More about Friday night… now, you didn’t think I misspoke when I said “Friday night was FULL or surprises” in my last post, did you? Well, the first surprise was Abdul and his new girlfriend, my namesake. The other surprise was… something else.
Back in the sixth grade, my parents decided that they were uncomfortable with the public school system and enrolled me in Catholic school. It turns out that the Catholic school they chose was worse than any public school in the area. So, one day, my dad got fed up with the nonsense, takes me to my Catholic school, withdraws me, and drives me to my neighborhood school where I matriculated the next day. I was happier than a pig in slop that first day at my new school. First, because I was reunited with all my friends from middle school, second because I was now introduced to a new crop of seventh and eighth grade boys that would be the foundation for many of my crushes over the years.
During my first semester of middle school, there was a pep rally held for our basketball team in the school’s gym. I was still getting to know the school building and hadn’t yet encountered even a fraction of the students who attended the school. I was sitting with my friends, cheering along with the cheerleaders when the coach decided to make an announcement about the eighth grade students who would be playing their last season for the school. The coach called for some boy named Carlos and I was expecting a Latin boy to come bounding out of the crowd, but instead, the cutest black boy I had ever seen in my young life, joins the coach on the court. I am dumbfounded, flabbergasted. My heart started beating faster and I felt butterflies in my tummy. It was official. I was in puppy love!
From that day on, I just knew that Carlos was the love of my life. We were meant to be together. The small obstacle challenging our love was that he didn’t know I existed. Plus, word on the street was that he was dating one of the eighth grade cheerleaders. What could be more perfect and sickening but the star of the basketball team dating a cute little cheerleader? But, the news broke my heart and I just relegated myself to the fact that Carlos would never be mine.
The next year, Carlos moved on to our neighborhood high school. But, lo and behold, his younger brother entered the sixth grade, a year behind me. Carlos’s brother, Jeff, and I became very good friends. He was a cutie, too, but nowhere near as cute as Carlos. I kept up with Carlos’s whereabouts through Jeff and learned that he was seriously dating someone in high school (naturally). Even though I had many more crushes, I always held a soft spot in my heart for Carlos.
Fast forward about six or seven years. I was a few years into college at the state university and decided that I wanted to get a part-time job so I could pay for an apartment off-campus. I wanted to work at the mall, but my mother suggested that I try getting a campus job. I finally decided to work as a cashier at the campus bookstore. The busiest time for the bookstore was right before classes began, so the management wanted all new employees to come in for a few weeks during the summer for training. My first day of training, I was running late and slipped into the back of the conference room. The store manager was standing at the front of the room discussing store policy.
Then, she says, “You each will be paired with a senior cashier to help you with your training. I’m going to call a few up to the front to give you a brief explanation of what your duties will include.” She gives a signal to someone in the crowd and a guy walks up and stands in front of the crowd.
I literally gasp out loud. The person standing at the front of the room is none other than Carlos. In the flesh! I couldn’t believe it. And, even after all these years, when I looked at him, my heart skipped a beat. I didn’t hear a word he said. I just had a flashback to middle school, watching him walk through the school looking cool, getting respect from all the guys and hugs from all the girls. He looked the same - still cute, still confident, still… short. Lol! (But who am I to judge?!)
When we finally made it into the store and were given our cash drawers for the first time, Carlos walks over to me and says, “Don’t I know you?”
I am startled and more than a little flustered, but I manage to tell him that we went to middle school together and that I know his brother, Jeff. From that moment on, we develop a very obvious little flirtation. A little while later, Carlos forgets about me and instead develops an intense crush on an Asian girl who worked at the cash register next to me. They flirt and date openly and my feelings are destroyed. I try not to let it get to me, but it was a little devastating. I thought that, finally, after all these years, I might have a chance with the infamous Carlos. But, instead, he gravitated toward someone who looked NOTHING like me. I figured that had to mean that he wasn’t attracted to me at all. After all, how could he be attracted to her and me at the same time? We’re so different! Where she is bones, I am flesh, where she is light, I am dark. But, soon after, I would no longer have to deal with that. He quit the store for personal reasons, so I didn’t see him much after that (although his girl would make it a point to talk about him on a pretty much daily basis).
So, Friday night, during Abdul’s party, Carlos is spotted walking through the crowd (small town, remember?). I see him, but I’m not sure how I should react toward him. I had pretty much decided that he was out of my league. I wasn’t the type of girl that he was interested in anyway, so why continue to pine after someone who was so obviously not into me? Anyway, I am standing with T and my bestie and Carlos comes over and hugs each of them. (I told you that in DC, EVERYBODY knows everybody ELSE.) When he gets to me, he takes a step back and looks me up and down. He seems impressed, but I cannot be sure.
He leans in for a hug and whispers, “Long time, no see. You look good.”
I am a bit taken aback, but I say, “Thanks, you do too.”
He walks away and I am thinking, damn, he still looks great! I keep it moving, though, and continue to have a good time with my friends at the party. Later, I bump into Carlos by the bar. He leans down and asks me what’s been up with me. And then he asks me those dreaded questions, “Are you married yet? Do you have any kids?” I tell him that I am chilling, not married, no kids. He says he has neither a wife nor children. This is promising, I think. But, then I see him turn his back and chat it up with some other girl, so I, again, chalk it up to his just being curious about what I’ve been up to, and keep it moving.
After Abdul broke the news about his new relationship with my namesake, I was ready to leave. My bestie and I hit up coat check to gather our belongings and then we head out the door. At this point, my feet are killing me after dancing in three-inch stilettos for four hours. I wobble out the door in a daze and run right into Carlos’s chest. Before I can move, he wraps his arms around me, making this our third embrace of the night. Funny, I don’t remember him ever hugging me this much in all the years we have known each other. I am a bit tipsy and I suspect he is, too.
He whispers in my right ear, “Weren’t we supposed to go out a long time ago?”
Not that I can remember, I am thinking to myself. I would’ve definitely remembered that!
But to him I say, “Uh, yeah. I think we were.”
“You said you’re not married, right?” he says, still holding me close.
“Right. Not married. VERY single,” I say. There go those damn butterflies.
“Well, we need to go out.”
“That’s cool, you tell me when you’re free.”
“What are you doing tomorrow?” he asks immediately, finally letting me go.
I tell him that I have no definite plans during the day, but my night is booked up. He asks for my number and he gives me his. We make plans to see each other Saturday during the day. He kisses my cheek and goes back inside the club. My bestie and I wobble to our cars and say goodnight.
“What was Carlos saying to you?” she asks.
“He asked me on a date!” I say. We giggle because she knows how many years I had been waiting for that invitation.
Isn’t this just like God? When one door closes [Abdul], he opens a window [Carlos].
To be continued…