by Kimberly McKenzie
"Thanks for picking me up," Stacey said getting into the car. She wished she were driving in a new car herself after putting hers in the shop for the hundredth time.
"No problem," Max replied as she pulled out the driveway. They were both headed downtown for work and Max enjoyed the company for a change.
"This is really a nice car," Stacey stated a little envious. Some people just had all the luck she thought to herself as Max let the sunroof up to her Mercedes Benz. The plush leather seats were wonderful compared to her torn beat-up fabric. She had had enough with her old rustic whooptie as it clunked out on her in the middle of the highway the other day.
"Thanks," Max replied as she steered ahead. She had really worked hard to enjoy such luxuries she thought to herself. Max had put herself through college, applying for every scholarship she could think of. She was glad not to be indebted in college loans as Stacey was. Max had urged Stacey to do the same but she was so carefree back then, going on shopping sprees with her credit cards she had received. Max knew Stacey had regretted this now and hated to see her friend suffer. She refused letting her help out, so Max decided not to bring it up again. It was bad enough that she was stressed out financially but her personal life was much the same.
"Can we switch over to K105," Stacey asked as Max popped out a CD.
"Sure," Max said as she flipped to the radio station.
Stacey was glad to have caught the beginning of the commentary. She listened to this every morning on her way to work. Stacey found the HELP line particularly interesting, as people called in with problems worse than her own.
"This is K105 HELP line, and how can we HELP you today?" a voice rang out from the speakers.
"Iíve been seeing a married man for the past six months, whom Iím falling in love with," a lady responded hesitantly. "What should I do?"
"Well girlfriend before you say anything further, youíd better fall out of love with him," the announcer advised.
"I agree," Max cheered on. "Get out while you can!" she added as if she was personally speaking to the lady.
"Well its not that easy," the lady replied.
"Let me ask you a few questions. Did your secret lover tell you he loved you?"
"Did he tell you he was having problems in his marriage and is seeking to divorce or leave his wife?"
"Does he have children?"
"Yes, two boys."
"Does he spend special holidays with youÖChristmas, Valentines, the likes?"
"Who does he go home to at night?"
"Than I think that says it all. He will never leave his wife as long as you allow him to have his cake and eat it too!"
"Thatís right. Tell her like it is," Max clapped profusely.
"So thatís your advice?" the lady asked hoping he would give her some glimpse of encouragement.
"Absolutely. You need to get out before you get in deeper than you already are. If you donít believe me, test your secret lover. Give him an ultimatum. If he stays with his wife, than youíll have your answer? If he leaves his wife for you, than I wish you the best of luck. But remember what goes around comes around. Donít think he wonít play you like heís playing his wife," the announcer warned.
"There you go," Max agreed as the next segment came on. Her friend Stacey was relatively quiet throughout the entire commentary as they drove ahead.
"Girl, donít you agree with what the announcer said?" Max asked making conversation.
"Some people think they have the solutions to everything," Stacey replied with a sting in her voice. "Until you walk in the other person shoes you shouldnít be so quick to judge."
"Well excuse me. Besides, Iím not trying to judge anyone," Max replied defensively. "Sounds to me like youíre a bit guilty yourself. What, your seeing a married man?" she asked looking over at Stacey.
"Yes I am," Stacey replied. "Itís not like I went looking for a married man, it just happened," she added to justify her actions.
The car fell silent except for the sounds coming from the radio. Max couldnít believe the words coming from her friend mouth.
"I never would have imagined you to get caught up in a situation like this," Max stated softly. She knew the past year hadnít been easy for Stacey but to get involved with a married manÖno, Max thought quietly to herself.
"Well I did. I reckon your going to ridicule me like the lady on the radio," Stacey pointed out.
"Stacey, I wasnít trying to ridicule the lady on the radio. I was simply agreeing with the announcer that she needs to get out of the situation."
"Well it sounds to me like maybe she didnít want to," Stacey replied shaking her head. It was just like Max to be so critical as if she could do no wrong. Quite frankly, Stacey was growing tired of her wishing she had found another way to work.
"Your wrong Stacey. What possible good could come out of this?"
"Have you ever thought that Iím not looking for anything good. Maybe Iím just seeking companionship."
"Well certainly you can find companionship from someone other than a married man." What a poor excuse to justify her actions Max thought. Had Stacey thought about all of the ramifications? My goodness, kids may be involved let alone the fact that this man was being intimate with someone other than herself. Had she thought about HIV and all the other diseases that were crippling African Americans? All these thoughts made Max head spin as she voiced her concerns to her friend.
"You know I should have never opened my mouth to you," Stacey proclaimed angrily. Their conversation now turned into a heated argument as Stacey verbally advised Max to mind her own business. She was actually glad to see her job for a change as she grabbed her belongings. Deep inside she knew Max was right as she drove off upset from the whole ordeal.