am in the kitchen roasting chiles and you are in your studio playing The Gipsy Kings, and quite loud, I might add. I began to think, as the chiles charred, of all the merengues and tangos we had danced when we were so young that we could dance the night away and take shot after shot in celebration of the great Manitas de Plata. “The fingers of silver,” as he and his brother were known, could pound anything made of wood and keep the flamenco rhythm vibrant and steady.
The Kings began to play "Bamboleo," a song we always danced to dizzyingly fast. It was not tango, staid and slow and methodical as if the dancers were just clothing away from having sensual sex on the dance floor. It is the beautiful dance, like classical flamenco against the nuevo. There is no comparison, their lives are diferente.
Suddenly the music changed again to the dance song “Baile, Baile,” and I heard you turn it up. I knew what you had in mind. You were tired of the paint and canvas and wanted to move with me. My Paloma, as I recall, it was at a dance hall that we first met and I saw you with your hair of midnight and eyes so deep and you stared right through me as if I was a peasant. You did not know me. But had you looked around, you would have seen much whispering and pointing my way. They were speaking of the fight I had that day with the deadly Muerte de los Hombres Bravos.
You danced in order to feed your mother who took you in when the pinche fascistas took your family. You were young and alone. Old men and pimps tried to get to you, but you were strong and unwilling to do their bidding would run nimble as a tigre. I think that is why you can dance through the night until the dawn breaks. An old abuela feared for you and took you in. You brought all the pesetas home, every pinche centavo. Nothing for yourself but an enchanting perfume, I had smelled it before, but for some reason you would dance with me very little until the owner, the dueña, would insist.
You always said to her that I smelled of death and it would soon be mine or I just had killed. Either way my hands were wet with blood to you. I was a handsome young man, people would tell me. Always groomed, but you knew nothing of me. I was the youngest and bravest fighter of the bull in all of Mexico, Juan de la Luz. They nicknamed me the keeper of the ears. I am sorry, I find the sport revolting though it was handed down to me from my father and grandfather, who was badly gored and sits in a chair by the bull pen all day, sips aguardiente and loves the smell of the toros’ excrement. He drinks copa after copa until the failure leaves him. It is a long day for him watching us practice with the cape and laugh from the nervousness of impending death for either the fighter or the bull.
This night the owner Dona Hortensia or Tangie as we called her, forced you to dance with me until I was finished dancing as I had bought everyone bollitos. You told me, listen to me, cabrone, I will dance with you one time, once, for all the bollitos and then no more. I pleaded to you, why, am I that ugly to you? You looked at me with those eyes with which you have slain me and said, I will not touch a man involved in death in any capacity. You spoke with such certainty. But if you should ever leave the ring, my beloved Paloma promised, you are welcome to request one dance and perhaps I will accept and you will never buy another bollito for the rest of your or my life. I will dance with you until the Gods take me. If they take you first, I will take my own life, so as to sleep with you in eternity.
At this time my eyes were as red as Sangria. I kept looking away, but you gently put your hand to my cheek and turned my head until you looked so deeply in my eyes. I was lost in your love. I never fought again, not even a rooster. We had enough pesetas for life and I stretched your canvas and watched you paint and I cooked for you all of those foods you loved and if we did not dance every day, the tango, the merengue, the salsa, we would have been fatter than the pigs we keep as pets to kill the snakes.
I have never been happier, and now you come in for the before-dinner dance and a little of the nectar of the Gods and my lazy ass got up and we danced until we were drenched with sweat, and out of breath. We ate the holiday Chile Rellenos that night with Walnut Cream and pomegranate seeds. You asked me why I cooked such an extravagant meal for a midweek repast, I told you, Paloma of my life, you are a celebration, you have taught me endless tenderness and love. It goes through the earth and you taught me to swim naked in all glory. And it is no sin to read poetry all day in the hammock and sometime the chores must wait on the art and also the dinner. The art is life in paint. You are the One who taught me to be a kind man to everything, plant, animal, drunks and whores. Always love Miguel, always with love, you would say and I know now my love, and as the guitarra finishes and the dance is over, I bow to you, my Paloma, your eyes of gold tell me that you know that I know.