of life, this fact of Love, broke my mind.
Allow me to provide more information. The first time I encountered Love I chose not to believe in it. Little did I know that was like not believing in gravity or electricity or the sun. Like falling off a high cliff or grabbing onto a live wire or wandering into the desert I was devastated beyond my ability to comprehend anything worse.
I could barely function. I did not know that I could hurt so much and it was a pain I could not escape. It filled my beer, my sleep and everything else I tried to do to escape it. It was like an angry friend that followed me around everywhere who made sure I would always know it was there. I finally had to accept that it was with me always and in doing so I could go on.
One day, about eight months later, eight months that could easily have been eight eternities, I found myself on a bus full of people traveling down an interstate highway. The bus began to climb a steep mountain and I could see trees whose leaves were beginning to change colors for the Fall. I say ‘I’ but I mean ‘we’, me and my pain and, although I knew the leaves should be red and yellow all I could see were shades of grey.
As the bus chugged up the hill it occurred to me that this feeling I was experiencing could happen to anybody: white, black or brown, rich or poor, handicapped or able, everyone was susceptible. If you had Love, I pondered, then life was worth living and without it death was certainly not an unpleasant option. That’s when I realized that Love was the great equalizer; it’s what makes us all the same, our ability to feel its warmth or its absence.
That was the moment I realized I was still in Love and that it would never go away and that that was okay. The object of my Love was gone but Love was still with me and I stood as good a chance at happiness as anyone else on the planet. With that epiphany the trees burst into flaming colors. They were all red and yellow and green as they were supposed to be. My heart lifted and the pain dissipated making it easier for me to carry on with the business of living.

The next time I fell into Love I was a constant gardener. I tended to it and it gave me two of the most wonderful things a person could ever hope to have: children. I knew I was not worthy of these gifts but that is the beauty of Love, it is nonjudgmental. I went in the opposite direction of my first Love experience and found a joy that was beyond my ability to fathom. That friend was back but this time it did not torture me, it showered me with gifts that money could never buy and it continues to this day.

The third time Love found me I realized that it has a dark side. Dark does not mean bad. There are plenty of wonderful things that happen in the night and that is where it found me: driving down Interstate 80 on a wintry night going to tango in Maywood, NJ. I was new to the dance back then and the soundtrack from the movie Amelie was playing on my stereo. Love was all around me in the people I was meeting. I could sense the depth of the pits beneath my feet as I tried to gain proficiency in this complex form of social engagement.
My van climbed a hill and descended the other side; we had forty more miles of New Jersey ahead of us before we reached our destination. All was quiet, the music was playing, soft and lilting if you are familiar with the album, the essence of melancholy. I drove straight into it. I couldn’t turn the wheel though that is what I wanted to do. I went in at 70 mph and didn’t stop until I hit the bottom.
I have heard that it is impossible for an object to be in two places at once but Love doesn’t give a damn about the possible. I was in Love once again and I found the night to be just as beautiful as the day. My life was full. I didn’t sleep for fear of missing all the wonders Love was dropping off at my doorstep.
The fourth and last time, though I hope not the final, I fell in Love was the best. I enjoyed the descent into the well, entered at my own pace and landed softly. I filled the base with fertile soil and watered it at regular intervals. Love loves to be fertilized; it is something that is at the core of its nature.
As sweet as our time was I knew it would not be possible for me to bring this plant to fruit but Love, as I have said, does not care about the possible, it made it happen and the plant continues to bear fruit to this day.
She was not with me when I plunged into the hole of Love. It was Cinco de Mayo 2012. I was camping in my tent just outside of Durango, CO, after a wonderful night of tango at a place in town. The moon was so bright that I could have read a book inside my tent without a light. It glowed and filled me with its warmth but I knew it was not the moon that was making my blood boil: it was Love.
I could not stop thinking about her nor did I wish to. I reviewed every moment of our encounters and thought of what I would say to her, what I would do to her when we next met. It was near dawn before I had made a decision. The next time I saw her I would ask if I could hold her hand. That was the thing that was most special about her, she had an extraordinary ability to touch people.
I would spend the next sixteen months touching more than just her hands. Every part of her body was like a profound discovery for me.  I would spend hours exploring a single patch of skin on her shoulder blade or her palm or a finger. I was fascinated by my ability to be fascinated with such incremental pieces of her anatomy. Our time came to an end but my Love for her continues to this day.

