Tango Addict Behind Bars...

by Lajos Pongracz

One weekend , my trucking job took me on a long trip through Washington D.C.  Being a tango addict, I always include an internet search for dancing opportunitiesin my trip plan.

This time I found an all-night milonga in Chevy Chase. My schedule allowed me a seven hours stopover. After dancing, I would have to get back on the road. I parked my big rig, quickly got on the metro and headed for Chevy Chase.I got out of the metro, stopped at a bar for a glass of wine, then walked the ballroom. I reminded myself that I have to leave by 1:45 AM to catch the last train back to where my truck was parked. The milonga was short of man , so I was very busy, happily dancing with one woman after the other. I almost achieved my goal, which was to dance with every tanguera in the room.  It was 1:30, I was taking a break to cool down when I noticed someone I had not yet danced with. I caught her glance, and we walked onto the floor without words .  After we introduced ourselves ( Sandra was her name). I told her I could dance only one song, since I had to catch the last train. She quietly agreed. Then we went into the euphoria of tango passion. She was the best partner of that night. Two of my favorite pieces played: the "Verano Porteno" and the long version of "Oblivion." I should have left, but I didn’t . I kept dancing until "Oblivion" ended. Bye-bye. See ya next time," I called, as I left the ballroom and run down the street to the metro. As I was in the elevator going down, I heard another elevator pass me going up. Then the doors opened. The rumbling noise of a departing train hit my ears. "Damn I missed it." Disappointed, I walked to the platform and looked down the tunnel. I saw the pair of red, gloving taillights on the train. For a few minutes, i mused about my dumb situation. Then I thought of catching a taxicab. This was turning out to be an expensive milonga., but-no big deal-it had been a nice dancing night. I looked around and saw nobody in the station. I was t5he only soul down there. It was dead silent, but I seemed to hear Piazzolla’s tango, it still had not gone out of my head. I threw my shoe bag onto the bench and did a few spinning rulos on the shiny red marble floor. Then I closed my eyes and fantasized holding Sandra in my embrace as I kept dancing.  What a fool I am, I thought or what a tango addict. Well, I had to go. I was on my way out of the metro station and almost hit my head on the heavy iron bars of the gate, which was closed and secured with a two pound padlock. I panicked, I turned back to the elevator . I pushed the emergency button, hoping for help. Nothing happened. I went down again and found an emergency phone. I frantically dialed the posted emergency number. The dial tone went off, and busy signal came on. Oh, not I kept dialing and got the same result. "Hey, go up and ask somebody on the street for help." I told myself . I took my third elevator ride. I saw the deserted street. No one was walking for as far as I could see. I glanced at my watch. Twenty minutes had gone from my one hour allowance. I waited five more minutes, hoping to see someone on the street that could help me. No one came along. All of a sudden a taxi appeared. From behind the bars, I waved my arms and tried to flag it down. The driver was looking at the other side of the street. He never saw me. The full realization hit me: " I am a prisoner in the D.C. metro." I quickly went down again and searched for a path to my freedom. I found a door marked EMERGENCY EXIT. But the another sign said NO RETURN . What if the other end has a locked door, and I can’t go out ? "I’ll be trapped like a gopher." I pitied myself.  I went back up. I realized that I had to use my cell phone, but who to call ? After some hesitation, I dialed 911. Fortunately, I got a nice women. I described my situation to her. She promised to call the metro police as soon as she had time. I didn’t have to wait long before a Metro police car showed up. A young officer came with a key ring that must have hold a hundred keys. The third key set me free. I told him the whole story, and we decided the station attendant had not noticed my elevator going down and had locked me in. He offered me a ride to my truck and, on the way I told him about my tango addiction. He said he didn’t blame me and asked how he could find a tango class or teacher.

Soon I was back in my truck and on the road. As I drove along the dark highway, I thought back  to how hopeless I had felt behind those iron bars. I couldn’t help thinking, too, that I might see my metro rescuer on the Chevy Chase tango floor the next time I go back.

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