“Good evening Miss,” the valet guy opening my door greets.
Christopher finally called yesterday after I got home from work. We had a very nice first conversation talking about our work, hobbies and families. He’s a heart surgeon at Barnes Jewish Hospital and comes from a large family with plenty of siblings and cousins. He doesn’t have any kids but would like at least two when he settles down. He never once mentioned having a girlfriend and I didn’t see a ring on his finger, so my hopes are high. Gayla is right with the right person your conversation just flows effortlessly. We talked for an hour before he had to get ready for an overnight shift at the hospital, even though he is a heart specialist he sometimes works in the ER to help pay the hospital back for helping him with tuition. Before we got off the phone he told me he wanted to see me the next day. Christopher likes to gamble which I don’t understand. I would prefer to eat and dance so he suggested the Lumiere.
The Lumiere’s huge with a casino accompanied by restaurants, clubs, shops and a theater. Topped off with the Four Seasons Hotel and Spa, rooftop pool with the nicest view of the arch you have ever seen. I didn’t quite know what to wear since the place was open to so many activities but I did want to make it clear to my date that I wanted to do more than gamble.
Dressed in a black French Connection haltered jumpsuit with long gold earrings that kiss my collar bone I walk through the glass doors of the casino. My wrist hold a stack of gold bangles and fingers are also dressed in gold, holding a gold with black lace Ted Baker box clutch. My hair pinned back off my face which is made up in neutral colors except for my rouge lips. My feet are decorated in black with gold chains strappy Gucci sandals, a gift from a guy I had sex with on a singles cruise Gayla and I went on last year. The atmosphere is live, the lights are bright and the people are busy. I scan the crowd for Christopher but don’t see him. What I do see and hear are a lot of guys using the cat call method which I don’t answer.
“Heyyy lil mama.”
“Damn baby you wearing that jumpsuit.”
“Where yo man at babygirl.”
It amazes me how there are grown men who still think that works. I mean have u really gotten a woman’s number with that. Even as a teenager I couldn’t stand it let alone as a grown woman. I walk farther in towards the lights of the casino with the calls fading but not gone. Then someone grabs my whole hand and tries to intertwine our fingers, but I snatch away. Turning to give this fool a piece of my mind I see those brown eyes.
“Hi,” he says grinning.
My heart slows and I can’t help but smile, “I'm glad you think that is funny. I thought you were one of these men trying to catch women. Why are they always here? Do you think it’s the same ones all the time?” I say glancing behind him.
Laughing, “I don’t know, but I don’t think they act like that with every woman. You look gorgeous,” he says as he raises my hand and twirls me.
“Well thank you.” Glad my chocolate skin hides my blush. “You don’t look so bad yourself.” He is dressed in a charcoal grey Lacoste shirt, black jeans and black Nike boots you would never guess this man was a doctor. It seemed that no matter the material of his shirt his arms and chest are always straining against it.
“Is it okay if I hold your hand now,” he asks pulling me to his side. When I didn’t resist he takes my hand and asks, “So where do you want to start?”
“Let’s gamble. But I should warn you I don’t know much about sitting at a card table.” I figured we should get that over with first.
“That’s cool I’ll show you.” Good let’s get that out the way so we can have a real date.
Christopher is sitting at the poker table for one hundred dollars a pop. I'm standing watching amazed. Not at his goodness of the game but the craziness of these people giving their money away. There are four players at the table. Christopher is doing well; he lost his first two hands but has won the last five. The guy to his right has been here since we got here with a stack of chips but hasn’t won one game. The guy to his far left just got in on the last game. Dude to his immediate left has one chip left, his last hundred dollars and is looking shifty. He wants to play that last chip but knows he should just get up. His wife is more than likely to be pissed. He’s nervous and knows he should leave but like most he believes he can win it all back. He was also here before us so I don’t know what he started with but from the look on his face it was a lot more than that one chip. Greed keeps him going and when the dealer is ready to start the next hand he doubtfully puts his chip in. I hope that isn’t bill money.
How people can sit and lose all their money in casinos, then struggle for their needs till their next check. I mean some would win a few hundred dollars then sit here and gamble it all away again. We have been at this gambling thing for about an hour. That first half was me at the slots and forty dollars went way too fast so I quit. Christopher told me it was okay if I wanted to keep playing. I would prefer that any money he wants to throw away he throw into my purse or some nice gift. Seriously, I understand most addictions, I think. Drugs are something that your body craves it physically hurts not to have them and some people find just satisfying it is easier. Sex addicts just need to use condoms be careful and you should probably stay away from getting married. Plus most of the world has a sex problem; some just have more control than others. Shopping addicts at least you have something to show for your money, whatever it is. Even with the drugs you have some product no matter how small or fast it goes. But gambling you have nothing to show for it but the cheap watery drinks they offer while you give them enough money to buy a bottle of Dom.
