The First Date: Pt 1
Needless to say, I was swooned over Mr. Gary McKinnon. I was jubilant for our date and couldn’t wait to see more of his persona and the mysteries hiding behind his shiny white teeth and greased, neatly kept, grey combover. Still, I’m a tough girl and wanted to showcase that. So even though it was a conventional date at the park, it didn't mean I'd force myself to fit into the role of the demure waitress that I played at work. That version of Serenity was reserved for that setting only. Due to my interaction with him over the phone 2 days prior, I was ready to break my persona slightly and cut my bob into a short, purple-dyed buzzcut. I went and got it done the Wednesday after speaking with him. I contemplated with myself in my thoughts. “You know what, I don’t feel like conforming in terms of wardrobe today either. Whether he likes it or not, I’m gonna dress how Chanti wants to dress."
After completing my hygiene routine, I proceeded to dress myself up in a navy blue bralette, and matching blazer, paired with navy blue trousers and low cut black boots. I also added my off-white cateye shades and placed them behind my ears. “No earrings” I thought. They had a tendency to irritate my ears and just weren't for me. When I was finished, I grabbed my purse and headed for the door, not before spraying on my Victoria’s Secret - Pure Seduction perfume. “Lipstick will make me look 100x more bussin!" I took the tiny faux gold-plated mirror off my dresser and perfectly applied my Wet and Wild Megalast lipstick in the shade Missy and Fierce, also adding faux gold Shein Bracelets. I looked in the mirror above my closet and posed. One hip to the right, switch hands, one hip on the left. I did this meticulously without moving my hand from the dresser, which was aiding me in steadying my balance. I was definitely seeing a bad b staring back at me. Hopefully, he would too.
It was close to 3 o’clock in the afternoon when my iPhone chimed showing one iMessage from Gary.
“Hey Ren, I’ll be outside your address in five.” - it read. My eyes lit up at the new nickname displayed on my phone screen, as it was unique. I’d never been called that before. I cheekily replied to his text with: “New nickname huh? Endearing and creative. Certainly don’t hate it. ;)” I quickly checked that the check was still in the zipper compartment of my bag before heading out the door.
I’d never felt myself walking down the stairs this fast even with my canes in hand. I was amazed at myself.
I smiled as Gary’s Toyota Prius approached the outside of my apartment. I waved smiling as his driving came to a halt. He looked a bit confused, as I left my canes at the side of the railing at the bottom of the stairs to sit down in my powerchair. It was my red lipstick that caused him to recognize me and almost immediately run to help me.
“Damn.” Gary said, mouth half agape as he looked me up and down.” All I could do was laugh. He frantically shook his head as if to communicate to himself to snap out of it. “I mean you look really good, and your hair, it um.. Really..suits you.” Gary uttered fumbly.
“Aww would you look at that, I’ve made him speechless once again.” I teased. “But no, seriously it’s more than okay, you’re all good - and thank you,” I said, confidently nodding my head. I was really feeling myself now. It was only then that I fully eyed him up and down. I immediately went dumbstruck myself. Gary was wearing a newly-ironed black and white Hawaiian shirt and grey shades behind his ears - his black Toms making for a clean finish.
“Shit.” I muttered under my breath. He clearly heard me as he immediately began laughing at my revelation. I blushed as I made eye contact with him, feeling a bit embarrassed. He simply nodded, smiling at me, the corner of his lip turning up in that adorable way it did when we first came in contact that fateful day at my workplace.
“Thank you! That serves as more than a compliment for me.” He grinned.
“Hehe, okay, can you try not to look so proud?” I stamped my foot in simultaneous glee and frustration that he was able to get me flustered so easily. My persona was already cracking and we weren’t even in the car yet.
“Aww you look so adorable when you’re embarrassed. Still trying to conceal how much you like me huh?"
“Yeah! I’m tryna continue playing hard-to-get and I haven’t even got the chance!” I laughed semi-frustratedly, accidentally slipping into my African American Vernacular English.
“Aww, even your professional way of speaking is starting to break! How cute!” Gary smiled
“Y’know, it’s whatever!” I laughed through my sentence as I attempted to shrug his correctness off.
“Shall we head to the park?” Gary inquired.
“Absolutely.” I replied, nodding my head.
Gary held the door to my apartment open as I entered the key into my power chair and pressed the power button to boot it up. As I began to drive myself out of the door, Gary looked in my direction smiling. His piercing ocean blue orbits looked so mesmerized with me. I couldn’t help but smile.
He leaned a bit toward my ear, not exactly whispering but speaking lowly as he said: “I would’ve brought one of my other cars, but I knew the ramp and extra space would help your chair get into it more conveniently.” he said.
I nodded as my eyes widened slightly. I was smiling at the fact that he genuinely thought about my limitations beforehand, which is not something a lot of people outside of my family network have done upon first meeting me. However, I won’t pretend that the idea of him having multiple cars stunned me a bit and will acknowledge that I did gulp. “Thank you!” I uttered, trying to hide my shock, remembering that the check was indeed in the zipper compartment of my purse. “I’ll return it in an organic and polite way, but just not yet.” I thought.
Gary assisted me with getting my chair up the ramp (which I was surprised he had installed,) and into the trunk as I climbed into the front seat.
My mouth said “thank you” with my eyes looking at Gary apologetically. I was hoping he wouldn't notice. He did. “I really hope you understand that helping you with the chair was honestly not a big deal whatsoever. .” he reassured me.
“Um, yeah... I know..” I dragged out my sentence slightly, signifying that I was still doubtful. “I can pay you back for the ramp. You really didn’t have to do that.”
