My eyes opened up around seven in the morning. As I stared at the ceiling, I lay there thinking what the hell just happened last night? My head was pounding from the night before and lying there, it all started coming back to me slowly but surely.
That damn date. That's what it was. The first date in three months, and I couldn't believe that I actually went, but Charlize, my best and closest friend had insisted. After all, she was the one who set it up.
"Stop being such a fuddy-duddy," she had said to me.
Fuddy-duddy? I started to laugh out loud as I thought about it. When was the last time I heard that term?
My best friend could be a little -- let's just say -- weird at times. To me, Charlize and I were extreme opposites. Where she had short hair (when not wearing one of her many weaves), my hair was longer. She was short and I'm tall. In my personal opinion, she was a bitch whereas I am...
I guess in that respect we were slightly similar.
At least I admitted it.
I got out of the bed and stretched my five-foot-ten-inch frame. I forgot to tie my shoulder-length hair up last night when I came home, so I knew I was in for a real treat when I went to wash my face and look into the mirror.
I put my slippers on, headed for the bathroom and tripped over my dang cat.
"Good morning, Sydney."
"Meow," was her reply, and that was only because she was hungry.
If cats were bitches, then mine would be the queen.
I got to the bathroom mirror and almost laughed my head off. There I was in all my glory or should I say gory? Not only was my hair every which way, but also my makeup was still on my face in smears from the night before.
I bet Mark would've loved seeing me like this last night.
Mark was the guy I went on a blind date with, and let me tell you it wasn't pretty. Charlize had insisted that he was the best thing since Billy Dee Williams. Well, Billy Dee Williams back in the day. I guess now it would be D'Angelo or whoever was the latest guy to compare other guys to in that superficial way.
He was tall and a consultant and the best thing since sliced bread, according to Charlize. I'm not sure what he consulted, but you have to really watch out for some of those job titles out there. I found out that mechanical engineer could also mean janitor.
He was from the Bethesda, Maryland area, so it was not far from me. Even after our date last night, that was pretty much the only thing I knew about him.
We'd agreed to meet at Fu Shi, which was one of those chi-chi Chinese restaurants. I wasn't really big on Chinese food, but as long as he was paying, I was going. (I know; trife but a sista was hungry.)
I'd decided to wear my sleeveless floral print dress. It showed off my curves, and it was perfect for a beautiful July summer night, so that's what I wore. I had my hair out straight and chose dainty earrings with a matching choker. I believed simple was better.
That was me and Mark's first difference.
When I met him outside the restaurant, I immediately knew it was him from our phone conversations. He had always talked business in at least half of our conversations, and when I saw a man in a dark blue flawless suit on his cell phone outside the restaurant, I knew that had to be him. I had to admit he looked good. He had these incredible broad shoulders that looked, well, broad in that flawless suit.
I noticed that when he was talking on the phone, he repeatedly used his free hand to make a point to the person on the other end -- business call no doubt.
I got out of my Mustang (cool points for the Mustang) and casually walked up to him, but when I went to introduce myself, I got the finger. You know; the I-am-not-ready-to-speak-to-you-just-yet-so-please-hold-on-for-one-moment finger.
So I stood there and stood there and stood there until he was ready. Thank goodness I had decided to have that vodka martini at home before meeting him, because if I didn't, I might have actually felt a bit embarrassed just standing there looking like an idiot.
So there I still stood contemplating whether or not to just go ahead home and call it a night, but just as I turned to leave, I heard him say something to the phone indicating the conversation was concluding.
"I'm sorry," he said, giving me a wink and a smile. "I had to take care of this. You know how it is."
He did have a nice smile with all those pearly white teeth. (How much you wanna bet they aren't natural?)
"Actually, I don't. I'm in between jobs right now, but yeah, I remember those days," I stated.
You think I would've just passed gas or something because just then his face dropped to the ground. Maybe I shouldn't have divulged that bit of information at this point.
"Oh, I thought Charlize said that you were in sales and marketing?"
"I am, or rather I was. I quit about a month ago and moved out here."
There was that face again.
"Why would anyone in their right mind do something like that?"
