After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Year of No Money

What does this book have to do with tango, Buenos Aires, Argentina or anything that this blog is about? None of the above, but it does show what it's like to be an African-American expatriate in Japan--with no money. Being broke in Tokyo is the same as being broke in Buenos Aires or Paris. Broke is broke. And so his story has universal appeal. (A series would be kind of cool: A Year of No Money in Singapore, A Year of No Money in Istanbul, A Year of No Money in johannesburg, etc. And then could a TV show be far behind?)

When Wayne Lionel Aponte arrived in Tokyo in the early '90s, he had a job, but quit when things got tough economically in Japan. From then on he went into a limbo of living off of four different women at the same time. A very lucky man, who was able to keep them all happy, while the women provided food, shelter, money, good times and gifts. After about a year he realized how demeaning his life was and proceeded then to get a job and to pull himself back up to respectability.

I saw a lot in common with many of the expatriates in Argentina, although the situation is often reversed here; foreign women from all over the world meet local men who then proceed to live off of the ladies.

So it seems to be a female trait more than a cultural one.

Aponte, a journalist, writes well (written in the present tense) in this brief (165 pgs) memoir, it's just the unpleasant story that bothered me. He seemed to blame everybody/thing but himself for being in that position, yet after scrabbling together enough money to return home to New York, he promptly decided he didn't like it and went back to Japan. He doesn't seem to like Tokyo much either, except for the women (all of his sugar mamas were Japanese.)

Many women travelers to Buenos Aires have written their memoirs about falling in love with tango and the men they dance it with--full of sexual escapades and usually way too much information. And now I see that it's the trend; why write about the history, political issues, geography, culture, art or architecture of a country, if you can go directly to the "good" parts? In Aponte's case he has even a sort of macho pride that he was able to use his body to support himself by keeping four women happy. There's more than a bit of braggadocio in his story--and never a thought of "love."

Many expats, including the ones here in Buenos Aires, have stories in common with this one, and so that's why you're reading about it on tangocherie.

1 comment:

tangocherie said...

Kinda interesting that the author, Wayne Aponte, wrote me two very long emails demanding that I change this review--and he provided the words I should use.

I invited him instead to post a comment to say whatever he'd like to, which he didn't do, but he did "unfriend" me from Facebook!