Thing is we met we were at our lowest ebbs. We were both sad about many things. DubbleX had his sad things. I had mine. I’ll tell how we met.
We met at Louder Arts downtown. Honestly – I know this sounds conflicted because I’m a very friendly outgoing person, but it’s difficult to push myself out the door to go read anywhere. I had wanted to go to Louder Arts for so long it was now silly. That’s me – all bottled up in my fears & anxieties. You know writers. Mongo called me & invited me to gay night. I said OK.
Mongo and I met at Au bon Pain. He says, “You’re gonna love it.” I’m skittish, a new venue I’ve never been to before. Hell, I have the bear with me – a teddy bear so I’m safe. We’re seated and this big very tall brown-skinned dude with dreads stands to my left gazing at the seat on which parts of me and my belongings are spread. Being the friendly type I bustle my big ass over a few inches to make room for the big brown dude with dreads. I got my shit together and put it on my lap.
I caught him looking at me.
“Hey,” I said, “I’m Joy.”
“Is it your first time here, Joy?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said. “Mongo took me here tonight. I always wanted to come before but somehow I never got here.” Then I explained the whole gay theme poetry night as Mongo had explained it to me; that you first read a gay poet’s poem and then one of your own.
“Nobody ever talked to me this much here before,” he said.
“Oh…really,” I said.
“Why’s that?” I said, “You shy?”
“A little,” he said his eyes penetrating mine.
“I like your dreads,” I said flirtatiously.
“You do?” he said acting surprised.
"What?" I asked because he was staring at me so strangely.
“No one’s ever said that to me before.”
I was like where’s this dude been if he’s never run into anyone like me.
“They really look sweet. Can I touch them?”
He stared at me for a long time – his eyes holding mine. I felt him in the pit of my belly.
“You didn’t answer,” I said our eyes still holding.
“I …I,” he stammered, “No one’s ever asked me that before.”
“Oh … Really,” I said. I was touched - like - where’s this gem been hidden?
“OK,” I said. “So can I touch them or not because you still haven’t answered me. I’ve always wanted to touch dreads but never had the opportunity.”
“Sure,” he said, “If you wanna.”
“Wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t want‘a,” I shot back, reaching over to touch his dreads while he bent his head slightly towards me to provide easy access.
I let my hands feel the coolness. I squeezed to feel the springiness. I held several coils in my hand. He looked at me through his dreads. I looked back. I closed my eyes for a moment to feel. I opened them. Dubblex was watching me through the lens of his glasses. I stared back smiling. We kept quiet mostly after the show began.
It was fun. I read one of Mongo’s poems. He gave me a few to choose from. Mongo’s poetry is cool. He has many styles. I read one of Mongo’s then one of mine. What’s most cool the about the Louder Arts thing is the rule. I particularly like it that no one is permitted to take up more time than allowed. I really appreciate that feature and find it very respectful to all the rest of us poets waiting our turns.
Afterwards Mongo, DubbleX and I were chatting. Mongo says he walks to his place from here and it’s not far. DubbleX and I are looking at each other because neither of us has said yet where we live.
I say, “I got a long trip uptown,”
“Probably not as far as me,” he challenged.
“Oh … really,” I said, “Where do you live?”
“Inwood,” he said. “Do you know where that is?”
Mongo laughed because he knows I’m from the Heights.
“I live up there,” I laughed too. “I need to take the #1. What do you take?
“I take the A usually but if you take the #1, I’d rather ride with you.” He said
Mongo and I looked at each other then bear-hugged.
DubbleX & I split Louder Arts & talked the entire walk/ride uptown. I handed him my card. it’s nice to partner up for readings. Sometimes people call, sometimes they don’t. It’s a sometimes world.
DubbleX called me the day after we met. I was out but my man at the time picked up the phone & gave me the message. DubbleX called the second day as well. I was home. He told me very personal things about himself and I immediately responded, “I’m a social worker with a lot of skills, let me help you.”
Don’t ask me to tell you what possessed me to say that. Suffice it to say that helping people is part of my nature & is the reason why I went to get my masters in social work in the first place. I had been doing it my entire life anyway.
I’ve reflected & written tons of poems about my life since before I met DubbleX & how things are now. Somehow it boiled down to me being hostage to my expectations. It’s all mixed up for me. To make a long story short, the two of us decided to take that leap and live & grow together.
DubbleX has managed to be more productive than ever before. He says his hair has never grown this fast before and attributes its fast growth to our relationship as he does his sudden productive artistic growth. Should I argue with genius?
Let me tell you – this has been one hell of a trip for both of us. Things have never been the same with either one of us since that day we met. Mongo says it’s his entire FAULT; he takes CREDIT it for it all!