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Friday, April 10, 2009

dangerous ties

She said she was thirty, but I didn’t buy it. To keep it real – the gap between us – I told her I was eighteen, dieciocho, but she didn’t believe me either: My unshaven cheeks, my Balkan charisma, my language skills, something gave me away. I started in Spanish, but quickly lapsed into French. She told me to take the toothpick out of my mouth, but even then she only got every fifth word, maybe less. Anyway, who cares, it wasn’t about that. At first, it wasn’t about anything at all. I told her about my father’s tie collection – his hundreds of ties – and mimed the procedure, tightening an invisible thing around my neck. I remembered E=mc2 and Einstein’s hallow of hair dangling over the mashed potatoes as my father reached for the salt across the table. He had many such prints and I began to enumerate, but she seemed uninterested or just preoccupied. She pressed her finger on the red of my sunburnt nose and made an ouw-face with her eyes and lips. Then our steaks arrived and conversation stopped. I ate like an animal. I tore at my bife de choriso and downed water like an ox. Meanwhile she cut her meat in strips and sipped wine after each bite. I don’t think she was making a point – maybe she was, but I was hungry, for several days I’d been hungry. I’ve been eating, that’s not it. Sometimes hunger is more comprehensive. Sometimes you stay hungry for a while.

I dropped her off in Villa Crespo and told moustache-man at the wheel to keep driving. Where to? he asked. Just take me for a ride senior. This he understood. The meter ticked and my eyes shot up out of the open window. The sky was clear and at ten thousand feet above the city I asked him to stop. I got out and I walked the rest of Rivadavia thinking of my father and his funny ties. I was happy that such things could be so important to him, especially after what she told me. For her father this was not possible. His ties were dangerous. He disappeared in 1981, or – as they say in this country – he was disappeared. They could do that in Argentina back then. Disappear a man. Tuck him into a space-fold. Drop him down a chute into a void. Dispatch him at the speed of light. But where to, how, why? She didn’t want to talk about it and instead she pressed the red of my sunburnt nose… once, twice… Adriana, stop!

On Rivadavia I took in large gasps of air looking down the width and breath of Buenos Aires. Dogs barked and the street stank of their offerings. I looked. I focused. I hoped. Maybe I could find this man – the man with the dangerous ties – maybe I could. Nothing would make her happier. Ten years would vanish instantly from her face. She would be thirty again and I twenty eight. There would be no more gap between us, and – this is a fact – my hunger too would disappear.