The Stories of People: The Boy in the Picture Pt. 1

For years, a photograph had been tucked away underneath a pile of pictures that archived my college experience light years before chronicling your every move via digital cameras and iPhones became the norm. I’d randomly taken it with a guy I’d seen in passing on campus during a seemingly wild night on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. I’d flipped past it a million, and though I didn’t know the guy, I’d kept it because it was a great picture of me in the prime of my youth. I was happy, and he was handsome.

I hadn’t seen him, whoever he was, since the picture was taken almost 10 years ago, but during a weekend excursion with friends, we literally ran into each other. Upon first glance, I knew it was him: the boy in the picture. As evident from those pictures stacked in old shoe boxes in my closet, I’m big on memories and nostalgia. To meet him randomly at a concert, there had to be a story here.

The years had been kind to him, and he expressed the same feelings about me. The boyish face in that photograph was replaced with chiseled features and more facial hair. His eyes were the same though—deep and hypnotic. We were no longer college kids, but adults living very different lives in different places. After a brief conversation, we exchanged numbers, which led to accepting a brunch invitation the next day. After a long night of partying, my plan was to call and cancel, but the image of us in that picture made me go.

On the patio of a small breakfast cafe, we admitted that we never really knew each other in college, but tried to catch up on each other’s lives over French toast and fruit anyway. We enjoyed each other’s company so much, that I contemplated skipping another engagement that I’d committed to attending, and that’s so unlike me.

I rarely get giddy over anything, but I looked forward to talking to the boy in the picture again even though we lived hours apart. We spoke again days later by phone, but after that, nothing. As it turned out, he’d just entered a relationship after our meeting. I had this unshakable feeling that our story wasn’t over, but I gracefully bowed out.

A few weeks later when I was still thinking about him, he called. “I’ve been thinking about you…a lot,” he said with a hint of guilt.

We began to talk, and I sent him the old picture of us. He marveled over it, saying what I thought privately: we looked like a happy couple. Perhaps, we both saw a potential love story in that, and it excited us. We continued to keep in touch even though he was involved. We told ourselves “we’re only talking, right?”

Those sporadic conversations turned into constant communication. He became a part of my day, and I, his, from early morning calls to midday check-ins to make sure I wasn’t on the verge of a mental breakdown at work to goodnight text messages. He made it clear that he was with his significant other, even though she, too, lived hundreds of miles away. I accepted it. To me, it was a game of sorts to see how much of him I could acquire. Was it right? No, but I rationalized our relationship by thinking any day he would call me and end communication because of his commitment to his girlfriend. I was fully prepared for the blow, and in some ways I secretly hoped he would to end these immoral shenanigans…

 

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DMV Adventures: Hey, Where’d Your Wedding Ring Go?

Sometimes it just takes too long for me to write about the randomness in my life. Here’s Part II of my visit to the DMV on Labor Day Weekend. Read Part I here.

Day 2 of our Girls Trip to the DMV was under way. We’d obsessed over what to do, where to go all morning, and the standard answer was still, “To the District.” So, off we went.

After clowning with the staff at Ben’s Chilli Bowl (They were singing MJ’s “PYT,” and I line danced in the middle of the restaurant.), we strolled down U Street to see what the rest of the day had in store. A gorgeous guy, skin kissed by the sun, stood outside of a cafe and motioned for us to come in. Surprisingly, it was a day party, and behind those doors, people were getting it in.

Almost immediately, some guy approaches me and begins dancing. I can appreciate a guy who doesn’t want to bump and grind or  challenge me to a dance-off, so I two-stepped with him for a little while. He was nice-looking, but I could tell he was slightly older. (I have to remember to stop saying “older,” as if I won’t be 30 soon. Le sigh. ) He wore a cap, a tee and what my girls coined as “dad jeans.” Hilarious. Atleast he didn’t have on K-Swiss to complete the look.

Before he could ask my name, he  spouted out all types of “compliments.” I wanted to say, “Thanks, but you make the truth sound so disgusting.” He was thisclose to calling me a “tall drink of water.” I sensed that this was a Living Single club episode waiting to happen.

In an instant, he’d swayed me to the bar for a drink; I obliged. Don’t judge me. The entire time, my girls are laughing as I make funny faces over his shoulder. I noticed they kept throwing their hands up, pointing to and wiggling their ring fingers. Was “Single Ladies” on?

