by L. L. King
Gloria and Danika followed the hostess to their usual table near the back in Applebee’s. They made it at their usual time; at a quarter of eleven so that they could beat the lunch crowd. That few minutes before noon was enough to keep their wait at a minimum. After twelve, they would have been at the mercy of irritable waiters and/or waitresses.
Their hostess, a dark-skinned young lady with a pretty smile and thick black brow liner that was meant to take the place of the eyebrows that were missing, got them seated and told them that their waiter would be with them momentarily before she continued on to her next task. Gloria picked up a menu and opened it while Danika began rummaging inside her purse. Danika already knew what she was going to order and Gloria could make an educated guess as to what she would order too: a riblet basket with extra sauce on the side.
Gloria decided that she would get the chicken quesadillas and put the menu to the side. Danika had retrieved her cell phone and was furiously typing a text message with her eyebrows furrowed in concentration. Gloria looked around her to take a look at who else was in the predominantly black restaurant. As she looked around, her eyes caught the stare of a man who was sitting in the bar area and facing them. He flashed an almost perfect shiny smile and then raised his drink—it looked like a coke from her vantage point—in greeting. An almost equally shiny wedding band adorned his left hand but it seemed as if he didn’t care whether she saw it or not.
She turned her lips up enough to suffice as a smile and be polite and then turned her attention back to her friend who was just flipping her cell phone closed.
Gloria said, “I think that there must be some kind of target on my back. Every man that approaches me or even attempts to give me any attention seems to be married.” She nodded in the direction of the man at the bar. “Hell, I don’t know what’s worse though: the ones who have the audacity to approach me while wearing their wedding band or the ones who don’t wear one and tell you that they’re married later.”
Danika waited patiently before she looked over at the bar to see whom Gloria was referring to. A waiter came just as she returned her attention back to Gloria and asked for their drink orders. They told them that they were ready to order their food too. Gloria ordered chicken quesadillas and a coke. Danika asked for a riblet basket with extra sauce (no surprise) and an Apple Martini. Danika was off for the rest of the day and could start her weekend off at that very moment. Gloria had to go back in for the longest four hours of the week—those Friday afternoon hours.
Danika waited until the waiter was gone before she responded. “Let me guess. Xavier was married.”
Danika and Gloria considered themselves best friends although they rarely saw each other. Blame it on the Atlanta traffic and the fact that Gloria lived in College Park and Danika in Marietta or just chalk it up as a part of life but they could hardly ever manage to see each other in person outside of the monthly meetings at Applebee’s. The restaurant was the only place that they could logically meet since Gloria worked off Fulton Industrial and Danika worked just outside the airport
“Yep, he told me last night,” Gloria replied. “I kicked him to the curb right then and there. It was easy right then but now I keep asking myself, ‘What next?’ I gave my body to him and even loaned him some money once. He paid me back…but damn…I don’t even loan you money.” Gloria dropped her head and held it in her hands for effect.
“That’s true,” Danika said. “You always have been a stingy heifer.” There was no response from Gloria. She kept her head down which meant that the situation was a little bit more serious than usual. “But anyway…is he married, as in living in the same house, or married separated?” she asked.
“Married, married. Three years and counting, two kids, one on the way.”
Danika almost choked on a mouth full of martini. She gagged and said, “Damn.”
“I know.” Gloria shook her head slowly. “That’s the exact same thing that I said.”
It took a visible effort for Danika to regain her composure. She let a sigh escape slowly through her nose. She picked up her napkin and began to play with it. “So…when are you planning to call him back? You practically gave him a ten in bed. You called me after your first night together and praised him so much that I started ask you for his number so that I could call him myself.”
“No, I’m not calling his trifling ass…But you’re right, the sex was damn good.” She paused as the memory of their chemical connection washed over her.
Their waiter came back and placed their food on the table. He asked if they needed anything else and they replied that they didn’t. They held hands as they blessed their food and then began digging in.
They ate in silence for a few minutes. Gloria chewed thoughtfully as she reflected back to last night and Xavier’s confession and Danika ate with an air that all was right with her world.
Gloria spoke first. “Why do men do that though?”
A partially eaten riblet protruded from the corner of Danika‘s mouth as she looked up at the younger woman. She noisily sucked the rest of the meat from the bone and wiped her mouth as she chewed. She took a sip from her water glass and then said, “Girl, you’re going to have to be more specific. Why do they do what? Lie? Cheat? Steal? Drive fast? Have big feet? What?”
