A baby boomer’s mystery: a dance, a love affair, a book

Once baby boomers have more time on their hands, interesting new things can happen. and what happened to Michael James Gallagher certainly qualifies. We won’t give the whole story away here but maybe a few hints might help: a dance, a stiletto, a love affair, a book.

Every cloud has a silver lining. That really rings true for my wife Ilona and me.

Why? Because about 18 years ago, I lost the use of my right arm for two years after a back injury. The pain put loads of strain on our relationship. We had to find a way to look past the difficulties, keep a healthy level of intimacy, and build my muscles in my back.

Then, in stepped Argentinian tango. Holding each other close built the intensity of our relationship in spite of the pain and the dance has the advantage of being demanding both mentally and physically. And that’s not all.

A mock up of a hard drinking hard dancing tanguero legend known as "Garufa."

Michael and Ilona meet a mock up of a hard drinking, hard dancing tanguero legend known as “Garufa.”

The intensity of the dance spawned the idea in my mind of a character to write about, a tango-dancing Mossad agent code-named Kefira, who slides her way around tango clubs from Israel to Italy to Argentina. A passion for dance has created for me a digital publishing second career that is starting to pay dividends. After strong sales in North America, the first book of the series, Tsunami Connection, was recently released in Germany and Turkey.

To celebrate, Ilona and I took a third trip to Buenos Aires last November. Our love for tango only got deeper, even if my feet are still protesting the six to eight hours of dancing a day.

Festival of the drummers - a weekly event in San Telmo for young and old.

Festival of the drummers – a weekly event for young and old in San Telmo, a section of Buenos Aires.

Here is a short excerpt of the tango, set in our favorite club in San Telmo, Buenos Aires.

Kefira crossed a smooth leg that slipped from under a sequined, knee-length designer gown cut diagonally and tasseled up to the left until a firm thigh peeked out. One blood-dark stiletto bobbed, attracting the attention of every man, and woman, at el club Bendito’s, Wednesday night Milonguita.

A man tapped a cigarette on the black table in front of him, stood and caught her roaming eye. He placed the unlit smoke in the corner of his mouth and crossed the hardwood floor as dancers chatted between tandas, a grouping of four songs of similar styles and historical periods. He got closer. His loose-fitting, burnt orange linen suit couldn’t hide his strength. His arched eyebrow invited her response.

Ilona meeting the Maestro of Tango, Juan Carlos Copes

Ilona meeting the Maestro of Tango, Juan Carlos Copes

She needed breathing space from a mission that risked opening up old wounds and tango had always centered and freed her. No hesitation in him. Tango me. She wanted to dance with the man with the aquamarine eyes, close-cropped, salt and pepper hair that matched the length of his three-day-old beard if only to set aside the tension brought on by her duty for a few minutes. She nodded, accepting the understated request that protected him from the embarrassment of a public refusal. The courtship ritual had begun…

Argentinian tango is one of the most dynamic interests my wife and I have introduced into our marriage. We both strongly suggest you try it too. After all, medical studies now suggest that the tango is anti-Alzheimer.

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