Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 11

Chapter 11
Considering all the things that come about in a matter of minutes, do you ever think that if given a chance you would go back and make all the things you’ve done right or better? I’m sure you do, I do to an extent. The people I may have hurt and the things I didn’t pay any attention to, the small things are the only things, I guess I would want to correct. Then again those two things pretty much cover the whole spectrum. What would you go back to correct?
I knew that night at the club, held an important time for Flip and I. The small things that occurred stuck with me, but they stayed buried for a long time. I didn’t accept any of what I learned that night, not one bit of it. Instead of looking around and truly taking in the atmosphere of the club, I continued to think about how I could get Flip to help me out with Janice and Tina.
There are always things that have to be stated as I move along with what I’m saying. Stage Two bore with it a change in the amount of time that I had to place into my relationships. Instead of two or three months to bring things to a conclusion, the time increased to six to eight months. It takes longer to find out about a woman to see if she is really your type. You had to plan it to make it work. Conversation, the first month, set things in motion if sex happened during the first month it’s cool. That’s something that can be considered a bonus. Once the friendship has been established and things are beginning to move past talking and towards sex everything can be played like Stage One. The problem with Two is in the break-up, that shit can actually hurt you as well as her, especially if she’s been accepting of whatever shit you’ve been pulling on her like: working late, ensuring that you have an argument every three weeks or so to ensure that you aren’t getting too close, things like that. I will admit now that it is probably the most calculating stage and the worst.

At least in Stage One you don’t build up this false hope as long, it’s just in and out. For me to make Stage Two truly work I had to keep the number of women down to a minimum. Instead of maybe five women in a year, I could only deal with two. Two was and is the magic number. During ninety-seven about five months removed from my Ros and Laney stage, I climbed into the Janice/ Laney stage. I still spoke with Ros but it was rare when I did.
That night in the club brought forth a new era, a quick one for Flip, but a long and trying one for myself that’s still a big problem for me. Then again it isn’t really a problem, it’s more like a necessary evil. I just can’t settle down until I feel that I’m ready. You understand I’m sure.
I walked ahead of Flip to make sure that those two lame bothers from the bathroom had “talked to the hand.”
The two women were still sitting in the same spot in deep conversation. I knew if we interrupted them they would probably show us the hand also, so I walked slower and talked with Flip for a moment.
“Are you up to this man? We can go ahead and leave if you want?” I asked him.
“I need to clear my mind, maybe dancing and talking to somebody other than you will help.”
“Alright keep being funny. I’ma put my foot right up your ass.”
“You is so violent,” Flip said smacking me with his hand like a punk. “Chill out, I’m straight. Let’s do it.”
“Well, they’re still talking. You know better than to interrupt sisters when they are getting heavy on an issue.”
“Forget it man I’m talking to one of em,” Flip said.
“I get the dark sister in the skirt-”
“I kind of figured that. Why you so hung up on skin color anyway?”
“Don’t know, maybe cause kids always talked about my color when I was young.”
“We’ll talk about that later, your legs stuck or something? Let’s walk,” he said.
So there we were making our way through the club. I was hoping one of them would see us coming so they wouldn’t be in deep thought. I looked at the sister’s legs and followed them up to her breasts and then her face. She was on point from bottom to top. Her friend was just as exotic. Her eyes were like almonds. I kept thinking that she didn’t look quite Black, maybe mixed or something. She was fairly tall, and kinda thick. She had ass like a sister, if she wasn’t Black. Her suit was nice and her hair was pulled back into a long ponytail. The sister I was headed towards had really thin braids. They almost looked like strands of hair. Her nose was small and cute set between her cheeks, which rose when she smiled. She was breathtaking and I really mean that. She had a beautiful neck. Her skin color stood out more at the base of her neck because of the gold chain she wore.
I walked closer, she looked at me and turned her head and continued to talk. Flip walked up to her friend and introduced himself. I guess Flip is more of looker than I am, but I always assumed that women liked lighter shades of men anyway. Women always played that, “You look like a tall, cuter Wesley Snipes game with me.” I never appreciated that comment until I heard these sisters saying that Wesley was fine. After that I pretty much used that as my own description of myself. I know that’s corny, but hell, whatever works.
“Excuse me ladies you both seem busy, but I just wanted to ask if you might want to take a break from your obviously stimulating conversation to dance for a moment,” Flip said.
My girl said no. The one Flip was talking to, who seemed ready to stand up, looked at her friend. I knew I had to act fast or we would be walking away like the bathroom boys. I stepped up to her and said my name.
