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We were stopping in Madrid to do a few shows. A friend had found us a room in a two-bedroom apartment near Puerta del Angel. The apartment was a sort of no-host hotel. The owner, a memorable Argentine woman with which half of Madrid was in love, would zip in on her scooter, show you your room, charge you your rent and hand over the keys. Then she would zip away through the Madrid traffic, always off to someplace else.
The other bedroom was also rented out, so during our stay we met an Argentine pop-rock duo who were busking their way through Europe, a guitarist who played sad tangos and a Hungarian poet.
The poet spoke English with a perfect American accent – something a bit unnerving in a Hungarian poet. Though she was living in Madrid, she roomed with us for two nights while her mother was visiting from Budapest. It turned out that she was in love with a Hungarian artist who worked nights in a bar. Her mother would not approve (of the artist, of their living together), so she moved in with us briefly as a cover-up. Apparently the lack of furniture or the broken lock on the front door would bother her mother less than the concubinage with the artist, and we seemed like nice enough people. We told her we would play along if the mother asked us any questions in her presumably perfect American English.
This only lasted two days and we never saw the mother. Next it was the turn of the Argentine tango musician who played tangos so sad they were funny. He only came home to sleep and that was never at night. In Madrid, there are so many better places to be than at home on a summer night.
We too were out each night, but finally there was a night when we couldn’t keep up with the Madrileños and we dragged ourselves home. About an hour later, to our surprise, the sad tango player came home. We heard hushed voices, fits of giggling and the deep guffawing of the melancholy guitarist. Soon, the springs of the old mattress in the room across the hall began to squeak.
Because of the heat, we had our windows flung wide open to the night. You could tell that everyone else did too because in the silence of the night you could hear the flipping of a light switch across the courtyard or the unsticking of a gasket on a refrigerator door as someone sought something cool in the sweltering night.
Theirs was a brand new love and they hammered away at each other with moans and squeaky springs throughout the night. Their ecstasies and soft post-coital conversation drifted out through their open window and wafted breeze-like into all those eager, open windows . That night, sweating in our sheets, we all listened to their love making as if it were our own. And rejoiced.
I love the sound of people making love. When I hear them — on summer nights, in thin-walled hotels, at campgrounds, wherever people are possessed of desire – it makes me happy and reminds me that at every site of copulation the world in all its shuddering, incomprehensible splendor is born anew.
And I rejoice.
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