The One about White Castle

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Dating in my late teens was fairly simple: meet a girl and hope she’s down to get naked sooner than later. There weren’t any thoughts about anything long-term, just making it happen with the quicks. On campus, I had a girlfriend, but girls would still find the time to creep into my dorm room, even though she was only nine doors away. During the summer, my boy Ant would return home Howard usually sweating some girl that was from Jersey. After our sophomore year I let him convince me to go on a double date with a chick he was trying to get with and her cousin. I didn’t know what to expect, but I know I didn’t have my date in mind when she got into the backseat with me. Her hot pink toenails matched the end of her tracks and her voice filled the car with a shrill that made the light hairs on my neck stand on end. Let’s just say I didn’t have a good night.

When a young lady I’d gotten close to the next year suggested we keep in contact through the summer, I pretty much dismissed the notion, but her calls and e-mails were consistent enough for me to agree to grab a bite to eat and go bowling. However, there was one catch; her cousin had to come with us. I called my boy Ant, he owed me for that blind date the previous year, plus he had a car and a job, so I wouldn’t have to finance the entire night by myself.

We agreed to meet at the bowling alley in the town that divided the cities we lived in and I wouldn’t have blamed Ant for hopping in his car and leaving as soon as he saw his date for the evening. Even in the heat of summer, her outfit was inappropriate for being out in public, let alone going bowling. Her shorts were three sizes too small and her shirt barely covered anything up top, but he was down for the night. Little did we know that it was a league night at the alley, so it would be 10pm before we had a chance at a lane, so the plan became let’s grab a bite to eat and then a movie. However, we couldn’t decide between Bennigan’s or Fridays, so maybe we’d do better selecting a movie.

This is where we made our first mistake of the night.

Instead of us all piling in Ant’s hooptie, we coupled up to take a five minute ride to the theater. While Ant and his date got to know each other better, we fogged the windows up in the other car and by the time we looked up, they had taken off. We figured they went to check the movies out, but they weren’t there. Back to the bowling alley, nothing. There are literally dozens of places to eat on this strip, so it would be nearly impossible to find them. Then the sky opened…

I swear it had never rained this hard before or after this night, but the surprise storm delayed the search for our friends, so we camped out back at the bowling alley. Twenty minutes of kissing and rubbing and we were looking for the closest pharmacy when I see Ant’s car parked in the cut! I stayed silent, because I figured he was going for his, much like I was going for mine. Plus, I knew where to find him when it was time to head home. It’s funny how closely related horniness and hunger were at the time, because after stealing a three-pack of condoms from CVS (long story), we ended up in the White Castle drive-thru.

The rain subsided and though it was the perfect opportunity to suggest we find the other couple, we posted up in the White Castle parking lot when she decided to channel her inner exotic dancer, right there in the parking lot! She’s dropping it low, poppin’ it, doing splits and grinding on me as I ate my burgers and suddenly my belt unfastens. It would’ve been cool if I was seated in the car, but I was standing against the back door! She opened both doors on the driver’s side to conceal her as she ascended out of sight. Two minutes later I see Ant’s car coming around the bend of the drive-thru line, when I hear a loud laugh and something inaudible, but it sounds like “Suck that dick girl”! The grin on Ant’s face as they pull in the spot next to us lets me know it’s a family thing and the high fives and laughs they share show me there’s no shame in their game.

Before we could regroup and determine what was next for the night, the rain returned and sent us scrambling. I motioned for them to follow us, but they disappeared as we went through a yellow light. We drove back to the spot I’d seen his car earlier, nothing. The same went for White Castle, the movie theatre, bowling alley and every other crevice we spent nearly two hours searching. The rain would not quit, time was pushing closer to the late night and I did not want this girl to know where I lived, so finding them took priority over everything. Everything! Even as she pulled into a dark spot behind a building and reminded me of the condoms, I was intent on finding my boy and putting an end to this miserable night.

