Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 8

Chapter 8
After church I made sure to call Ros up and let her know I was thinking about her. She told me how much she enjoyed us. I reciprocated her thoughts.
“I hope we can get together more often,” she said. I thought, “I don’t. I like it once a week if you don’t mind.” But I said, “That would be nice, but maybe we should make sure of what we’re doing here.”
“I agree, but for right now, it’s cool. No stress.”
No stress, just what I was trying to convey. For some reason it was like the lotto had walked in to find me, without me even buying a ticket.
“Are you sure? I don’t want to disrespect you,” I said.
“As long as you don’t throw shit in my face we’ll be okay.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just don’t lie to me. If you’re going to mess around then do it and let me go.”
“I hear you, but that sounds like-”
“But are you listening? I want you to let me know when you don’t want to be bothered. Don’t just start doing whatever and leaving me hanging.”
“Yeah, I’m listening. I won’t diss you.”
“Call me later, okay,” she said.

I never dissed Ros either. We really didn’t last long because of her son. I didn’t want to meet him and we just couldn’t find the time to see each other as much as we would’ve liked. She still wanted to see me every now and then, but that would be hard. The two months had blown by and Laney had been back for about two weeks. I had picked her up and we hadn’t talked since then. I would talk to Ros every few days or so just to keep the contact. But now I had to direct my attention back towards Laney. I did so, but I also knew that the likelihood of me getting back in really good with her was slim. I could have regained the same status with her if I felt like devoting the time to it, but come on that would’ve meant I was stepping up a level, and I wouldn’t step up for another five months.
On November the 7th, 96, Laney and I planned on meeting each other at the park to talk. As I spoke to her on the phone the other line clicked. During the dissolving phase of letting Ros go, and the rebuilding with Laney, Eva had begun to call me. Eva was the third phone number and she came along at the right time also, I had just stopped kicking it with Ros, and Laney and I weren’t exactly making good music. She stood about five foot two inches. She was pretty in the face but her body wasn’t that hot so I really didn’t pursue her, but she made it a point to contact me whenever it was possible. I kind of blew her off in a real nice way every time she called. I had a few chances to hit it, and I did. I just couldn’t get into her. I kept her on deck in case of emergencies.
Laney and I met at Balboa park on a Saturday. We talked and went to several museums.
“I missed you Laney. Why didn’t you let me come and pick you up?”
“I figured this was more of a business meeting than a pleasure meeting.”
“Business? You didn’t miss me?” I asked.
“You know I did, but I was disturbed about what happened at the pier. It bothered me the whole time I was gone. Thank God I didn’t work on the flight deck.”
“It bothered you that much?”
“Don’t ask stupid questions. You know damn well it bothered me. The problem for me was that you were right.”
“About what?”
“You did express that you didn’t want anything serious.”
“I’m sorry-”
“No apologies please, unless you have something to feel sorry about. You didn’t seem to feel bad that day.”
“How can you say that? It took a lot for me to say that. I was trying to be honest. I was trying not to be typical.”
“In your attempt you became typical.”
“Come on now, why you got to say that?”
“Tee, if you never wanted to deal with me on that level you could’ve easily stopped everything. Instead, you let it all happen.”
“Hold up, are you failing to remember that what we did was mutual? I asked you if you were sure. Why is it that a brother can try and be honest and still be considered a dog?”
“I’m not saying you dogged me, but what you did wasn’t any better.”
“I thought it was,” I said turning and walking towards the fountain. The water was shooting out and kids were wading in the pool. I stood next to the water.
“Laney, I didn’t have any intention to play you, and I honestly thought I didn’t. How can you say I deceived you?”
She stopped and threw several pennies into the fountain.
“I guess I’m just frustrated and you’re the only person I can take it out on.”
“What’s wrong?”
“I feel so stupid for doing what I did with you. But you seemed so certain of yourself. I liked the fact that you seemed to have it together. I admired that. I thought maybe, that maybe-”
“I understand. It’s just that I couldn’t get into another relationship without sorting out some things first.”
“Maybe I’m overreacting. So did you do anything I might regret while I was gone?”
“It depends on what you’d regret.”
“Don’t play Tee. Be straight with me I can handle it. I’ve been through these kinds of things before. I’m not a little girl.”
“I met someone, but I just couldn’t relate to her. She had a child.”
The best way to talk about what I had done was to tell the truth. That way when it came up again I wouldn’t have to remember the lie I would’ve made up.
“What was her name? Nevermind, so it didn’t work out?”
“It couldn’t cause even when I was out with her I thought about you.”
“But did you spend anytime thinking about us?”
“Yes Laney, I did. I knew we had to reconsider what we have here.”
“I thought about it too. I think you were right, we should chill out. I’ll give you your space and you give me mine. I’m not going to date anyone else, but I don’t expect you to do the same. Sometimes a man has to get things out of his system. I think you have to get right with yourself.”
Stage Three had been announced and once again I was ill-prepared. I didn’t have any paper to write. So I placed the words into my mental journal and saved it.
I responded to Laney by saying, “I want to do what’s right, so I’ll respect your wishes as long as we continue to go out and talk. I wouldn’t want to give that up.” We hugged in front of the Museum of Man and held hands the rest of our walk through the park.
Stage One at this point began to get overwhelming. I couldn’t keep acting as if I didn’t give a damn about these sisters. I had been sexing Eva on a regular basis, but it wasn’t that great. I continued to do it anyway, but Stage One was coming to an end. From November to January, I could feel myself changing.
Flip had already been at Stage Two for a while. It happened to him during my Eva phase. We had changed our stomping grounds from the booty shake joint, to a nice jazz club that sat on the ocean front in Shelter Island. By doing so we changed the rules of the game. I didn’t accept them as easily as Flip, but when I did accept it, I made the change cautiously. I cut off Eva and continued talking to Ros and Laney. But like I said earlier, during the situation at work, the step up to Stage Two began happening to Flip when he started becoming more conscious of the subtle racism of San Diego. He didn’t see how the short distance from Northern California to Southern California could bring with it such an odd change in the consciousness of the people. His life in Berkeley had been a multicultural heaven where, he didn’t have to deal with many complexities. But San Diego is different, the small things are so small you barely notice them if nothing big brings it to your attention. Work was what brought it to Flip’s attention.
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