Episode eleven preview


ISSN 2476 – 1753 (online)

Even before Oprah’s rousing Golden Globe speech announcing that it was “a new day,” women all around the world had begun to impose upon themselves—and rightfully so—the expectation for equal rights, opportunities, and treatment. Like it or not, there’s a term for people who work to uphold these standards. They’re called “feminists.”

            More specifically, a feminist is someone who holds the ideological belief in the social, political, and economic equality among the sexes. But more than that, feminism is a movementday, like the paying us little more than three-quarters what men make (even less if you happen to Latina or Black), the imposition of stupid old-fashioned gender roles and outdated expectations, and even the shaming of those who might have different sex or more sex than you think they ought to—or maybe more than you do.

            Feminism aspires for every woman to be seen, treated, and paid equally, and asserts that a woman should be able to do, wear, be, and act however she feels most comfortable. True feminists actively fight and insist upon that equality.

            And so, although I have never outwardly called myself one, I would obviously be considered a feminist. Except… I was barely one week into also being a “girlfriend,” so about 70% of the things a feminist would likely argue in favor of, I was—whether consciously or unconsciously—going completely against.

            For instance, whenever I expected to see him, I turned up the stupid old-fashioned gender role of “girl.” Like, I would tone down the “Tomboy” Converse All-Star sneakers, jeans, and graphic tees, opting for more feminized fabrics in order to look “pretty;” I always made sure to wear the really cute unmentionables, even though I knew he wouldn’t see them; and… I made sure to stay extra groomed all over—legs, pits, vajayjay—you know, just in case, by some chance,

            No, none of these things were what I felt “comfortable” doing, and yes, I was solely doing it because of a man… So, by that standard? I’d admit that I was a mediocre feminist. A very, very mediocre feminist.

, five days into my new role as “the girlfriend” and I was killing it!

            For example, that Tuesday, he had to get a minor procedure done on his eyes, so I took him to the doctor, waited with him, and then took him back home and got him into bed so that he could sleep off the meds.

            I knew that he enjoyed drinking Kombucha, so I was able to get a friend of Ty’s, who makes it, to create two unique flavors that I knew he would love and that he couldn’t find in the store.

            His barber was out of town, so he had gone three weeks without his normal weekly trim, and I’d noticed him make a few quiet complaints about the way he looked. But I liked the scruff and made sure he knew that by telling him how sexy I thought he was. He fought the urge to blush every time as he brushed me off, but I noticed when he ran his hand down his beard, that he was trying to withhold a smile as best he could.

            And when he was least expecting it, I would wrap my arms around him or kiss his face when he wasn’t looking. I liked to see him turn into a little baby whenever I touched him. He liked being held and wrapped up in me.

            And perhaps, the thing he appreciated the most was that I was giving him my full, undivided attention while we were together. This was the most difficult thing of all because of my constant need to be “grinding” in an effort to nudge my dream toward manifestation. But if I wanted to have him in my life, I knew I needed to make a few adjustments in this area. It had only been a week since we made things official in the foyer of that Buffalo wing place, but I was making strides.

            So, as far as that “love language” stuff goes, I was hitting on all cylinders, if I do say so myself.

            I believe in the separation of church and state, which is to say that I was not ready for my father to meet my boyfriend yet. This was fairly easy to pull off since my dad generally worked the night shift, but this week he was in Florida for a medical convention, which gave “state” the freedom to encroach upon “church’s” territory without warrant. I’d invited Derek to spend time with me at my place for a change.

            He had never seen my favorite TV show of all time, Grey’s Anatomy, so that Saturday, I made it my priority to ensure he cultivated the kind of healthy relationship I’d had with those doctors for the better part of my life when he agreed to spend the entire day binge-watching with me, starting at episode one: “A Hard Day’s Night.”

            It had been his kind of day: just us, nobody else, nowhere else to be, no interruptions. But, after 9 hours in front of the television, he still hadn’t seen a single episode of my show. All we did was enjoy each other’s company—in the sweetest, most innocent way—but while talking over the entire program the whole time.

            He explained to me the secret flavor in his waffles, as he made some for me.

