I have never been here before. But it’s quintessential me. It’s all no sign outside, hole in the wall, only certain people know about it and not in a VIP kinda way. Peter obviously has been here more than once, because the bartender and waitress greet him like he’s the king come home. I am watching him, his easy, affable way with him. And I like it.
No seriously. I like that shit.
The thing is, I am Girl People Gravitate To. If you have a sudden urge to spill your guts on a plane, your subconscious will seek me out. I am center of attention, story telling, drink making, laughing too loud, cooking too much food because I like to entertain girl.
And I like the idea of having someone to hold court with.
“La, do you want something to drink?”
“Stoli peach and grapefruit.”
“You have been mixing liquor all night; tequila, Jack, now Stoli. Are you sure you aren’t gonna get sick?”
He orders my drink, some appetizers for us, and jokes a bit with our waitress before he turns his attention to me.
“So. Tell me who you are.”
“Who I am? Like, you want my Social and shit?”
“No, girl. I mean like who you are. What you stand for. What you know. What you’ve seen.”
And so I do.
Just like that.
Which is rather unlike me.
He’s a great listener, breaking in when he can’t hold in his commentary, pulling my card when I am being purposefully vague, making a joke when the subject turns a bit too heavy.
Seriously. This nigga- errr… man, is something like amazing to talk to.
“Your mom is a minister? And she didn’t flip the fuck out when you told her you were dating a girl?”
“She didn’t. She was so great about it. I think she knew. She was kinda fishing. I mean, I never tried to hide it. And at that point she had already seen Bob and I together. My mom is pretty but she ain’t dumb.”
“Wow. That’s great.”
“Yeah it was. I was lucky. I wish it was that easy for everyone else.”
“When my best friend came out to his mom she literally threw him out into the street.”
If this were a movie, this is where the record would screech to a halt.
“Your best friend is gay?”
“Oh. Yeah. He’s been my best friend since Transformers and Thundercats. He came to live with us when his mom put him out.”
Wait, wait, wait. He’s beautiful, he’s funny, AND he has a gay male friend? Is it possible he is MADE FOR ME?!?
He takes out his beloved i.phone again and shows me a picture of the two of them, double fisting beers, arms around each other, grinning like they just won someone’s Mega Millions. David, the best friend, is handsome. It’s almost sinful. He reminds me almost of Gay Husband but he’s much thicker.
And also, black.
“Ok,” I start, completely cognizant of how ignorant and/or racist I may be about to sound, “I have to ask. Your ex is black. Your best friend is black. I heard you blasting UGK when we stopped on Gray. You do know that you are a white boy right?”
He laughs at me. HARD. And I don’t appreciate that shit. I asked a
semi valid question.
“I’m just sayin’,” I say to his guffaws, “I don’t wanna be a part of some strange fixation you have with black people.”
Without bothering to answer me and still chuckling to himself, he picks his phone up from where he had to place it on the table when he was dying laughing at my expense. He holds the phone out to me.
“That is my mom. And that guy with her, is my step dad.”
I take the phone from him to get a better look at the picture. His mom is a stunning, leggy brunette with the same blue eyes as Peter. She is impossibly fly in her skinny jeans, towering heels and what looks like it might be a Chanel jacket.
In the picture, both of them are laughing heartily at some joke the picture taker isn’t in on. But their intimacy, their affection crackles off the screen. His stepfather is looking down at his wife, even in her heels, his beautiful locs falling into his face, his smile stretched wide and white like snow against the terrain of his dark skin.
“Your stepdad is black too?!?!?” He laughs at my shock.
“Yep. I am well aware of the fact that I am white, La. But I also know where, and most importantly WHO I came from. My stepdad has raised me since I was little. His family has taken me and my mom in like their own, even when our own family couldn’t or wouldn’t be there for us. So no, I don’t have some weird fascination with black people. I am not trying something new or different or talking to you on a dare. I’m comfortable with my life and the people in it. Are you?”
I’m speechless. Not only has he politely just cussed me out, but his sincerity is palpable. He is certainly not of the I-can’t-be-racist-cuz-I-have-a-black-friend-and-once-gave-to-the-NAACP variety.
By now the waitress has bought our food, and we settle back into easy conversation and laughs, punctuated perfectly by slight invasions of my space that he doesn’t think I notice.
His cologne is magnetic.
His voice, low and warm in my ear makes the nerves in my back tingle at him in my space.
At one point I am talking and he reaches over to tuck a wayward curl back behind my ear that has fallen into my eyes. The pads of his fingers trace the rim of my ear, lightly down my hairline, across the sensitive skin on my neck.
My nipples take notice.