Nope. Ohhhh, I get it.

After a few sips of  my cocktail, suddenly, I didn’t feel like dancing anymore.I thanked and chatted him up, I was on to next.

“So, your friend with the “Dad Jeans” had a wedding ring on. You didn’t see it?” one friend asked.

“He did? Nah, didn’t see it.”

“Yeah, while you were ordering your drink he stuck his hand in his pocket to take it off,” the other chimed in.

Oh yeah? Men. As if him being married was the only barrier between us.

Before I could respond, Mr. I Don’t Wear My Wedding Ring was back in my personal bubble trying to dance. It became painfully obvious that this was first time out in a long time without the wife. He was just too damn eager. Poof, be gone!

It took me atleast 15 minutes to get away from him. Not to mention, he kept coming back around to ask if I was ready for another drink. What do I look like, a fool?

“No, I won’t be getting another drink. This is enough,” I said. “I think you’ve had enough, too.”

“I’m just gettin’ started!” he replied as he continued to dance himself silly.

I gave him the side-eye of all side-eyes. I could see the imprint of his ring sitting snug in the bottom his left pocket, but I didn’t even mention it. It was unnecessary to point something so blatantly obvious out to an adult who knows right from wrong. If hiding a symbol of your marriage is part of a scheme to test if you still have your mojo, there’s nothing I can say or do to help. On top of that, I didn’t even know the guy. Why not leave on a high note?

“Okay, well good for you. We’re leaving now. Nice meeting you.”

I left him standing there. The last time I saw him, he was doing something like the Reebok on the patio, scoping out his next victims, some college girls with bad weaves.

In the words of the great lyricist, Silkk the Shocker, “You ain’t gotta lie to kick it.”

The Stories of People: A Tuesday Kind of Love, Pt. II

Two weeks had passed, and I still hadn’t run into the Mr. Reflex again. That’s the alias I gave him since I didn’t know his name. If and when I find out his name, he’ll still be referred to as such.  Aliases w always used until said person becomes of major importance. No real names allowed. (I know it sounds objectifying, and I’d be pissed to find out a man gave me an alias like Ms. Independent, but it’s what I do. Sorry.)

Anyway, in the meantime, I’d been passing time going out on meaningless dates with Marcus, affectionately known as Mr. Snooze. Any guesses why he has that name? Yes, he bores me to tears. Sometimes, I’d rather car watch on a country dirt road than to listen to stories about his accounting job or his adventures in fishing. But he’s much more attentive than I am, complimentary and loves to take me out. So, I go. I guess you can’t have it all.

I’d decided weeks ago that I was going to put an end to our dating stint. He deserves to be with a woman who actually enjoys his company. After months of dating and careful speculation, I realize that I’m not that woman. We’re much better as friends, associates even.

Boredom is foreign to me, or atleast it used to be. Lately it seems like I’m surrounded by it in every area of my life. At one time, it was nothing to drop everything I was doing to go late night dancing or book a last-minute weekend trip to the beach. Those were the kinds of things I did with Daniel aka The Ex.  It was an exciting, yet turbulent time. It took me two whole years to figure out that our relationship was going absolutely nowhere, while everyone around me knew from Day One. Go figure. Reality hit me the day I asked him for the final time about marriage. He answered like he was revealing new findings from a major study. “I don’t think I’m the marrying type.”

I swear, I saw stars and birds flying around my head like they do on old cartoons. I shook my head, as if to rattle my brain back in its place. “Since when? You’ve never said that–EVER.”

“I know, but  honestly, I don’t know if it’s in me.” He looked down at his files he’d brought home from work, instead of  in my eyes. He knows how I feel about eye contact. “Who says two people in love have to get married? The whole idea is unrealistic, and I think I–we’re smart enough not to fall into that trap.”

From across the great room, I stared him down with my most evil eye. “So when did you figure that out? And when were you going to tell me?!”

He leaned back, looked away the way he did when he was ashamed or wanted to avoid something.

So that was it. Mr. Suit and Tie from a two-parent middle class home. Educated, yet street smart. Loved by all, including my always disapproving parents. Church-going, tithing. Who I was supposed to build a family with. That is what he ultimately had to offer. Nothing.

I made a Big Girl move, and moved on, rather trying to make something be that never even existed in the first place.