The rain slowed to a drizzle and the split in her pants spread as I figured my search could be suspended for a few minutes. Barely two minutes later, headlights flashed and like a deer in headlights I froze…only to realize it was Ant on the other end of the parking lot, seemingly alone. Then she appeared and suddenly faced with the opportunity from escaping this adventure, I went into overdrive, trying my best make this evening anticlimactic, but she was enjoying my attempt at being horrible. A look back over my shoulder and their car appeared empty, it just wasn’t my night. A few minutes later we were exchanging hugs and laughs, I think Ant and her cousin may have exchanged numbers, but this night was to be buried in the back of our minds. For years, Ant and I would laugh at our stupidity, but we would never try to hook each other up with another girl!

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One Moment Leads to Another Few…

Ain’t this what you came for?

Don’t you wish you came more?

Girl what you playing for?

John Legend must know you too!

There you stood, in the fading moonlight, ashamed at the body three kids made. There I was, across the room, proud at the only gift my daddy gave me. Our conversation was barely audible over your sister’s snoring creeping through the walls from my living room, as we discussed your unwillingness to do anything besides missionary, a conversation we’d had a few times over six or seven years.

Let me rewind…

We noticed one another often at our job way back when; me, barely old enough to buy a drink, you a year earlier with a five year old daughter. Yet and still, you made your intentions known to my play-aunt at the Christmas party, even though you knew I was seeing at least two other women in the building, one in your department and I had a girlfriend. I guess it was an even exchange, being that you were sporting his intentions on your left hand. The first moment we were alone, it was obvious I was drawn to you. We had conversations, we had lunch, we shared smiles and ideas of being alone with one another, but you were off to South Carolina before anything more could happen.

Fast forward three years…

You returned from Down South minus the ring but plus one kid and there you were in your bra and panties ready to make good on wishes from three years prior. As your sister slept off that night’s party we began what would become a ritual in which I became your after-party. The truth is, I was pretty bored that first night, but chalked it up to our first experience. However, after the 2nd, 5th, 7th time, I realized that this was just you. So, even though you always seemed to catch me on nights when I was just chillin’, it really wasn’t worth my effort to make sure you got what you needed. A little too much vodka and a little too little variety in our trysts led to a discussion which ended after I blurted out that your ex cheated on you because you wouldn’t give him head, get on top or let him hit from the back.

Another four years later…

In the four years since I saw you last, you went back to the other guy, had another baby, he left again and now you’re living in the projects five minutes from my latest place of residence. A Facebook message here and there and a sighting while I’m out with co-workers from a different gig and here we are again, bumpin’ and grindin’, well, I’m humpin’ away as you lay there refusing any alteration to the process. We’re back to square one, you dropping by my house after a night out with your sister and she’s either in the car or on my couch sleep as I allow you to escape the doldrums of your life for a few minutes, but it’s just not working for me.

From that spot, in the shadow of last night, you promise that you’ll try to be a little more adventurous. Moments later, you refuse to touch yourself or even touch me, I turn you around and you’re rhythmless, I’m exasperated. I finish before I finish and notice that the snoring has stopped and the bedroom door is open; your sister has been watching the pathetic final minutes of our relationship and even as she encouraged you to throw that ass, you scurried to find the comforter. That was the sum of our situation, you hiding beneath a comforter, leaving me on display for your sister.

By the way, she and I started our own situation the following the nigh and she knows how to throw her ass!

Shadows of a Memory

I’ve been going back and forth in my head on whether or not to wish you a “Happy Birthday”, because these days, I’m unsure of where that conversation can lead. There have been so many changes with me, with you, with us, that sometimes it’s best to just let be what they may…even though it hurts.

I’ve known you for as long as I could remember. I look in my baby book at some of my first birthday parties and there you are, standing next to me with those big, beautiful brown eyes. You would occupy the space next to me for most of our life; at times as my friend, my girlfriend, sister, an ex and then whatever we became before it all fell apart. I have no clue where we stand now, because the issues you’re dealing with make it impossible for me to have a steady role in your life.

I’ve loved you for as long as I could remember. We’ve endured what causes most friendships to disintegrate, time. We’ve grown up together, grown apart, came back to one another and faced the ugly truth of life time and time again, but nothing we learned prepared us for the last nine or ten years. The last time we attempted a relationship we were simply no good for one another; I was in the middle of another situation and you had a girlfriend, but there we were sneaking off to see one another like we met on BlackPlanet. A few months of that and we were back in the groove of being brother and sister, supportive of the moves the other was making in life.