“Come here babygirl I need my good luck kiss.” As with his last five hands I lean over and kiss his cheek, wanting to add how uninterested I am. My phone is vibrating. I contemplate not answering, bad date etiquette. I hate when a man does that. Dating Dr. Buchanan though I know this will be something I have to deal with. Turning I walk toward the restrooms. He shouldn’t mind it’s not like he’s paying me any attention.
“Well it’s nice to hear your voice, nice that you have time for me.”
“I always have time for you.”
“Are you sure,” he pauses before saying, “your backgrounds pretty loud.” Jerome was a sweetheart. I loved spending time with him. He always bought me something. Always treated me like a princess. But he always wanted to be my daddy too. Always in some shape or form asking me what I'm doing, who I'm with. Why I'm always out. Duh dude I'm young and single. I don’t know if it was because of our age difference. Or was it our age difference that made me thinks he was constantly acting like my father?
“Girls night out with my mom and Gayla.”
“Oh yeah seafood night at Ameristar.”
“It was time we haven’t been in a while. How about you, what you been up to?” Let’s change the subject. Don’t want to lie if I don’t have to. I go into one of the end stalls to get a little privacy from the young glam squad in the restroom mirrors primping.
“I'm good except I haven’t seen you,” he pauses most likely waiting on me to comment. “Shit this is the first time I’ve actually got you on the phone in sometime. What you been up to?” There he goes with the questions again. And am I wrong or did he just ask me this question.
“Nothing much working, hanging with Gayla. You know trying to get out there and get my own husband.”
“So when can I see you?” I knew that would shut him up.
“When would you like to see me?”
“How about this weekend? I'm in Florida till Sunday.”
Jackpot I think this will make up for the bad date I'm on now, “OOOhh Jerome. I haven’t been there in a minute.” I respond all smiles.
“I’ll get you a ticket now and email you. I can’t wait to taste you.”
“I can’t wait either, bye baby.” Not for the tasting part but to lay my ass on the beach, and the shopping. Jerome isn’t the best sex partner but as I said, the man treats me like a princess. Turning my ringer off I notice that the glam squad has finished, I wash my hands, freshen up my lipstick and walk right out the bathroom into Christopher.
“I turned from my game for my good luck kiss and you were gone. What happened?”
“I had to use the restroom. I thought I would make it back before your next hand, sorry.” I say feigning some concern but who cares I'm just glad you’re done with it.
“I was on a roll let’s get back.”
Oh god. “No it’s getting late. I have to work in the morning. Can we do something else before my bedtime?” I pout. It’s not really too late but if we don’t do something else I am going to make up something to go home.
“You hungry?” He asks taking possession of my hand once again, “We could get something to eat at Asia’s and then I can show you how to dance in one of these clubs.”
“Oh yeah that’s funny. And yes I could use something to eat.” Asia was one of the few restaurants I hadn’t eaten in here at the Lumiere. We take a seat at the bar in front of the cooks separated by a small open area that allows the waitress to wait and serve. He orders us imperial egg rolls and Mongolian beef plates served with steamed rice. Since we had already consumed some liquor and hopefully would be consuming more later he ordered us Sprites.
“So I know you told me your dad and granddad were doctors, but is that why you became one also?” He had talked to me a lot about his family and I wanted to know more. They were a large bunch with three boys and three girls born boy, girl, boy, girl and so on. Christopher was number three, second boy.
“Nope growing up all I wanted to do was play in the NBA. I started playing ball when I was ten. My parents believed we each needed a hobby at a young age, something that would help mold our young personalities. They agreed to basketball because of all of the male bonding. My father also liked the authority in it, the coaches stayed on us.” He shakes his head smiling. “My oldest brother played football; youngest brother was very heavy into his school work, mainly science which is how he came to work in research for Washington University. All of my sisters were in dance class, the youngest dropped after three years to play the piano and to this day she still loves to sit and play.” The waitress enters with the egg rolls and we each take one before he continues.
“In high school I became friends with this guy Javon. We met freshman year in our math class initially then again at tryouts. He and I were the only two who made varsity from the freshman class that year. So being new to the school and the team we sort of clung to each. Over the years he became as close as one of my brothers. We hung tight got girls together, got school detention and home punishment together for four years. We both lost our virginity at a house party on the same night.”
