Thursday. A few months back, my favorite hip-hop magazine got a new editor in chief. His name and one other were the only two thrown around as potentials and he being the more likable (and qualified) of the two, got the job. (The other dude spent the wee hours of the new year yelling at me that I was not really Black because I am not dark enough, but I digress.) So Hennessey, in a celebration/marketing move, decides to honor the new EICâ€™s ascent to the top of the masthead with a lovely party at the penthouse of the very sexy Rivington Hotel. Of course, I went.
The mini-bar is serving up tasty Hennessey mojitos that taste like juice. I saw how much the bartender poured, but somehow my drink doesnâ€™t taste strong. Despite not eating since lunch (it was around 9PM when I arrived at the party), I drink one as I head to the rooftop deck overlooking Manhattan.
Itâ€™s gorgeous. A perfect night, a hint of a breeze and everyone I love in the city is up there too. Time progresses and I run into a young friend and heâ€™s headed down the steps for another drink. He offers to bring me another, which I accept. The rest of the night, I talk, I laugh. I see old friends, I make new ones. At some point, I end up standing with an old friend talking to a short, fat, unattractive man with a great personality. Even that was great. Everything is great. Yes, I am giddy. Yes, I am silly. But I am very far from drunk.
At least, I think so until Iâ€™m in a cab with friends on the way to Brooklyn and suddenly the motion of the car doesnâ€™t seem to agree with me. I make it home without hurling. Make it inside just fine. I plop on the bed face down and wonder, â€œhow much did I drink?â€ I run through the number of drinks in my mind. Iâ€™ve done much worse and been much better. â€œWhat the hell is wrong with me?â€
My phone vibrates next to my head. Itâ€™s a text from B telling me to drink water and stay off my phone. No texting. â€œWas I that bad?â€ I type back. She tells me I wasnâ€™t. Hmmm. Iâ€™m not convinced.
I wake up the next morning with a hangover. Iâ€™m so disappointed with myself. Iâ€™m 28 years old and still drinking past my tolerance? Arenâ€™t I a little too old for this? Iâ€™m racking my brain about what I did last night that would make B think I was done (which clearly I was if I have a hangover). I donâ€™t think I said or did anything crazyâ€¦ Did I? I was silly, simple perhaps, ditzy maybe. But that could be me on any given Monday with the right amount of sunshine in the sky. Thatâ€™s nothing to tell me to put my phone down about.
Thereâ€™s a message from Dean waiting in my Inbox when I arrive at work. Dean would be the short, fat, unattractive man who I spoke to on the rooftop. I remember giving him my card because he was so funny and nice. He says it was great to meet me and he gives me a rundown of the services his company offers. Itâ€™s nothing I can use for my magazineâ€™s section. I click Delete.
Later that morning, he calls to say hello. He doesnâ€™t have a fat manâ€™s voice. Itâ€™s very smooth, hint of a NY accent, but professionally polished. Lots of rumbling bass and he laughs from the gutâ€”a sign of genuine humor. If only he looked as good as he sounded.
He asks me what Iâ€™m doing later, if Iâ€™d like to accompany him to some party at the Hudson Grill. I remind him that I am a Black girl with a perm and it is raining. He asks if maybe we can get up later in the week. I decline without explanation. Maybe, emphasis on maybe, next week I can be free. I donâ€™t want to mislead the man into thinking I am remotely interested in him.
Dean calls bright and early to ask if I read the e-mail about his company. I tell him I have not. He jokes with me about being so busy, says I must have a boyfriend or something. I answer that I do not; Iâ€™m just that busy working.
â€œNo boyfriend?â€ He sounds surprised.
He tells me that he is coming my way around noon to drop off an informational packet about his company. I have no idea why he is so eager to get me interested in this. I cover relationships, but some people will take any in they can to get into my magazine. Heâ€™s too nice for me to tell him no. I agree to meet him downstairs at the appointed time.
He calls thirty minutes before he is supposed to arrive to ask my cross streets. Heâ€™s on XXth & 3rd. Iâ€™m on XXth and 7th. It sounds like four avenues; itâ€™s more like 7. Itâ€™s a long walk. He didnâ€™t realize I was so far. Heâ€™ll walk anyway. It only occurs to me then that perhaps his journey has less to do with getting press coverage for his company and is more about seeing me. Aww. Thatâ€™s sweet. But the short, fat, unattractive man doesnâ€™t stand a chance. I feel bad that he is going so far out of his way. Did I mislead him that far along just by agreeing to meet him downstairs?
