Friday, September 14, 2012

Fifty Shades of Black


I never thought I’d lay eyes on Dr. Feel Good again, but it didn’t matter because his image was indelibly etched in my memory. The way wrinkles formed beside his eyes when he smiled at me, his perfect white teeth, and his kind brown eyes,  as sweet and intense as salted caramel. I remembered him completely, though I’d only saw him twice. The first time, the day I arrived at Columbia Presbyterian with bruises all over my back side. Well apparently, I gave him an eyeful that day. And then two days later, after they moved me from the ER and he came up to my room to say “hello”. Something about the way he tucked a few loose curls behind my ear and smiled at me made me quiver. When I think about it, I can still feel his gentle fingers on my forehead.

Wait, I’m actually not convinced this man didn’t slip some root in my IV drip.

After the day I caught a beat-down at work, which may go down as the worst day of my life, the last thing I wanted to focus on was man. Any man. I followed Caroline’s tough love and stopped answering the deluge of phone calls from Paul. It wasn’t easy. Part of me wanted him. Wants him. Always will. That’s what people don’t get. When you’re in love, sometimes you place your man’s happiness above your own. I know that without me, Paul is miserable. And who are we kidding? On some deep, gut level, every woman wants to be needed in that way.

But I found other things to fill the void. There’s a small yoga studio in Harlem that I live for. I’m up at 7 AM meditating with other sistas and even some grandmas that put me to shame in downward dog. I had started an acting workshop and I was reading everything under the sun. On this fateful day I had lowered my literary standards enough to read Fifty Shades of Grey. No offense, but if I’m going to read erotica, I’d rather read Anais Nin. But Noni had to read it for a book club and I took it from her. Curiosity always kills the cat. 

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1.5 million people in New York, the chance of running into a doctor who probably pulls 24 hour shifts at Columbia Presbyterian are slim to zilch. Dr. Feel Good, you see, I never learned his real name, maybe he told me but I was high on pain meds at the time, certainly doesn’t hang out with the same crowd as I. I don’t paint him as the bohemian type. But if there is one place to have chance encounter with anyone, anywhere, it’s Starbucks. It’s the neighborhood crack spot, attracting any and every fiend willing to grossly overpay for a fix.

Summer was over and I had a taste for a cozy white mocha frappe. I made it a venti, handed the barista my card, and slipped through the crowd of corporate zombies headed downtown to wait for my drink. While waiting for my drink, I flipped open Fifty Shades.

Firstly, I don’t make love. I fuck... hard.

Jumping over the edge of one’s pain threshold, for the sake of a man’s pleasure was sounding all too familiar when the barista called my name.

I couldn’t resist licking some of the whip that oozed from the lid right off, so my mouth was literally agape, tongue compromised, when I felt a soft tap on my shoulder. I jumped and hot, frothy cream slid down my fingers scorching them in the process. I winced, and turned around, clearing my upper lip of the cream I could feel was there. Then my stomach sank. There he was. Clearly on his day off, he was dressed casually in jeans and an Izod shirt. His hair, lush, jet black and curly like Persian lamb, was slightly longer than I remembered.

For a second I stood there not knowing what to say, my fingers on fire, still dripping with cream, and me feeling so unprepared to be face to face with a man more gorgeous than I remembered. Then again, I’d never seen him while standing upright. I wanted to run. To dash in the bathroom and at least make sure there was nothing in my teeth. Damn, I chose today not to spritz my curls or floss for that matter.

“I didn’t mean to startle you, it’s just you looked familiar. I think I was your attending a couple months ago. Columbia Presbyterian?”

“Oh yes, Dr....”  I swallowed my freaky nick name just in time.


“Doctor what?” I stumbled, my expression surely betraying me.

“Dr. Dick. Darius Dick.”

“Oh.” What the fuck? Did this man just tell me his name is Dr. Dick? Wait I can’t. Not right now. Not when I just finished licking whip cream off my cup and face. Not when I’m reading Fifty Shades of Grey for God’s sake.

“Here take this for ...” he said gesturing his napkin towards my now sticky fingers.

“Oh thank you.”

“I can hold your cup and your book while you do it. They always fill the cups to the brim.”

“Um thank you,” I said embarrassed that of all times, I was being spotted in public reading a book that everyone knows is about bondage and S&M.

He handed me my drink and book. “And you are Geneva?”

