I’d never been in the head over heals, don’t want to live if I can’t have you, I’ll make you the happiest woman in the world kind of love. Sure, I dropped the L word a few times to move the relationship along. Mother tipped me off about her species. She said, “Martin, you can tell a woman who is not nearly as rich whatever you want and they’ll believe you.”
I said, “Isn’t it wrong to lie, Mother?”
Mother said, “It’s only wrong to lie to Father and me. As for everyone else, you can tell them whatever you want to tell them. Here’s the secret. Don’t tell anyone the secret who is not filthy rich, we don’t want those lesser than us to know. You can tell them anything you want and it becomes true even if it doesn’t have a grain of truth if you say it is a lie in your mind. That covers it ethically. No court with a filthy rich judge will ever convict you.”
It was this kind of unconditional love that Mother gave me. I decided I’d tell whatever lies I had to tell to get along with Evelyn. She can beat me over the head with her large plastic purse. She can whack me in my shins with with her walker. I don’t care. I love J. I want to marry J. I even love her more than I love Mother. I want more than anything to take her home tonight and have sex all night long.
J tapped me on the shoulder. “I know what you’re thinking. It’s not happening.”
“How do you know what I’m thinking?” I asked.
“I’m watching you in the rearview mirror and you’re moving your lips. I took a course in lip reading.”
“What’s the white fool saying? Is he trying to take me to bed? I’m not easy or so hard up I’m gonna have sex with a white man,” said Evelyn.
“Mama!” said J. “He didn’t say anything about taking you to bed.”
So much for my promise for self restraint. My manhood was challenged. I couldn’t help myself. I’ve taken all I’ve could take. I said, “You think Deter is a better man in bed than me?”
Evelyn half twisted toward me. Her eyes ran over my body as if she were a TSA agent and I was singled out at the security line for a pat down and wand waving. She said, “Un huh. No question.”
I said, “I have a very good resume with the ladies. If you want references, I can get plenty of them.”
Evelyn said, “Ha! They were faking it like they was making it.”
J butted in. “Will you two stop acting like children at the playground?”
“He started it,” said Evelyn.
“How? You accused me of not measuring up in the male ego department. No male can sit back and not respond.”
“You got a point, white boy,” said Evelyn.
“I have a name. I don’t call you black lady. Please be respectful and call me by name. J calls me. My name is Martin although my parents changed it to Artin. J doesn’t like the name Martin. I also go by my gangbanger name, Double M,” I said.
Evelyn said, “J, darlin, your filthy rich white boy got a bit of a temper. I can see that the way he is attacking me. I don’t believe you or me is safe in his company alone. No telling what he’ll do and then get his rich white lawyer to get him off.”
J unbuckled her seatbelt. A beeping sound started and a red flashing dot pulsated on the car console. J leaned forward. “Mama. You are being racist. You don’t like M only because he is white. You don’t know him. You haven’t tried to know him. I have a good mind to tell Pastor Jenkins about you. What do you think he is going to say to you?”
Evelyn turned toward the front of the car. She closed her eyes, folded her hands as if she were in prayer and began moving her lips.
J leaned a bit toward me and said, “Don’t say anything. Mama’s communicating with Harold.”
I said, “Who’s Harold?”
“Harold is Mama’s great grandfather. He was a slave, but he ran away and got his freedom. When Mama has a problem she talks to Harold.”
“Does he answer her?” I asked watching Evelyn gesturing with her left hand and shaking her head.
J shrugged. I don’t like to talk about it. Please don’t tell anyone. She’s very sensitive about it.”
“Okay,” I said. Then I thought, I’ve got to tell Mother and Father about this. Maybe Harold can help them to pick stocks that are on the rise and sell stocks that hit their peak and are about to fall.
“If you tell your mother or father about Mama or Harold, you will need a new set of Veneers,” whispered J.
“How do you do this? What’s the trick? It’s not right to know what I’m thinking before I say it. You’re breaking all the rules.” I turned my head toward J.
She hit my shoulder, “Watch the road. I know what you were going to ask. A voice in my head told me.”
My conscience! “Mind your own business. You are not helping this relationship,” I said to my conscience.
“I’m on duty so watch yourself,” my conscience replied.
“Who are you talking to?” asked J.
“Not Harold. It’s complicated,” I said.
Evelyn’s lips stopped moving. She pointed an index finger toward the car roof, and smiled. She turned to me and said, “If you apologize, we can go to dinner. If you so much as make a pass at me, the truce is off.”
“What would make you think I’ll make a pass at you?” I said.
“People in the apartment building always saying J and me can pass as sisters.”
J tapped my shoulder and slowly shook her head.
I said, “I can see where J gets her beautiful looks. I promise not to flirt with you or any other woman. I apologize for whatever I have to apologize for.”
Evelyn said, “For being filthy rich and white. Apology accepted.
“Huh,” I said. Progress is progress. Anyway, it was J I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and not Evelyn. Hopefully, Evelyn will connect with Harold sooner and not later.
As I pulled into the packed parking lot of Lonnie’s Family Diner, Evelyn said, “I’m going to test you. If you gonna date my little girl, you got to prove to me you a man worthy to date her.”
I said, “I never ate okra, but I’ll give it a try.”