“All of the above, I guess,” Gloria said as she twirled a corner of a quesadilla around in her salsa. “Why do they do us like that? Get us involved with them, practically steal our mind and body, and then, when they know that they’ve built a foundation, come to us and start revealing little big things…” She deepened her voice for effect and continued: “Oops, I forgot to tell you that I had a girlfriend, fiancé, wife, eight kids, no job…” She reverted back to the exasperated tone of a woman. “Shit, I could go on for days.”
Danika chuckled softly. “I don’t let myself get caught up like that.”
“But how? How do you distinguish the married ones from the single ones before you get too involved.”
“First define involved.” Danika popped another bone in her mouth and cleaned it while Gloria searched for the right words.
“You know…” Gloria said, “Before you have sex or begin to get feelings.”
Danika pushed her plate aside and leaned forward to show Gloria that she was serious. She said, “First of all, I don’t have sex with a man unless I feel something for him. I need to be stimulated by him in some way before he ever even touches my hand. Now, I don’t need to be falling in love with him before I give him some.” She winked. “I just need to feel as if I could fall in love with him.”
Having known Danika for almost eleven years, Gloria knew that she wouldn’t tell her anything wrong. She never gave advice unless she was directly asked for it and she never rubbed it in her face if she did give advice but Gloria didn’t follow it. Gloria knew that whatever was about to be said, that the advice would be something that Danika also practiced. “Go on,” Gloria said.
“Well, I never let things go too far without seeing—with my own eyes—his living situation. I will not have sex with a man unless it’s in his own bed. Not in a hotel, car, my house, or a friend’s house.” Danika paused to let the gravity of her words sink into Gloria’s sentience. “And even then, if I’m in his bed, in his house, then he’d better plan to be with me all night. Hell, he might have a wife that works the third shift.”
A comfortable silence passed between them. Danika took the opportunity to take long sips from her martini and Gloria took a small bite of a cold quesadilla.
“And it works too,” Danika continued after a short while. “I’ve told a couple of guys how I felt about the sex thing and how it goes down and you should see how fast they stop calling. It’s almost as if I’d never met them.”
“I guess that would weed out the married ones. But what about the ones who say that they’re single but really have a girlfriend or fiancé? A man could have his own place and still have one or the other.” She paused. “Or both.”
It was Danika’s turn to think for a few seconds. “There isn’t a way to defend ourselves against that unless you pop up on him unexpectedly. But that’s no good because even an honestly single man wants respect for his privacy. As long as they’re not married, that’s cool. What I don’t know won’t hurt me. But if I find out that he’s been playing me, it will hurt him.”
Gloria chuckled at the dry humor. Lines creased her forehead and she quickly became serious again. She said, “I hate the thought of having to move on though. One reason is that I’m just sick and tired of wasting my time and another reason is because of this DL thing that has come to light. Every man that I see now is a suspect. Did you read the transcript from Oprah’s show that I sent to you?”
Danika reached over and got another riblet. “Yeah, I read that mess,” she said just before she took a bite.
Gloria returned to her own food. “Why do you call it mess? You don’t believe that it’s true?” she asked after a couple of bites.
“I believe that there are some undercover brothas out there. I just don’t believe that it’s as widespread as the gay author made it out to be.”
“He says that he’s not gay…or bisexual. He just likes to give it.”
Danika said, “Oprah should have slapped the teeth out of his mouth. I wanted to and I was just reading the damn thing.”
Gloria looked around her again. Her eyes came to rest in the direction of the bar. She asked, “What about the guy over there?” she nodded her head in that direction. “Do you think that he’s gay?”
Danika looked over in the direction that Gloria nodded her head. Mr. Wedding Ring was long gone and there was only one man at the bar. Only the broad expanse of his back that was covered with an olive green dress shirt was exposed to them. He was watching the Olympic Games on the overhead TV monitors. As they watched him, another man came up behind him from his right. The new guy tapped him on his shoulder to get his attention and then they exchanged the black man’s handshake before the new guy took a seat himself—leaving one seat separating them.
“Nope, they’re not gay,” Danika replied.
“How do you know?”
“They did the man thing and left a seat between them. Unless men absolutely have to—no matter how close their relationship is—there has to be a seat between them. It’s an unspoken rule.”
Gloria turned away from the men. “Still…they could be fronting.” She waited until Danika also turned back to the table before she asked, “Do you have a test for a man’s sexuality, Dr. Phyllis?”