Now he was insinuating that I was crazy. How nice.
Did you ever get the feeling that something was doomed from the beginning? Well, I had that feeling. It kind of felt like gas that was pent up right in the pit of your stomach ready to explode at any sudden movement.
To make a long story short, we ended up having a quick dinner, and then, for some strange reason, the food seemed to not agree with me all of a sudden, and I really had to go home to rest from this humongous headache, stomachache, whatever, take your pick. Go figure.
As I got into my car, I ended up calling Charlize, and we met at Quimby's on the waterfront and had two chocolate martinis -- or three or four -- I couldn't remember. I do remember that we joked all night about the so-called date I had earlier.
Even though she set it up, I could never have been mad at her. I knew she had the best intentions, but sometimes I just wanted to take her intentions and shove them right up her...
"Are you mad at me?" Charlize asked with a grin on her face.
I could tell she really was concerned if I was mad at her or not, especially with her grinning in my face like that.
"No, I'm not mad, but let me ask you something I should've asked you before 'the date,'" I said, doing the finger thing to indicate a quote. (I don't know why I do that; I hate that, too!)
"You're just as single as I am, so why didn't you go out with him?"
She began to giggle a bit, and then she began to laugh and then burst out uncontrollably.
"Monica, when I met him I knew he was the type of guy that was -- shall we say -- a little pretentious? You had always stated that you wanted a man who had a good head on his shoulders, was business-minded and to sum it up, 'had it goin' on.' So that's what I found. He fit all those descriptions. Ever hear of the term be careful what you wish for?"
She started laughing again but this time I joined her.
"In all honesty," she began between gasps of air, "I actually thought you two just might hit it off, but I guess now all I can say is oops."
"In that case," I stated still laughing. "Let's toast to oops."
As we lifted our glasses, that began our first monthly Martini Night.
And that, my friends, was the wonderful blind date I had last night.
How could I have had any reservations?
I pinned my hair up and stepped into the shower that was spitting out cold water. I reached through the streaming water and turned the far left knob all the way to the right, turning on more hot water and then jumped in. It was as if I were washing away the night before along with the smeared eye makeup. I noticed that my sit-ups were working. Next month would either make or break me. I would either keep up the crunches or I would go back to my chicken fingers and fries, which where my favorite, especially with extra honey-mustard sauce. We'd see.
Just as I turned off the water, I heard my phone ring. I grabbed a towel and ran to pick it up. It had to be nobody but Charlize this dang early in the morning.
"Hello?" I answered quickly without looking at my caller ID.
"Good morning," a baritone voice said. "And how are you this morning?"
Who the heck was this?
"I wasn't sure if I should call this early, but since you got sick, I thought I might give you a ring to make sure things were okay," the voice said.
Well, that did it. It had to be no one but Mark from "the date" last night. I looked at my caller ID and, sure enough, it was.
Wait, I thought we were both on the same date last night, but maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was a dream or rather a nightmare. I never expected to hear from him again. Actually hoped was more the word. I mean sure, after standing around waiting for him to finish his phone call on his cell and being called a dummy, we did have an okay time at dinner, but nothing to write home about.
"Uh, yeah, I actually feel okay now. I do have a slight headache though," I stated telling the truth.
"Yeah," he said laughing. "All those martinis you had will do that to you."
Busted!!!! But I thought I'd try to play it off anyway.
"What?" I said as I walked to my living room to look for Sydney. "Martinis, what are you talking about?"
Damn, that sounded phony as all hell. (Did you ever get caught in a lie, and you know you're caught in a lie but you insist on playing it out anyway? I think there's an actual word for that in the dictionary.)
"After our date last night, I happened to pass by Quimby's, and I saw you and Charlize at the bar."
Now I'm thinking, do I go the route of making up an excuse like as-soon-as-I-left-your-tired-ass-I-felt-better-and-decided-to-call-my-friend-to-get-a-real-party-on?
Nah, caught was caught and what did I care anyway? He didn't know me like that.
"I was actually just trying to let you off the hook. I got the impression you weren't having the best time," I said trying to save face. (Okay, semi-lie).