Many months later after the mourning of my relationship with Daniel, I jumped back into dating, only to discover that I have a habit of dating the same type of man. Which is how I ended up seeing Mr. Snooze.

Last night, after he walked me to my door, and gave me the infamous “church hug,” I immediately called my best friend, Ava.

Before she could say hello, I blurted into the phone, “I can’t do it anymore.”

“Do what?” She laughed as if she was expecting a punchline to a joke.

“Marcus.”

“But you’re not doing him. I thought that was the problem.”

“Very funny. I mean, I can’t continue to do this with him, or this terrible thing called my dating life. It just has to be better than this.” I fell on bed.

Ava is the most logical, no-nonsense woman I know. I come to her when I want realistic advice. Not that fairytale crap my other friends dish out. Even if she resorts to calling me a self-centered, psycho bitch to knock some sense into me, she’ll do it. It usually works.

She paused for a moment. Cleared her throat. I was expecting her to tell me to grow the hell up and be grateful Marcus was even pitting with me, what with my flaky attitude and uninterested demeanor. Honestly, I thought that was working for me, but clearly, men don’t catch hints very well–if at all.

I braced myself for her tongue-lashing.

Instead, she said nonchalantly, “You want me to hook you up?”

“What? I’m serious, Ava!”

“I’m serious, too! There’s a new guy who works in the blood lab in the new wing of the hospital.  Everyone’s had their eye on him. I had no idea he was friends with Erica, and she speaks  highly of him.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Erica, huh?” I was already hesitant. Erica was the type of woman who had tons of male friends–because she’d slept with them all, and it just didn’t work out. If she referred to a man as her “family” or “brother ” that meant she’d probably slept with him atleast three weeks prior. I don’t think there’s a man in the city she hasn’t laid, but she’s cool nonetheless.

“I know what you’re thinking, and no, they haven’t been together. He’s a friend of her brother’s from college. He just moved here after being in the military for a while. He went back to school since he worked in the medical field overseas. I’m telling you, he’s definitely your type. And don’t make me go into appearance specifics. Just know he’s your type. You trust me, don’t you?”

“I don’t know, Ava…You know how I feel about hook-ups. Name one that has resulted in anything other than me dodging emails and phone calls.”

“Aww shit! You make me tired, Bianca.” She blew a ton of air out into the phone to prove her point. “I guess you’re hoping to run into…er, what’s his name–Mr. Reflex–again?”

“No, I’ve given up on that.” I was lying through my teeth. Not a day went past without me scoping out the parking garage. I even drove around slowly, making sure I didn’t miss him. No luck.

“Yeah, well, approval or not, I’m telling Erica to pass your email and phone number on to him.”

What did I have to lose? Not a thing. “Okay, you win. Let me know what he says,” I said. “Nevermind that we don’t even know if he’s interested in dating someone.”

“Like, seriously, B,” Ava said. I could imagine her waving her hands in the air. “He’s a man in a new city. They’re always interested in dating.”

“Wait!!! What’s his name? I think I need to atleast know that before I send my phone number.”

Jeremiah. Bye!!”

I ended the call, and tried to move on to the next item on my mental list to think about. I could have plotted out the conversation I’m going to have with Marcus to end our less than exciting courtship, or maybe what this Jeremiah guy looked like. How Ava would be right about him being my type, whatever that is. How for once, a hook-up would actually work out for me like those couples featured in Sunday’s romance column. Instead, I fell back on to my bed and imagined running into Mr. Reflex in the elevator again.

To be continued…

The Stories of People: Dancing in the Dark

I remember how I felt when we first kissed. Something else had suddenly taken over me. I knew I should stop touching you, but I couldn’t. I was powerless. Spellbound.

It was so gentle and passionate. When our lips finally parted from each other’s, only one thought came to mind…

I wanted to dance with you. At that very moment. Crazy, right?

Not bumping and grinding or whining to a slow beat. But your arms wrapped around me, holding me close, just moving. Swaying. Rocking to the beat of our souls. The kind of dancing that only required me closing my eyes and being engulfed in your scent. There would be nothing but the sound of our exhales, so we didn’t need music. All we needed was us.

Organic closeness. Simplistic intimacy.

I wanted to dance with you.

