Stage Four isn’t approached without trepidation. It’s an awkward time for any man. Making a commitment is one thing but saying to a woman that you want to live the rest of your life with her is an entirely different monster. In other words Stage Four is the final phase before you leave the Stages behind altogether and graduate.
But this book is about the Stages not the graduation, so allow me to give you the specifics of what Stage Four is:
The road that has been traveled had so many obstructions in what lay ahead, that you can barely believe that you made it this far. You have finally accepted the fact that life is meant to be shared with the woman you care for, honor, and above all respect. Love comes after all of these other things. At Stage Four the words I love you are small compared to the feelings that you have for your lady. When you said those words in all the other stages it was a word that conveyed what you thought you felt. In Stage Four you no longer think it you live love, breath love and share it: that it being a commonality, sexual and mental connection that heightens each day that you are with her.
At the point when all of this has finally come together, you take the last step and ask her for her heart in marriage. You have doubts, but those fears soon subside when you realize that your relationship has survived the strains of ex girlfriends and major arguments. You buy the ring and become a part of a life circle. A never ending connection of souls that when completed will have no beginning and no end.
After placing this final stage in the book I felt that it was time to share this knowledge with everyone. But unlike the cocky guy you met at the start of this book, the guy writing now is a man. Hard to believe huh? Well if you don’t believe me I’ll give you the proof.
On December 23rd Flip and I put the final touch on our plans. The idea seemed to be pretty good, all we had to do was make it happen. San Diego has got to be the best town to do anything because of the weather. It was December and Flip and I had planned a harbor cruise. It was Saturday afternoon and Janice and I were getting ready to meet Flip at his place so we could all go in my car down to the bay and go on our cruise.
“This was a good idea baby. It’s gonna be a real relaxing night, I know.”
“Yeah it’ll be relaxing. They have a seventies funk band there tonight. You know I got to get my Robot and Hustle on, Saturday Night Fever style.”
“As long as you don’t embarrass me.”
“Me embarrass you? Come on when have I done that?”
“Let’s see, at the pizza place when you asked me to pull your finger, at the mall when you kept picking up the bras in the lingerie shop and shouting, ‘Damn you’d look good in this.’ Do you want me to continue?”
“I thought that was all in good fun?”
“It was, but it was still embarrassing.”
“So, you embarrassed me before,” I said.
“When? I’ve never did anything silly in front of you.”
“That time when we went to take pictures and I walked out with the photographer for a moment.”
“You thought we didn’t smell anything, but believe me we smelled it.” She hit me on the shoulder and continued getting dressed.
I was in a great mood. “One of My Favorite Things,” pumped out of the speakers downstairs and I mimicked playing the saxophone. I put on a lime green, butterfly collared shirt, with some blue polyester bell bottom pants. I had a pleather coat for the chill that would be out over the water. It was seventies night, I had to be on point. Flip had everything set up on the ship. We had to pay a little extra to have it the way we wanted. The cost wasn’t much though. Janice had on a pair of tight bell bottom jeans and a multi colored shirt, looking fine like Thelma on Good Times. She had a leather coat that tied up around the waist. And of course we hooked up the platform shoes. We grabbed the camera and took a few pictures before we left the house.
“This is gonna be so much fun,” Janice kept saying.
“More than you know.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Let’s just go.”
It took us about ten minutes to get to Flip’s house. We arrived at around six-thirty. The sun had gone down and the night was clear, perfect weather. When we arrived at Flip’s crib, Tina answered the door with one of those dresses with the thin spaghetti straps, and rhinestones at the bottom, she also had a shawl over her shoulders.
“No you didn’t girl. That is too cute,” Janice said hugging Tina.
“I got it at the thrift store when Flip told me we were going on a seventies night cruise,” Tina said as they walked off leaving me at the door.
I walked in and down the hall calling Flips name. He stepped out from behind his door foot first. A clear like glass bottomed, yellow uppered shoe came through the door and I got weak. Flip followed with an all white three piece suit. With the chest hair sticking out past the yellow shirt.
“You the man boy.”
“Why thank you my man, slide me some skin,” Flip said.
“The women ready to ride on down to the boogie woogie joint?”
“You know it brother, you hip?”
“Right on, right on. I’m fly and ready to reach the sky,” I said.
“I can dig that you jive turkey. I feel like a hustler rapping with the player of the year.”
“Then what you wanna do, barbecue or mildew?”
“What you think catdaddy?”
“I think you two fools are getting into this a little too much,” Janice said.
“Come on Priest and Goldie, we don’t wanna be late do we?” Tina added.
We left the house and arrived at the boat. All of our reservations were right on time. Dinner was served on the first level. The dance floor was on the third level. We talked to the hostess to ensure our afros were in the coat room. I pulled Flip by the arm to make sure he had his piece. I had mines all set up.
We enjoyed the dinner and began dancing. On about the third dance the DJ used the cue word for us to exit.
“For all you soul sisters and brothers with the one that you dig the most, I’d like to make a toast. By playing the song that we love the best, for the ones who outshine the rest, but first I have to take a pause for the cause, so chill out and I’ll be back before you give two thumbs up like the Fonz.”
As soon as the DJ walked off, we told the women to wait up here at the dance floor while we ran to the bathroom. Flip ran downstairs and grabbed the afro wigs. I got the DJ and told him we were ready. He went back to the DJ booth and pumped up our entrance song, “Fantastic Voyage.” Flip and I came into the room with our wigs on doing the Bump and then the Robot.
“Ladies and gentlemen we have a special appearance by two of the dancers from the original Soul Train,” the DJ continued to play our song. Janice and Tina ducked their heads down at the table and laughed. Everyone was enjoying the show. The lights were flashing and the smoke filled the floor. Flip and I made our way to the table and stopped.
“Now for the song that makes us remember that first love and how good the good times really were. For Janice and Tina, “Always and Forever.” The record came on and we both held our hands out for the dance. When they stood we went to our knees, the DJ cut the music and Flip and I pulled the rings out of our wigs.
I spoke first, “Janice, I honor you and respect you and I want us to share our lives together. Will you please marry me?”
Flip followed suit, “I love you and cherish you. You are my lady for all time and I would love it if you would be my wife?”
We stood up and the whole upper deck was quiet. The ocean air whipped around the dance floor and the moon overlooked us.
Janice and Tina both responded simultaneously, “Yes, yes yes.” But the odd thing was they hugged each other first. So Flip and I hugged. Manny walked from the next table and pulled his wig off and told me, “I thought you guys were going to quit doing this.” A few of the people from work came to the boat with us. We all laughed and hugged. The whole upper deck clapped and our DJ played our song as we danced the night away.