I saw him as soon as I walked into the hall; he looked lonesome and lost like Lestat in a new moon’s fog. As he wandered around the soft lit room, he looked like a featherless bantam courting a yawning chicken. The sight brought back unpleasant memories that almost made me want to walk away.
Seven years have past since he asked to join the group we were coaching for a formation dance. His cocky attitude and an open despise for women in position of authority made him an instant nuisance, and his verbal abuse and the humiliating ways in which he treated his partner were a source of major embarrassment for everyone involved. For months, nobody ever saw him finish a 3 minute dance without stopping to admonish, lecture or blame his partner for his own ineptitude on the dance floor.
Then one day of May six years ago he physically forced a visiting dancer to go out for beignets instead of attending an after hours party that was being given in her honor. Lacking the integrity to cope with the embarrassment of his rude behavior, he decided to secede from the community, announcing that his fledgling group of five would never be associated with “Alberto Paz,” and publicly declaring that his mission would be “to put us out of business.”
Sadly, quite a few in the community felt very uncomfortable with the venom he was spewing to locals and visitors alike, but choose the path of less resistance, assuming that we were to blame for his psychopath actions, and we began to being excluded from group activities. The double sword that turns tolerance into hypocrisy fell upon us one last time, when we found out after four months in exile after Katrina that former friends and students were openly disappointed that we had managed to return.
There is something cruel about the way sometimes we are vindicated. There he was tonight without his long time partner, shoving and shuffling around someone unknown, looking lifeless, tasteless and still clueless as to what tango dancing is all about.
The encounter made me feel so bad because I felt so good. The more I thought about it, the more I felt I was going to get sick, so tonight I’m getting drunk to forget and finally forgive.