The Stories of People, Pt. II: The Last Words I Said to Her

“Do you want me to lock the door?”

Those were the last words I said to the woman I love. It doesn’t get any more poetic than that.

That was a pretty dumb question anyway, seeing as how I’d just placed the key to her home on the end table. I was returning her belongings and picking mine up to start a new life without her. How could I lock a door with no key? I blame habit and wanting to say something–anything other than “Bye.”

In true storybook fashion, she had my things in a huge Bebe shopping bag (WTF? Was I not worth a box?) by the door. Inside were a few of my frat shirts, a set of clippers that I no longer thought existed and an old KING magazine (the one with Stacy Dash on the cover).  She secretly hated that I was a subscriber, but she understood that men are visual creatures.

When she’d opened the door, she gave me a dry “hey” and immediately plopped back down on the sofa. She was watching one of the many reality shows she’d probably DVR’d throughout the week. It was like I wasn’t even there. The lights were out and television screen illuminated barely enough light on the wall so I could see. Damn, she wanted me outta there. Truth be told, I didn’t think parting ways was the thing to do, but she’d insisted. Said I’d been hanging by a thread for a while. Benefit of the doubt had run its course.

After I said my final words, I stood in the entryway for about five seconds, hoping she would atleast give me a glance. It felt like an eternity, and I hate waiting.

She didn’t even turn around. She continued to sit quietly on the sofa with one leg propped under the other that was dangling off the armrest. She twirled her hair around her fingers. That was a signal that she was either aggravated or nervous. I knew most of her habits like they were my own.

I’m no fool, so I did what seemed logical after a bad breakup. I just closed the door. Forever.

The Stories of People I

You know, 10 years isn’t a lot of time. It whizzes by like a dragonfly in a garden. Taking turns, zooming in and out of loopholes and around corners, yet never stopping until it gets to its destination. When I was, say, 21, I didn’t know that. The world was my oyster and time was infinite. I met him on a bone-chilling cold day walking up the block. I’d dropped my bag of groceries that I was so eager to unpack and cook. Dumplings, a package of chicken, chicken broth and a few pastries to satisfy my sweet tooth. I was ready for a quiet, warm night inside. See, I thought I was an adult back then. It took me leaving school and moving all the way from South Carolina to Boston, then New York to follow my dream to officially say that. There I was all alone, just getting accustomed to the rhythm of the city, and l dropped my bag of groceries on the street. On a day so cold, there was no room for error or misstep.

I hated making mistakes, even ones as simple as that.

There was no time for a quick recovery. My ingredients and packages spilled out of the bag, creating a long trail on the pavement. I had no choice but to kneel down and scavenge for my belongings. Then he saw me. No, I didn’t see him first, he saw me. I could feel his stare and his presence even. I looked up at him and immediately thought he looked like he could use a personality. There was no expression, no smile, and no light in his eyes. This was definitely NOT a movie moment. He extended his hand for assistance, and I obliged.

Funny how one decision can change your life forever.

Hours, days, weeks, months and years flew past and that act of chivalry blossomed into a love affair, a pain-filled journey and even a loss of self. In an instant, every moment interchanged with the other with no forewarning. He was a quiet man, never saying too much, but when he did, you listened. You listened because you wanted to know what he was thinking, how he felt—about you, about himself, about the world in which we lived. He would say those things you longed to hear, but you had to listen closely with a trained ear. With him, I learned that words said seldom don’t have less meaning as those said often. His will was beyond strong, but his smile put you at ease. His touch was electrifying, but sometimes his eyes would be dull. There was something in them that hinted at a buried past. The eyes and the heart are connected so sometimes that pain would translate over to his interaction with me. Overall, he was a fascinating enigma.

In the beginning I became so lost in him, in love, I lost myself. I stopped being me. The real me. The woman he met on the street. Fascination turned into a need to save him from that past that kept him so guarded. I did everything I could to break that wall down. It became so tiresome, instead of showing him how sweet life could be on the other side; I decided mirroring him would be easier for the both of us—pain, deceit and powerlessness in a pretty package. We were in it together.  

I should be in a different place than I am now. It’s unbelievable how quickly life soaks up time. It’s like a sponge. My dream I relocated for has been deferred indefinitely. I’m stuck in a trap that I sketched and built for myself.

If I’m the architect, why can’t I find my way out?