“Yes,” I said surprised. “You must have a really good memory.”

“I do. Most doctors do. But I also hate to forget a pretty face.”

My eyebrows raised. I was standing their looking straight dumbfounded. All sorts of patrons bumping into as I hadn’t moved an inch since I turned around.

“I hope I’m not being too forward.”

“No.” Please, keep going.

“After you,” he gestured for me to lead the way out of the throng. The flow of people into Starbucks had picked up. I headed out of the door, still in shock that Dr. Feel Good was trailing me.

It was before 8 AM and the morning air was still chill, blowing my frizzy curls askew. I could sense he was stalling and so was I. There was more.

“So how are you?”

“Healthwise, good. Definitely better off than when we met,” I smiled.

“Something else wrong?” He suddenly looked very concerned.

“No, no. Just a lot of change.”

“Which way you headed?”

“I’m going to work. That way  I said pointing in front of me.”

“Well, ummm,” he was turning a crimson shade, “I don’t usually do this but if you ever have some time I’d love to grab coffee, maybe drinks. Maybe you can tell me about that change. Or just, a little more about you.”

“Ok,” I said, a silly grin sweeping my face.

“Okay?” Somehow he’d fetched his phone.

“Okay, I’d like that.”

After we exchanged numbers he surprised me, yet again, with a warm hug, filling my senses with that familiar Christmas scent. What was it, so clean, and spicy and warm? Chestnut roasting on an open fire?  I didn’t have enough time against his chest. Before I knew it we were off on our separate ways.

I heard his voice. “Geneva!” I turned back around.

“I just wanted to say most women the same reaction, you know, to my name.” And then he flashed a Denzel smile and I was done. I grinned but I was dying on the inside. Dr. Dick? Wait until Caroline hears this.

As I walked away, feeling about ten pounds lighter, I sipped my white mocha and silently scolded myself for having done the bare minimum that morning. Yes, I’d showered, but my hair was at its wildest, no lip gloss, no perfume, nothing remarkable. Yet I felt as if he couldn’t take his eyes off of me. I wondered if he’d follow through on his offer and honestly nervous about actually having to sit across from this fine man and not fidget.  He wasn’t the type of man that dated women like me. He was far too pristine, too commercial, and too perfect. Men like him didn’t have the patience or desire to deal with swings, or too peel back layer after layer.  But perhaps I could enjoy him until he learned how flawed I was.

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As I continued to walk toward the theater my elation shifted to paranoia. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched. I kept looking behind me. Everything appeared normal; throngs of people walking with purpose and looking straight ahead. I tried to remember when last I took my meds. Yesterday, but it takes more than 24 hours of withdrawal to make flip out. The hair on my neck was standing on end but I continued to walk, just a quicker pace.  Two blocks later I reached a light. As I waited to cross the street, I realized I was staring straight into his dark eyes.

Shit. It was Paul.

I turn on my heels, walking in the opposite direction immediately. As my pace quickens I soon realize I have broken into a full sprint. I look behind me, he’s no longer there. For a moment I question whether or not I’ve hallucinated. I even consider that this morning is all a dream but none of those second guesses stop me from hailing the first vacant cab I see.  I duck in, slam the door, and exhale.  Safe.

I spend the work day convincing myself that the Paul I saw was a figment of my overactive imagination. I don’t know, maybe running into Dr. Feel Good, excuse me, Dr. Dick triggered it. I haven’t seen Paul since my injury. Sure, he’s tried to call dozens of times, but I’ve not physically seen him for close to two months.

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  I was exhausted by the time I returned home, climbed three flights of stairs to reach my apartment. All I  needed was to close my blinds, switch on my Itunes, and throw myself across the bed. But I couldn’t. Paul was blocking my entry into the door and this time, I could not run.
“How long have you been here?”

“This is for you.” He gets up off the floor where he’s been resting against my door for God knows how long. He hands me a Susana Baca CD, Afrodiaspora, and I realize that this is his peace offering. He’s never been a flowers and champagne kind of man.

“Thank you.”

He still blocks my entry into my house.

“Yo, we need to talk.”

“About what?”

“About the dude I saw you with earlier.”

“What do you want to know?”

His eyes darken and his pupils contract. He is seething at the sight of me with another man and I instantly feel guilty. What is it about Paul that does this to me? But I don’t want to fight, so I open the door and he follows me in. He makes a beeline for my bedroom though I’d been hoping we could sit on the living room couch. Neutral territory. Too bad the dogs were barking because they probably need to be walked and my roommate hadn’t yet made it home. So I follow him into my bedroom and close the door to drown out the noise.

