When J ordered our drinks, I was hoping for a Bordeaux or Pinot Noir. What I got was a choice of Bud, Bud Light, or iced tea. Okay, I’m a snob, I only drink imported or locally brewed outrageously expensive beers. I didn’t dare ask for Perrier or a Pellegrino. If I asked for water, I’m sure it’d be tap water. I’ve never as much washed my hands in tap water. Mother said tap water is for the masses, not for the privileged. I ended up saying surprise me.
When I explained all the perks of being filthy rich to J, her desire for me, my body, and my wealth would kick in and she’d be mine. I was aware I was in hostile territory. I had to downplay my riches and uppity attitude, and only use my wit and charm to win my fiery black opal.
J was about to say something. I held up my hand to prevent her from saying something I knew she’d regret like let’s walk out of here and check into a motel and have sex. I wanted her to keep her self respect. We can have sex after lunch. I said, “You can count on me being faithful to you all my life. Although, the Sanderstuffs have great DNA and I’ll probably outlive you by twenty years. Will you mind if I get remarried after you die?”
There were three men sitting at the table to my right. Two were holding large beef ribs in their hands. They turned toward J and me. The other man, was sipping an iced tea and started coughing. He must has swallowed a seed from the lemon. On my left, there was a woman who could play linebacker for any of the pro teams and a guy in bib overalls covered with grease smears. I caught a glimpse of her tapping him on his forearm and nodding her head toward us. I turned a bit toward them and gave the woman my charming smile. I only hoped it didn’t make her become obsessed with me.
J spoke up, “I don’t know where to begin. Didn’t you go to school? Didn’t you learn anything about relating to another human being? You don’t know anything about me. How old was the ugly bitch who hangs on the wall in my office when she died?”
I knew right away the ugly bitch J was referencing could be no other than Grandmother Houston. She had the face of a prune, the eyes of a hungry wolf, and the body of a starving coyote. I proudly said, “The ugly bitch outlived her husband by ten years. She died when she was ninety one. Everyone wanted her to die sooner because she had a temper worse than a chef who can’t find his garlic press. “
J waited until our server brought our drinks. We both had iced teas in plastic glasses big enough to quench the thirst of four adults. Our iced teas were as dark as the people in the restaurant. J watched me hold the iced up toward the light to gauge its quality. She said, “Drink it. Ask for a refill and don’t say a word. Not one word. Not one grimace. Not one snarky comment. Did I cover it?”
I love this about J. She is helping me to practice my social graces with the undesirables. I can’t wait to tell Mother how the undesirables eat and what they drink. I hope Mother has an aneurysm. Not fatal, but one where she will give me power of attorney. J interrupted my thoughts. She said, “For the eighth time, we are not going to get married. We are not going to date. I am not going to be your lover. I will not be your mistress. And, I will not have your children.”
The plus size woman from the table next to us said, “You go girl.”
J smiled at her, then looked at me. I said, “I love you. Will you marry me. I will make you the happiest woman in the world.”
The guy at the table with the plus size woman jumped in, “That’s it rich white dude, don’t quit. Fight for the woman you love.”
“You watch your mouth. He’s a white boy. He don’t know how to love a black woman like a black man knows how to love a black woman.”
I turned my attention away from J for a moment and said, “I am so sure I will be faithful to J and never, never as much as flirt with another woman that I’ll sign a prenup giving J five million dollars and a life membership to the country club.” I said the wrong thing. As soon as I mentioned five million, fifty-six black heads all turned toward me. J kicked me under the table. I recovered quickly, “That’s if I hit Powerball.”
The room broke into laughter. I felt relieved. J whispered, “I’m impressed with the quick comeback.”
The fully figured black woman wasn’t through with me. She said, “If you ain’t that rich, what makes you think you gonna be faithful to her. Tell me that one and don’t give me any white boy talk.”
I turned toward her and said, “You want to know why I’m sure. You sure you want to know why I’m sure?”
“I’m sure,” she said.
I didn’t know. The only thought in my mind was something I heard in college at a frat party. I said, “Once you try black, you never go back.”
The black male with the fully figured woman said, “You damn right.”
“You mind your own business,” said the fully figured woman to her companion.
J stood up, grabbed my arm and said, “Let’s go before you get killed and I develop a guilty conscience. What was I thinking, thinking you knew how to act in public.”
J didn’t wait for me. She was headed out of Harvey’s as if the place was on fire. I knew she was overcome with emotion at my level of commitment. Most men, according the men’s magazines I read report that men have tough time with commitment. Not me. Once I met J, my heart stood still. I know I’m name dropping song titles, but I’m a fool in love. When I got to the door, J was half way to the Toyota. I hollered, “Stop in the name of love.”
J stopped and turned around, she said, “What!”
I kept walking toward her. When I reached her, I said, “I plead guilty by reason of being so deeply in love with you I don’t know what I’m doing. If love can cause insanity. Then I’m, guilty, guilty, guilty.”
“Oh, sweet Jesus, please help me,” pleaded J.