"You're absolutely right...we didn't have a good time because I was rude. I can get that way at times, but it wasn't intentional. I just happened to have had a bad day, and I carried it out on our date. I don't blame you for wanting to leave and I do want to apologize."
This was nice of him and I was impressed. It didn't make me like him any more, but this was actually refreshing.
"No problem, I've been there done that," I said, realizing how stupid that sounded.
Just then, Sydney jumped up on my lap and made herself comfortable.
"I apologize myself for lying, but I figured I was doing both of us a favor," I said, laughing.
He laughed at that, too.
Looked like everything was copasetic.
"Can you hold on?" I asked, brushing Sydney off my lap and walking back into my bedroom.
I checked my caller ID and clicked over. It was my girl.
"Hey, Char, guess who I'm talking to?"
"Uh, lemme guess. I'll say Mark," she said.
"How did you know?"
I went into the kitchen and poured myself a glass of ice-cold orange juice.
"I'm psychic. Just kidding. He called here this morning and told me some shit about last night. Are you sure you two went on the same date because he couldn't say enough good things about you? How pretty you were, how nice you were, etcetera, etcetera."
"Get out!" I said, completely astonished. "I'll call you back as soon as I'm done."
I started to click over until I heard Char's voice again.
"Wait, I'm calling to find out if you want to go to brunch at Quimby's. You know on Saturdays they have their jazz fusion brunch and Boney James is supposed to be there this Saturday."
"Meet me there at one o'clock on the terrace. Stacey and Jaleesa are coming, too."
I told her okay but I didn't really feel like meeting Stacey and Jaleesa there. Jaleesa was somewhat ghetto and Stacey was, for lack of a better term, a dumb ass. (Harsh but the truth).
There was a whole story behind that statement.
I clicked back over to Mark.
"Hello?" I said.
"Hi, I'm still here."
"That was Charlize, and she wanted to go to brunch today."
I reached over the kitchen table and closed the window that I had left open all night. That could be why I was sick all the time.
"That's too bad; I wanted to ask you to brunch," he said, sounding defeated.
Hellllooooo, earth to Monica, earth to Monica? Wait, one more time. That was the same date we were on last night, right?!?!?!
"Maybe next time, but thanks for asking," I said.
"Can I call you tonight?" he asked.
This brotha was really trying. You had to give him credit for at least that.
"You can try but I may be out."
I looked at the clock. It was twelve-thirty.
"I gotta go. I'll talk to you later," I said.
I could've sworn he was trying to sound sexy.
Lunch with Stacey and Jaleesa. Oh, goody. When exactly was the last time I talked to them? I couldn't even remember, but then it came back to me as clear as a sunny day.
It was when Char told me that Jaleesa's boyfriend was caught cheating on her a few times, and each one of those times she took his broke, tired, ignorant ass back. That did it for me on having any type of respect for her. It was a real shame, too. She was a computer programmer and made good money. I can't stand that. A woman who had her priorities straight but, when it came to men, they just became a complete mess.
They had been dating for about ten years and had three kids. How do you date for ten damn years? I still couldn't figure that out.
I filled Sydney's water bowl as I thought about that one.
F-that: if he hasn't married me after say, two years, then forget him. I also refused to have any kids by anyone before I got married. That just made it more difficult to leave if he didn't come through in those allotted two years.
I could still remember the first time her man Rakim was caught cheating on her. Notice I said caught? Chances were that it wasn't the first time he had done it. It had been the typical come-home-from-work-early story and BAM! There he was with their next-door neighbor. We all swore she was going to kick his butt out but she didn't. I couldn't even imagine what he had said to her in order to have her keep supporting him, but whatever it was, it had worked.
Of course, she had done all that talking about "Don't let him ever come around me and my kids again" and the "If I see his motherfuckin' ass on the street..." Blah, blah, blah, but, sure enough, four days later -- not even a week -- he was right back up in there. (And I mean that in more ways than one.) I mean dang, if it was all that, it was all that, but I couldn't see no dick being all that.
The worst part of it was that after she had done all that talkin', she knew she was wrong for taking his ass back, so she didn't tell us. She had hidden it from us for a good two weeks until Char had seen them together one night, and that's when she came clean.
