It is the day before Labor Day and the end of the summer is smacking me in the face like a dirty fly swatter. I use this analogy because the bugs are busy everywhere. There are flies, mosquitos, skeeter hawks (dragonflies), stink bugs, ladybugs – anything that can fly is crashing into me as I walk up Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, NY. I imagine the bugs know that it is the end of the summer as well and are reacting to the short time they have left to pester us, humans before the cold spell comes to wipe them out.
I have just left the hair salon where an African sister from Ghana has hooked up my long, single braids and I am feeling very “Queenly.” (Good job, my sister. I look marvelous, Darlin’!)
I step onto the street to a parade of costumes and floats with strong-armed West Indian men playing steel drums, and scantily clad curvy women dancing and marching. The rhythm and sights are irresistible, and I too am now marching and dancing to the beat of the loud steel drums.
The big Labor Day parade (The West Indian Day Parade) will occur tomorrow on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. But, no question, the West Indians really know how to party, and this is the party before the party. I have lived in Brooklyn for four years now, and as quiet as I have kept it, I am fascinated with the West Indian ways. I have vacationed on five West Indian Islands, but being a tourist in the Caribbean is different than living among them in Brooklyn. I have immersed myself into their culture, loving their food, attending their churches, using their services, enjoying their art and savoring the sight of their muscular men.
So, I bought a beef patty and a ginger soda from a vendor on the street, and hung around to watch the pre-parade. Fortunately, there is a bench on the sidewalk, and a handsome young West Indian man offered me a seat.
“Here, Mama. You can sit here.” His deep voice draws me in like a vacuum. I quickly scan his muscular arms glistening in the bright sunlight. I am old enough to be his mother (OK, grandmother!) but I can still look and imagine his hard body next to mine.
“Thank you, Baby,” I say. He smiles, his pecan tan face glowing and appropriately framing beautiful, ivory white teeth. He is so FINE, and I am staring at him like he is my favorite cinnamon bun, sweet and sticky. His long legs rise up like a beautiful brown stallion, and I am wondering if they will ever end. Attached to the top of them are a perfect round, tooty booty, a remarkably thin waistline, and a six pack abdomen stretching up to massive shoulders which are swollen underneath a tight black tee shirt.
I feel light-headed and stumble towards the bench. He grabs my arm to steady me, and the sensation of his energy startles me. I flop down on the bench as he releases me.
“You ok, Mama?” he asks seeming concerned.
“Yes, yes. I’m fine”, I reply, as I a think to myself — ‘No, you are fine!’
“Your braids are so beautiful,” he continues, standing and talking with me about my hair.
I am very flattered and getting a little nervous. I am beginning to perspire and here come these damn bugs again. I take a napkin and wipe my face and take a deep breath. Wrong move! Just my luck, a fly is sucked into my mouth and I am coughing, coughing, coughing and trying to expel it.
This has to be my most unattractive look. I am coughing and spitting and honking and tearing up. I know I must be as red as a beet, but happy that I have finally spit the fly into my napkin.
I look at him still standing next to me and he calmly hands me the ginger soda I have placed on the sidewalk.
I guzzle down the soda and come up for air. He is still standing there. I catch my breath and he rubs my shoulder. He stoops down to my level, rubbing my back and watching closely as I try to normalize this freak incident.
“I’m fine,” I say, a bit hoarse from all the coughing.
He keeps rubbing my back, and I let him. I am on cloud nine feeling the energy of this young stud, who is actually paying attention to me. ‘Old girl still got it,’ I’m thinking.
He slowly stands and grabs my hand. My hand is so sweaty now I am embarrassed, and I cup it so he won’t get the full impact of my wet, sticky palm.
“Take care, Mama,” he says looking deep into my eyes. “Here’s my card. Call me if you need anything.”
I thanked him as he turned and walked away. I forgot and left my reading glasses at home, so all I could really see was a handsome picture of him on the card. I put the card in my bosom and tried to watch him walk away, as far as I could see.
He disappeared into the parade crowd and I sat back feeling giddy and full of myself. I finished my beef patty and ginger soda and walked back to my apartment a few blocks away. I felt so good, so young, and so hopeful that romance can still be a part of my life, no matter how old I am. I kicked off my shoes and lay on my bed feeling grateful for a blast of love coming to me from a random gentleman. This young, handsome, viral man reached out to me in a solicitous way and seemed to have an attraction to my spirit. I just might call him, I thought. I picked up my reading glasses from the night stand then took the card out of my bra. His handsome face smiled back at me more clearly now as I began to read his info. It said:
Gentleman Services Available
Von Richards – Man about town
Need a date? Call me anytime!
WOW! I am laughing out loud. He’s a gigolo. A man for hire. He targeted me, a single older lady who takes good care of herself. I am his market, and he was only prospecting for clients.
Old Girl still got it? Not…unless I have a wad of money to throw at a young stud prospecting old girls for a living. Hey, I may still call him. Obviously this old girl doesn’t care about dignity anymore!