Ten minutes later, he calls to say heâ€™s close. I should come downstairs. I lollygag getting down there. I donâ€™t want to go. Iâ€™m thinking he may hit on me and I will have to shut him down. I should have told him I had a boyfriend.
I donâ€™t even bother going to the bathroom to check and freshen my make-up or hair. I donâ€™t really care if he finds me attractive. I will get the informational packet, I will shut down any hits on me, and then send the short, fat, unattractive man on his way quickly.
I get to the lobby and there is no sign of him. Ugh! Is short, fat, unattractive man going to make me wait?
I look past the revolving doors and see a man with his back to me. His is tall, chocolate, wide in the shoulders and narrow in the waist. He is not even moving, but he is swaggering where he stands and wearing the stone cold hell out of a black suit. Now that is fine. And I canâ€™t even see his face. I forget about short, fat, unattractive man and go outside to get a closer look at Mr. Swagger to see if his front is as lovely as his back. I sneak up behind him and stand over to the side checking him out. He looks focused. He has his game face on. Heâ€™s waiting on a woman no doubt, probably one of my co-workers. Lucky chick.
I look past him and down the block for Dean.
I turn. Swagger is speaking to me, calling me by my government name.
â€œI was scared I wouldnâ€™t recognize you if you had a hat on or something,â€ he jokes, then spreads his arms wide and wraps them around me.
Who the hell is this fine man hugging me?
â€œHere.â€ He holds out a bag. â€œThis is for you.â€ I look down itâ€™s a bunch of press materials and a hat with Deanâ€™s companyâ€™s logo. I look up. Dean is gorgeous. Where did I get short, fat, and unattractive? â€œItâ€™s good to see you,â€ he says.
Heâ€™s smiling at me. I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve said one word to him yet. â€œYeahhhh,â€ I slur out, trying to get a hold of myself. Itâ€™s not really a direct response to his statement, but itâ€™s the best I can do. Iâ€™m staring at a fine, grown ass man. The old-school type that pays the mortgage and sends me off to gather the groceries. The type that would meet me at the truck and carry them inside.
How in the hell did I miss this? I must have been drunk. Liquor usually makes people think folks looks better than they do. Henny. Mixed. And a fine man seems ugly?
â€œToo bad youâ€™re working though lunch. Itâ€™s a beautiful day. Iâ€™d love to take you out.â€ He looks out at the street.
I stop staring at him long enough to look out too and realize there are sunbeams everywhere. I am outside without a jacket and it is warm. â€œYeahhhhh,â€ I slur again. I want to slap myself. I am not on any deadlines upstairs. I stayed at work late last night to crank out a bunch of assignments. My coast is clear. Basic dignity and an aversion to looking desperate keep me from telling him I lied and I can go wherever he wants to take me.
â€œItâ€™s supposed to be nice tomorrow as well. But youâ€™re busy then too.â€ He sounds regretful. I nod. Iâ€™m staring at him again. â€œYeahhh.â€
God is a comedian. Only like Dave Chappelle or Chris Rock or Larry David could think of scenario like this. Give a woman what she asks for. Make her so drunk she canâ€™t even realize it and when it dawns on her she has gotten it, she will have screwed it up so that she cannot keep it. Wowzers. This is like some Shakesperian comedy.
â€œSo maybe next week youâ€™ll be free?â€ he asks, turning his attention from the sunbeams and back to me.
I smile. â€œYeahhh.â€ I think I sound a little less mentally slow that time. He beams. I mean bright beam, headlight-sees-deer bright beam. â€œThen maybe we should get together for lunch, or better dinner? Iâ€™d love to take you out.â€ He takes my hand. Holds it. He looks so sincere.
â€œYeahhh.â€ My cheeks hurt from smiling so wide this long.
â€œWell, Iâ€™ll let you get back to work. I know youâ€™re busy.â€ He gives my hand a little squeeze, then turns to swagger down the block into the sun.
I watch him go until I realize Iâ€™m watching him go. Then I go back inside. How did I miss all that fine? I ask myself as I get on the elevator to my floor. Was I that drunk? Maybe, but I couldnâ€™t have been that far gone because I somehow had sense enough to make sure that dude got my number. I shake my head in wonder at my own self.
I got to stop drinking that shit.
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