Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 10

Chapter 10
After placing the napkin in my pocket Flip looked at me like I was crazy.
“What did you just write?”
“Nothing.” I couldn’t let him see it. The things that went into my journal at the time were private.
I looked around the club to see who was in the house. I wanted to see if there may have been anybody that I might have known in there. I tended to forget that this wasn’t a club, club. The people that were here in all likelihood were college grads, or people who enjoyed jazz, real jazz. Not the contemporary fluff from saxophone players like Kenny G. Well, he’s okay, I just think he kind of goes against what jazz really is. He is not Jazz, he’s pop. Jazz is about experimentation, learning the old, discovering the new and finding the place where both past and present meet. I don’t think jazz was ever meant to be elevator music, or “put you on hold music.” But I love jazz and maybe that’s why I don’t understand how Kenny G is considered one of the greatest. Give me a fat platter of Trane and Bird and I’m a happy aficionado. That’s right aficionado. When I began going to the jazz clubs my reformation enabled me to broaden my vocab. My words began to fall in order like the lyrics to a song. I found myself talking without tripping over any statements. In a sense I was becoming elegant, smooth. Not quite refined as silk, but at this time leather was all I needed to compare myself to, rough in some places and smooth in others.

“Let’s walk over towards the dance floor,” I said to Flip.
“I wanna knock out these hot wings first.”
“I’m going to go to the bathroom then.”
“Let me know what you say to those sisters you’ve been checking out bathroom guy,” Flip said licking his fingers. I just stared at him.
“You a trip, Flip.”
“Don’t be rhyming my name. That ain’t funny. I caught enough of that when I was young.”
“Trip, slip, rip, dip, I’ma take a sip, I think I bit my lip, Look at honey over there with the big ass hips, I got a homeboy by the name of Flip.”
“You finished MC Black ass?”
“Chicken eating, finger lickin-”
“Purple bastard.”
“Yellow cab looking-”
“Oil slick.”
“Wait til I get back from the bathroom,” I said.
“I’ll be here.”
“Still licking your long ass fingers.”
“That’s why you got hair on your knuckles.”
“What? So do you dumb ass.” We laughed and looked. A few of the people around us began clapping. I didn’t realized how loud we were. Everybody seemed to get a kick out of it though. People had walked from the other side of the club to hear what was going on. Even the three security guys, who I assume thought we were two brothers about to fight, stood over by our tables and laughed. Flip looked at me and I reached to give him a pound. I dropped my fist on top of his and said, “Brothers man. That’s all I have to say.”
I weaved through the club making my way to the bathroom. Pushing and sliding was a norm at the booty shake joints, but here all I had to do was weave. People got out of your way if they saw you coming, but mostly everyone was sitting in booths or on stools. A few people laughed at me when I walked by talking about what Flip and I had just done. I didn’t mind at all, if it would’ve been someone else I would’ve gotten weak also, which is to say I would’ve laughed my ass off. When I finally made it to the bathroom I overheard these two brothers rapping about some sisters outside.
“Over by the wall towards the bar dude,” said one of the guys.
The other followed with, “Yeah, I saw them. They was fine. You wanna get at em?”
“Let’s do that.”
“Am I straight?”
“Hell no,” I was thinking, “You fat though.” I kept listening.
“When we walk out, we’ll go straight over there and see what’s up.”
“You get the light skinned sister in the pants suit. I got the one in the skirt.”
“You know I like light skinned sisters anyway.” The two tubby men slapped each other five and exited the bathroom. I knew those brothers were gonna get no where with those sisters. I read them like the writing on a bathroom wall at a gas station. One was probably doing okay for himself and the other was just a sidekick. Kind of like the myth that anytime you see two women walking together one of them is going to be jacked up and the other is going to be super flyy. The same thing goes for guys, then again with guys we fail to understand when we don’t look good anymore.
