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Cracked

When I joined them in the living room with fresh coffee and biscuits, Fabian looked a bit disconnected, Bruno had got further on linear algebra and was on a monologue about lattice models.

“Without being disrespectful to the models, I just think there are things we won’t explain logically in a relationship because they are of a different order.”  I said as I sat on the sofa, opposite Bruno and next to Fabian

“Go on, Gena, it’s good to hear what you think.”, Fabian brushed his hands on my knee and both of them looked at me, so I felt I had to continue talking.

“Well, you have tough variables to control when we talk about subjective elements such as feelings, love and trust” — It felt strange to be the first one to mention love and feelings when Bruno was the one in the verge of a separation and I was in front of Fabian.  “And hurt too. And of course people have their own filters and values, but maybe it is time for you to ask yourself: do I love her? Do I trust her and think we can save this relationship together? Or, can I see myself living without this woman? We can’t really test all the hypothesis or prove a thesis; so it is all going to depend on how you feel about trying them and”

The phone rang and — thank God! — Interrupted me from going on and on.

"The Crack II: Maybe we can fix it?!" by Pierre Andrews

“It’s Tata”, Bruno said looking at his mobile’s display.

He picked up the phone as he stood up and walked to the corridor and out of the door to get his call.  It was just me and Fabian, discussing a break up that wasn’t ours, so we waited for Bruno but within less than a minute we saw him out of the house walking to the street.

“Hey, isn’t it Bruno outside? Where is he going?”, I asked.

Fabian walked to the window to check and turned to me with his hands up in the air and a small shoulder shrug: “It looks like he is going to his house.”

“Do you think they will get back together?”

“I think he shouldn’t.  If it’s broken there is a reason, but what do I know?”

“Right.”

“It’s good to see you, girl, and I’m glad you were here with him. With us. I liked what you said.”

“Thanks.  It’s weird, though, to do most of the talking in the circumstances,”

But I got no uptake.

“You know, this break up talk and relationships.” I continued.

“True, yeah.”

“Anyway, it looks like everyone is breaking up.”

“Like Claudia and Olivier?”

“Yes.”

“How is he?”

“Have you asked him?”

“No, but he hasn’t told me so how could I ask?”

“If he hasn’t told you, I won’t gossip about it, but now you can ask him.”

“Fair enough. How is London?”

“Good, good.”

“Are you dancing?”

“Yes.” I smiled.

“Salsa?”

“Yeah. And tango.”

“Great!”

“Yes, I’ve even started going to the Friday milonga.”

“You have? God, I’m jealous now.”

“Last week was fabulous, they hosted this musicality workshop and the milonga had live music afterwards. I loved it”, so I went on telling him about the night, this time leaving  Mr. Gorgeous and Marcos-shaped wholes on my narrative and focusing on the music.  Music was safe ground; I had some training and was often moved by the tangos that were constantly playing in his house.  So, he liked to hear what I thought, show me new songs and tell me what he felt.  Dancing wasn’t as easy.  The connection that hit me unexpectedly in my fifth class and made me pulse with tango, changing everything between us just pushed us to be together. It wasn’t repeated. The secret we kept from others cracked us as well.  Our relationship, denied, grew around a fracture, a fault that dislodged me from his embrace whether we danced or not.  We contended ourselves to music and safe topics.

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The Forró Night

“We’ll be 31 for one day.” Bumping into Marcos on the N55 not only saved my night but also caused me to reinterpret his sentence (from Friday’s milonga) to indicate Marcos and I were meant to become ‘we’. That ‘we’ couples use to represent themselves as part of the institution of the paired up. A simple factual conclusion connected to our dates of birth, was somehow transformed into a prediction of us being together. On my romantic mind, that was. Tra-la-la-la.

The faint chance of him showing up at Arpoador was also enough to make me change tops 3 times before deciding on what would go well with the forró’s casual environment and suit me best. I put on my favourite pair of jeans and settled for a comfortable but flattering blue scoop top. Heels were out of question for a forró and I was quite happy about that, ballet flats were cute and would allow me to commute easily and dance comfortably the whole night.

"Caruaru, São João 2005 - Trio forró" by Allan Patrick

I arrived early to Arpoador to avoid the queue, left my handbag and coat in the cloakroom and went upstairs to the bar. I got myself a lovely passion fruit caipirinha to get in the Brazilian mood while I waited for Eduardo and Laura, but I never finished it. Soon after I left the bar towards the dance ring to watch the dancers, a tall man approached me and I parted with the passion fruit. He was Portuguese and a passable dancer, but much better than my next two partners: sleazy guys who couldn’t dance and sort of mistook the whole thing for pressing their bodies against mine.

“Less competitive than salsa and less pedantic than tango” people said. With that kind of clientele in view, the forró’s once endearing simplicity and inclusiveness – often backed up by the supposed, but apparently mistaken, origin of the word as deriving from ‘for all’ – didn’t seem quite a good idea. In almost two months of Friday milonga I had only encountered one pervert; it was clear to me that tango’s ‘pedantic’ image was doing regular dancers a favour in filtering the crowd and scaring off the freaks and pervs. I kept looking at the door, trying to find Marcos, Pedro, Laura and Eduardo. As I saw the latter coming into the room, I abandoned my second disastrous partner claiming I needed to talk to my friends:

— ‘Thank God you came, I got an excuse to run away from the perv.’

— ‘Already?’, Laura asked.

— ‘Um hum.’

— ‘That’s why we haven’t come as often, those types started coming after the success of the carnival parties. You must avoid them, Gena.’, Eduardo said protectively.

— ‘They are a pain! They don’t understand the dancing culture, so they try to hump you or just stare at your boobs while they barely move.’, continued Laura.

— ‘Freaks! I thought people came here for a dance.’

