Terminal Tango

En route to my office in rush-hour traffic, I was caught in interminable gridlock behind the lowered red and white-striped barriers of a draw-bridge. The steel lattice of the bridge rose before me in slow motion, and a tall-masted schooner slid by, a snowbird departing, southward bound on the Intracoastal Waterway. Impatient and irritated, I calmed myself listening to classical tangos on Pandora, seeing myself and a svelte tanguera gliding in close embrace across polished parquet. I sighed, checked my phone, and saw a text from TerminalTango.

“Have Heels, Will Travel. My flight doesn’t leave until seven. Go Tigers at Gate A1”

Fantasy was about to be usurped by reality. A random brief encounter, all five senses on high alert, perfectly isolated from the everyday. I couldn’t conceive a more pristine metaphor of Tango’s allure. As if galvanized by the thought, the bridge began its descent to the roadway while bells rang and lights flashed. I stepped on the gas all the way to the airport, parked in a distant surface lot, and made a beeline for the terminal. Under the watchful eyes of security, I consigned my laptop and phone, jacket and shoes, and watch and wallet to a conveyer belt. I strolled through a full body scanner, pausing only to feign surrender, hands over my head. On a monitor I watched my things yield their colorful metallic secrets to the X-rays. Cleared at last for departure, I collected myself and marched at the double to Gate A1.

Sitting at a Starbucks across from the gate, I sipped a Peppermint Mocha and savored the caffeinated chocolate on my tongue. A Raul Beron song I recognized as “El Vals Soñador” flowed from a tiny Jambox propped against a pillar. A stylish couple danced in easy synchrony across the gleaming terracotta floor. She wore an apricot silk blouse and a cerulean pencil skirt and turquoise suede stiletto heels. She was in full flight, eyes closed, her body swaying with his,
and I caught the intimate fragrance of her perfume as they swept by. Her steps were economical and precise, and now and then, when her partner paused, her heels traced crisp radial arcs that closed in time for the next musical phrase. He waited patiently for those instants, poised and erect, his hand tracing delicate patterns of touch-and-go across her back, and then he would dip into a long step forward, moving into her space with intent. Tango!

The waltz ended. They chatted for a moment or two, he tapped something into his phone, and then he was gone. She settled into a chair, tucked an errant russet curl behind her ear, and looked around. I was uncertain about TerminalTango etiquette, this being my first time, but within seconds our eyes met and held, as if a milonga were calling. She smiled and nodded, and touched
the obsidian surface of her phone. Di Sarli’s graceful “El Amanecer” filled the concourse around Gate A1 and I rose to my feet. She awaited my imminent arrival and her next full flight.

Bells rang, lights flashed, and the irate, insistent blare of a car-horn startled me into the here-and-now. My svelte tanguera, even as she invited me into close embrace, evaporated into wisps that dissipated in an instant. Cars streamed past me, left and right, and a blue pennant atop the tall-masted schooner fluttered gaily before disappearing beyond a distant bend in the river. Clouds moved in from the west, and raindrops spotted my windshield. Static from flickers of lightning broke up my music feed, but as I accelerated back into traffic, I caught a snippet of song: “Give your soul to the rhythm of the tango.

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