Bad idea.

Paul pushes me against the wall and locks me into position with the sheer force of his body. He smells so manly, like irish springs and salt. And when he kisses me, he draws the breadth from my diaphragm. He’s so forceful. I can feel his teeth touch mine and bite my lips.

Finally he stops, but he doesn’t let me escape the wall. “Who is he?”

“He’s a doctor. He was my doctor, when I went to the hospital. Remember?”

He let go and immediately the room felt as if it dropped ten degrees.

“Damn Geneva, why haven’t you returned my calls? How many times can I apologize for something I didn’t even do? When are you going to let me love you again, like you need to be loved, and stop playing with me? Huh?”

I feel if I can sneak a phone call to Caroline right now, she’ll save me, because right now I can’t think straight. I am so attracted to him and it’s been two months since he’s touched me, since anyone has touched me.

“She could have killed me, or really hurt me” I murmur, “and it’s over you”.

“No, she’s crazy.”

“But was what she said true?”

“Come here,” he says sternly.

I don’t move. I can feel what is about to happen and I know that once it does, he will once again raise his flag.

“Come here,” he demands again, pointing to the spot next to him on my bed.

I begin to cry, not loudly, but scorching rivulets are pouring from my face and I can’t find my voice  It feels as if someone has me by the throat.

“Geneva,” his voice softens “please sit next to me.”

I do as I’m told.

He wraps his arm around me and nuzzles his nose into my hair. “I love you. Stop playing these games. Don’t ever do that again.” And his hands creep so tenderly to the edge of my breasts and I can feel myself growing in excitement. His kisses fall from my ears to my neck, each one a soft pillow. And I can feel his stubble against my skin, making me all the more sensitive to his touch.

He slips his hand into my shirt and undoes my bra.

Answer me.

“What do you want me to say?” I say out of breath.

He picks me up and lays me across my bed and crawls on top of me. “Tell me you’ll stop playing games with me. Say it.”

He’s busy undoing my clothes.  Pulling up my shirt. Pulling down my pants and panties with one fell swoop and before I can get my thoughts together, I can feel his bare sex against my clit and he’s hovering, teasing, knowing that my body has a mind of its own. My hips are rising in spite of myself.

“I love you too.”

“And...” He pushes two fingers deep inside of me. I moan. “I won’t play games.”

“That’s better.”

And with that, things return to normal. We stop talking. The cage door swings open and two months of freedom come to an abrupt end. I didn’t mean for this to happen. He reaches over and turns off the lamp and enters me, hard, punishing me as I scream out in agony, for every day I didn’t return his call.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Another Woman


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The setting was an opulent lower east side night spot and the crowd was decidedly Black and upscale. It had been years since I'd mingled with this crop. Probably close to four. The promoters had changed but the feeling was the same. The line of scantily clad women teetering in skyscraper heels, donning their best runway looks wrapped around the corner. Clumps of men hoped to make it it in before the club satisfied its unfair female to male ratio. It so felt like undergrad.

Geneva was still nursing her physical and emotional wounds and wasn't feeling festive. Caroline was playing a game of cat and mouse with Lance. And Carter, of course, was away. This time in Philadelphia doing God knows what. Lord knows I have stopped asking.

So it was Caroline and I, shivering in the 11 PM breeze off the Hudson, both of us clad in mini dresses. Mine was tough-- Black, long-sleeved and skin tight with peek-a-boo shoulders. It was like a sartorial tribute to the Funky Divas of the nineties, En Vogue, and the man behind me was never gonna get it, even though he would try. I kept catching him in my periferal, his eyes greedily sizing me up. He looked smart. He wore a nice blazer and coral button up. He looked like a man that scored just over 50 percent of the time. I could tell by his reticence to say hello, he figured, no he knew, the woman in front of him was out of his league. So I helped a brother out.

"Hi," I said looking over my shoulder with a coy smile.

"Well hello. How are you tonight."

" Doing well. And you?"

"Great. I hope I’m not being too forward but you're killing that dress."