Dresses, Short Shorts and Mishaps

Last month, I bought a few dresses online. For no particular reason. I just like pretty dresses. I find myself obsessing over the length of the dresses. They seem to be a decent length on the models, but let’s face it: Stores aren’t using tall women to model their clothing. I’m always worried that I will get the dress and it will be too short.

This was the case for not one, but two dresses I ordered. I tried the first one on–the one I liked more. Knit, sleeveless, striped and fitted. I faced the mirror and realized that not only was it short, it was hella tight. On the website, it was a nice evening dress, but on me it was a certified freakum dress. After toiling over the idea of sending it back, I decided to file it away for later use (my trip to Vegas).

I had a moment of self-discovery. I’m a fairly conservative dresser.

Not in a “I only wear skirts past my knees” or “I don’t wear sleeveless shirts.” You’ll find nothing but tank tops, tubes and halters in my closet. I believe in showing skin, but within reason.

One of my BFFs noticed it, too. Just the other night, she asked why that is. My answer:

“Weird things happen to me when I wear short dresses, skirts or shorts.”

It’s so true. Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

Fall 2004, I returned to Baton Rouge for a new semester of school. I’d bought these red (Get-It Girl) shorts atleast a year ago that I’d yet to wear. Again, I guess I thought they were too short. The first party of the semester was at the end of the week–you know, the one you CAN’T miss. As luck would have it, I became ill a few days before the party. I self-diagnosed myself with a slight cold and immediately began medicating myself. I was going to be at that party.

Saturday arrived and I felt better. I took the plunge and put on the red shorts, a tank top and heels. Just before we left, I took a Tylenol Sinus for reinforcement. We got to the venue and walked around. This was my first time wearing short shorts (with stilettos).  In a way, I felt liberated. The party was great: flashing lights, old friends and good ole’ ratchet jig and bounce music.

Standing there with the girls, a friend’s cousin, who’s like family, offered me a drink. I was a bit parched. Why not? I took one sip, savored it and continued my two-step. In an instant, I started to feel dizzy. Nausea had set in. I grabbed him, then the closest rail to maintain my balance.  I regained my composure for a brief moment and decided to go to the ladies room.

I took a step….and it happened.  I could feel myself falling, and there was nothing I could do about it. I passed the hell out. I hit the floor probably in some dramatic way, as I only I can do–sprawled out across the floor in those damn shorts. I only saw darkness. I vaguely remember being carried across the club, like a waiter does a server platter, by some random frat brothers (shout out to the Bruhz!). When I came to, I was in the club’s office sitting next to a nursing major named Ursula, who wanted to use me as a practice patient. She asked me if I’d had Xstacy lately. WTF?

All I could do was wonder where my clutch was and how terrible it would be if I had to wait in the DMV for another license. As I dispatched friends to various parts of the club to look for my bag, I walked back to the scene of the crime. This is what I heard:

“Damn, she fell hard as hell!
“You had one too many drinks, huh.”

Or my favorite:

“Damn, slim, I saw you pass out. You alright? I like your shorts, yea.” FML

As I continued my walk of shame, I was even more embarrassed because I passed out due to me going out and not being fully well, but it looked as if I passed out drunk (which I’ve never done before). What a bummer.

It could have been worse though. I could have had on a dress.

Note: That’s not me!

From the Dentist to the Coffin

I read Aliya S. King’s latest blog post about her worst date ever. It’s hilarious. So hilarious, that it’s inspired to write about my own worst date. Voila’!

Circa 2003-2004 (The Wonder Years)

By the time I’d graduated from college, I’d mastered the art of kickin’ it. If there was a party to be had, I was there. It’s no secret that I attended the best university in the world, which just so happened to be conveniently located in the Party State of the USA–Louisiana.

Then, I was a first-semester graduate student. I hated it so much, I used every distraction I could to forget that I had to sit through three-hour lectures in a dim classroom where I was the usually the only brown person. My entrance into the room was equivalent to the sound of crickets rubbing their legs together–even in the one case where my professor was African-American. Or maybe I was just paranoid.

My distractions included throwing impromptu house parties with my roommates (who were all carefree fifth-year undergraduate seniors) as if I didn’t have assignments due, visiting a less than fitting boo at his job in the mall, sleeping, posing an an undergrad student at my alma mater on Pretty Wednesdays (some folks didn’t know I’d actually graduated) and more sleeping.

