Some New Kind of Fool
I'm too old for this shit. I can’t keep jumping into closets or hiding in showers because the woman I’m seeing hasn’t disclosed that she has a boyfriend. Or even worse, she told me from jump and I pursued anyway. If that was the case, who’s more at fault, me or her? I didn’t have time to debate if I should confront homeboy with my dilemma, especially within minutes of getting to know his girl in the biblical sense.
So, I stood in the closet, trying to slide my underwear on and be as still as possible. Doubled over, with a shoe rack sticking me in the ass, I realized that I’m a fool. Not just a fool, a new fool. I’ve been seeing Shanise for six weeks now and not once has she mentioned that she was in a relationship. She wasn’t even alarmed when we heard the footsteps downstairs or his voice as he began heading upstairs. Instead, she casually tossed a robe around her body, instructed me to wait there, and then walked out to greet him.
Wait there? Was she crazy? There was no way I was gonna go out like that; caught in the bed naked while some unsuspecting brother lost his mind over his girl’s indiscretions. I grabbed as much of my clothes as I could, as fast as I could and hauled ass to the closet. I can’t think straight when my adrenaline starts pumping like this, my heart was beating louder than usual and I’m sweating in places I haven’t sweated in years. Standing there, the grid of the rack tattooing my ass, I realized that I’ve been a fool for a long time. I thought of other times I was in a situation like this. Yes, I’ve been in this situation more times than I’d like to admit. Like the time in undergrad when a group project turned into me being held hostage in a dorm room.
We’d long past run out of ideas and the last three hours listening to Eleasha’s complaining about her boyfriend or if he even is still her boyfriend was driving Chad and Emily crazy. I was pretty zoned out, half focusing on a fingernail I’d spit out hanging over the edge of the table and Emily’s nervous twitch that caused the left side of her mouth to jump. To his credit, Chad did his best to keep it, us, together, but it would be of no use on this day. Eleasha couldn’t keep her head in the game, an ECON project was no match for the anguish she felt in her heart and we were, unwillingly I might add, her audience that night.
It was nearly eleven when we broke ranks for the night, deciding to meet in the cafeteria at one tomorrow. Eleasha objected because she had class, but that worked well for us and we informed her that we would go strong until she arrived. She could pitch in when she got there. There was no way our grades were going to suffer because of her relationship issues, so getting some work done in her absence seemed like a great idea.
Chad lived off-campus and Emily’s was on his way out, so he offered to drop her off at her dorm. Eleasha’s dorm was tucked behind mine, so I would have to hear more of her complaints for the duration of our fifteen minute walk across campus. Come to think of it, Chad could’ve dropped us off too, but I’m sure he wanted to be free of her whining. So here I was, trying to drown out as much as I could and interjecting the occasional confirmation of her thoughts between shrugs. She said so much over the course of the night, that I couldn’t remember the issue that started the argument and barely recalled the guy’s name. Even though she had to have said it a thousand times since 7pm.
When we arrived at my dorm a look of sadness cast a shadow across her face and I could tell that she wanted to talk more. Was it possible that she took my silence for listening? I figured I’d be a gentleman and offer to walk her to her dorm, to ensure her safety and hopefully bring an end to her rant, but she read that as invitation to invite me up and bend my ear more.
Her desk clock read 12:02 when I leaned over and kissed her in the corner of her mouth. At that point, I’d maybe said twelve words, none of them made any sense; a few unintelligible grunts, more shrugs and a yes here and there. But that kissed stopped her in her tracks. I imagined she would tell me to leave. Hell, I hoped she did. Instead, she moved closer and kissed me.
At 12:16 I was working my hand under her shirt when the phone started ringing. We stopped, looked at one another and then to the phone, as if it had witnessed our foolish passion. I could see her fighting the idea of answering the phone, possibly stopping the one thing that had taken her mind from her troubles. Against her better judgment, she sprang up and caught the phone on its sixth ring. The way her forehead wrinkled before she turned her back to me let me know it was her boyfriend on the other end. Finally, she could have a conversation with the source of her issues and I could head to my room for some sleep.