“Chanti, I assure you it’s not a problem. I know you recall me telling you that I have multiple cars. Having multiple cars means I pay multiple car notes, not to mention gas and damage fees. I promise you, I’m going to be okay. Besides, it’s gonna pay off as I know this is not our last time seeing each other.” Gary smirked and titled his head slightly, proceedingly nodding his head at me.
I nodded my head, smiling professionally. The butterflies in my stomach that I felt on Tuesday were making it known that they had no problem showing up once again.
“Speechless again, huh?" Gary inquired knowingly.
My mouth fell agape as I thought of what I would say in response. “I mean, not for the reason you think. Like the cars and stuff you own, cool, dope, excellent. Would it be terrible of me to say that I’m not wowed?” I paused. We hit a stoplight as Gary glanced over, smiling and giving a quick head nod in the “no” direction.
“I don’t mean what I'm about to say in a disrespectful manner but.. I mean you’re a successful man..good for you. I jus' don’ want you to feel as if I’m only hanging out with you to mooch off of you. Like, imma keep it a buck witchu - “
“Another professional persona break!” Gary interjected in a calm yet energetic tone. “Sorry go ahead.”
“Hehe, you good. I’m just saying like... the clothes I picked for our date is an outfit from Shein 2 years ago, I have on a drugstore lipstick that’s probably expired by now, and I got my hair dye from the cosmetic section at CVS. But everything I own is my own, and I prefer it that way.”
Gary simply smiled at my response. “That’s hot.”
“Y’know, I’m done.” I started laughing hysterically. “Professional Chanti has officially left the building!”
“Y’mean the car.” Gary corrected playfully.
“Oh, whatever!” I laughed
“Mission accomplished!” Gary laughed, taking on a fulfilled tone.
We both laughed for what seemed like a blissful eternity.
As silence fell upon us, I spoke. “I don’t mean to sound rude, but may we please get some music bumpin’ on dis radio?” I said, slightly chuckling at myself. I was beginning to get more comfortable being unprofessional around him.
“Do I not look ravishing enough to entertain you?” Gary swavely and playfully inquired.
“Not gon' deny the fact that you do indeed look ravishing. I jus' feel like we should play some music for you know, ambiance!” I humorously asserted.
“Hmm, that was cute enough that I’ll allow it.” Gary nodded his head, briefly looking in my direction
“Bet!” I exclaimed as I excitedly searched my bag for the auxiliary cord. I proceeded to plug it in and go into my iPhone’s settings turning my bluetooth on. I then opened up the YouTube app and played the song “Jammdong’ by Kes the Band. I did not hesitate to sing the lyrics.
“Let go let go let go let go/ Na na na na na na yeah. I know we’ve been distant lately. Yeah I know that things been crazy, but here’s what I come to realize, when di riddim get ya high, ouu yuh does come alive when you get that feeling that’s hard to describe.” I was pleasantly surprised when he began to sing along.
“So let we come let we come let we come down, let we sip ’pon something and jamdong we could do wey we want, any ting whoa, whoa!”
“I takin' iron on di rocks -”
“Throw me that waist gyal doh stop, and just let the music move you, woah!” he interjected
As the chorus came up I turned the radio down in complete shock and excitement.
“How on Earth did you learn that song?” I inquired, delightedly. Being that Gary is European American, I was not expecting him to know a song that is relative to my West Indian ethnicity.
“Oh, I travel...” Gary answered smugly and suavely, nodding his head. “They have beautiful mango trees in Trinidad.”
I wasn’t wowed by the whole multiple cars ordeal, but I certainly was now. My trousers began to feel tight against my waist.
My mouth was agape for a total of 10 seconds, a slight smile formed on them. I had to come up with something equally as suave fast. “Throw you that waist, huh?” I teased, quoting the song.
“I mean... in time if possible for you.” He winked.
“Oh, it’s doable. Gotta have patience to experience that part of the culture.” I smiled, in a smug and flirtatious manner.
“Who says I haven’t already?” he leaned his head forward, hand on the steering wheel speaking lowly.
My mouth fell agape once again as I playfully knocked my elbow into the side of his arm. We laughed for about a minute before I broke the silence with: “Not from me you haven’t.”
The soca music playlist continued to play a little of all the top calypso artists including Machel Montano, Patrice Roberts and Voice. I looked at Gary with wondrous wide eyes and he would occasionally do the same. I suddenly began to feel relaxed enough to fall asleep, causing me to lean on his shoulder and do exactly that.
“Wake up Chanti, we’re here.” Gary softly spoke as he gently rubbed my shoulder to wake me up. Surprisingly, I’d only been out for 20 minutes. I awoke relieved that our time together hadn’t ended yet. Hurriedly, I moved off his shoulder, mentally kicking myself for allowing myself to pass out there of all places, although it admittedly proved to be quite comfortable.
“Oh, I'm sor-” I began to speak apologetically.
“It’s fine! She looks beautiful even as she sleeps.” Gary complimented earnestly
I sat upright and placed my hand on my cheekbone, lifting the passenger seat mirror to check that my lipstick hadn’t smudged and to ensure there were no sleepies in my eyes.
“Thank you, Gentle One” I nodded in his direction, smiling.
“Ready?” he inquired
Gary proceeded to exit the car and close the door on his side and open the passenger, even going so far as to move my legs out of the car. I was a bit taken aback, but only by how my flesh jumped out of my skin from his touch. Gary proceeded to walk to the back of the car, opening the trunk and lifting my chair out of it. I placed my canes out in front of me one by one, rising out of the car - an expression of sheer excitement on my face as I was exuberantly pondering on how much adventure lay ahead.