I was laying on the couch listening to some old Stevie Wonder songs and today being Monday, a lot of folks participate in this social media theme #MCM or Man Crush Monday. (No luck on that front this way haha) But the combination had me reflecting back asking myself who were my crushes? My mind took me back to an incident that I totally buried until today that I will share.
When I was in high school, there was this girl named Crystal. She was in the music department. I believe she played the clarinet. Anyway, Crystal wasn’t the girl you’d notice at first glance, She wasn’t doe-eyed exotic or voluptuous..the types I’d usually pine for at that age, but she was average I’d say. As a matter of fact, we talked for a while before one day we were having a convo and I took the time to really check her out. She had the most perfect complexion I’d ever seen..milk chocolaty and buttery smooth. There was something about her full lips that just drew me in. I could literally hear myself saying to myself, ah man she’s beautiful. I realized that I was staring and so did she, to the point where she said, Why are you looking at me like that? Is something wrong? To which I replied, no there’s nothing wrong. I just like what I see. Mind you..this was way bold for me. I didn’t even have the time to check myself before the words just came out of my mouth. She just looked at me with this look of incredulity, like are you serious?
A little background is needed here. I was very popular in high school, but exceptionally insecure. I would joke around a lot as a means of deflection and to channel my anxiety at being the center of attention. A lot of girls found me attractive but I hated myself because of negative images put in my head about the typical black man’s features over the years. Whenever anyone would compliment me or say anything about my looks, I would get totally fucked up awkward. I convinced myself they were just saying that out of pity. So that’s why for me to say something like that to someone’s face was way way out of character. She laughed it off but her friend, Evelyn (yes, I’m calling you out too) was like, you go girl! So now we were both miserably embarrassed and changed the subject. It wouldn’t end there though.
Not too much longer after that, one day Crystal comes to tell me that she’s leaving PA (Performing Arts) and going to another school. I was fucking crushed. It was like my heart beat one big thump and then my soul left my body. I can remember us standing there in mutual disbelief of the power of that moment looking at each other in the hallway. I felt betrayed in some way. We weren’t dating or anything but it felt to me like abandonment. I struggled with those feelings for a bit and then I finally got the nerve to ask for her phone number. You see, I could tell that she liked me but was unsure how far to let it go. There were many rumors about me with girls, a lot was just talk. I had admirers but at that time, but nothing was happening with anyone else.
I can’t recall how long it was after that this situation I’m about to describe occurred. It was summer like.
I’d called and made arrangements to come by her house. I remember begging because she was very reluctant to have me over. She was fighting the feeling, I said to myself, and that’s not going to stand in my way. So off I went.
She lived in Harlem, in a housing development. I remember being intimidated that I was heading into another hood that I’d heard so many bad things about. It turned out to be nothing but hype. When I got to her place, I was greeted by her father. He was a huge individual. When he shook my hand, his hand covered my whole hand and part of my wrist. I was like wow, there is NO way I’m gonna go ANYTHING to piss this guy off. I bet if he slapped me, my sneakers would’ve come off. He was on his way to work, so we just exchanged pleasantries and he went out. Her mother was there doing something..not sure, but she was in the kitchen. Crystal was in the process of doing something with her hair. I think they were going out somewhere later, but she her hair was wet and she had a towel covering her head. She invited me into her room to talk, which I was very nervous about but went anyway. She excused herself and then came back in a tee shirt with that towel on her head. She might as well have been an Egyptian goddess. She was talking to me and I got caught again. She said, Darrell what? I’m like what what? She’s said, Why are you staring at me like that? Are you staring at my boobs? Which by the way were extremely visible and her nipples were like doorbell buttons waiting to be rung. At first I tried to restrain my mouth but I was again, caught up in the moment and just said I find you to be irresistible. She was like, stop being so damn cute and came to hug me. Then it happened. We looked at each other and I went in for the kill. I don’t know how long it was but I was completely taken away by how good this kiss felt. I’d never kissed anyone with lips as full as mine but it was incredible. She was enjoying it too. So much so that neither of us heard her mother open the door. All I heard was, Crystal..when you’re done, I want to speak with you, and she closed the door. We were like OMG! OMG! OMG! I immediately started apologizing. I was in a panic. How could I fuck this up so bad on the first move?? Her father is going to destroy me. I have to move to Canada.
It wasn’t over just yet.
She walked out, closing me in her room to confront her mother. I was sitting on her bed in total shock. I could hear them arguing. All I could make out was, get him out of my house. Needing no cue, I got myself together and started to head out. I stepped out, said to her mother, I apologize. I was wrong. I’ve disrespected your home. it was all me. I meant no harm but I will go. Crystal then did the totally unexpected. She said, No..you’re my company. You leave when I say it’s ok to leave. I’m like no no she didn’t..no she did not just nuke her mom in front of me. Realizing that a save was seriously needed in that awkward moment that followed, I said, no..You’re mother is right. I have to go and I headed towards the door, with as much intention as to end this disaster and to save my own life. Crystal then grabs me and says, “You’re not leaving without me”. I felt like I was in a bad dream that would eventually end with me getting shot at this point. Her mother roared back, “You’re not going anywhere”. To which Crystal replied, “Watch me” and proceeded to get her keys and a jacket. I was dumbfounded at this point. I’d never ever ever seen a black girl speak to her mother like that and live. She got her stuff and walked me back to the train station. We talked for a bit. I was so concerned about what was going to happen to Crystal that I would have done anything to make it better. She assured me she’d deal and thanked me for coming. I then said the magic words..I love you. She grabbed my mouth and said, “Don’t say that! Just don’t! Ok??” I was completely lost. She just kissed me and walked away. I called her later and she said she would explain. She agreed to have me come to her new school. There was a show that she was in. So I went.
It was there as we sat in the auditorium that she told me she had a boyfriend, but she liked me as a friend. No sooner than the words came out of her mouth did he show up asking her Is everything ok? She dismissively introduced me as her friend from the other school and he went on. That train ride home was one of the longest of my life..