Some near by men were spying our conversation, probably trying to figure out how he did it. I didn't want his number or anything, just his attention. I had spent half year underneath my phantom lover and I wanted to feel like a single femme fatale again, even if only for one night. Besides, the last time I did this scene, I was college student hanging out with my grown friends. A petite girl, with a big butt and smile who sometimes flew under the radar. I hate to say it, but I love the fact that now, it's all eyes on me. Wait, I don't actually hate to say it. Caroline looked at me like I was crazy but she knew what was up . Clearly we'd both be on hot ass mess patrol all night.

The fellow from the line tried to buy me a drink once we finally shelled out our ATM-crisp twenties and strutted in. I told him I was good and promptly lost him. Once inside, I spied an orgy of brown all partially revealed in shadows and flashes of light. The bass mixed with my blood. My veins were dilating to the beat and what can I say-- the spirit took hold of me. Glo-Ray! I took Caroline's hand an headed to the center of the dance floor just in time for Beyonce's club classic, 'Get Me Bodied'. And as I turned, squirmed, and performed my spirited rendition of the Black girl's two-step, I could feel the chemistry between me and the surrounding fellows scorch. Soon Caroline and I were lost in the crowd, working it out song after song. Damn I'd been couped up in the house too long. I didn't even recognize most of the music the DJ spun-- a sister has got to get out more-- with people my own age.

That's when I saw him. When I noticed the familiar silhouette I had trouble keeping the rhythm. I was distracted. He was tall, fair skinned, and his head was shaped like an almond. That was all the clues I needed. I recognized that silhouette anywhere. Even in the dizzying strobe. It was the silhouette that made my heart skip a beat when I first laid eyes on him at an Af-Am House Party sophomore year. I didn't know much about him then, just that he was also Muslim, a med student and supposedly a real conscious brother. The picture of Malcolm X hanging on his dormitory wall right next to the incscription of 'al-Fatiha', a surah from the Koran, confirmed the hearsay. But it took about a year before I was inside of his dorm, inside his world. Between that time we made eyes, then formed a coy friendship, one tinged with thick sexual tension that I, like mad, wanted to break. He had a reputation. He slayed women. Took them down like Mayweather bodied opponents. But that I didn't care. Shame on me. I'd be the victim, so long as it gave me the chance to get close to him.

In spite of his rep, he played himself off as the perfect gentleman. By the summer before my junior year, I began to think that if I played my cards right, I could bring him home as a souvenir. Wasn't trying to be MRS. in undergrad, but at that point in my life he fit the mold. The superficial mold.

Anyway, dreams were crushed when I didn't oblige to his advances on the night we snuck out of a party together. In spite of endless temptation, and prodding with his fingers and tongue-- I couldn't let him enter me. I wasn't bout it enough-- I guess, and he moved on. After a few months of sleepless nights, and hunger pain, I was too depressed to eat, I finally began to see him for who he really was. A man, a nice man who craved the spotlight, and blessed the countless women who gave it to him with his jism. A man who refused to see a woman's worth because he couldn't see his own. Hell, a man.

He's a surgeon now.

He was walking toward me, his eyes focused on mine, a broad smile emerging. His gait far more assured than I remember. "Wow! Long time. Long time."

I made my way through a throng of people to enter his outstretched hands. I gave him a church hug. Didn't want to feel anything. And thankfully, I didn't.

His eyes went roving, forehead to toes. "How've you been?"

"Great. I'm a surgeon at Mt. Sinai," he said proudly.

"Wonderful. I'm happy everything worked out for you. And how's your brother."

"He's alright." I could tell that he probably wanted to keep the attention on himself. "What are you up to?"

I know he knew. "I write books."

"You look great." He said, leaning in close. That's when I caught Caroline just over his shoulder, rolling her eyes at us, and not missing a beat with her dance partner. Too bad. The worst part about back on the scene was running into those people you didn't miss. A pretty pair of legs walked by and his eyes followed.

"Thanks love. It's cool seeing you Ahmad. You take care of yourself."

"You too." He gave me one last charming smile, maybe hoping to make an indelible imprint on my mental map. 
Too bad. The space was already occupied.