“Hi I’m Terrence. I know you didn’t ask me, but I figured I could help my friend out by asking you to dance.”
“That’s the only reason you’re asking me to dance, for your friend’s benefit?”
“Oh, damn that came out wrong. Would you like to dance uh?”
“Janice would you like to dance? I don’t know this other guy he looks kinda shady.”
“Let’s dance girl,” said Tina.
“One dance,” Janice said. She walked out to the floor with me, and Flip danced out behind Tina. They seemed to be trying to talk while they danced. I just danced. I didn’t say anything to Janice. We stood doing the two-step dance. The one where you step side to side, according to how fast the song is, the, “I don’t really wanna dance with this person dance.” Anyway we just danced, for one damn song. After it was over, she walked back to her seat.
“Thanks for the dance Janice.”
“Thank you for getting me out of my seat.”
I walked back to my table and she went to hers. Flip kept his punk ass out on the floor, smiling and dancing like a man on his first date with the woman of his dreams.
See this whole time that I assumed that Flip had been moving up to Stage Two I didn’t realize that he was actually going to Stage Three. I didn’t see it cause I hadn’t laid out that stage yet. Although I had the basis for it from Laney, I hadn’t made the amendments to it.
Flip continued to dance and I continued to sit. This nice looking Filipino lady walked past my table twice in a matter of minutes. I stood and reached out towards her the third time she came by.
“Excuse me, would you like to have a drink with me?”
“I wouldn’t mind that at all, as long as you allow me to pay for my own drinks. I wouldn’t want you to think I was hustling you or something.”
“I wouldn’t mind being hustled by you.” She laughed and sat down. We talked for a few minutes until Flip came off of the floor and walked to the table.
“Hey man, I’m sorry, I’ll be right back.”
“It’s cool Flip. Sara, this is my best friend Felipe’. Flip for short.”
“It’s nice to meet you Flip. Terrence, I really have to be going, it was a pleasure meeting you. Maybe I can give you a call sometime?”
“That would be alright with me.” I handed her a card and shook her hand.
“I thought you wanted to get at Janice.”
“She’s too cold man.”
“Cold or intimidating?”
“Yeah honestly.”
“Both man, she has a presence,” I said.
“That’s exactly what it is.” We laughed.
“Well, she was watching you. I ain’t bullshittin. She was watching you like a hawk.”
“I guess she hasn’t had a guy ask her to dance and after the dance he just walked away. I think you messed with her head.”
“Damn and I didn’t even try,” Smoothnicity was beginning to become a part of me and I didn’t even see it coming. See, I had done the best thing I could’ve done by not having the heart to talk to her after we danced. She assumed that I was either being honest or I was just not interested. I’m pretty positive that it was killing her to know why I didn’t try to talk to her. But it was a tactic that I didn’t intend on adding to my repertoire, it just creeped it’s way in.
“They want us to come over to their table for a drink. You game?”
“I’m gonna go see if there are any more of those hot wings left.”
Flip had gone over the edge. He didn’t give a damn what he was doing in front of ol’ girl, which was good for him. She was falling for his honesty hook, line and sinker. I didn’t know what to expect from Janice. I just figured I’d go with the flow. She was precisely what I was looking for, pretty, seemingly intelligent and I assumed she had a good job. I found out later that I was right. I waited on Flip to grab his wings. He was eating them on the way back towards me.
“Tacky Flip, real tacky.”
“Whatever man.”
It was getting late into the evening and I knew we would all be getting ready to leave. I was thinking of what I would say to Janice. Fifty feet, from me to her, seemed like a mile. I don’t know why I was so damn tense. I didn’t have any reason to be at all. I actually took the time to look around as I walked over. I noticed the Winelight album over the bar. I could see the moon shimmering off of the ocean. In the harbor the boats swayed as if the music was in the wind. All of the people dancing and laughing had a feel. I looked at Janice before we made it over there. She had Air, that was for certain. I found it hard to concentrate on what I was about to say. Once I opened my eyes I could hear, and see everything clearer than I had all night. Clearer than any other time.
Flip smacked on his wings and sat down beside Tina. She took a napkin and wiped the corner of his mouth. I sat next to Janice. I called the waitress over and ordered a drink. I asked every one if they wanted anything. They all placed their orders. Flip and Tina looked damn near perfect together. Janice looked beautiful. I was intimidated.
“So what do you do for a living Terrence?”
Such a common question, with a easy response that I couldn’t answer all of a sudden. Why was this woman making me freeze up? All I had to do was answer her and the ball would be rolling.
“Terrence are you okay? Terrence?” Janice called.