            “I use coconut oil in the batter and on top after they’re done. That’s the key. It’s gotta be moist through and through, you see?”

            I showed him how DJs mixed music, using my old turntables to demonstrate:

            “Music is like math, right, and it’s all about counting. Most songs have what’s called a 4-by-4 count: 1, 2, 3, 4,” I counted rhythmically to the song that was playing. “When you get another song going a similar pace, you can blend them easily. Just start at the 1.”

            And he watched as I easily blended the two songs, his eyes lighting up as if he was witnessing something truly amazing.

            I hadn’t opened my computer or looked at my phone all day. It was the best day I’d had in as long as I can remember.

            In fact, it was perfect. Everything was perfect.

            We sat on the sofa in my living room—my legs strewn across his lap as I stared at him while he talked. Watching his lips move, I went in and out of attention on what he was saying as I tried to reconcile my thoughts about what it would be like right now to taste those lips with my tongue.

            “Be honest with you? I was scared. Dallas to Ann Arbor is far. Plus it’s cold as shit in Michigan,” he said, as he laughed, which made me smile too.

            “I didn’t want to move that far away from home, but Michigan had everything I wanted in a college, so…” He shrugged. And then he quickly brightened up when he said, “My mother made me. She told me to man-up and do what was best for my future. So… Go blue,” he added, which was his alma mater’s famous chant.

            I smiled as I looked down at the gray Property of University of Michigan tee shirt he was wearing.

            “What’d you major in?” I asked.

            “Business Law. And I played two sports,” he added. “My plan was to become a baseball star so that I could buy my mama a house. And well… that ain’t happen,” he added, being silly. And then he asked, “What about you? Were you a good student?”

           “Me? Oh, I…” And I stopped and thought back to my time in high school and my brief stint with college, and I said, “I was super focused in high school. Actually voted most likely to succeed.”

            “Wow. Really?”

            “Yeah,” I said, as I looked down, realizing what I’d just told him. It had been almost 10 years since I finished high school and I didn’t particularly feel like I had succeeded yet.

            “I didn’t really want to go to college, but I didn’t know how to tell my parents that. It was important to them. So… once I got there, I was just so ready to start the succeeding that everybody thought I was going to do, that I didn’t feel like carrying on with useless classes. College was just slowing me down,” I remembered. “So… I had to make a decision.”

            I still thought about that decision I’d made to leave school, but I no longer doubted that it was the right one.

            “I still don’t think my mother has forgiven me for dropping out.”

            Derek looked at me and said, “What’s the story with her, anyway? You don’t talk about her much.”

            The smile I gave was layered with so many other thoughts that I didn’t know where to begin.

            “Tell you what: you tell me yours about your dad, I’ll tell you mine about my mom.”

            And Derek took a breath before he said, “Okay. My father played professional baseball for eleven years. And every other year, he had a different kid with a different woman. I’m number 4. His drinking habit became more… pronounced after his career was over. Eight years after he quit playing, he drank himself to death in a hotel in Memphis. I saw him 4 times in my life.

            “So, yeah, I don’t… talk about him because I didn’t know him. And he’s not here to defend himself from anything I would have to say. So I don’t say anything.” He didn’t look at me when he said, “Your turn.”

           I took a deep breath and started with, “My mother married a gay man. I don’t know if she thought she could change him or if he thought she could change him. So… a sexless marriage is either a symptom of or a catalyst to all kinds of issues.

            “When it came to me, I wasn’t allowed to make mistakes. I was supposed to be a representation of her, so…” And I took another deep breath. “I mean, I felt like from the time I was a little kid that nothing I did was right because it wasn’t what she would do or what she would say or how she would act.

            “So the older I got, the more fractured our relationship became. And I don’t know if she thought she was doing me a favor by staying with him all that time, but she didn’t actually officially leave until I was 18 and at college. That’s also when he came out to me.”

            I looked at him and tried to force a smile as I shrugged.

            “I don’t have anything to say to her because every word turns into an argument. So… I’ve given up.”

           Derek allowed the long silence to indicate that I was finished before he said, “So. You don’t talk about your mom. I don’t talk about my dad. And we have our reasons.” And he looked at me and smiled.