The second time he had been caught, she got us again. She said the same bullshit about never taking him back and had even done the ol "Waiting to Exhale" shit by burning up his clothes but, sure enough, after three days, I had spotted them all hugged up in Quimby's.
After that we just kind of rolled with the punches.
As I opened a can of tuna and put it in Sydney's bowl for her breakfast, I cringed at the thought of how ignorant one woman could be, especially when it came to a no-good man.
The third time, it was the same thing, but this time it had been this white girl two apartments down. She looked as though she was no more than sixteen years of age. This was the latest leverage Jaleesa would claim to have over him. She was now going to have him locked up for statutory rape.
Uh, huh. By this time we'd caught on to her game. She'd even gone as far as to call the police right in front of him and proceeded to ask the cop "general" questions regarding how to go about reporting statutory rape.
Nope, still wasn't buying it. That time it took almost a week for her to go back to him, a new record.
The last and final time of his indiscretions -- and I say that with a grin on my face because even I didn't believe it was the final time, but it was the last time we caught him -- he was caught in a compromising position with her little sister, who wasn't so little with her 38DDs.
We were all the lucky ones to witness this final episode.
I could remember it like it was yesterday and not a couple of months ago.
We'd all been out drinking at this bar on Main Street, and as we started to walk to our cars, there they were. They were coming out of a hotel and looking very cozy. We all just stopped in our tracks. It was like we all saw them at the same time, and the world just froze.
I looked over at Char before opening my mouth. I wondered if she'd seen what I'd just seen. Yup, she'd seen it because her mouth was just as open as mine, and she was thinking the same thing or at least I thought she was.
"Isn't that Rakim?" Char asked before anyone else had a chance to comment.
I just kind of looked at Jaleesa along with everyone else and waited for a response.
I thought Char was just trying to be bold by coming out and asking Jaleesa that dumb ass question, but as I had continued to look from Char to Jaleesa, I realized that Char didn't see Jaleesa's sister with him.
As she slowly realized it, I saw Char's face whiten to the shade of a ghost, and then she made this gasping noise.
No one had said anything else, but we all watched in silence to see the couple's next move.
Rakim hailed a taxi, both climbed into the back seat, and off they went.
Stacey was the first one to speak.
"So does this mean you guys are ready to go home, or do you want to hang out some more?"
No one said anything to her question, and we all just kind of proceeded back to our cars quietly and promised to catch up with each other later.
I hadn't seen or heard from anyone for the next few days until the following Saturday when Char called.
"Giiiiirl, have you heard the latest?"
Miss Gossip Queen herself.
"No, what happened?" I asked, feeling slightly guilty for even falling into her trap.
"I heard from Dynasty who heard from Toya...," she began.
"Who the hell is Toya?" I interrupted.
"You know Toya. She's Rakim's older cousin. Remember last year when we went to that picnic and there was that girl with the busted-out weave? They called her 'Tracks' because you could see the tracks from the weave sticking out through her hair. C'mon, you've got to remember her. We cracked on her for like a month after that."
"Oh, yeah, yeah," I said, not having any idea who she was. I just wanted her to continue with the story.
"Anyway, she found out that, that night we saw Rakim with Jaleesa's ho bag sister, Jaleesa threw his butt out!"
"And??" I said, not fazed by her story.
"Not only did she throw him out, but she made good on her threat by calling the police on his ass for that little tramp white girl he fucked like six months ago. It was triflin'. By the time the police got there, she had all his shit thrown out on the lawn and then turned the sprinklers on. Then I heard that somebody said he smacked her around a couple of times and the police took him downtown."
I highly doubted he smacked her around. He had a wussy thing about him. If anything, I think Jaleesa probably decked him a few times, but not vice versa.
"I was gonna call down there, but I felt weird. I mean, what would I say and how would I get information without sounding like I'm prying in her business?"
"Well, you don't because you are nosy and you are prying in her business. I say we go down there and talk to her in person."
I felt kind of guilty for being in the business, too, but if you really thought about it, Jaleesa wasn't really my friend. She was only a friend by association. If anything, Char should have felt like dirt because that's her girl, but I know she didn't.