I bought Caroline and I drinks. Yes, I could have had a man buy them, but I didn't want to owe anyone attention. We took a moment to rest from our dancing, and look around the club. I was so happy to be removed from the NYC single scene. Being a Black single female in New York can feel like being dehydrated, on a boat, surrounded by salt water. So many men, yet it feels like there's not enough to go around. Once you eliminate the gay ones, and the ones that don't date sistas, and the ones who are out of your league, and the ones your girls have dated, and the ones who are whack--- you're left with a few brothas who know you want the hell out of them. So they stand there, unmoved, by every fly sista walking by. They don't bother with game. They don't bother with courting. Why should they? They know that we need them to fulfill our fantasies of what it is to be Black, female and successful. That is to complete the trifecta-- Fly degree. Fly job. Fly man. In that order.

"Wait, I'm actually over it." Caroline said, practically reading my thoughts. "What is going on? All these men just standing around against the walls, just waiting to be approached. Why can't men be men? Damn!"

"I don't know," I shrugged. " Maybe because women have stopped demanding it. I tell you, it only takes a group of thirsty women to ruin it for everyone."

"You think so."

"Of course. That's why we all have to get our thatch snatched. A few women thought it'd be cute to go bare and now men go down there, see hair, and panic."

"Noni, too bad."

" I'm just happy to be out of the pack girl."

"I would be too. You know this is not my scene. I can't stand cocky men."

"You don't act like it."


"You could be up under Lance right now if you weren't being such a mess."

"Actually Lance is a mess, more than you know."


"He's wonderful and all but first of all the man doesn't believe in marriage. Strike one."

"Make him believe."

"Noni, I actually can't with you."

"And what's strike two?"

"He's selfish."

"And you love him, and I'm sure being with him is better than competing for attention here."

"I mean, I can't."

Drinks were finished, and we lingered at the bar. Actually Caroline had a second. Men approached us. Caroline and I had both studied, thorougly, The Art of Seduction, and we could be femme fatales when we wanted to. We returned to the dance floor and partied some more till just after 2.

It was closer to three when I stumbled home. My feet were killing me. I'm not convinced that Louboutins, as fly as they are, aren't intended to be instruments of S&M. I was planning on throwing my dress on the floor and collapsing onto my big, flufly bed, which I would have all to myself.

Change of plans.


His eyes jump when I appeared before him in the freakum dress. Shit.

"I've been calling you." I pulled my phone out of my purse and saw 5 missed calls. Damn. I had it on silent. Besides, I never would have heard it in the club.

"Caroline and I went to a party. I thought you were in Philadelphia."

Just then I heard footsteps. Another woman's heels on my mahogany floor.

"Hi Noni."

It felt like I was swallowing a rock. "Tamika! Hey!" I started to ask what she was doing here and why the hell Carter was not in Philadelpha. Carter was still making sense of the sexiness that was not meant for him. His eyes were taking me in, leaving question marks on every contour of my body.

"We thought we were going to have to call the police. We were worried." No this bitch wasn't instigating. 

"Well, Carter, you were out of town so Caroline and I just went out for a bit."I tugged down my dress and took a seat.
"Yes. That's what I told Carter" she said, crossing her shiny legs. " I told him you were probably out partying since he wasn't around." Not slick.

"So did you have fun?" He asked, eyes still cold. He looked like he was angry, but didn't want to show it in front of his friend. He looked like he'd lost a bet.

"Yea, sweety, I did. It's been a while since I went dancing." I laughed. "And what are you both doing here?"

"I got in early. Tamika was in the City."

I hated that she was in my house. I hated her energy. I could feel the venom of words stated in my absence. She had a satisfied grin on her face. Carter looked furious. And damn it, I just went out to have fun.

"I'm tired. I'm going to bed baby. Sorry I didn't hear my phone." I kissed him, tenderly, on his lips.

"It's cool."

"Tamika, nice to see you again."

"You too girl. Glad you're alright."


The Vineyard


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I was at the head of the table, facing two rows of four black couples. This was a random sampling of North Jerseys mocha creme de la creme and I'd known them all since childhood; a celebrity cosmetic surgeon, a retired banker, an international business man, mom and dad. We were at Deons, a black owned restaurant on Circuit and we were waiting forever for the main course. Too bad. A dressed down Jasmine Guy had just walked by with a small group, took a look at the packed house and decided to dine elsewhere. I got a little star struck at the sight Whitley Gilbert, my childhood idol. Too bad again. Vernon Jordan's daughter was beside us, with a party of like ten. 

They were all looking back at me, intrigued about my new life. Now that I'd given up my television career to write, what did I do all day? I know. The answer is obvious, but not to some.

"So are you headed to law school now?" Aunt Natalie, mom's best friend, was cross examining me. She was seated to my immediate left sounding more like a prosecutor than the surgeon she was.