            So I smiled.

            “You know what’s funny? Some people believe that who we’re drawn to are a lot like us. Yet, besides this parent thing, you and I, we aren’t very much alike at all.”

            “We’re more alike than you think.”

            “How so? Other than the fact that you’re a Libra and I’m an Aries, so we’re compatible.”

            “What?” He didn’t get it.

            And I didn’t bother telling him that when I found out that his birthday was September 30 and mine was April 13, that I did some research about how we matched. Apparently, we were perfect together.

            “Well,” he started, with a very brief pause before saying, “we want the same things.”

            “And what’s that?” I asked.

            “Each other, for one.”

            And I could not disagree with him on that, so I just smiled.

            “We both have the bar set high for who we want to be, y’know. For me, it’s like… every day, trying to live up to that vision—not to disappoint the people who care about me, not to disappoint myself… It’s like a constant battle to attain perfection. You’re the same way. You want to do everything right.”

            He was right. But there was more to the story than just that, so I added, “And yet… there’s this ‘me’ that I want to be—this image I have in my head of the woman that I want to be—but I have no idea how to become her. Like, I don’t even know how to be a girlfriend.”

            He threw his head back and laughed.

            “Seriously. I have no idea what I’m doing here.”

            “There was some… weird stuff early on, but I think you’re good now.”

            “Yeah?” I said, moving in to put my lips on his.

            “Mm-hm,” he hummed as he moved in too so that our mouths could meet.

            As we continued to be cutesy, making out heavier and heavier there on the couch, my hand began moving over his solid chest and onto his stomach.

            But I needed better leverage, so as I shifted my position to get a better angle, my hand slipped right into his lap, and I felt his penis through his sweatpants.

            It was so unexpected, that I moved back, embarrassed, even though I don’t know why.

            “I’m… so sorry, I—”

            “It’s okay…”

            “No, I know. I just… I didn’t mean to—”

            He just started laughing, probably because he saw that I still had not taken my eyes off his lap, as I stared down at the print through the fabric with lustful curiosity.

            And then I said, “Let me see.”

            That’s when he stopped laughing and looked at me with raised eyebrows and said, “What?”

            Again, I said, “Let me see it.” And I looked down at his lap to imply what I was talking about.

            “You wanna see my… my dick?”

            I just nodded. So since he realized that I was serious and waiting for him to show me, he noticeably said to himself (without actually saying), “What the hell?” And he scooched up so that he could move his blue sweatpants down a little without having to stand up, and he reached in and pulled it out.

            And there it was.

            I admit it wasn’t so scary.

            It was girthy without being menacing. It had length without being a circus act. Circumcised, but maintained a nice, consistency in color. And he man-scaped, which certainly improved the overall presentation.

            I could not take my eyes off of it. Like everything else that day, his penis was perfect.

            “Seriously?” he laughed. “You’ve never seen a dick before?”

            I’d seen my fair share, but only in art, on TV, and the occasional Internet porn. Had I ever been so intimately acquainted with one? No, I just… hadn’t.

            And without asking, I slowly, gently, took it into my hands, as I continued to observe it up close and personal.

           I liked it. I really liked it. I liked the way it felt. I liked the way it looked. It was perfect.

            But I suppose the movement of my hands was causing some unintentional arousing friction. He began to get fidgety, moving away from me as he said, “Okay, if you’re not going to… I mean if that’s all you’re going to do, then…” And he decided to put it away, lifting his pelvis and pulling his pants back up.

            “Can’t believe I just showed you my dick,” he said.

            Laughing, I said, “Yeah, I can’t believe you did either.”

            “So what is this now, like, show and tell? I showed, so now you have to—”

            “I guess I have to tell,” I said, teasingly getting out of doing what he just did.

            He smiled as he accepted this rule change.

            “So. What do you wanna know?” I asked.

            And he thought for a minute before he asked, very carefully, “What… what exactly are you waiting for?”

