The First Chapter of
I have never been more anxious in my entire life than I am right now. I'm sitting at my desk with an hour or more to kill and a list of things that must get done before 9pm. Paperwork is everywhere, my half-eaten lunch is still in the styrofoam, and I have coffee stains all over my to-do list. "Calm down, Aaliyah," I told myself. I had to pick up my favorite navy Versace suit from the cleaners for Monday's meeting, get my diamond studs out of the safety deposit box, go to the dentist to have the wires on my teeth tightened, which I hated, go home, shower and change, breathe and relax, then meet Mark at B. Smith's on 8th Avenue. That's Mark's "we need to talk" place.
I'm really not in the mood for Mark's drama tonight. I refuse to sit and figure out if he loves me or he loves me not. I've been there and hated it. Tonight I'm turning the tables. I've created a scenario of my own. I plan on making a love connection. One minute he makes it all too clear that we are nothing more than friends, and then in the same breath he's inching up on me as soon as someone else shows a little interest. "You know I love you, Lea," he says matter of factly. He's just like a child that doesn't want a toy until another kid picks it up and starts playing with it. Any other time the "toy" is being kicked around the floor and walked on, and he could care less.
He says I'm pushy, I say he's confused, and in the end I know I'm right. He has an
abnormal personality, and he sends mixed signals. One day he wants me to bear his children
and the next day he's telling me how he's gotten hurt in the past and isn't sure if it's
the right time for us. "What does that mean?" If I left it up to him it would
never be the right time for us.
He also assumes that if he does ever reveal his deepest and innermost feelings to me that he'd get an adverse reaction, like I'd leave or something. In a nutshell, he wants to have his cake and eat it too. Men. What can you do? You can't live without them. I mean, you can try but there will always be a void. Life wasn't meant to live alone.
God created man and woman for more than just procreation, and it had a lot more to do with preventing loneliness than we'd like to think. Although, if you got the wrong man you could still end up feeling lonelier than you would if you were by yourself. Without someone to love though, something would always be missing, and without love you will never fully become and experience what you are to know and be in life, unless of course, you were called to celibacy. But that's another story.
The fact is that without a significant other, who would you share your life, hopes and dreams with? Without someone special, there would always be a void. An empty space that you put other things in, trying to make them fit, and in the end you'll discover that there's still an empty space. "I don't need a man to validate me as a woman!" Women who say that are bitter and doomed to be spinsters. Find that same woman the right man and she'll mutate into something reminiscent of a 14-year-old schoolgirl. Hypocrites!
Mark and I have been estranged for about a month. We had a major disagreement, and instead of letting bygones be bygones he wanted to play the "who can hold out on calling the longest" game. Needless to say, I won. "Women have more control than men do," I told him. I laughed, he didn't. He always wore his machismo like a suit of armor. Full of pride is what he is. I did miss him though. I missed the way he hinted and I had to guess what he was insinuating. He was never straight forward or to the point. Far be it from him to be obvious. It was always a game with him from day one.
It's a strange sort of relationship we have because Mark and I usually chat daily and
inquire about each other's day. We get along so well and we have so much in common that
it's scary. We agree on almost everything, we have the same weird taste in music, we both
love Italian, we love to laugh and we flirt endlessly with each other. Flirting. It's an
art that I've mastered to the point that I can teach it or give a seminar about it at The
New School or the Learning Annex.
He wants to get together tonight to talk? Well, I'll give him something that he'll be talking about for the rest of his life. When he arrives I'll be wearing my long black crepe form-fitting dress from Byblos, my diamond earrings, my black stacked heel strappy patent leather sandals and more than a little sienna lip color - courtesy of Ultima II. Matte was still in, I didn't care what the woman at the drug store said. She was only trying to get me to buy the new lipstick that they were selling. I was on to her.
I read in an old issue of Cosmopolitan that citrus scents triggered childhood memories in men, and I definitely want to reach the child in him tonight. I want to make him lose control. So, Calyx is my fragrance of choice. Besides it's my favorite. Some women like my sister Nicky don't know what a good fragrance is. She was still wearing Giorgio and Red Door. I tried teaching her that the lighter scents were for spring and summer, and the heavier not-so-fruity ones were for winter and fall. She didn't get it, she never did.
