Jorge Dobalo

The profound meaning of the dinner on May 16, 2006

he Angel of Todo Tango flew nervously above the tables in Arturito. Avoiding the vapors of succulent sauces and strong wines, he had on eye on the entrance door. The Chronicler had not arrived yet and the air was cool outside. He chose to accommodate himself, folding his wings, on the cupboard for the table service, underneath the mural painting on which a disdainful horse, surely owned by the runners of the venue and usually a loser, was winning an anonymous, suspicious race years before. He calculated: table 1, near the door, 6 diners. Table 2 at a right angle to Ecuador Street: 8 or 9. Mesa 3, against the wall, 6 or 7. He saw how Coco’s eyes shone when he was taking the same count, calculating the “profit”. He had arranged a minimum of 20. That number was already being surpassed. And the ravioli a l’acqua. From then on, Arturito would see to the “provisions”. He knows well that, at a certain age, quantity is what least matters.

The appointed Chronicler arrived late. Not so late as on previous occasions. Maybe not to dishonor so important appointment. But the reunion was already amusing. He surveyed the panorama. Everything was all right. The number one boss was at table 1, quite close to the door, against the wall, with a full view of everything. And assured exit, just in case. Luck does not forsake a cautious man. On the other side, table 3, also against the wall, monitoring with his eyes the precise angle encompassed from the door to the cash counter, Coco.

The Angel, half dozing, perceived the small electric sparks produced when the eyes of both bosses occasionally met. I did not want to fall asleep. Lately, he was haunted by a recurrent nightmare that brought him a doubt: Would the bird flu affect angels? Furthermore, lately some dark spirits had been haunting the place and he wanted to be ready if they appeared.

The Chronicler stood up, already encouraged with a couple of glasses of the rough Vasco Viejo, a step before the last step (to a fall) previous to “El Vasquito”, in the official struggle that Coco is embarked against inflation, after having started with an aristocratic fruit by Chandon at the first dinner. The Chronicler stopped at table 1, which we can label as “Philosophical”, where maestro Blaya was speaking about the anthropological-aesthetic basis of tango dance with a gentleman of venerable look, Guillermo Bosovsky, before the attentive eyes of Abel Palermo, Mario Pino and his wife, and the admired by all of us, Roberto Mancini.

At table 2, which we may label “Literary-poetic”, a fervent air was perceived, perhaps because it had more people, or because there were more women and was not at all in a lower level than the other one: Juan Carlos Esteban, Héctor Benedetti, Guadalupe Aballe. Also Aníbal Fernández, Rodrigo Ríos and Felipe, strategically seated apart from their beautiful wives. Among them the Chronicler recognized the name of Zulema Robles. Later came José Carenzo, and a bit later, as if to lower the juvenile average of the table, two beloved kids arrived: Darío Murano and Gonzalo Losada. Coco kept on adding, exultant.

The Chronicler returned to table 3, which would have been labeled as “Tough”, or a little more formally, “Evocative”. The never-to-be-missed anecdotes by Coco and José Pedro. The precise comments by Alberto Rasore. The gentlemanship of Osvaldito Serantes and Alberto Heredia. The new friends Eduardo and Reinaldo, that together with the Chronicler enjoyed so nice stories, while the bottles of Vasco Viejo fell one after another, already tamed by the suffering taste of the diners. But that lasted until a flashing look from the cash counter pierced the space and warned Coco: the budget is over! Arturito took a demijohn with white wine out of the refrigerator, added some soda to it, got a funnel and began to fill bottles.

Osvaldito Serantes distributed his classical reverie. This time: A copy of a poster that pays homage to tango by means of “Anclao en París”: A streetcorner with a notice: Carlos Gardel, and the text “You can’t imagine how much I long to see you....”. The toast, hugs, the inner joy for meeting good people. This time there were no singers (who sang) nor reciters, nor poems, nor dancing. What was necessary, the Chronicler thought, already quite intoxicated, was only the encounter. All human undertakings, he nearly said because words were lazy for him, had good, bad, brilliant, difficult times. The purpose of this reunion was to place the red-hot coals together (because fires come and go) and to keep the hot ashes for this Association so beautiful. The ones present were only a small number among the crowd tango fans that, around the world, bless this noble undertaking that makes us so proud. His following thought was: “Shall I remember all them?, shall I write their names correctly?”. “They will understand”, he comforted himself. The next thought was “I had to keep my eyes wide open” while the traffic lights on Córdoba Avenue were green. And he got lost into the night.

The Angel shivered. The cold wind coming through the door smashed his feathers against his wings that were yawning. He took a cork from table 1 (he collects them) because he thought that maybe there he would find a Luigi Bosca. A clock stroke twelve. Another Angel, fairly fat, passing by, whispered to him: “Gordo Porcel died”. The Angel of Todo Tango thought: fortunately the boys didn’t hear the news! They were so happy! And he was satisfied. He had heard so many lovely comments about so many sublime tango men who had passed away that he was persuaded of what he already had guessed: That those reunions, at a bar, a café, or in the outer space of communications, maybe form above the Earth, a figure, a signal, a shape, or a light, for the souls that are united by an idea or a passion. In this case, tango. And it brings sense to it.