            Before I could answer, he quickly wanted to clarify, “I mean, not that I’m rushing you. I’m not. Because honestly, when it comes to girls, I’m like… I don’t want it if it’s that easy,” he said with a chuckle, stating the obvious lyric from a Tupac song.

            “But… I’m asking because it’s just… waiting is very unusual.”

            “No, I get it. It’s a valid question,” I said. And I thought for a moment about how to explain this: “You ever heard that saying, ‘shit happens?’ Well,” I said. “Sometimes… shit just don’t happen.”

            And he laughed.

            “Really. I mean, when I was a teenager, I looked up to Ty, who was very religious and who insisted that we’re supposed to wait until marriage. She’s three years older than me. I wasn’t religious, but I’ve always wanted to be good like her. Perfect, y’know? And that’s how you were perfect—you didn’t have sex.”

            He just looked at me as I spoke, intently, hanging onto every word. I could talk for hours to him and feel his attention never shift.

            “So for a while, we were both waiting, kindly idealistically. But then, when she was in college, she met someone. And… she was no longer waiting,” I said, summing that up quickly.

            “For me, though… as I got older, my thoughts about how life and God and how the world really works changed. But sex, it just… never happened. I was the girl—and I kinda still am—with mostly male friends. But I never felt attractive to guys. I was like the little sister or one of the boys to them. Not the girl they wanted to date or… show off to their friends,” I said, looking at my hands, avoiding making eye contact with Derek out of reluctant embarrassment.

            With a sigh, I said, “When I did start dating, it just…” I shook my head as I remembered some of the laughable experiences I’d had. “It wasn’t right. It was just never the right guy, never the right time, never the right place. But mostly never the right guy,” I said again, jokingly, but not joking.

            He smiled at my little unexpected sprinkle of humor.

            “I know it’s something kids do all the time, but… it’s like staring over the ledge of a tall building or a bridge or a cliff. The longer you just look down and don’t jump, the scarier it gets,” I halfheartedly admitted, looking away with a tinge of shame about actually being scared at my age.

            “So… even though my views about religion and life and all that are different now than when I was a kid, I still want to really value who I do it with.”

            And then I smiled and said to him playful, although I was actually very serious: “But every time I think about you and just how incredibly, unbearably sexy you are… Oh! I find it hard to contain myself!”

            He grabbed me and began tickling me, as I screamed and laughed, trying to get him off me. In my effort to stop the tickles, I went from the sofa to the floor, and he chased me there, where he ended up slightly on top of me—hovering, though, rather than pressing his weight down.

            He began kissing me with assertion and passion and intention. I put my hands on either side of his head and brought him in even closer as I became more of the aggressor.

            And then he stopped. He leaned up a little bit and said while looking down at me, “I’m going to kiss you, okay.”

            I smiled and nodded, okay.

            “Just trust me,” he said. “I’m only going to kiss you. If you start to get… uncomfortable at any time, I’ll stop. But I’m going to kiss you right now, okay.”


            He had kissed me before without this disclaimer, so I had no idea what he was talking about would be any different. But I lay there as his face moved closer, and I closed my eyes as his lips landed on mine, and his tongue slipped back into my mouth.

            And then heto my neck as his hands went up my shirt, crawling along my torso. As his fingers crept along my back, he lifted his head and looked at me as he said, “I’m going to take this off, okay?” referring to my bra.

            I was sure my heartbeat could be seen now through that tee shirt and I had begun to perspire… No, perspiration would imply that it was like a mist; this was a full-on storm. I was sweating like a hooker on half-off day.

            Of course, I had disregarded the feminist rule for comfort and opted for something pretty under my clothes, but this wasn’t about clothes; it was about what the clothes were on—me. No man had ever seen me naked. And it didn’t help that I was always so nitpicky and critical and ashamed and dissatisfied with my body, always wishing it looked a certain way and always wondering why it didn’t look another.

            Every day of my life since I was 8 had involved some type of diet, albeit ones that I never thought completely worked. So clothes were almost never a fashion statement, but rather just a means to cover—or better yet, hide—because I never wanted people to notice the things I saw when clothes weren’t on.

