To the memory of don Osvaldo Pugliese, who died on July 25, 1995
At age twenty seven he had already planted a garden, but the thorns had bled his heart. He had written a book, but the pages were blank. It seemed so far back as he wandered on the road of life surrounded by weeds and the alluring webs of black widow spiders.
On that hot July evening the sun had sunk for its daily bath into the Pacific ocean. The bougainvillea fluttered with the westerly breeze. From the humanoid shaped boughs, a white winged butterfly took to the air and for three minutes danced with the lift that the hot air created under its wings. Then after a graceful glide it landed on his chest.
His eyes opened and the vision of dark clouds in the sky stiffened his spine with the icy feeling of an ominous presage. His eyes focused on the dancing butterfly resting on his chest. “Pugliese is dead,” she said, “we have to dance forever and make his death the meaning of our lives.”
The notes of Recuerdo ripped through the silence of the night and riding on the wings of the white winged dancing butterfly he saw the world from high above for the first time.
“Promise me that you’ll play Recuerdo at my funeral,” she whispered. “Yes,” he couldn’t hold a sob, “and La mariposa too.” How fatalist is to plan for the unavoidable at the pinnacle of happiness and joy. Pugliese had transformed Celedonio Flores’s bitterly poignant lyrics into the philharmonic masterpiece that Pedro Maffia meant to write. “I don’t regret to have loved you so much.”
The flight of fancy and innocence continued and one day she met a man she said was going to be good. She said, “We must open our hearts and our lives to welcome all the tango men and women from Argentina and help them succeed and open doors so their craft and skills can be shown.”
For an instant, the blank pages of his book filled with words of wisdom and caution, but there was something compelling and remarkable about the notion of giving without asking, and so he agreed to give.
The man was good and he succeeded. The communities where he traveled loved him and admired him, and he was generous in recognizing the friendship and respect he had been given.
But as tango stories go, there was also a dark side to this man. At first, the back door visits to the man’s bedroom were handled with the discretion that personal matters should be handled. After all, it also takes two or at least two per indiscretion to do the horizontal tango.
He realized that the denial of the addiction bred a nauseating sense of impotence. The need for an ever constant feeding of the addiction blurred the boundaries between personal and public image, bringing to life Discepolo’s allegoric view of life from the windows of a cambalache, a surreal pawn shop where bibles lay next to water heaters, and wives, daughters, friends and lovers pile up on the shelves of moral decay.
He gave the man the best possible advice a friend and business partner could give. The reaction was hostile and it reached a point of no return when angry and vindictive, the man reached to crush the wings of the dancing butterfly.
The landing was perilous but safe. He pointed to the door and the man, with tears in his eyes, slowly walked away. Suddenly, he realized that he was standing tall on the road of life, far from the spider infected alleys. Pugliese’s right hand fell on the center of the keyboard, his left hand tapped the keys next to his right hand on one beat, and dug deeply on the farthest keys to the left on the next beat. Yum-bah, yum-bah, yum-bah, yum-bah!
He embraced the butterfly and bringing his head next to her face, began to dance.