“The music, I didn’t hear what you said?”
“What do you do for a living? If you don’t want to tell me that’s fine.”
“I’m sorry-”
“Don’t be sorry, most men are sorry. I hope you don’t fall into that category.”
“I don’t, but that was a good comment. I work at MCC.”
Tina interrupted and said, “They both work together in the engineering department.”
Flip had sold us out. The last thing you’re supposed to do is let a woman know what you do, unless you really found yourself interested in her. I looked at Flip and he humped his shoulders at me.
“Engineers. I guess I can tell you what I do then,” Janice said.
“I‘m not an engineer, I’m a quality assurance analyst,” I clarified it for her.
“An inspector? Isn’t that a tedious job?”
“Yeah, it is.”
“You don’t want to know what I do?” she asked.
“Not necessarily. I don’t think it’s gonna matter.”
“Tee, why are you being rude?” Flip questioned.
“Look the only reason she wanted me to come over here is because her pride took a shot,” I said.
“Excuse me, my pride took a what? I don’t think so. I assumed that you were as down to earth as your friend. I wanted to talk to you because I thought you might be slightly interesting,” Janice said.
“How in the hell am I interesting? You don’t even know me. When I walked off the floor without sweatin you, you were bothered by that. That’s the only reason you wanted me to come over.”
“You have really got nerve. Do you know how many men have come up to me tonight?”
“No, but I saw a few get dissed, this is probably a part of your game.”
“So you saw a few? That means you were looking? Well I saw you too, does that make you feel better?” she asked.
“He’s about as stubborn as you are Janice,” said Tina.
“Shut up girl. I think I’m ready to go.”
Tina looked at her discouraged, “Janice. Alright if that’s what you want.”
Flip grabbed me by the arm and asked the ladies to excuse us. We walked over to the bathroom.
“Tee, what’s your fucking problem?”
“I’m straight.”
“Don’t give me that shit. You buggin for real. Don’t you see that I’m having a good time man? I kinda dig Tina. She’s a damn computer analyst at Sony. She has her own place. Her girlfriend works there also. Don’t you see this shit was meant to be?”
“Maybe for you. You the one wanna settle down.”
“Is that what this shit is about? Man I can’t believe you.” He walked towards the door. “Man if you wanna leave right now, let’s go. I give up Tee. I do, I just fucking give up.”
I caught him before he walked out, “I don’t know what my problem is. I have a lot of shit on my mind too. You’re my brother and whatever you feel is right, I’m with you.”
“Word.” We hugged inside the bathroom. The door opened and this white guy walked in, “Oh I’m sorry dudes go ahead, I’m sorry.” Flip and I looked at each other and walked out to the table.
“We apologize for that. I talked to knucklehead and he apologizes too,” he said kicking me on my leg under the table.
“Yeah, I apologize also.” We chilled with Janice and Tina for the rest of the night until closing time. Janice and I talked a little but I had built this wall and she was unwilling to break it down. I couldn’t blame her. The cool thing is, that wall I created, made her think. About a week after the club Flip called and asked me if it was okay for him to give my number to Tina. We talked about it at work on the following Monday.
The other engineers were standing in the windows overlooking the floor. Flip and I walked to the end of the line where the motor control centers were standing. I slapped my thick rubber gloves on and Flip stood behind me with his goggles on. I pulled my voltage station over and clipped the power cables onto the bus bars to put the necessary 480 volts onto the control center to test it. Just when I was checking the jumper wires inside one of the boxes, which creates a spark, Flip’s silly ass wants to touch me on my shoulder.
“Hey Tee.” He scared the shit out of me.
“Don’t do that shit man,” I said. He laughed.
“I was talking to Tina yesterday and she asked me for your phone number.”
“Say word?”
“Word. She said that Janice had been thinking about you.”
“She didn’t say that?”
“She said that Janice wanted to know if you were okay.”
“Hold up. Yo Manny, this shit is shorted from the terminal block to the breaker.”
“So you want me to give her the number?” he asked.
“I don’t care.”
“Good, cause I already gave it to her.”
“I figured as much. You need to get back to work.”
“I’m finished for the day.”
“It’s only one thirty.”
“Benefits of being salaried,” he laughed.
“Ha ha,” I placed the clips of the power station together in his face and made him jump. The other engineers in the window looked down and shook their heads at Flip. He looked up at them and they turned away laughing. Every now and then even the White guys had a sense of humor. Then again anybody would’ve laughed at that. Flip jumped like a brother running from a L.A. cop. I slapped him five and told him I’d call him later.
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