“So tell me,” he says like he’s known me since Skip Its and Skittles, “how you came to be single. We are on our second date. You’re not being emotionally slutty.”
His smile is absolutely disarming but I am no less aware of the fact that I don’t wanna be That Girl.
“It’s like this,” he continues, his big hands kneading the knots that have clenched in the back of my neck, “your heartbreak is you. It’s a part of you. It’s a part of your life’s landscape, a part of your skin. And I am very interested in getting familiar with the lay of your skin.”
“Well, it’s simple really. There was no big blow up or drama. Essentially, I guess the problem was that I believe too strongly in living authentically. You asked me who I am. Well, that is the very foundation of my personal constitution and she did not compliment that. Sure, she’s come to terms with her attraction to women, but she was always sneaking around and hiding it and lying about it. And she felt NO kinda way about being deceptive. I always used to think in the back of my mind, if she feels no kinda way about lying to people she has known longer than I have been alive, then what’s REALLY keeping her from lying to me when it suits her? To me, that’s just as bad as the men who think they’re not gay just because they’re a top. It is absolutely delusional. And after damn near two years, I was tired of being a player in the farce.
I mean even more so than that, the shit was hurtful. Do you know how many times I pretended to be her friend or her roommate when her friends were around? Or how many times we stayed in since it was the only place we were allowed to act like a couple or all the places we couldn’t go to avoid running into someone she knew? And God forbid we did go out. It was like two cousins hanging out. If you didn’t know us, and know that we were together, you’d never know. I mean, do you know what it’s like to have to stop yourself from wanting to hold your significant other’s hand in public because you’re not supposed to exist? I felt like a mistress or something. I felt like I was helping her cheat on who I am with who I had to be to be with her. And all I wanted was just to exist.
I think the worst part is that I participated. Knowingly. Willingly. I knew better. I have always been very clear about who I am. I knew better. I’m just fucking hard headed.”
I don’t notice that I have progressively gotten louder the more worked up I get until I look up. Peter is looking at me, soft around the eyes, his hands on my thigh. It’s the waitress that is looking at me like I just punted a puppy behind the bar.
“So, um, yeah, anyway, who’s on your fantasy football team?”
I’m met with silence. And I am sure I have said way too much. I’m already plotting a way to make a graceful exit when he busts out laughing.
This motherfucker is laughing at me?!
“Damn La,” he says between chuckles, looping his long arms around me, “you just looked so…” He trails off looking for the right word as I continue to shoot him looks of death.
I sip my drink, more relieved than a mistress with a negative pregnancy test that he broke the tension with a laugh.
He tucks me underneath him like a doll, the top of his head in my hair.
“I’m sorry La.”
Funnily enough, those three words were all I had been waiting to hear from anyone I’d shared this pain with.
Somehow, he knew.
As though I never said anything emotionally slutty, we go back to our easy conversation and laughs until the lights came up, signaling that we have overstayed our welcome. I pay our bill, against his protests, and follow him outside, maybe or maybe not sizing up his ass in his dress pants.
I can neither confirm nor deny.
At my car, he opens my door for me and watches me get settled inside, standing with his hands resting on the door and the roof.
“I am not supposed to be dating.”
“I’m not either.”
“But I would like to maybe not date you again sometime.”
I smile at his awkwardness because it is so. Damn. Cute.
“I would like that.”
He hands his phone to me saying, “Put your number in there.”
And I would be lying like Bill Clinton at a perjury hearing if I said I didn’t like when a big ass man tells me what to do.
“I will call you,” he tells me, dropping his phone into his pocket and then leaning into me. He’s inches from my face, watching me, gauging my reaction, careful. He uses one long finger to tilt my face up to the angle he desires and kisses my chin… my nose… my forehead… my hair… before reversing his path and pressing his lips to mine. He’s soft. Gentle. But authoritative, parting my lips with his tongue, holding me in place with a single finger. Somehow, he has managed to stay minty throughout all the rounds we have had. Before he pulls completely away, I gently catch his bottom lip in my teeth, pulling lightly, before I move out of his personal bubble,
“You just had to have the last word didn’t you?” He’s looking down at me, that damn smirk from back at the bar across his mouth.
“I like having the last word.”
“Oh we will just see about that.” He smiles at me all big like a kid and his dimple shows. Again I am struck with the urge to kiss it.
So I do.
While raking my nails through his hair.
I am nice enough not to comment on the fact that it makes him shiver.
“I’ll call you tomorrow,” and with that he closes my door, motioning for me to lock it, and strides to his car. I watch him walk away, simultaneously impressed and turned on and wistful.
A white boy on that act right. Who knew?