“Wow boys will be boys.” That is something girls don’t need in a friendship. That and threesomes.
He laughs, “Yeah we did a lot so I'm giving you the PG version.”
The Mongolian plates are brought out and the egg roll plates are taken away. “Our senior year we were playing in a championship game, with scouts from at least five universities in the crowd. Javon and I were on fire. We practiced together a lot; we understood each other moves and learned one another well. We were that way with four other guys on the team which is how we made it to the championship,” he pauses and sits back in his seat taking a deep breath, “last quarter of the game we were up by ten and it’s our ball. Javon passes to a junior on our team Omar but his pass was off. Nobody notice we all think it’s just one of those things nobody’s perfect. But then Javon grabs at his chest and goes down. I forget the game and run to him. My father happened to not be there that night doing an overnight shift at the hospital. No doctors anywhere in the auditorium. By the time an ambulance got there Javon had died in my arms. His moms didn’t come to the game working at her second job and his father wasn’t a part of his life. Never in my life have I had that feeling again, the feel of a person taking their last breath” I can see the hurt on his face and in his eyes. Hell I feel it. “That night I went to his home and broke the news to his mom. It was the hardest thing I had ever done in my young life. Telling my best friends mom he just died playing basketball. I felt guilty that I could even stand there and have a conversation with her. That she hadn’t seen her son since that morning. Javon and I spent a lot of time getting each other out of a lot of jams. But I couldn’t do anything for him that day.”
“I'm so sorry. That had to be hard for you.” I couldn’t imagine losing Gayla now let alone in high school. How different my life would have been. Looking at the sadness in his eyes now I really am sorry I asked.
“No that’s okay. It was a long time ago. I’ve dealt with it. We won the game. I accepted a scholarship to St. Louis University to play basketball and honor Javon. There I also started my head towards medicine. There had been a few NBA teams who tried to draft me all through college but I was already sure what I wanted to do. My best friend died of a heart attack at seventeen so I became a heart surgeon. Javon was the first and last friend I had outside my brothers. Not by choice but because I never found another dude I clicked with like that.” I know what he means, its hard meeting and keeping true friends today especially at this age.
Christopher sits deep in thought and I don’t have the heart to say anything, wouldn’t know what to say anyway. He doesn’t look sad but I can tell his thoughts are on his lost friend. That is a horrible experience for anyone to go through. Having someone so close to you dying in your arms. At such a young age and the one person you totally trusted and loved outside of family.
“So at the rate your stuffing your face I'm guessing it’s safe to say you like it here,” he says coming back to the present, shoving a fork full of food into his own mouth.
“I do,” I say smiling glad the subject is changed.
“So what about you, why a paralegal?”
I don’t want to tell him the exact truth. That I can’t test into law school and would more than likely fail the bar if I made it that far, that tests make me irritable and dumb. “My family owns the firm where I work. My dad and two of my uncles are the starting partners. But there are a lot of people there that I grew up around and everyone’s like family. But it actually started as a part time job that I just became really good at and I make good money.”
“Well that is always a plus. But do you feel anything for it or does your family want you in their footsteps?”
“Oh no. My parents would never choose my career. They have always told me I should do something I love and close to me. So that there is a bigger chance that I will always love my career choice. But no I don’t feel anything for it. I'm sorry Dr. Buchanan but I have yet to meet my destiny,” I answer honestly.
“Well you never know what’s in your future,” he says with a wink and I have to wonder if he is talking about us.
“Hey Christopher!” Comes from a beautiful red head heading in our direction smiling, and let me say even this bitch has a walk that says I am gorgeous. Most women have a problem giving a compliment to other women. Not me. I take in what they have on that I may want to add to my wardrobe. Don’t not like me just get on my level and achieve to be me. I hate women who pout that another woman thinks she cute or she conceited. Um maybe the problem isn’t her it’s you. You as a woman should think highly of yourself and don’t knock the next chick. If no one else does you should always think you are the shit and don’t hate on the next because she know she is also.
I'm comfortable enough in my skin and attire to give props where props are due. And girlfriend is wearing a nude pencil skirt and nude lace top with red Louboutin pumps. Her red hair is a nice pixie bob is properly chic, choppy in the back with nice layers and nice points in the front that slightly touch her shoulders. I can tell she is a natural red head; it so goes good with her red tone and freckles. She comes and he stands and gives her a hug. Nothing to write home about but they are not just co-workers. In her heels she meets his 6’2” height. And the girl has green eyes. When they let go she turns and looks me up and down dismissively, without a hello. And I can tell she’s one of those chicks I was just saying not to be. He doesn’t introduce us and I don’t care. It is our first date. The talk is random how you doing, he asks about her husband which clears up something’s. She asks him about the hospital. And everything is friendly until she departs.
