It was the end of the Summer of 1998. Janet was still doing freaky shit with that Velvet Rope, Jordan was finishing up his second three-peat performance, and I'd just finished an internship outside of Chicago at a company that happened to have some rather attractive female employees.
Believe it or not, I wasn't trolling for panties in the workplace - despite my full appreciation for the figures surrounding me. One of the young ladies asked an older, Black gentleman, at the plant, to introduce us, since she knew him and he and I had been seen chatting a time or two.
She then quickly and deftly played the ever-useful "show you around town?" card and the next thing you knew, we were something of an item. This lasted the entire Summer, then the internship came to an end.
Good-Bye & Hello.
I packed up my stuff, we said our good-byes, and I hit the road, headed back to Tallahassee.
Unfortunately, I had car trouble on the way through Indiana. I had someone take a look at my truck and it was going to take several days, at the least, to effect repairs. I was in a town with folks I didn't know so I was likely to be bored to death AND rack up a huge hotel bill.
I decided to call my lady friend from the Chicago area. Assuming I could make it back there, I asked her if I could stay with her while my vehicle was repaired.
Her words: "West, I would *love* for you to stay with me."
I took her at her word, jumped back in my truck, and puttered and prayed my way back to town.
The Turn and REturn.
When I arrived, she was very hospitable and seemed genuinely happy to see me. While we were waiting for the dealer to repair my truck, SHE had car troubles so I accompanied her and her son as she took care of that and various errands.
I noticed, while her car was being fixed, that her attitude toward me seemed to have shifted into the negative range of the emotional spectrum. I couldn't figure out why that might've been. I don't think I'd been there for twenty-four hours, at that point, and we hadn't had any arguments, that I recalled.
Later, she seemed even pissier, for some reason. After some coaxing, she finally said, "You know, you could've OFFERED to take out the trash!"
I was kinda blown-away, to be honest. Maybe it should've, but it never occurred to me that the garbage bag was that full or that I should sprint out the door, eager to repay her for the free lodging.
Perplexed, but not quite pissed, I replied, while grabbing the garbage bag and heading outside to the dumpster, "I-I'm sorry. I didn't know. If you wanted me to take out the trash, though, all you had to do was ask."
Apparently, she didn't think she should've needed to do that. *shrugs*
The next day, I think, her pissy attitude continued without further explanation. "Could she STILL be pissed that I didn't take her garbage out sooner," I wondered.
I didn't know, but I'm really sick of having to milk people, usually women I'm seeing, for information. If I stop trying to coax it out of them, I'm sure I'd be seen as uncaring. If I try to get them to tell me what's up, I'm bugging them or pissing myself off.
"I don't know what I did (and I really don't think this is all about some garbage)," I told her, "but it's clear you don't want me here. I'm leaving."
Then, I made a fatal error.
"May I use your phone?"
Why couldn't Erykah Badu have put out that damned "Tyrone" song earlier?! While it briefly occurred to me that this young lady might have a problem with me calling ANOTHER young lady for a ride, I thought I was judging her too harshly. Besides, I didn't want to walk out of the door without some sort of arrangements having been made in-advance.
After I hung up the phone, ol' girl went off on me asking if I called another woman from her phone. I admitted I had, but I saw no reason it should be a problem.
She disagreed and spent the next hour or so telling me how bothered she was by my behavior - though not much of it made sense.
I figured that, if I was such a dummy (and to some degree, perhaps I was), she should be glad to be rid of me. But she would not let me out the door. Literally.
She barred my way.
Coming or Going?
With my bags in-hand, the only way to get out would've required grabbing her, tossing her aside, and scurrying out the door. That last part would've scathed my pride a bit, but I'd get over it. The first part, though, just didn't feel right.
Tossing her quickly enough and far enough away might also result in injury to her or her son seeing this take place. I wasn't prepared to do that, but I WAS quite bothered by the fact that my friend was probably at the gas station waiting for me (yes, I did have enough sense not to have her meet me at the apartment).
Feeling trapped and rather desperate, I noticed a bunch of cops outside of the apartment. I opened the window and, like a damsel in distress, yelled to them for help. I yelled that this woman wouldn't let me leave.
Again, pride-scathing, but I needed to get out and I didn't want to break or bend any laws to do so.
The cops turned around, at the sound of my voice, though I'm not sure they could tell which unit I was yelling from.