I looked for you for as long as I could remember. Then I got a phone call that no one had seen or heard from you for days, that you had run off after acting out violently to your family, they said you appeared possessed. The search went on for weeks and ultimately led to Florida, where you had fled everyone who loved you, everyone who could possibly help. The diagnosis was bipolar disorder; the reality was everything had changed. The days, weeks, months and years that passed before you reached out to me created a distance that had never existed between the two of us. A distance we tried to diminish at first, but your episodes became more frequent and your refusal of medication or psychotherapy didn’t sit well with me.

I’ve been your friend for as long as I could remember. I tried to maintain a friendship with you from the distance we maintained, but you didn’t make it easy, lashing out at me frequently, alternately loving me and hating me in the same breath, cursing me, then praising me, wanting to marry me, but telling me you secretly aborted my child the next. Oftentimes I would cry after our interactions, appealing to God, wishing on everything that you would miraculously get better by the next time we spoke.

And then days, weeks, and months, sometimes years would go by before we spoke again. During these intermissions you would be in jail, in mental hospitals, hustling bus fare back to Jersey and then escaping once again to Florida. At times, it would be like having my old friend back, but then you were someone I didn’t know, but I talked to the two yous like I loved them both equally, yet differently. And then days, weeks, months, and sometimes years would go by before we spoke again. Next I would receive long, incoherent e-mails from you about nothing; I couldn’t decipher what you were trying to tell me. The only thing that I could grasp was that you didn’t have my phone number anymore and I had moved from where you knew me to live last.

Yes, I had moved on, convinced that I couldn’t save you or carry the burden of your pain anymore. Besides, you didn’t think you had a problem, you had weed to smoke and sunshine to live in. Remember you told me that was all you needed in life? Against my better judgment I gave you my new phone number and you would call me practically every night at 2am, some nights lucid, others off on tangents I couldn’t follow. And then days, weeks, and months, sometimes years would go by before we spoke again.

Remember we said if we weren’t married by 30, we would marry each other? Yeah, I know you do, because right around our 30th birthdays you started calling and asking when we were getting married. For the first time in a long time we had a real conversation; I told you that I couldn’t marry you because what we wanted out of life didn’t match anymore. Seven years earlier you received a M.A. degree in Psychology and I was starting my career in Higher Education, but during those conversations you were content with living off of $266 a month from Social Security. Add to that you were still going in and out of jail, in and out of the hospital and in and out of my life.

I know I didn’t say what you wanted to hear because days, weeks, and months, sometimes years went by before I heard from you again; this time, you just wanted to move in with me and when I refused, I was on the wrong end of your wrath. You couldn’t process why I couldn’t have you in my home, why your instability wasn’t welcomed at my door, why I stopped sending you money as I had done since we were in college. I could no longer enable you, I couldn’t be accessory to the crimes you committed against yourself.

Somehow you found your way back to Jersey and when I saw you for the first time in many years, the light was gone from your eyes, the years away had taken their toll on you and our conversation was pedestrian at best. I cried in the car, cried when I got home, cried when you call to curse me out for not taking you with me. I didn’t know what to do with you anymore and neither did your family, who were tired of dealing with your assaults, physical and verbal, so you were headed back to Florida. Once again days, weeks, and months, sometimes years passed before you called to tell me that you were pregnant by some guy you met in jail and he was back in while you were carrying his child.

I didn’t know what to think, for thirteen years all you thought of was having a child, now here was your chance. The first thing that came to my mind was that you were in no position to have a child, but you didn’t want to hear any of that and for the first time in a long time, you seemed like your old self. Right up until the end of your pregnancy when wild tales of marriage to Jay-Z, Lyfe Jennings and Lil’ Wayne began and your quest to marry me reignited; I could be your physical husband, God said it was OK, that’s what you would tell me. Your son was born and everyone seemed happy, but I was concerned, because less than two weeks later you were gone again and he was gone.

I’ve loved you as long as I’ve known you. I’ve been by your side as you faced criticism from your family and doubted yourself. I’ve dealt with your emotions far before a doctor put a name to it, I’ve even endured pain I didn’t deserve, but I can’t do this anymore. Your latest overtures to me have been troubling and I have a wife to protect now, so I can no longer be for you whatever it was I have been in your eyes. It hurts, but we let go of one another a long time ago and simply loved shadows of a memory, something I can no longer do.

