Then she asked me, "So, brotherman, are you married?"
I told her, "Divorced. You?"
"Single." All of her youthful features started to sag, like air being let out of a balloon. "So, you have kids?"
I sipped my chardonnay. "A daughter. I have a daughter."
Midnight-colored clouds came from nowhere and darkened her brown eyes. Her shoulders slumped and she let out a sigh. Real quick, she gulped down the last of her wine, lost the pep in her voice, said, "Well, it was nice to meet you, Reggie."
I said, "Vince. My name is Vincent Browne."
"My head is hurting. I'm going home."
I asked, "Well, can I get your number?"
"Ahhhh ... give me yours."
I did. My eyes were on the back of her head as she headed up the hallway, passed by the pictures of Billie Holiday and Malcolm X, kept moving by the exit sign, made a right, and vanished. Minutes later she was up front at the octagonal-shaped bar, on a new yellow brick road, jazzing it up, in another man's wallet, a brother older than Grady from Sanford and Son.
That wasn't the first time I'd gone through rejection. It wasn't always about the marriage thing; sometimes it was about income, even went on a date with a sister and she saw I wasn't rolling around in a new hoopty, the kind of ride she wanted to be seen cruising Pacific Coast Highway in. Nope, rejection ain't nothing new and doesn't discriminate geographically. It's happened at First Fridays. At the L.A. Social Club on First Saturdays. At the Los Angeles County Museum during a cultured happy hour. Happened at church on communion Sunday. On-line in AOL, sisters were either looking for an Adonis or a brother with a mega bankroll. Always looking for love in all the wrong faces.
So that's where my head was at: frustrated and pissed off.
I'd wasted an hour of my life, and because of the cover charge and the drinks my pockets were thirty dollars thinner. I was about to say three tears in a bucket and give it up; going to a club searching for a quality woman was like going to Target and hunting for Saks Fifth Avenue merchandiseain't gonna happen.
Then I made eye contact with Dana. Rapturous midnight skin in a golden business suit. White pearls. Hair in thin, spaghetti-style braids, the kind that were loose on the ends and could be curled or put in pretty much any style. Classic, conservative, fashionable, and feminine. A womanly shape that should be engraved in stone from the heart of the motherland. A few brothers with their momma's breast milk still on their breath put down their cellular phones, craned their necks, and peeped. A number of the rusty players with Geritol dripping out of the corners of their mouths rubbed their receding hairlines and checked her out, head to toe.
She eased into the room, her tight eyes my way.
A smile is the shortest distance between two people. The musician Victor Borge said that. One-thousand-one, one-thousand-twoI counted how long she held my gaze. By one-thousand-five, Dana's superior gravitational pull had me bumping through the crowd, heading her way, adrenaline rushing.
By the time I made it to her zone, she stopped dancing in place. Her arms folded across her breasts. She shifted like she didn't want to be bothered. I would've let it go, but her eyes. Tight light brown eyes that hypnotized me. Her eyes, her build, the physical package was there. I couldn't walk away, not without a try.
I gave her another easygoing smile. Introduced myself. Dana Smith did the same. We shook hands. Her hands were soft, fingers thin, but she had a good grip. Very business, very questioning, that signal established a thick line. As far as I could tell, she'd come in alone.
Copyright © 2000 Eric Jerome Dickey. All rights reserved.
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