It all started with a candy paint Chevy. An SS Chevelle to be exact. See, when I was a little girl, my daddy thought he was creating a fun game for us to play when he’d teach me about old muscle cars, how to fix them, what engines were in what make and model and year.
What he really gave me was the world’s greatest pick up line that seems to make every red blooded man wanna surrender his freedom and lay down the keys to his place at my feet.
I couldn’t stop staring at the car. The paint was immaculate, fully restored, white wall tires, white leather interior. I mean this car was just gorgeous. When I stepped outside the diner, I had to get a closer look. I was only gonna be a second. I didn’t wanna be one of those geeks who gawked over cool cars.
He caught me before I could even make a full circle around.
“What’s good ma?”
I turned around and looked up.
And kept looking.
He stopped about a foot above me, around 6 foot 3. I’m pretty sure I might have sighed.
I took him in head to toe. Long hair braided back in intricate cornrows, skin the color of brown sugar, big wide eyes, heavy lashes, full lips, square jaw. I outright stared at everything going on below the neck. He had on a nice suit, but it did nothing for hiding the fact that he spent many an hour in the gym.
It was around this time I realized I’d been staring at him without blinking or saying anything for quite some time. I’d never felt less cool. Maybe, I thought to myself, if I stand still enough he’ll think I’m a statue and he’ll go away.
“Ay ma you good?”
Jesus La at least blink or something. Anything! ONE THING!
“Yeah. Sorry. Just… your car. It’s… gorgeous..”
“It’s really nice on the inside, fully restored. Wanna see?”
“Actually,” I replied, “if you’re offering, could you pop the hood?”
Now was his turn to stop blinking.
“The hood. Can I look under the hood? What kind of engine do you have in here? If you’re smart you didn’t gut it and mount some half ass new chrome engine in and you just restored the original. From the looks of it, its gotta be like a ’64, right? It’s not late enough to be a ’70 so you don’t have the LS6 454. So it’s gotta be either a 283 or a 327 V8.”
He looked at me like I was from another planet, his mouth wide open.
“How do you know all that shit?”
“My daddy.” He looked me over.
“Well damn lil mama thank your daddy for me please.”
“Will do. Now can you pop the hood?”
For the next 20 minutes or so we talked cars. I didn’t know as much as he does, but he looked downright shocked I knew anything other than where the gas pedal is. While we talked, I felt his eyes sliding over me, taking me in. I could tell, by the way he shifted his massive frame towards me, that the rest of him appreciated what his eyes saw.
The convo turned to the inevitable:
“So your ring finger is empty.”
He laughed at me, we talked for a second about why I was so anti-relationships. I told him about the latest devastation of a breakup (1).
“So, you’re single,” he concluded at the end of my synopsis.
And that was that.
I had alot of time on my hands since the whole breakup had pretty much isolated me from my friends. We talked alot. He made me laugh. He talked about me for being country. I talked about him for being so damn New York. He made fun me being so clean. I made fun of his ultimate bachelor pad including black leather couches and dimmer switches. So he made me redecorate. Before I knew it, I was sneaking in and out of DC, making weekend trips to NYC to see him.
Me and Harlem spent alot of time just out in the city, or chilling at his place. At the time, he was a much needed escape from my life that had gotten too painful, too hectic, too hard. When I couldn’t sleep, which I couldn’t often, I called him. When I needed to get away, he’d make sure I got to the city. For awhile, we laughed and talked and argued and cooked and smoked and just chilled. He let me drive the Chevyand we took long drives out of the city. We redecorated his place and got into paint fights. For a long while, he didn’t ask me about what I was running from. It was one of those unspoken things we let sit in the corner and collect dust, just like I didn’t inquire too deeply about what he did for a living. I just knew there were certain rooms in the apartment I wasn’t allowed in.
One night (2) chilling up on his roof, we started smoking some weed, talking shit. The higher we got, the freer we got. We started trading stories; he’d tell me something, I’d tell him something. We talked until the sun came up that night. When day broke, I looked at him and realized he was looking at me differently than he had before.
We stayed there, silent, my head in his lap, him twisting my hair around his fingers for the longest time. After that night, I knew I wouldn’t come back.
For months afterward he called me. He asked me to come back up. Texted to check on me and make sure I was doing ok. Sent me emails. Flowers. I rarely answered.
One night leaving work, I spotted him leaning on the Chevy across the street, arms folded, looking at me, jaw set.
He held my hand while we walked and talked that night, while I tried to explain to him where my head was at, what I was going through, why I couldn’t be the chick he wanted to wife.
When we finally got back to the car, he took his face in my hands.
“Look La, whenever you wanna come back to me you gotta key. It can be just you and me again, like it was. I’ll get you on the fastest thing coming my way, aiight?”
He was so sincere. And I was so fucked up. He kissed my forhead, my nose, my lips. He leaned his head against mine.
“Just- look- just come the fuck back aiight ma?”
“Was that supposed to be fuckin’ romantic nigga?!?!”
We laughed. I took the echoes and tried to commit it to memory. He kissed my forehead again before he got in the Chevy.
“Oh, one more thing,” he said, leaning out of the window. He put a silver key in my hand.
“It’s to the Chevy. If you’re ever around to drive it, it’s yours.”
He peeled out, showing off, his testoterone levels peaked and on display. Damn the male ego.
I looked down at the key in my hand. I’d look damn good behind the wheel of that car. I put the key on my ring.
And to this day, that’s where it still is.
* in response to all the emails and phone calls I’ve gotten asking me to explain this mystery man no one knew anything about
(1) this was waaaaay back sophmore year when I broke up with Will
(2) please see entry “Hello” which introduced this entire story