I’m Not Your Daddy, I Was Your Man

Ya Pop’s owes me a favor, I basically raised ya

Our relationship was never going to work. You needed far more than I was capable of giving you at the time. I had to be your man, your friend, your mentor, your counselor and your father. The other roles I had no issue with, but your Daddy issues were beyond my scope and I disappointed you time and time again.

I’m sorry.

Once you abandoned your hope of being Daddy’s little girl, you went out into the world on your own and landed in my life, in my apartment, in my bed. I was forced to teach you things about life that he should have when you were much younger; I was helping to build your esteem while fucking other women, how twisted was that? Your dad was supposed to warn you about guys like
me, instead, a guy like me was advising you on the pitfalls of life.

Between the fighting and the fucking I taught you how to cook, about building your credit,put stamps in your passport, took you out of sneakers and kept you in matching bra and panties. I read you Shakespeare before bed and held you during thunderstorms, but I turned our dreams into nightmares… I became your beautiful boogieman.

I spent so much time being everything to you that I had nothing for myself and you couldn’t give me what I needed, so I spent more time at work, more time in the bars and more time at the Red Roof Inn. I was running from the responsibility of being your boyfriend and your father as we contemplated having children together. I was looking for the release a woman offers a man, but couldn’t trust you were able to provide that for me.

I was wrong, I know this now, knew it then.

You were much stronger than most women I knew, you had to be, you were left to fend for yourself from a young age. Not to mention, I placed a thousand pounds of stress on your shoulders with my bullshit and you carried it until it broke your back. Somehow, you’ve put the failures of your father and a man you thought you loved behind you and you’re better than ever,
blossomed into a beautiful woman despite how ugly life has been to you. I know I’ve played a part, both negatively and positively, in your development and despite all I put you through we remain friends.

It’s amazing you’ve found it in your heart to maintain a relationship with someone who’s caused so much grief in your life and left you alone in a jungle with lions like me marking you as prey; then again, you’ve managed to forgive my hurt and have grown from it. I guess you remembered more of what I taught you about life than what I lied to you about concerning love.

Birthday Texts

Only me. It could only happen in my life that a simple “Happy Birthday” text message turns into something far from the intention. It was innocent, I swear all I did was text her “Happy Birthday”, but she needed more from me. It’s a ritual I enact a few dozen times each year, at midnight I call or text a family member or friend “Happy Birthday”; I’m not big on holidays, but I believe birthdays are special and I like to ensure that someone feels that way on their day. However, I may soon be changing my practice, here’s why…

At 7:14am on a cold winter’s Saturday morning my phone went off and there was a simple “Thank You” message text, so I ignored it, a simple reply to a simple message. What came next was the inevitable birthday question, “What are you getting me?”, to which I replied, “Same thing as last year, only better”. It was my belief that I gave her nothing for her birthday and I was sure I didn’t, I don’t buy gifts for people. The toothy smiley face in my inbox told me something different, but I figured she was just excited about it being her birthday.

A barrage of text messages came through telling me how she’d been missing me, missing the things we used to do, missing me inside of her. I was dumbfounded, unsure of where this all came from, we had “the talk” months before and I believed she understood I was moving in a different direction with my life, a direction that didn’t include her. The final text replayed what we did for her birthday last; the drinks, the vibrator, the pictures, the video, the friend, the disappearing condom…all of that!

What had I done? I’d reopened the closet where I concealed the bones and nights Rick James would blush at, I’d done so much in recent months to remove myself from that lifestyle, that when I came face-to-face with it I was embarrassed. But here she was excited, thinking that I returned to her, if only for one night.

My apologies and explanations seemed to be falling on deaf ears, she was already making plans around what she believed would be a late-night tryst, she believed she was going to get the gift that had stopped giving, me. I reminded her of our previous conversation, reminded her that she didn’t fit into my new life, reminded her why, but it didn’t matter, I had reminded her of what she loved and what she didn’t have anymore.

Here I am at 7:30 in the morning, having a conversation I’ve had to have too many times in the previous months, hoping my sincerity is felt through 160 character bursts. I really couldn’t concern myself with how she felt, I only knew what I felt and the change that was needed…so I changed my telephone number within the next five minutes!