Looking for Love in Buenos Aires
January 10, 1997
Where am I going?
Luckily, I wasn't left to wonder for long, as Marty, our chief flight attendant, now welcomed us aboard American Airlines flight 845 fromNew York to Buenos Aires -- before informing us that our flying timewould be ten hours and fifty minutes. Groan. I wish he hadn't done that.That's ten hours too long, if you ask me.
I tried to dispel the unpleasant news by sitting back and relaxing in myseat as he now suggested. As I did, the following thought cheered me up,somewhat: the longer the flight, the farther away it would take me fromYoung & Rubicam advertising agency. Unfortunately, the thought lastedfor less than a split second (along with the comfort it had provided), sincemy mind couldn't help wandering back to the distraught call from myclient, who had screamed at me only a couple of hours ago because thecost estimate for his commercial was twice that of the agreed-upon budget.There has got to be more to life. But what?
Now we were up, up, up, and away! As I leaned over the guy sittingnext to me to get a glimpse out of the window, I heaved a sigh of relief.My imagination was finally free to soar high above reality and to fantasizeabout what lay ahead of me over the next couple of weeks. Thething I now realized is that it's difficult to fantasize about somethingwhen you have nothing to go on. Not the slightest little clue. (I decided on Buenos Aires only because my cousin Heleni and her husband,Jacques, happened to be doing a three-year stint there for his job withParibas bank. Otherwise it would never have occurred to me as a holidaydestination, it not being at the top of my places-to-visit list, likeAfrica, India, or China.)
As my fingers rummaged in the bag that was placed under the seat infront of me for a piece of gum, my mind rummaged around for any association at all with Argentina, but both my fingers and my mind came upwith naught. Where the fuck did I put it?! Desperate for a piece of gum,I snuck a peek at my neighbor to see whether he was chewing. That'swhen I noticed for the first time that he was cute. Really cute. Was he apolo player? Bingo! I had just made my first Argentina-association.
How could it have slipped my mind? Argentina is the land of the fabulously handsome Polo Player, even I know that! I snuck a second peekat my neighbor, who was chewing as it turned out. He was far too goodlooking to be looked at directly, what with that arm that had swung amallet or two -- if that rippling biceps under a checkered shirt sleeve wasanything to go by. As for the three-day shadow around that square jawof his, and the raven black hair that fell to his shoulders in waves, framingthe most symmetrical face you ever saw ... Did I say he was cute?What I meant to say was that he was drop-dead gorgeous! How was Iever going to pluck up the courage to ask him for a piece of gum now? Isearched for opening lines that did not involve the vulgar request ofsomething to chew on: "Hello. Sorry to disturb you, but what is yourhandicap?" Nope. I simply could not bring myself to do it. Anyway, Irationalized, he appeared far too absorbed in thought -- he must be oneof those narcissistic types.
Okay, so apart from polo, what else is there to do in Argentina? Iasked myself in an attempt to still the deafening sound of my raginghormones. And that's when I made my second Argentina-association ofthe day and suddenly remembered the tango. I had no idea what it actuallylooked like since I'd never seen anyone do it, but I do love to dance,and when in Rome, or in this case, Buenos Aires ...
I was still lost in reverie when I was interrupted by my neighbor. But lest anyone get too excited, it wasn't to pick me up but to puke me up.
Personally, I can't say I was thrilled. He, on the other hand, did notseem to mind at all the sight of his puke floating in my lap. Indeed, after hewas done erupting all over me, he spent the next ten hours treating me tohis life story (which had nothing to do with polo and everything to do withboring) while I tried to avoid the domino effect of the smell of his sick.
My only hope was that this was an omen of good things to come. Ifit's good luck to step in dog shit and good luck to get crapped on bybirds, then surely it must be good luck to get puked on by strangers inplanes.Kiss and Tango
Looking for Love in Buenos Aires. Copyright © by Marina Palmer. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Excerpted from Kiss and Tango: Looking for Love in Buenos Aires by Marina Palmer
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