"Y'know what? Forget it. Just go." I don't know if she didn't want the cops involved or if she thought that was a puss move on my part, but I didn't give a damn. I was glad to be free.
Some Punch Before You Go?
I closed the window, walked to the front door, then, as I heard her send her son into his bedroom, I guess I turned to her as she pulled back..
...and punched me right in my damned eye.
. . .
I stood there, amazed, basically in-shock. As the vision returned to my left eye, realization dawned and my patience and endurance hit a record low.
I couldn't find the words to explain to this woman how pissed I was at her, how much I wanted to sock the SHIT out of her. I didn't have the words to explain to her how lucky she was at that very moment.
Her punch didn't blacken my eye. It didn't knock me off my feet. All it did was show me what a damned nut she was and send me to new heights of pissivity.
My words were stuck in that primal, fetal stage where they were pure emotion. The parts of my brain that were meant to translate them into English just weren't functional, at the time.
I was torn between an emotion that was equal parts desperation and frustration and the way my mother raised me.
"DON'T. HIT. GIRLS."
Those three words from my childhood, combined with my remaining cognitive abilities kept me from beating on this chick like she was a man.
Remember the Goal.
Maybe it was the memory of the cops I'd just seen, but I kept remembering that I was in HER home, that I was bigger than she was, and that, if I'd hit her, all any cops would care about was the fact that some big, bad, bald, mean Black man hit this "poor, pretty, defensive, single mother" with her son in the next room.
The fact that she STILL wouldn't let me leave would've been irrelevant and my ass would be grass.
Somehow, I held onto those thoughts, regained my composure, then sweet-talked her into thinking that everything was okay and that I just needed to step away for a while.
To be honest, I don't remember WHAT the hell I said to her, but it must've been some smooooooth, 007-type shit because she walked me out the door and kissed me good-bye.
The Great Escape.
I continued to fake the funk until I was out of her line-of-sight, then hauled ass to the gas station across the street, to meet my ride.
Unfortunately, by this time, my ride had come and gone.
It was late and I had to decide where the hell I was going to stay for the night. While weighing my options, I noticed an off-duty police officer was refueling his vehicle. I decided to get his take on the situation.
I told him the story I just told you (more efficiently though, I'm sure) and asked if I was right about how things would've gone down. He said I was (though race was never brought up).
He also asked if I wanted him to intervene. I told him that I didn't and, seeing that he wasn't sure how deeply involved he was or should be, at that point, I told him that I was out of that situation, didn't expect to return, and the fact that I hadn't told him her name or where she lived limited his ability to take action. In other words, he wouldn't be liable for anything that happened, after that point.
Guess What She Asked Me.
Eventually, I called a cab and stayed at a hotel, for the night. While I was there, somehow, I got a call from ol' girl who'd hit me in the eye. She'd mentioned, some days or weeks before, that she was having an out-patient procedure done, the next morning. When I was originally stranded, I'd agreed to accompany her. Of course, that was before she flipped out on me.
She was calling to find out if I'd still go to her appointment with her. I asked her if she was kidding and told her, "No."
I should've said, "HELL NO!" but she sounded pitiful and I was in shock over the fact that she had the ovaries to even ASK me that shit.
That night, though, I finally got ahold of my ride, who was none-to-pleased with me for not having shown up. I explained the situation and she agreed to come get me.
I called about my truck and found out, to my surprise, it was already fixed. It'd probably been fixed at the time when all of that drama was going down.
We went to the dealer, picked up my truck, and I followed my friend to her home, which was about 45 minutes away. We decided that, since I had such a long trip, I'd stay at my friend's home, overnight, then get up and head back to Florida, the next day.
That's just what I did.
In The End.
I've actually heard from Ol' Girl a few times in the years since then. I've asked her what the hell sent her into such a frenzy. I even (finally) wondered if that medical procedure had her so worried and nervous that she was taking it out on me.
She never explained herself and really didn't want to talk about any of that.
The Ties That Bind.
All I know is that, since then, she's had at least one other child. I'm just glad - oh so glad - that I never slipped up and conceived a child with this woman.
I'd hate to still be tied to her, after all this time, and probably for the rest of our lives.
EDIT: I remember her saying that she and her ex-husband used to fight a lot. Now I knew that wasn't just a figure of speech. This is another reason I now STRONGLY believe in heeding any information someone, especially a woman, offers me about themselves. It might save everyone a lot of time and energy.