However, their call ended abruptly and the phone began ringing once again. This time, there was no hesitation as she picked up and told him to stop calling. Confused, I sat on the bed waiting for an explanation. She turned off the light in response. The phone rang off and on for the next hour or so, almost in echo to the sounds we made in that darkness. Between Eleasha’s constant chatter all evening and the phone, I found the silence discomforting as I searched in darkness for my clothes. I was quickly confronted by a noise of a different kind, a knock at the door. The rapidity of the knock and the way she sprang from the bed told me exactly who it was. Our eyes met in the dark and I knew I was supposed to keep quiet. She did too. No one told the fool on the outside of the door. His knocks came harder and faster and longer. But still, she refused to even go near the door. I suppose she would lie about sleeping through the ruckus or going to stay with a girlfriend after the phone calls.
But the next three hours found him alternating between knocking and sitting directly in front of the door, his body arresting the sliver of light that crept under the door. Three hours, no words, just knocks here and there, similar to his phone calls. It’s a wonder none of the girls on the floor complained of the noise or alerted the RA’s to his hallway stakeout. Today, campus security, even the police would have been called due to the heightened awareness of domestic violence. But that night, girls did laundry, came in from late-night study sessions, parties or headed out to visit guys in my dorm or others. They all, seemingly stepped over the guy in the hallway that night, undoubtedly repressing snickers, but unable to refrain from strange glares.
It never occurred to me that this could be a normal occurrence. Their back and forth, his camping out in the hallway or down in front of the dorm. But in those moments, I was stuck on the inside with his woman and he was on the outside holding on to his suspicions, anger, guilt or whatever the hell was going through his mind.
Understand, it was not my intention to be in that room at that time. Nor was I in any hurry to leave and confront the angry boyfriend. I’m a fool, but not that kind of fool. For her part, Eleasha kept her cool; I could tell she was exasperated by the whole song and dance. Pretty soon, I wasn’t alone in the seat I’d taken at her desk and just as quickly, my pants found themselves on the floor next to a sock. It seems as if our predicament turned Eleasha on and my switch was turned not long after. We rocked back and forth as quiet as possible, watching his shadow beneath the door, almost seeing him reposition to put his ear to the door. Seconds later, the knocking began again and she began to rock harder. I should’ve been alarmed by how the entire scene seemed to drive her wild, but I don’t think too clearly at 2:00 a.m.
The sun was coming up and the shadow under the door hadn’t moved. He finally stopped knocking a little past four, so I was able to sleep a couple of hours, but it was clear he intended to catch someone coming out of that room. I resigned myself to the fact that he would get the confrontation he wanted, because I was not going to miss my 9:00 am class, because he lost a bit of his mind.
Eleasha woke up and began stirring in the room like nothing happened. Like her boyfriend wasn’t camping in the hallway. I half expected her to open the door and let him in, it would be a fitting end to this crazy assed night, but instead she went to shower. His shadow beneath the door began to scramble at the sounds she made moving around the room, but there was to be no knocking. There was a thud, presumably a kick and the faintness of “Fuck you bitch!” trailing down the hallway.
Initially I was going to have her check the hallway or call a friend to see if he was still lurking in the dorm, but she was taking a marathon shower. Hearing no evidence of his presence, I waited ten minutes and was out the door just as she was turning the water off. She arrived in the cafeteria shortly after three hand-in-hand and all smiles with the guy who kept us captive for the entire night.
I looked at the rest of my group and the look on Chad’s face spoke for me. He knew nothing about the rest of the night, but the first four hours were enough to know they should not be the picture of happiness today. I shook my head and suggested we get back to work. Not only did she reconcile with the crazy guy, she never did her part of the project.
I laughed to myself as I thought of that story and looked around my present surroundings. Over twenty years later and I hadn’t learned anything. Here I was, almost 40 years old, hiding in the closet. It was sad. Pathetic if I said so myself. I decided that I was no longer going to be a fool. As I reached to open the door, it swung open and Shanise was standing there with a confused look on her face.
“What are you doing? Put your clothes on, I want you to come meet my brother.”
I stood there, looking like some new kind of fool.