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Routine Check Ups
Somewhere in yesteryear I was in high flame with this dude who we’ll refer to as the Fire Starter. He was a friend of a friend who was more like family to me. His charm rubbed against my curiosity & the phone calls began. No less than a year, maybe more, went by with us just rappin’ like cool kids do. He went from bein’ a dread to a bald head during that time & our communications…matured.
For the life of me, I couldn’t tell you what we were talking about on this particular night. I was in my room watching TV & talking to Fire Starter, lights high & work spread across my bed. The conversation made me turn the TV off for better concentration. Nothing wild was being said but I was having a physical reaction to talking to this man. No innuendo was being traded, there was nothing lascivious about our talk. The lights dimmed themselves & suddenly I was on the phone in a room that looked like a candlelit nook of a restaurant. I promise I didn’t get up & dim the lights. I was glued to the bed, enraptured by the words we were sharing. & I still maintain I can NOT tell you what words because they were just that basic.
I did a sweep of the eye to make sure I wasn’t in the midst of a Carol Ann moment, a la Poltergeist. TV was still off; the walls weren’t pulsating. I had to assume I was in the middle of magic. We kept talking. My legs were extended in front of me, wearing shorts on that early Fall night. As the conversation flowed I noticed that my legs were becoming flushed & hot. They turned red before my very eyes. I’ve seen flush cheeks but never legs.
It was then, as the lights dimmed themselves & my legs turned some tantalizing shade of cinnamon that I knew something would pop off between us. A few weeks later a date was set & I boarded a Greyhound going north on 95. I don’t know how y’all get down but Greyhound is reserved for emergencies. I’m a little too persnickety to be spending time hobnobbin’ with the likes of the average regular on Greyhound. It’s just not my twist. So, you see how crucial this visit had become.
Needless to say, I wasn’t too bad off after the trip & arrived to my destination with all kinds of anxious wonderings. Me & Fire Starter shared some easy laughter, some playful banter, & some personal jabs at each other’s figurative necks. It was just like old phone times. After accompanying him for some business, we made it back to his spot. Now, to qualify just how young & starry eyed I was, I’ll describe the surroundings. His apartment, a term I use loosely, probably had negative square footage. The shower was so small that my back touched the wall because there was no place else for it, the kind that evidenced most or all of the previous tenants. The furnishings, such as they were, were a hodge podge of this & that & none of it matched. Some of it leaned, some of it was propped up & some of it we broke that weekend. Good times. The point—NO PLACE you would catch me at this stage in my life. Like a friend, also in his 30’s, who lives on another friend’s sofa & manages to convince grown women to come through & swing an ep. WHO are these chicks & what depot did they drop their pride off at? For me, it was my youth, & a whole lot goes then.
Blah blah blah…yackety schmackety. That night & the next morning we did all those ATL dances before they’d even been invented. We leaned widdit & rocked widdit. We snapped widdit & dropped widdit. We definitely bounced, bounced bounced. We dipped & wined. We even took it to church, called on the Lawd & wrote a negro spiritual or 2. We blasphemed, Lord God, we blasphemed.
That experience woke me up & invited passion back into my life. The sad part was that I was still in my 20’s so it makes no sense that it was absent in the 1st place. Fire Starter & I hold special places in each other’s hearts for this. Something about it binds us to each other even now. It was clear that we couldn’t find the middle ground for being together then or the subsequent years that popped up making us revisit the concept. It just wasn’t meant to be. Only…life keeps putting us back in each other’s path. Small world-isms, ZERO degrees of separation, similar passions (advocating for children), a zest for dance floor fluckery, & the inability to forget the time we both set fire to each other’s souls make it hard to sidestep the Ghost of Compulsions Past when it whispers on the backs of our necks.
What does that mean? His birthday passed. I called him for it as I always do. A guarantee we speak in the summer & the winter; we’re on some subconscious solstice cycle. His response? To go on the date we’ve never been on…in all these years. To what end? Dunno. I just gave my blessing for a family member to pass his info on to another family member because they’re so much alike. Fire Starter is on his way here for another session of “Oh yeah…we’re really just friends.” Who love each other. This is our dance. I’ll play my part & we’ll go back to our corners doing whatever it is we do when the other isn’t around—which is most of the time.
Girls & Boys. I swear.
Watch me move.