"I hadn't thought about it."

"You should. Columbia's right down the street. You need to have a back up plan. I see you like nice things." She was hinting at the Chopard on my wrist, which was a gift from Carter but that didn't mean I couldn't spoil myself. People have it twisted. Not all writers are starving artists. I mean some of us know how to write magnificently, and a few of us know how write what a lot of people want to read. I put myself in the latter group and I eat well.

Nonetheless, my sudden career shift and fly by night romance has taken aunt Nat by suprise. I was "Noni-she went to Yale". She always introduced me as if 'she-went-to-Yale' was an unusually long hyphenated last name. By her standards I was supposed to complete the trifecta; get an ivy-league JD, marry some corporate man named Darius or Joshua, and then move into a fabulous suburban house.

But dating an older, divorced jazz musician with locks? This was so la vie boheme.

"So your mother tells me he's married."

"He was married. He's divorced."

"Divorced, but he has kids?"

"He has a daughter." I needed a second round of drinks. And where the hell was the food? People don't ask as so many questions when their mouths are busy chewing. I was giving our waiters the serious side-eye.

"How old is she?"


" Okay so he still practically has another family."

"Damn Nat," my dad shot back. "I like your style! You don't even try to sugar coat it." Laughter percolated but I didn’t find her round of questioning funny.

"I mean I'm saying! I know she's in love but a woman has to think about the future." She turned to me. "I know he makes money but what happens five years down the line when you figure he's just been having a good time? I mean do you really think this man is going to get married again and is he even someone you should be marrying?"

"Noni, you're thinking about marriage?!" a young-spirited Lynn chimed in.

"Umm..." I stumbled. I mean, I wasn't, but I was. And how could I say that I wasn't in front of my parents when according to mom, I'm living in sin. "Not any time soon."

"Well... we're proud of Noni," mom said, always the diplomate, "But we still have to get used to fact that she's living with him." She said, raising her hands as if in defeat.

"Where is his place?" Aunt Natalie asked.

"Morningside Heights, the Palisades."

"Oh, okay, so he's balling." I had to laugh at her attempt at hipness. "But Noni, I don't want to see you heartbroken. You have too much going for you to invest time in a dead end relationship. And Noni, if he's fifteen years older than you, do you really want to be taking care of your husband at 50?"

"I'll sleep with one eye open, Aunt Nat. I promise."

Already, on my first night back on the island, I'd been whisked back into the world where waist size, wallet size, and pedigree were magnified in importance. And I'd be lying if I said I hadn't drank a little of the kool-aid too. In this world, it wasn't just about money. Aunt Natalie had married into a Black elite family and her in-laws couldn't stand her. But the fact they never came over for the Holidays was pretty irrelevant to her. What mattered was that she had a last name that meant something (to a select group of people) and a daughter with 'good'  hair, being looked after Portuguese nanny.

 Before the topic of conversation had transitioned to me, we were discussing a Long Island family that came up for the summer. The husband is an orthopeadic surgeon and the wife stays at home. Their daughter graduated from a prestigious boarding school this year and didn't get in to any Ivy-League Schools. Therefore, rather than send her to Georgetown (which her mother says is beneath her), they opted to keep her out of college for a year, have her do some more community service, and apply again. What?! Everyone at the table thought this extreme display of pretentiousness, was just that, a hot pretentious ass mess, except Aunt Natalie. But like I said, in this world, it isn't about money. Money can't buy your way into the Ivy Leage. It's about elitism. It is the difference between the Atlanta Housewives and The Links. Laker Wives and Spel-House love.

And for the folks I know and love, elitism isn't a flaw. It's just force of habit.

I managed to escape dinner unscathed, but that food sho' nuff took forever to come.

We head to a get-together after dinner at the Davis'. Their summer house was in a wooded section of Oak Bluffs. The husband is retired now, but he was VP of a fortune five hundred company in his day. A real corporate titan. I'm sitting in their front room, studying family portraits and nursing a "Michelle Obama-tini" when I realize their son was home. Langston Davis the third. My, my, my. This man has the distinguished air of a man bought up to think himself important and swag of a movie star. He entered the room wearing a polo shirt, khaki shorts, and loafers. His goatee was crisp, and his peanut skin was bronzed with the glaze of the sun. He had a little more girth than I remembered. I could tell that his hair line was receding a bit too, but he was still fine. He looked like money and he smelled like Ralph Lauren.