This particular October night, my distraction of choice was Harambee. Harambee a culmination of week-long events to celebrate Black folks at the not-so-black neighboring university in town. Afterwards, I was ki-ki’ing outside when an old classmate came by. One of her good friends was interested me so she wanted to introduce us. Um, okay. Who is he?

He walked up and at first glance everything checked out. He introduced himself as James, a 25 year-old student (grad maybe?) who could have sworn I was a model when he first saw me. He was cute. We exchanged numbers, talked and set up a movie date. Cool beans.

The night of the date, I was getting dressed and running late as usual. I heard him knock on the door and asked my roommate, Monica, to tell him I’d be right out. Let’s talk about Monica first. She’s a character of sorts. If you’re looking for laughs or off-the-wall commentary, she’s your girl. She finds humor in the simplest of things, which is why we’re so close. However, when she burst in my room this time, she wasn’t so funny.

You always want to know what your girls think, even if you don’t give a damn.”That’s him? What do you think?” I asked.

She paused. “Ummmm, I think he’s got a dead tooth,” she said.

I looked over at our neighbor, Teedy, who was sitting on my bed for support. Monica had a reputation for pranks and over-exxagerating. Teedy gave me nothing but a blank stare and a sniggle. “Wait…What do you mean a dead tooth?”

She went into a fit of laughter. Between snorts and gasps for air, she said, “I mean dead like that muthafucka is DEAD–ROTTEN!”

“Are you serious? It’s rotten? Like black rotten?” I asked. How did I not catch that? I know I met him outside, but we were under a street light.

Aww hell! I hurried out of the room and down the hall. It couldn’t be that bad, right? I walked into the living room to find him sitting on the couch with an earpiece in his ear. The old-school joint. This was years before the Bluetooth, so wearing it wasn’t an act of convenience or safety, it was just plain lame.

He stood up and turned to me for a hug, and I spotted the tooth. And it was dead–as hell. It was the tooth on the side—the premolar–or what some would call the “fang” tooth. It shined and sparkled like he’d just buffed it. It was screaming, “How youuuu doin’??” like Wendy Williams.

Damn.

I looked straight ahead the entire drive to the movie theater and I could still see the tooth from my peripheral. I’d never been so happy to enter a dark room in all my life. Later at dinner, the night started to get interesting. I was trapped at a table with this dude, face-to-face. I couldn’t stop looking at that damn tooth.

James seemed to pride himself on being a local celebrity of the sorts. He’d been name-dropping and giving random people daps and shout outs since the date started. Conveniently, he knew the shift manager at the restaurant, who just so happened to give him the dinners on the house. The date evolved around him, and he totally dominated the conversation. He did so partly because he was a self-absorbed guy, but also because I was so hypnotized by that tooth, I had few to no words to say.

When the night came to a close, I knew everything possible about James, except how his tooth died. Was it always dead or did it decay into a slow death?  Was he nice to me? Yes. Was he disrespectful? No, but the world was not big enough for me, his personality and his tooth. I’m not a selfish person, so I bowed out gracefully and let them have the show.

The Art of Storytelling, Part 1

I can’t tell you what I do for a living.

Whenever someone asks me what I do, I  begin with a long sigh, eyes cutting quickly to the right, signaling to that person that I just may be unemployed or setting up a bad lie. Usually, a person can say, “Oh, I’m an analyst at FedEx” or “I work for the State.” Me? I can’t answer that question without giving you a long, drawn-out thesis. That aggravates me, so to make it easier,  I’ve just been saying, “I teach.”

Rarely do I say that I’m a writer, and I actually consider myself to be.  To a few folks, I’m probably known as the girl who has a milion jobs and “writes articles and stuff.” I can’t knock them; they’re right. But I want to get back to storytelling.

A good story pulls you in, whether you can relate to it or not. It opens up your imagination.  As your eyes run across the page, you are there with the character. There, in that place. Feeling those emotions.

Years ago, I would stay up all night writing short stories and poems in countless Mead spiral notebooks. I have stacks of them. Never showed them to anyone.  Then I was a storyteller.

I’m actually going to start publishing things I write. Some of it’s new. Some, old.  Some real and some fictional.  All me though. Here we go.