Laura’s friend Fabiano arrived and came to talk to us.

— ‘Dance with her’, Laura pretty much ordered him, ‘she just danced with clueless gringos so far.’

— ‘My pleasure.’ Fabiano said as he did the inviting opening and got me into his arms.

We danced a fast baião with little jumps and all and I was happy again. He was an awesome dancer and he seemed to take Laura’s orders seriously, so it turned out to be a great night for me as he was often inviting me for more dances, from the energetic quick ones to my favourite slow and sensual xotes.

Marcos did not turn up. I would have liked him too and I would not have minded the slightest if he was not that interested in the dance. I quit looking at the door and decided to leave just before midnight. Eduardo and Laura insisted on walking me to the bus stop before leaving to the tube. As we walked, the N55 went by us and a weird sense of alertness took me over. Every red bus in that city had the potential of bringing me a smile and open arms. London transport had also been altered for me.

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The band took a small break and electronic music replaced their sound.  As they left the stage and talked to one another, Mr. Gorgeous and I had another intense exchange of looks.  Being rather close to the stage allowed me to inspect his movements and made it easy for him to locate me in the room.

— ‘Maybe I am ready for my second mistake’, I said to Tina breaking the contact with the man but quickly turning my eyes back to him.  As our eyes met again, I smiled and he smiled, but then he touched the bandoneonist’s shoulder and looked at him, as I watched their backs exiting the room.

When I looked back at Tina, she was already standing up for a dance and, before long, one of the young guys I had sat near to in the music workshop invited me for a dance and I accepted it.  I had assumed him to be English because of his pretty face and his slim and long figure, but Marcos was Argentinean and he was considerably more surprised by my nationality than I was by his.  In any case, our neighbouring home countries granted us more to share than tango so our conversation — which he started, I might add — turned to football and world cup before we had covered more usual topics, such as our jobs and interests.

— ‘Pedro and I, you know my friend Pedro right?’

by Pierre Andrews

— ‘Sorry, who?’

— ‘Pedro, over there. You danced with him, the tango instructor.’

— ‘Right, right. Is he an instructor? He didn’t say’. Cheeky! I knew he was being insincere when he said that thing about people finding it hard to follow him

— ‘Well, he is a great friend of mine and we’re World Cup buddies. We went to Germany last year and we’re going to South Africa in 2010.’

— ‘So, cool!’

— ‘Yes, and we definitely want to make it to Brazil in 2014.  It will be the best.’

— ‘I do hope so.’

— ‘Wouldn’t it be great’ he continued, ‘to see Brazil and Argentina playing the final in Maracanã’?

— ‘Best case scenario’, I agreed with a prompt smile, ‘especially if you remain losing matches to us even when you have fantastic teams’.

It wasn’t long that a low morale Brazil had beaten favourite Argentina by 3-0 at Copa America to everyone’s amazement, so there was not much to be said really. Marcos wasn’t that enthusiastic about my best case scenario in those conditions, but he did not protest much, but rather, chose to change the topic.

—- ‘You sound so British, how long have you been in the UK’?

—- ‘Well, thanks, the Brits don’t seem to think so, but anyway, I’ve been here for about 4 years’.

—  ‘So what do you do?’

—  ‘I am a researcher’.

—  ‘Cool! Me too’.

— ‘Is that right? What do you research?’

— ‘I do market research. And you?’

— ‘Academic research.’

We were not dancing, we stalled as we started as Marcos was getting excited and trying to use his hands as he talked.  He was handsome, very handsome indeed, even if he looked a bit too young.

—- ‘So are you thinking of staying?’

— ‘I don’t know’, I said evasively, trying to stop it from becoming a full questionnaire.

— ‘Right. How old are you?’

Why do some guys do that? I wanted to laugh it was such a deja vu! I could see Alex asking me this and subsequently lying his own age so that I would not think he was too young for me… keen young guys, how could they be so clueless and yet look so adorable? I did laugh.

— ‘Old’.

— ‘No!’

— ‘I am 31.’

— ‘That’s not old.’

— ‘And you are what, 23?’

— ‘No! Why do you say that?!’

— ‘Because you look 23.’

— ‘I am 30! And I will be 31 in March.’

— ‘Really? When in March?’

— ‘The 30th. Why are you laughing?’

—  ‘I’ll be 32 on the 31st.’

— ‘Right. So, we will be 31 for one day.’

— ‘Yeah. If that’s true, you have to tell me the secret of youth.’

— ‘Uhm, lots of beer?’, he said with a broad smile. ‘Maybe it’s too much, huh, two aries; impatient, fiery…’ he looked at me as he pressed his lips together for a fraction of a second, abandoning the words to the ever so effective intensity of one another’s presence in the embrace.  Again, I felt a warm excitement inside me, but just smiled coyly and dropped my eyes.

Our tanda was over and a bizarre salsa cortina started playing.

— ‘I don’t get these cortinas’, I said with mild, feigned, irritation.

— ‘Oh, they’re, they’re very Buenos Aires…’ he trailed off and made a head nod as if he had said it all, his contagious smile making everything else unnecessary.

— ‘Thank you’, I said as I started breaking our dancing unit.

— ‘Oh, right. But we’ll dance later, right?’

— ‘Sure.  Anyway, it was lovely to meet you Marcos’, I said meaning it but also as a means to get back to wrapping up.

— ‘We had met before’.

— ‘Had we?’

— ‘Yes, well, maybe not met properly but I saw you at Fernando and Cecilia’s class’.

— ‘Oh, right, right, yeah’.  I lied. I mean, I did not mean to lie with such conviction, for a fraction of a second I thought I remembered him but it became clear he could not be the guy I had thought of.  I really did not recall seeing him before.  I went back to my seat trying to find Marcos in my memory as I replayed images from Fernando’s class.

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