There you have it: Love. Get some. You won’t regret it.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Man vs. Tango

At fifty-six years old I am surprised at how complex I am as a man past his prime. Lately tango has been messing with my sex drive. Don’t go there, Tango, it’s a part of me that will take down this house of cards that I rest upon. Who am I to make demands on Tango? It is a force of nature, like gravity, and it cannot be denied once you are in its grasp.
This dance has fundamentally altered my libido. I think it would be normal for any man my age to tilt strongly, both metaphorically and literally, towards younger and more perfectly formed females. Now, however, I am finding the admiration of physical beauty is in close competition with the desire for the warm embrace of a skilled tanguera. Yes, there may be hotties about but I no longer salivate and go out of my way to gain their attention; I’ve danced with those women before and rarely is there much there beyond the superficial.
Now I watch followers with greater discern before I attempt a cabeceo.
At night, when I am restless, the usual sexual fantasies are not as calming as the thought of a tanda with a full-figured woman filled with years of experiences. I go back and forth between the two, amazed that the latter is where I find relaxation and amazed at how fulfilling the relief is; I usually return to sleep before the music even begins to play, the anticipation of tango is enough to send me back to slumberland.
In a way I resent the change in my desire. I fear it may be a sign I am getting old but I suspect this happens to dancers at any age; it is a maturation of the learning process that makes appreciation of the art a stronger force than the satiation of my primal urges.

In all closely fought wars, the truce is often a far different outcome than the participants could have imagined at the outset. What started off as a quest to find female canoeing companions has led, instead, to a continual search for the perfect tanda. In hindsight I can see that there was no way I could win this conflict but I think I came out ahead. To have remain unchanged would have been a far greater loss.

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Find Out What It Means

Where am I now? Physically-speaking, I dance mostly in Philadelphia/NYC/DC/Pittsburgh area. Location in tango is not necessarily an actual place but rather it can be a point on the path to learning. Since I came back from my tango travels across America, I’ve returned to find ganchos severely lacking. The question is not, “why aren’t my followers following my lead for ganchos?” It is, instead, “why do I keep leading ganchos when I know she doesn’t do them?” The answer is: it’s me….it’s always me.
And that’s where I am at these days. I can’t say exactly where it is that I am but, if I write about it maybe we will both find out my location. This is tango and understanding subtle nuance is the key to navigation.
I could easily say I am working on connection but that would be too simplistic. The quick assumption is that she is not responding to my body language or I am not communicating my intentions clearly. Those are mute points once I realize that we failed to execute the maneuver as I had hoped. Try it again? Not so soon, wait a minute….literally.
I somehow think that waiting just a minute is my problem: Sixty seconds later I try to lead the movement once more and find I have been discovered. She senses I am ‘man-splaining’ a maneuver to her and our connection begins to fall apart. The song ends and I recover with a kind compliment but I always suspect she found my performance lacking.
It took me ten years to get here and I realize with greater clarity that I am still a beginner. I somehow made it to adulthood lacking any knowledge of intergender etiquette. This is the part of the lesson that Argentine’s teach when they instruct Americans in the ways of tango that is not broken down into a set of exercises and drills. It is a lesson given by example, in the rapport between the leader and the follower, how he always apologizes for his mistakes/rudeness/absent-mindedness. The follower is never wrong.
It has been my experience that male Argentine instructors work tirelessly to maintain the integrity of a female instructor/student/passerby. This is an integral part of the dance: maintaining respect for the follower to the point where she feels she can take it for granted.
That is where I am at, the point on the path where I struggle to know the meaning of the word ‘respect’. It does not mean unending adulation. It is to be aware of a woman’s emotional ecology and to tend to it. It is not okay, I believe, to worship her and to avoid challenging her would be the greatest sin of the entire tanda.
Here, then, is my location, the last song of the tanda and I feel it is time. I avoided the maneuver until now. I take a deep breath and hope for the best. Can I have a gancho, please?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Love, Infatuation and Tango