“That was so funny…” she replied with a smirk. “I tried once and almost ended up getting beat down.”
“What did you do?”
Danika looked around her to verify that she had some privacy. “I don’t think that I ever told you about Lawrence but I met him at Bruster’s one day. He was dressed nice from his shirt to his shoes, nice teeth, and smelled so good that I had to ask him what he was wearing. He was about six-two, dark, with a neatly trimmed goatee. I expected a deep baritone voice to accompany all of his physical assets but I got Michael Jackson instead.” Danika sat back and sighed. “The talking Michael, not the singing one.”
Gloria was taking a sip of Coke as Danika talked. At the Michael Jackson statement, she almost choked on her drink and began coughing violently. Danika absently handed her a napkin and waited patiently until her friend’s fit abated enough to continue.
“Anyway, he was squeaking, not lisping, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. But his mannerisms…God…” Danika rolled her eyes, “They reminded me of Percy who used to work in the mailroom. Remember him?”
“How can I forget? He’s the only man that I know to get caught stealing out of Victoria Secrets for himself.” Gloria smiled at the memory. ”That was obvious though.”
“Exactly. He started talking to me and flapping his wrists, rolling his eyes, and tossing his head as if he had hair down to the middle of his back.” With each description, Danika imitated the action, which caused Gloria to a laugh out loud and then cover her mouth in embarrassment.
“So how did you end up with him if he was that flamboyant?” Gloria asked.
“I was going to get my ice cream and walk away forever but…God he smelled good.” Danika took a whiff of the air as if the scent were still around her.
Gloria: “That good, huh?”
“Giiiiiiirl, it was instant…panty…pudding. And he asked for my number, so I said what the hell.”
The waiter came back and asked them if they were finished. Gloria asked for a to-go box and Danika pushed her plate toward him. She seemed to all of a sudden see one last piece and grabbed it as he was picking the plate up. She smiled sheepishly at Gloria and held it out to her to ask if she wanted it?
Gloria shook her head as a refusal and said, ”Soooo?”
“Sooo, even after the third date, I still didn’t know for sure. So one night, when we were going for a walk in Centennial Park, I put on my acting shoes and told him that I was really a man.” Danika watched for Gloria’s response.
Just as she had known, a look of surprise came over Gloria’s face and her mouth dropped open. It took almost ten seconds before she was able to exclaim, “You what! And he believed that?”
“Not at first but I had put a rolled up sock in my panties. When he didn’t believe me, I told him to touch me down there.”
“Please tell me that you didn’t.”
Danika leaned in closer and nodded her head. “I did. You should have seen the look on his face. He pushed me so hard that I broke a heel and fell into some bushes. I think that he swung at me too but since I was falling backwards, he missed. By the time that I managed to get back up, that negro was gone.”
By the time that she finished, Gloria was laughing so hard that she was causing a scene. The waiter came and gave them the check and looked at her with raised eyebrows, which made her laugh even harder. Danika made a circular motion at the side of her head and nodded down at her friend. Since it was her turn to pay, she paid and tipped the waiter in cash and he went on his way.
Gloria lay on the table; her abdomen rising and falling rapidly, with occasional bouts of giggles wracking her body. Soon she recovered enough to raise her head and wipe at her eyes. She said, “That’s what you get. Girl, what were you thinking?”
“Girl, I didn’t care. It was obvious that he liked only women. However, I like my men to be manly. Walk like a man, talk like a man, stiff wrists, and a voice deeper than mine.”
“Amen,” Gloria said as she still wiped at her eyes. “Let’s go. Some people have jobs that they need to go back to.”
Their route out of the restaurant took them past the two men at the bar that they’d discussed earlier. Danika led the way and Gloria walked closely behind. The men’s’ attention was on the television as they discussed the games in hushed tones. As the women passed the second man on their way out—the one who had been there first—Danika stopped dead in her tracks, causing Gloria to bump into her.
“Girl, what is your problem?” Gloria exclaimed.
Both of the men turned around. Danika looked the second man straight in the eyes and said, “God, you smell good.” He flashed a self-conscious smile but before he could respond, Gloria was dragging her scent-smitten friend out of the restaurant and into the bright Atlanta sunlight, where an infinite number of possibilities to find that one true love awaited them patiently.
(to be continued… Male Problems)
Female Problems by L. L. King
© Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. No portion of
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