“Well I have to go; friends are waiting for me in Aqua.” He stands, gives her another hug. “Oh and I guess I will see you next month. That’s coming up on us. If I don’t see you till then, be safe.” And she is gone. What’s going on next month? Do I have the right to ask?
I turn to ask. I don’t see any harm in asking. He just looks so nervous. “Are we still going to Globar or would you like to go to Aqua?” Maybe next month I will know.
He blinks once, “Um no lets go to Globar.” And he’s back to normal.
Or so I thought until we start walking. Unlike when he got my attention when we got here, or how we walked to the casino, or Asia. He didn’t grab my hand. He didn’t walk any closer to me. The conversation didn’t continue to flow the same as in the restaurant. I could tell the mood was ruined. We walk into Globar and guess who is here. He doesn’t go over and speak to her and she doesn’t come over, they just acknowledge each other with a wav. He doesn’t seem to know anyone else she is with.
What is going on between them or what has gone on? I can tell that there is no relationship between the two, at least in the present moment. But with the change in his attitude since seeing her there has to be something. Why is he is sitting here saying very little but looking in that direction often. She seems to not be paying attention but every now and then I catch her glancing toward us. So she is either an ex, a friend of an ex but then why would they be seeing each other next month. She could be a current but wouldn’t she act a fool and wouldn’t he be ready to go. She could be a friend of a current but again wouldn’t she make it known. Is that just a black chick thing? ‘Oh how’s Sherry doing?’ or whatever her name is you know we won’t let that slide. Maybe they are sex partners, those are good between people. But damn once a month. Shit by next month he won’t need her.
“Do you come here to gamble,” I don’t know but talking again has to start somewhere.
“Huh,” he says looking at me like he forgot I was here.
Does he really plan on sitting here with this mood? Well let’s start the conversation somewhere where he will understand.
“Who’s the red head?”
“What do you mean?” Really?
“I don’t know how many red heads have you hugged tonight. And how many of them are here that has changed your mood and ruined our date?”
He turns and looks at her. “I’m sorry.”
What the hell, “Is she giving you the answer to the question?” Now I'm getting pissed.
“She is just a friend of a friend. Don’t worry about it. You want another drink?”
Yeah that’ll make the date better, me drunk and dancing with someone else. “No I don’t want a drink I'm not enjoying the one I have. I'm sort of convinced you’re not fucking her because I'm sure she would be the one with the questions. But whatever it is it has ruined my date.” I down the last of my wine and get up to leave. This is the second bad point in this date and I won’t be waiting on a third.
“Wait,” I hear him say to my retreating back. I don’t turn to look I have been trying to involve him in conversation since she entered our date forty five minutes ago. I stood by and watched him play cards, standing in heels while he sat like a king. I sat speechless as they talked like I wasn’t there.
When he catches up to me he grabs my hand intertwining our fingers like before. And like the first time I pull away, only this time I'm more than sure I don’t want the person grabbing it, grabbing it. “Mya wait.”
I turn, “What?”
“Our date doesn’t have to end now. I’m sorry. You’re right my mood did change and I don’t want to talk about it,” he grabs my hand very heartfelt like. “I don’t want to burden you with my….stuff. It’s too soon for that.”
“Sure.” I want to say yeah right. But maybe he’s right. Just that at this point the date is pretty much ruined. “Let’s just try it another time. It’s getting late and the mood is just totally gone. Call me we can make plans.” Pulling my hand away I continue to the exit.
I'm not mad at him if him and ole girl got something going on. Just be man enough to admit it. Is it better when a man lies to you than just telling the truth? Are they really doing it to spare your feelings? I don’t want to be treated like the cheated wife. This is why I continue with the ones I have. The single men want to treat you like their side chick too. At least those men let me know exactly what we can and can’t do. I only see Jerome out of Missouri. Dwayne only wants to come over and on the occasion will find somewhere we can go but can’t be seen.
But I'm not mad at him. It’s a game to everyone. Everybody plays differently. Look at me and my list of merry men. It’s just that when you play with me you have to play by my rules. Rule number one when you with me you with me. Block out negativity and pay attention to me. If not why am I doing this?
Out date was ruined the minute red yelled, ‘Hey Christopher.’
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