Citrus. I could never get tired of this fragrance, I'll only stop wearing it when they stop making it, which I hope was never. I had to create a mood. I had to have him in the palm of my hand. So it was time for my lacy underthings. Did I forget to mention the seductive quality of the Victoria's Secret pewter French lace and silk bra set, from the Christmas 96' fantasy issue, that I've been saving for a special occasion? It doesn't get more special than this. Victoria is what I'll be wearing tonight underneath all of the glitz and glamour. It cost enough. Not as much as the diamond miracle bra, but it cost. Not that I plan on wearing any of this for long, because after the drinks and dinner, the second he crosses the threshold of my apartment, the seduction is on and "BOOM" he's mine!
My hair will fall flawlessy into place around my face and shoulders, and I'll be a work of art. Literally. I've worked so hard at making my body look this good that I don't think that it would be considered vain to toot my own horn a little bit. An hour every other day and 2 hours on Saturday in the gym, milk isn't the only thing that does this body good.
And last but not least my fabulous ensemble will be accented with a gorgeous silver and gold Fendi watch that he got me for Christmas last year. I don't mean to be a namedropper, but if you've got it flaunt it. Besides I don't have any other outlet. I stopped writing in my journal last year after I spent about 14 weekends in a row watching Unsolved Mysteries and Mad TV.
Rule number one when on a date is that it is mandatory that you have a conversation piece, and the watch is just that. That way, if the conversation falls into a lull, I can bring up the watch and reminisce a bit. I remember it like it was yesterday, we were just Christmas shopping for a breadmaker for his mother last year when I saw the watch in Bloomingdale's and had to have it. I whined and laid it on pretty thick and he offered to pay for half of it as my Christmas slash birthday present. Even though it sort of shocked me because I know how "tight" he is with money. He didn't actually give in without a fight though. But then again if I whine and pout long enough I can get just about anything out of him, that's how I know he cares.
He implies that he doesn't care as much as I think he does, not in "that" way he always says, but actions speak louder than words. He said that I read too much into things. A four-hundred and ninety-five dollar watch? A definite conversation piece, and a lot to read into. Let him tell it, he'll probably say that he got carried away with good will and Christmas cheer and all that sort of stuff, or that he was experiencing a moment of temporary insanity. But I pray that it is just the first of many steps in an obvious gesture of love.
Okay, okay, back to the plan. His favorite color is black so it's only "ap-pro-po" that I clad myself in a one-size-too-small black dress. It has to be love. I skipped lunch all week just to fit into this dress. When I think of all the cute things that we do for each other I wonder why he is still denying his feelings. He has a cute little habit of leaving songs on my answering machine, or at least conveniently letting them play in the background. I like it though. Sometimes he plays the entire song and sometimes just the "I wanna be with you forever" part. He says that it doesn't mean anything, "they're just words," he says. Denial is a wonderful sedative.
I think back to Christmas eve at my place when he stopped by spur of the moment. I didn't even have time to freshen up. I was sitting around in my pajamas with hair pins and doggie slippers. He was lonely or in love, although it doesn't really matter now which. We nearly went all the way. I'm hoping for a repeat performance with a more satisfying outcome.
My sister Nicky is the only one who lives in the same town as me and we usually spend
Christmas eve together. But last year she had a date. We usually 3 way call Todd and his
family and Moma and Cheyenne and then they usually hook up Rhonda. Well, Cheyenne usually
has to do it because Moma says she just can't get the hang of this modern technology
Lisa's goal in life is to snag the brass ring but if baby number 4 hasn't done it, it won't get done. I guess we really aren't the Brady bunch. But then Moma never let us watch that show anyway. She said we couldn't relate or identify to them, and how right she was. They were white, lived in suburbia and solved every problem they ever had within the half-hour and with a smile to top it off. We on the other hand were nothing more than an accumulation of mishaps.
Mark had no family except his mother and his estranged dellusional father. Mark's mom has been ill for years. I don't know if it's something serious but I know she has something that he doesn't care to mention. She raised her family to be secretive and that probably explains a lot about why Mark can't express himself. His father on the other hand left his mother when he was 12 years old and now his father has a different little "trick" every other month.
I think it's a beyond mid-life crisis thing with his father, since he has to be at least nearing 60 years old. Mark really doesn't care to talk about his father either, so I don't ask. And for the past 2 years Mark's been my Christmas eve companion. I like nice things, Mark knows that. So, I thanked him for the Fendi watch over eggnog and "It's a Wonderful Life." Babyface was singing something in the background. The lights chased themselves around my tree and I had to be 2 clouds from heaven. I think my gratitude overwhelmed him a bit. I kissed him and I'm more than sure he was kissing me back.