            I didn’t have to take any time to think about all of this since it was a constant recording that played in my mind all the time, especially when I was with him. But what I did have to consider in that moment was whether I was going to keep letting this type of thinking deny me the opportunity to get closer to the first guy I’ve really liked in forever.

            So as I felt his hands crawl along my back, and looked at him as he said to me, “I’m going to take this off, okay?” I knew that I no longer wanted my bra to serve as armor and shield. So I let my guard down, and I nodded, okay.

            He went on and seamlessly unhooked the bra, then slid his hands back around, taking my breast into each of his palms, gently giving them a little pressure before he slid the bra and shirt up over my head and off my body.

            My blood pressure was going through the roof and I could feel myself getting hot and wet all over, as his lips went back to work, tattooing kissing all over my exposed skin.

            The waistband of the yoga pants I had on started right around my navel, which is exactly where his lips stopped before he looked up at me and whispered, “I’m going to slide this off, alright?”

            I swallowed hard as I looked down at him—heart racing and knocking like it was trying to force its way through my chest, while my body was being covered in more and more sweat now as it mixed with his saliva all over me.

            He could sense my hesitation, so he said, “I’m only going to kiss you. But I want to see you, okay?”

            I took a breath, a very deep breath, and nodded as I managed to mutter, “Okay.”

            And he smiled as he put his lips back on my stomach and his fingers just under the band of the spandex pants, as he slowly slid them and my panties around my hips, down my thighs, across my legs, and past my feet, discarding them onto the floor beside us.

            “God, you are so beautiful,” he whispered looking down at me.

            This wasn’t up for debate. He wasn’t interested in how I might’ve felt about how he felt about me. And maybe for the first time… neither was I.

            Again, his hands explored me while his lips routed the course, as he kissed along my thighs while delicately grabbing, rubbing, and massaging as much of my backside as he could fit into his palms at once.

            And then he began to slowly part my legs as he moved down into a lower position. And he looked up at me to make sure I was still okay.

            “Trust me,” he said.

            And I did. So he lifted and spread my legs as he put his lips onto mine… assertively moving his tongue—almost like it was slow dancing—while tenderly sucking and licking at the same time.

            10 seconds… 10 seconds was all it took before I began spasming so intensely that I could not control myself.

            He moved back so that he could look up at me, while still doing something with his thumb that felt so good that it was making me tremor harder and harder, contracting with a force that caused me to make sounds I’d never made before. And I couldn’t think or move or talk or even remember my first name, but I somehow knew that that moment… had topped the list as the best moment of my entire life!

            Now I got it!

            Now I understood why empires had fallen and wars had been started.

            Now I knew why the world was over-populated and why motherhood began younger and younger.

            Now I knew why marriages happened or why they didn’t last.

            Now I knew why J was always so happy…

            Nothing, and I mean nothing, could top this feeling!

            I got it all now. And for the record, I probably wasn’t that bad a feminist, really, but if I incur any judgment about my behavior that lead me to this feeling… It was damn well worth it.

            After I recovered, he “kissed” me again, and again, that night, each time lasting a little longer than 10 seconds before I was soaked and in that beautiful, euphoric place where I couldn’t be touched.

            But… the next morning, I was brusquely awakened by keys crashing into the floor, as he gathered his things—phone, wallet, jacket…

            “Sorry,” he said, standing near my feet. “Go back to sleep.”

            “Where are you going? What time is it?” I asked, suddenly wide-awake.

            “It’s 8,” he said. “I have to go—”

            “Why?” I asked, almost whining as I got up from the floor where we’d slept.

            “Don’t get up,” he said. But I was already getting up. “I have to go. I gotta meet with some people about some business.”

            That was about as cryptic as you could get. So I had to ask, “On a Sunday? Is everything okay?”

            “Everything’s fine.”

            Everything didn’t look fine. He didn’t look as happy and pleasing as he did last night. With his hair and facial hair unkempt from wallowing in the night, and his eyes now long and seemingly troubled with worry or anger or disappointment… nothing looked “fine” to me.

           “I have to go.” But he stopped rushing for a moment as he took his time to kiss me before turning and leaving without saying anything else.

            And just like that, my perfect night with my perfect guy was over.

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