When I finished talking myself out of feeling guilty, I ended up picking up Char, and then we rolled down to Jaleesa's, you know, to give her support in her time of need. Right?!?!
When we arrived, we saw what would've been humorous, but in this specific case it had actually been quite sad. In their yard sat a few pieces of clothing that remained from the night before. Evidently, that part was true.
To make matters worse, there were two dogs playing tug-of-war with what looked like a sock.
Okay, so it was a bit funny.
Charlize must've been thinking likewise because I heard her chuckle as she looked around and saw the same thing I did.
We pulled up the driveway and saw Jaleesa's black Mercedes, so we knew she was home.
"Well, let's go find out the deal," Char said.
I really felt as though I should feel guiltier than I did, but I didn't.
We knocked on the door, and there was no answer. We heard a TV so someone had to be home. We knocked again until we heard Jaleesa's voice.
"Who is it?" asked a voice from behind the door.
"Monica and Char!" I yelled through the heavy wooden door.
Jaleesa opened the door and stood there.
"Can we come in?" asked Char.
Jaleesa opened the door wider and walked back to the living room to continue watching TV.
We stepped into her house and shut the door behind us.
"So what's new?" Char asked.
There she went with those dumb ass questions again.
I, on the other hand, decided to just skip right to the point.
"How are you doing? I mean we haven't heard from you in a few days, and we were beginning to wonder."
"I'm fine," she said, not even looking at us. "You guys want a beer?"
Before we could answer she was off to the kitchen.
"She's fine?" Char questioned with a whisper. "I don't think so!"
"Could you knock off the dumb questions, please?" I told her. "What's new?" I mimicked.
I looked into the kitchen to make sure she wasn't coming.
"She knows the whole dang neighborhood knows, so don't act as though we were on Mars when everyone else was talking about it."
"I know, I know, but I just didn't know what to say."
I looked Char square in the face and said, "Didn't your mother ever tell you that if you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all? Well, the same thing goes for stupid ass things, too."
"I only have light beer. Is that okay?" yelled Jaleesa from the kitchen.
"That's fine," we said in unison.
The two stooges, at it again.
I decided to begin.
"What did he say when you confronted him?" I yelled into the kitchen.
"Nothin'," she said as she came back into the room with two beers in her hand. "It's done and over with. We talked it out and everything is fine."
I looked past her and into her apartment. It was a complete mess. I saw beer cans and empty bags of snacks sprawled out all over the floor. There were pizza boxes and dying plants everywhere. It really was a sordid sight.
When she said it was done and over with, I figured she was talking about the relationship, not the argument.
I looked at Char and she at me. It was time to play three stooges because I was about to take my two fingers and go straight for Jaleesa's eyes.
"Dammit, girl. I know you two didn't get back together...again. Please tell me that. Please," Char said, clasping her hands together as if she were praying.
"I don't see where it is any of your concern or business," Jaleesa said to both of us with much attitude. "I said everything is fine, and fine it is, and don't ask me anymore!"
This girl was a true dumb ass.
That was the last we talked about it.
That was about two months ago, and I haven't seen or hung out with her since, and now I have to go to brunch with her?
Well, I guess I have to see her sometime, so let's get it over with.
Copyright © 2003 by Laurel Handfield
My Diet Starts Tomorrow
Monica is a girl whose standards have hit rock bottom. Having dated so many loosers, she doesn't even care that her latest, Mark, has some baggage -- baggage that has a name and face and harnesses her every chance she gets. But hey, everyone has a skeleton in the closet, right? Could he be the one, imperfections aside? Will she bother to press the issue? Should she just bolt for the door and forget the whole thing? Before she can decide, things get complicated when she meets a guy who encompasses everything she looks for in a man. There's just one problem: he lives in another country.
In this exciting first novel, Laurel Laurel Handfield deftly captures the moments of humor, frustration, hope, and uncertainty that are inevitable parts of every new relationship. Sarcastic, heartwarming, and always entertaining, My Diet Starts Tomorrow will appeal to anyone who's been knocked down by the dating scene -- only to get right back up and into it again.