It must have been the rum in the eggnog. I imagined that he was my brave knight and that I was Rapunzel being rescued from the tower that my evil step-monster locked me away in. He began to look at me in ways he never had before. His eyes seemed to tell me things his heart denied. He soaked in the little that could be revealed by my pajamas and wore an expression bordering on confession. But the next day he called me and we talked almost as if nothing had happened. He never mentioned the incident or the display of affection that we both shared. That's denial.
He wasn't alone though, I've been in denial too. So much so that I join in with my
friends, telling them how good the sex was last night and how he made me have orgasms so
magnificent that I saw rainbows. But deep down I was embarrassed to tell them that the
reason why so many of my relationships fell apart was really because the men I dated were
impressed that I was a virgin, but they weren't too impressed with the fact that I wasn't
giving in or giving it up.
I say it over and over again, but he thinks everything is a joke. I mean he knows I want to be with him but he doesn't know that tonight he will be the first. He knows all about the men in my life. The good, the bad, the ugly, the impostors and the thieves. I can tell him anything, and I have.
There was this one guy Jerry that I told him about who stole five dollars from my
wallet. He followed me home like a puppy, after we ran into each other in the supermart. I
had been avoiding him since I found out he was a bum. And while I was in the kitchen
preparing a meal to feed the near-homeless-fool he was shuffling through my wallet,
talking about he was looking for matches. In the money compartment? The clown didn't even
So, tonight is it. I'll show Mark that none of the others mattered to me and that they never did. "Lea, you've got guts," I said to myself as I finally made up my mind to do it once and for all. Besides if someone else came along and snatched him up before I had the chance to pour out my heart, I would be crushed. After all he is a catch, and he is also here's-my-credit-card and thank-you-Jesus fine.
A little shy of a carat, I picked out the perfect round diamond at my favorite jeweler. Meir was a handsome Greek guy with chiseled features, and a neatly trimmed mustache. And he was always very very helpful. The ring had quality and impressive clarity. "You have excellent taste, Lea," Meir complimented. I had chosen a half-carat diamond set in an 18 karat gold band for Mark. Sasha said that I was crazy to buy my own ring but Josai said "Lea, you go girl."
Josai is all for whatever makes me happy and it's nice to have a friend like that. Sasha is sort of my reality check but sometimes she can be a bit of a dark cloud hovering overhead. See, I know that as "frugal" as Mark is that I'd better invest in something I really want for myself, or I might end up with something that leaves little to be desired, like a chip or a cubic zirconia.
I mean it doesn't really matter who buys the ring as long as the marriage license is signed in ink, right? This is the 90's. That's why I came up with this plan, not that he's sneaky but he might think that if I love him, that it shouldn't matter what I'm wearing on my finger. That's a lie. I won't deny that I'm materialistic, but there is no way that I'm going to wave a cubic zirconia at my friends and proudly say, "ooo look what he got me" and that goes double for a chip.
I'm a bit of a romantic, I like nice things and I'd like to think of myself as classy too. That makes me an elegant marterialistic romantic. I guess I'm not willing to go the route that some women do. I am not going to need a magnifying glass to see the stone in my engagement ring! I'd rather direct my romantic efforts in the directions of ambiance. Creating a scene, and the mood has to be just right, candles, champagne, music and cookies baking in the oven. I mean I never did go along with some of my friends' ideas of "I hardly know you but, spend the night at my apartment, let's have some hard rough sex, then give me some money, and then I demand you to respect me afterwards." I mean, I want strawberries dipped in chocolate, picnics in the park under the stars with soft music playing in the background, and pillowtalk at 2am. They call this ideology the Cinderella syndrome but I call it a possibility. I can and will have it.
I'm sure that romance was not just for people in the movies. I know that normal people
experienced that type of cuddling, kissing, cooing and loving kind of romance too. I'm
tired of watching love on the silver screen and never making it. I'm also tired of playing
the waiting game with Mark. I am a bit demanding, and aggressive, to say the least but
he's had 6 years to make a move. He's had 6 years to decide. I understand cautious and I
even understand hesitation, but fear? Confusion? I won't play this game another year,
another month, or another day. This evening it's time to make a final decision. Love him
or leave him, and I pray it's not the latter.