I know this guy who stays in the same condos that I do. That brother will go jogging around the apartments without a t-shirt on. Everyday he trots, not running or moving rapidly, he trots his big sweaty ass in front of my window, everyday did I say. His flat, flabby ass tucked into a pair of tight biking shorts. Stomach folding over the front of the pants, hairy titties bouncing and this look of sheer happiness on his face. Now it’s one thing to have confidence and pride, but do that in your house. If you’re a man and you just can’t face the fact that you don’t have your college body anymore, let that shit go. Do not, I repeat, do not subject others to your body. I for one don’t want to see it. Sorry about that but some things just piss you off.
Those guys weren’t going to get anywhere with those sisters. So I wanted to see what they looked like for myself. I left the bathroom and looked towards the bar. I caught a small glimpse of the women as the two guys tried to get their mack on. The women did look flyy. I returned to the table and found Flip engrossed in heavy conversation with this older White guy about investments.
“This is my friend Terrence. Terrence, Taylor.”
“Nice to make your acquaintance Terrence,” The old guy said. I sat down on my side of the table and waved for the waitress. Flip continued to speak to this guy who was obviously past his limit.
“I know these things, it’s my job, that’s’ what I do. See it’s what I do, and I like it,” Taylor said placing his glass up to his mouth. Flip was wrong. He sat there looking at the old guy with this mischievous look on his face.
“Your job, you don’t like it. Look at you. I can tell. I can see it in your eyes. Eyes are the soul. Your eyes ain’t happy partner. I can see it in your eyes. I like you,” Taylor said.
“What? Taylor I think you better be leaving now,” Flip said. I just looked.
“Not like that. I like you. You got Air.”
I had to join in, “What’s Air?”
Taylor twisted his cup on the table, looked at the vodka and pushed it to the side, “I used to have Air, until my wife, that bitch.”
“Whoa,” I said trying to hold in my laughter.
“Let me finish, let me finish. I’m still married, I can say that. I still love her too, she just as beautiful as-”
“Taylor, Air?” Flip asked.
Air, goddamit, is what you have when you can,” he picked up his empty vodka glass and then he looked at my drink. “You gon finish that? Just gimme a sip.”
“What about the Air? You two boys got Air. I ain’t talkin about no farts or tennis shoes or air in your car tires or breathin air-”
“Taylor,” we both yelled interrupting his train of thought.
“This is all I’m saying then I’ma go. Air is when you walk in a room and everyone there notices you. They remember you, they can’t forget you. You two fellas got Air. It’s a powerful thing this Air is a powerful thing, if you don’t control you’re Air-”
“You might stink up the place?” Flip interrupted.
“Flip.” I said.
“That’s right you stink up the whole goddamn place,” Taylor said this and stood up from the table. He placed a twenty onto the table.
“Yaw’ll fellas enjoy yourselves tonight, have a couple on me.”
“Taylor you need a ride home,” Flip asked.
Taylor pointed towards the large window at the side of the club overlooking the ocean and the parking lot.
“That’s my limo out there. I don’t need shit.” He turned and bumped his way through the club towards the door. He grabbed a hot wing and turned around and held it up.
“They damn good ain’t they Flip?”
Flip gave him a thumbs up. Taylor had left the building.
“How in the hell did you meet that guy?”
“He just walked up and started talking after we were talking about each other.”
“About investments?”
“Yeah, something like that.”
“Come on man, what was he talking about?”
“Investments in life.”
“Look at us man. Two brothers who aren’t doing bad at all, sitting in a bar that we have never really looked at.”
“What’s to look at?” I asked.
“Who’s your favorite musician, not old school, present day?”
“Grover, you know that.”
“Did you know that over the bar there is an autographed copy of Winelight?”
“Over the door mounted, on that piece of wood, is a pad, from a saxophone. An alto sax left in L.A. by-”
“Have we ever really paid attention to any place we’ve gone to?”
“I guess not.”
“For two brothers with Air that’s pretty damn sad don’t you think?”
“Damn you got all that from that old White man.”
“Tee, do you ever listen man?”
“I was just fucking with you.”
“If he was Black would that have mattered? You would’ve made the same comment.”
“Lighten up Flip. You need to lighten up. Let’s go dance or something.” The tempo of the music had picked up and they were playing R&B.
“Alright man, I just got a lot on my mind.”
And now I had a lot on my mind, but I’ve learned not to dwell on things too long.
“Let’s look around.”
We stood up from our chairs and scoped out the place. That’s when Flip spotted them, the same two sisters that sat over by the bar. He suggested we take a stroll over to their table.

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