The Almost Engagement

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Recently, a dear friend—and extreme romantic—called me all excited by a new woman in his life; my ears immediately begin to perk. This is only one in a series of calls that follow two-month intervals. It’s amazing that I still have that mechanical ability to slap my ears tightly against the phone. If I sound harsh, judge not, he falls in love like 4-a.m. drunks fall in ditches. He finds HER every sixty days. I am livid; I spend forever looking for HER and she just drops in his lap, again and again. As I pondered our chase for Ms. Right ad the fairy tale that has eluded us to date, he begins to describe how they met in great detail, with a bit of questioning from me.


1. “Where did you meet her?”


“I met her at my church. She came there with her family. She told me she was visiting from out of town for while.” Hmmm! This skank probably had a fight with a boyfriend or husband and took off for a while. “Oh, Lynn! She is such a lady! I was sitting beside her throughout the service and she knew every hymn.” Hmmm! I bet Satan can recall every one, too.


2. “What does she look like?”


He sighs dreamily, then stammers, “She is a sister.” I hold back a giggle. “Sister to whom?” He howls as he continues, “Stop playing, you sexy thing you!” We have had this discussion ten million times already. He refuses to consider any woman worthy of his attention unless she is of the “sister” persuasion. This man is the first person I have ever known who spends all his time scoping black dating sites and churches. It’s futile to explain how limiting he has become. As his friend, I support and want to beat his muse clicking knuckles. “You of all people should understand the attraction, Lynn,” he counters.


3. “Why should I understand this obsession?”


He drums his fingers loudly against the receiver and takes an overly loud and deep breath. “I’m just saying … you’re black for goodness sake!” One, two, three, four, five … I figure when I get to twenty, killing him by eardrum abuse will be an option. Okay, let’s go through this for the umpteenth time. “First, I am black but I don’t deliberately pick a color and search all over creation for someone in that color scheme to fall in love with. Geez, why do you always make me state the obvious? You won’t even give women of your own race the time of day. You can’t see how limiting that is on the road to love?” I know when I’m losing so we move on to the next thing.


4. “Is she seeing anyone?”


“There are complications,” he almost whispers. “She has a boyfriend who has been stalking her, so she needed to get away.” All I can hear is, “Woman fleeing psycho boyfriend picks color-obsessed freak to rescue her.” Evidently it’s throat-clearing time, he decides to invade my ears with bombardment of his skills in that regard. Let’s see here, the last one got a restraining order against him because the ex-boyfriend felt threatened by his attention to her and had to go upside his head. Then there is the one who blocked him from contacting her on all the major dating sites. Oh, and let’s not forget the one who wanted him to foot her boyfriend’s bond. Oh damn! That was the same one who got the restraining order. I love my friend! I love my friend! I love my friend! A headache would put the icing on this bit of good news right about now.


5. “How did she seem to react to you? Was she giving any signs of being interested?”


He erupts into laughter. “We just seemed to click, Lynn. I can tell she is the one. I’ve finished looking. I told her about my living arrangements and …” Oh, hell no! He didn’t! He didn’t! What man still living with his mother would dare divulge that bit of info, right away? “You told her what?” I screamed into the phone. “I told her about not being able to afford my own place.” If I could only slap him through the line. “You have a lot to learn about sisters, son.” I snapped half angry at myself for allowing his ignorance to continue over the years.


“What did I do wrong? I was honest with her!” Pushing the phone away from my ears I stared into the receiver. He surely must live in there, no one could be that naive. “If a person is told by a doctor she has to take a certain medication all her life, do you think it should be given in one dose?” He laughed, “Lynn, that’s crazy!” I grunted, “So are you! The longest day you live, my friend, never tell any woman, you live with your mother because you can’t afford a place. You should have dressed that one up. Why didn’t you say, you had chosen to look after your mother since she was experiencing age-related problems?” My ears registered feet stumping. “Do you think I ruined it?” he asked softly. “Is she gone?” I inquired sarcastically. “Yessss …” he whispered. With a lack of heart I really didn’t feel, I said, “Wave bye-bye, to where she was standing before she hauled ass.”


6. “You still want to keep our old-age pact?”


Laughter erupted as he again mulled the beginning of a new search around in his handsome head. “I’d keep that pact right now,” he dared. “I guess it wouldn’t be an old-age pact if we gave up and decided to hook up now though, huh?” My hysterical reaction was all the answer he needed. Many years before after deciding we wanted to remain best buddies, we dismissed hooking up. Women have come and gone, yet that state of our relationship has remained constant. I have not always been a welcome presence in his life by the women he has chosen. Then again, the ones I have had relationships with … they didn’t think he was the best choice for a best friend. If that trueness to each other should hold out, in another decade or so, with no clear prospects in sight for a happy ending, our pact dictates we make our own ending.


In our decidedly different way, we two souls are grasping for the same thing. We both just want the fairy tale. We are convinced if we somehow get that … our life will be that of the couple above the wedding cake. It’s not hard to buy into the Happily Ever After myth. Who doesn’t want to have the experience of the fadeout as they embark on a wave of perfect and perpetual bliss? The trouble with myths is they always lead to a most disappointing letdown. The mere idea is doomed to failure. Who among any one living, and excuse me if I dare not speak for the dead, can say life is one-note happiness? Real life can be likened to a road. There are long stretches of straight pavement, for sure, but at some point we are met by curves and dips, often we are startled to find bumps that momentarily take us aback. That is how I have come to measure happiness. It too is a reflection of our journey on the road of life. When happy I am comforted by long periods of uninterrupted bliss, only to be startled by some unforeseen occurrence that causes me to be jarred into reality. I am thus introduced to a curve in the road or a bump. I understand that at some point the road will again present me with long stretches of smooth travel while also accepting that there will be more curves with dips and bumps. Happiness like that road is everchanging. The degree to which we experience it has a lot to do with what we are within and what’s brought to the table by others. It’s as much Happily Ever After as any human can reasonably expect!

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