Love, Infatuation and Tango

I saw her again last night and five years of intervening events were wiped away in an instant. The problem with chemistry is that it is primal not logical. To control it takes a zen-like discipline and even that may not be enough. I am in control but maybe that is just the illusion I create for myself to allow me to focus on my work and the task of settling back into my life in Pennsylvania. It is horrible and wonderful at the same time that, at fifty-six years of age I am still able to experience such emotions.
It is tango.
It is Lady X.
It is infatuation.
She is not the only one who haunts my dreams, she is just the latest.
Tango has become more about the milonga than it is about learning how to dance. It is about partnerships and in the choosing of them. It is about connection and playing with the rhythm, playing with her TO the rhythm.
I am in love with this dance. It’s been a ten year long journey but I am at the place where I can reap its rewards and appreciate how it has changed my world-view. Women are still sex objects but they are so much more than that. They are to be respected and respect is the key ingredient in a good connection.
Lady X, oh how I’ve longed for her but, when we danced, I gave her the respect she needed, the respect that I needed to give her in order to fulfill my role as the leader, to clear my mind and lead well. In doing this, she became a real person to me. A woman who would wake up the next day with the same set of obstacles to confront just as I do.
She was rusty and off-balance but she felt nice. Her bosom pressed into me and it felt nice but I did not let myself get carried away yet I felt she might have enjoyed that. Consider that thought for a moment...she might have enjoyed me getting carried away with my infatuation with her je ne sais quoi. I didn’t and in doing so I kept it all about the dance, about the milonga.
If I’d have let myself go maybe the chemistry between us would have been overwhelming for her and we’d have shot off like rockets, got a hotel or taken a vacation or who-knows-what and it would have surely fizzled because it is just chemistry. Chemistry can be a catalyst but it can also be an IED on the Road of Life.
There is more to life than tango but I need to feel these things or else dedicate my life to a pursuit of material things and that is not going to happen.

She will be back, I hope, and when she does return we will dance again and enjoy the specialness of the encounter. I have no idea of what the experience is like for her but I am in control….just barely. I am living on the edge of life and it is a perilous drop on either side of me.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Grab Them By The Pussy

 People are complex and complexity is a pervasive ingredient in all good tango. I’m still reeling from our latest election where a misogynist won the grand prize. I am also grappling with yet another tango paradox: the close embrace: who initiates it and how close is too close? Oddly enough I think the election results hold the answer to the paradox.
When I was young, dumb and full of...zits, oh how I longed for a woman to give me a clear indication that she was game for sexual maneuvers. The endless guessing always drove me crazy. After hearing Trump’s audio of him on a bus with Billy Bush saying that he can grab women by the pussy because he’s a star I immediately speculated that his campaign was over. When it wasn’t over and quite the opposite, he won, I devoted a little more thought to that statement.
 Men and women are different but I have to imagine their need to satisfy their libidos bear some similarities.. An adolescent male learns to curb his desire else face jail but the urge still remains. A girl in her teens learns she must resist her longing to be touched else be labeled a slut. We all want to appease our primal needs but we are restrained by social norms. I have to wonder the effect that Donald’s braggadocio had on a large part of the population, maybe his willingness to break rules was appealing and not as repulsive as some thought, maybe there is a segment of the female population that is tired of the guessing games and appreciative of a direct approach...albeit from the right person..
So too, I believe, it is for the close embrace. The leader sometimes must take a chance and bring the woman in close, into intimacy, without fear of reprisal, with confidence and taking responsibility for the risk. She may find the task of dictating the degree of physical contact to be an impediment to her enjoyment and prefers a partner willing to bust through all the emotional obstacles she has erected.
The answer, therefore, to the question of who initiates the embrace and how close it should be is that it is the man and he should make it as close as he comfortably can without disrupting his partner’s axis. There is a way to do this but it is yet another skill that must be mastered if spontaneous choreography is to happen.