He caught me staring, but he'd been staring first. I placed my martini on the coaster beside me and stood up.


"Hey Langston. Nice to see you."

"You look good girl." My, his praise felt good. My ringlets had become lightly tossled in the salt-air. I was sporting a strapless pink Lili Pullitzer and matching Jack Rodgers sandals.  When I was skinny teen I dreamed of this man. He was the guy that girls like me were groomed to snag. But back in the day, I wasn't his type. He always had a girlfriend, and despite the fact that his mother was bleautiful cocoa brown, they were always slender and the color of butter. I'd assumed these things about him, but from the way he was sizing me up, maybe I ‘d been wrong.

"So what you been up to? I know you have a book out."

"How'd you know-- oh Facebook." I smiled. "Yes, actually knee deep in the second one. I feel like I haven't seen you in forever."
"I know, I don't come up here like I used to, and when I do I pretty much just chill here."

" I stay pretty  low-key , myself. It's not like when we were teens."

"So you live in the city?"

"Uh huh."

"Why haven't you visited me? Me and my frat bros throw parties all the time."

"You gotta send me a line next time you do. You still at JP?"

"No, I left at the begginning of the year. Started a hedge fund."

I nearly lost my balance. "Wow! That's amazing! Congratulations." I knew automatically his daddy had provided the start up money, but it was clear Langston would grace the cover of Black Enterprise in the next five years.

"Thank you. So what are you getting into tomorrow? I'm around for one more day."

I should have told him that I was picking my boyfriend up from the airport and spending the day with him and my folks, but I decided not to disclose that bit of info. I'd been taught well. I knew not to burn bridges before I jumped the broom. We exchanged numbers. Of course I didn't answer when he called the next day, but I do plan to keep that option open. Too bad for my life.

I still had Langston on my mind the next morning when I woke up. His preppy affection had gotten under my skin. It was a different kind of lust. Not the lust that makes your nipples hard, but the kind that sedates you with images of Michelle and Barack. Aren't all of us BAP's trying to find our Barack?

I got back in the right groove as soon as I picked up Carter.  He entered the car smelling of Russian leather and oudh. I got high. Nothing beats a fine chocolate man with locks dripping down his back. Nothing. We went back to the Pequot, a bed and breakfast about a block away from the Inkwell. We had plans to walk up the street and meet my parent and their friends at the Inkwell, but Carter was tired.  He'd just finished a two-night gig in Madrid. We showered together, I made love to him, and let him rest.

I don’t know why I ever doubted Carter. He’s a social chameleon. He’s bohemian at heart, deep into his art and his people, not really down for titles and name dropping, but he can hob-nob with the best of them. I love that about him.

We arrived at the Inkwell around four, just before the breeze picked up and the sand ants started biting. It was the same crew as dinner the first night plus two other couples I didn’t recognize. Everybody was sprawled on a make- shift  camp site of beach towels, umbrellas and chairs.  Someone had a stereo playing smooth jazz and there was a cooler with some mixed drinks. That’s how you do a beach day.

If anybody disliked Carter, they h id it well. Too well. As he made his rounds, shaking hands, repeating names,  they greeted him with porcelain smiles and spirited introductions. Wayne Shorter’s saxophone could be heard playing “Milky Way” . That got dad and Carter talking about Weather Report and engrossed in jazz dialogue. I could tell the women were all privately turned on by the site of his bare sculpted chest and sprawling locks. Carter was the type of man they denied themselves and I knew that at that moment they were craving his guilty pleasure.
After a while we broke free and waded in the water. At first we just got our feet wet, holding hands and kicking loose sea weed. I let Carter lead me further out, even though that New England water was  cold, it felt good against my skin. The water came to my chest when we stopped. We faced each other, holding hands, stealing the moment from everyone else on the beach.  His locks were wet, dazzling beads of water were rolling down his chest, over his dark nipples, down the dip of his back. His eyes put my soul in bondage. He slayed me. Made me forget abou t the world around me. He pulled me into him and kissed me, his lips tasting like spearmint and salt water. I closed my eyes and relaxed, the rhythm of the water lapping against my body matched that of his tongue. I knew we were being watched and whispers were being passed but I didn’t care.

My choices in love and career made me happy. I realized that I don’t want to live by the book. I want to write it.