Keep The Party Going

I wrote this awhile back. (January 2009)

New Year’s Eve is supposed to be the pathway that leads you into a new space in time, hopefully with new things just around the corner. For some it is a time to reflect on the past 364 days and look ahead to the next 365. It is a chance to find crooked places and lay them straight.

Others take another approach though: Keep the party going because nothing needs to be changed.

Back in high school, as a lowly sophomore (our high schools were only 10th-12th grade then), I bonded with several seniors whom I took electives with. Looking back on it, there was no real difference between us sophomores, who were affectionately called “Slops” and them. Maybe a driver’s license, college recruiter or two, but that’s it. Honestly, we did the same things: mock our teachers, rush to finish homework before class started and complain about extensive project assignments.

One of the seniors I absolutely adored was a guy named Terrell who I took World Geography with. I never liked him in a romantic way. What I loved about him was he had the same silly sense of humor as I did (and still have). Our class time was spent cracking on our teacher and discussing my favorite subject: Martin (before Tisha Campbell left the show). We could always count on each other for laughs and answers to blank take-home quizzes.

By the end of the year, I was sad to see him and select few graduate and leave. I think I even signed his senior book even though I wasn’t a senior. The Christmas break during my freshman year in college, I ran into Terrell at a party. Like old times, we chatted each other up laughed until tears welled in our eyes. He’d dropped his meanie girlfriend he’d had since high school, but was in yet another relationship. We exchanged numbers to keep in touch. Cell phones weren’t the norm then, so of course, I lost the paper it was written on. Needless to say, we never kept contact and as they say, life goes on.

Fast forward to New Year’s Eve of 2008, nearly ten years later. My bestie and I were doing it up for the holiday and her birthday at a party in Miami (a long way from home). Just after the clock struck 12, I felt someone staring at me. I turned, and lo and behold, who did I see? It was none other than my long-lost schoolmate, Terrell. It was as random as could be, so I’m sure the look on my face mirrored his. Shock.

He immediately walked over and gave me a hug. “Oh.My.God. It’s been like….forever since I’ve seen you,” he said.

“I know! Oh wow. I can’t believe it either,” I say. I’m a sucker for nostalgia, so I know I was beaming.

“I live here now. Are you here, too?”

“I’m living at home now, “I said. We were still in awe of the random meeting, clearly.

What college did you end up going to?” he asked.

It was hella noisy, so he leaned in to hear me. “So—“

Before I could finish my reply, I was cut off by a woman reaching through the small crowd of people standing next to us. She pushed through them, grabbed Terrell’s arm and pulled him away, causing him to stumble and almost spill his cocktail on my friend. The look on her face said one of two of things: “My man knows you, but I’m sorry, I don’t, so beat it!” or “Terrell, bring your ass on NOW!” Either way, it wasn’t flattering for any party involved. In fact, it was downright embarrassing.

I immediately thought of Martin’s joke about the “crazy-deranged” woman in his first stand-up movie, U So Crazy (my all-time favorite!). “Miss Thank You, Have a Nice Day, your job is to check coats…Check ‘em, bitch!”

Everything happened so fast, I didn’t even realize he was with a woman.I kind of just stood there in disbelief for a minute over the mini-fiasco. I’m non-confrontational, I wasn’t so sure of the dynamic or history of their relationship and refused keep the drama that she created going because of her immaturity, so I backed off. They immediately got into a heated argument. I couldn’t hear it, but I definitely saw hand gestures, rolling necks and eyes and intense looks. Terrell was not a happy camper. He never came back over to say goodbye or even apologize for his girl’s behavior. I can’t say I expected him to either. He was obviously used to her antics, and it just wasn’t worth it. As I remember, his girlfriend in high school held a tight rein, as well. I guess that’s what he likes, so I love it.

Later that night, Terrell walked into the second ballroom for drinks and he still had this melancholy look on his face. My initial attitude about the girlfriend’s “snatch-up” had gone from disgust to pity. How sorry I felt for Terrell and her. If that show was a result of her insecurity or mistrust in him, they both had a long road of ahead of them.

What a way to bring in the New Year. Keep the party going, I guess.

Editor’s Note: I told an old mutual friend of ours (myself and Terrell) about the incident and she had all reason to believe that the girlfriend was suspicious of him because he was the “Infidelity King” in high school and college. Who knew??