The digital clock has got to be one of man's greatest inventions. To think, you can just glance over at it, read the red numbers and know the exact time any time of the day. There's no approximation or calculations necessary. All you have to know is the number system and the difference between am and pm, and the sun can usually help you with that one.
I think time even moves faster on a digital clock. I've never done any tests on this, though, it's just a theory. I mean, when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If you look at a digital clock, then look away for a little while, then look back, it's almost guaranteed to have changed time. But sometimes it can move too fast. Like when you're sleeping, in that good early morning sleep, dreaming about Halle Berry and trying to forget that you've got someplace to be in less than an hour. You hit the snooze button one more time for those final nine minutes of precious sleep, but the next thing you know the alarm is ringing again, making your nine minutes seem more like two and a half.
Other times, like in the middle of a Sunday afternoon when you're waiting for a Bulls-Knicks game to come on, a digital clock can seem like it's not moving at all. Tip-off time will be one-thirty, so you'll grab some nachos, a soda, and a comfortable spot in front of the TV about ten minutes before, because you can't miss the pregame for the Bulls-Knicks. That's like missing the sermon at Sunday service. So you're staring at the clock on the VCR, waiting on the game, but it seems like forever before it changes from 1:20 to 1:21. You're sitting there thinking to yourself, "There are still sixty seconds in a minute, right?"
That's the only good thing about an old-school clock-it's got that second hand on there that lets you know time is actually moving forward. It's not nearly as easy to read as a digital, and actually requires that time-telling skill that was supposed to be a part of your kindergarten curriculum, but at least with the second hand you can visually chart time's progress. You can even stare at it while it's spinning around if you want, just to make sure that everything is in order, but that can get boring after a while. That's probably why I'm thinking about some stupid shit like this now, cause the second hand just ain't moving fast enough in this piece today.
I always come to class planning on paying attention for the full fifty-five minutes, but about twenty or thirty minutes into the show, depending on the day, I start drifting. And I mean drifting. Spanish is one of those classes that's a fast starter, but a brother can get tired of the same routine over and over again. Repeat this word, read this paragraph, tell your partner about your favorite TV show. Come on, now. I'm trying to go to sleep, for real. But you can't do that in Spanish, 'cause there isn't anywhere to hide in this little-ass room and Senorita Samuel is liable to throw a workbook at you if your head even looks like it's about to nod off.
Who was the genius who proposed classes should be fifty-five minutes in the first place? This is college. We're supposed to be the best and the brightest, you know, the future of America. You'd think we could speed things along a little bit at this level. Forty-five minutes seems like more than enough time for a lesson. You can do a whole lot in a half-hour, too, if you have a well-planned agenda. We used to run about a dozen different drills at basketball practice in a half-hour, and that was on a slow day.
There's really no reason to still be here. Senorita Samuel already put the homework assignment up on the board, and she's announced that there's yet another quiz coming up on Monday, so why is she still talking? Why can't the damn clock spin any faster? I'm trying to get up out of here before this girl remembers that it's Wednesday.
I glanced over at her to see if she was still paying attention. She was sitting there at the desk beside me with her black ski jacket draped on the seat, drawing pictures in the upper margin of her notebook, so it was a safe bet that she wasn't. She was looking good, though. Hair was all shiny, slicked back and tied into place with one of those scrunchy things, leaving a short ponytail kinda shooting out and looping back around. Skin was creamy cocoa brown and smooth, with almost no flaws, like a Camay commercial. There was a pimple trying to peek out of her cheek, but it was one of those cute little ones, so it wasn't messing up her program at all. She was rocking a gray State warm-up suit that was fitting loose on her, but underneath there were all kinds of curves going on. She had a body that could stop traffic on the highway, and that's my word. But she had the nerve to have one of her sneakers off, with her bare foot sticking out.
I like feet. Even the toes. I wouldn't say that I had a foot fetish or anything like that, 'cause I'm not trying to be licking some girl's stank-ass bunions, but I could appreciate a nice foot from a safe distance. Feet say a lot about a girl. If she takes the time to take care of her feet-putting a little lotion on 'em to kill the ashiness, keeping the toenails freshly painted and all of that-it's saying to me that she takes pride in her total self. It's a sign that she's not taking any shorts, and that she's all about the details. People always forget the feet. How can you forget the feet? We step on our feet all day, every day. Feet need love too. That's why I could never get with Tameka for real. She disrespects her feet on the regular. Paint is always chipped, skin is peeling off, and they don't smell too cool either. I guess that's what happens when you run track, and walk around all the time with no socks on.
I closed my book and notebook even though Senorita Samuel was still running her mouth all fast about something. I swear, she reminded me of my mom sometimes. There were only a few minutes left in the class, so whatever she was talking about couldn't be all that important. If it was, I'd just get it tomorrow when she repeated it, 'cause she always repeated everything at least three times for the slow learners and the people like me who just didn't pay attention all the time. Or maybe she repeated stuff just because she liked the sound of her voice. That was why Moms did it.
I was just about to put my stuff in my backpack when I felt a hand tap me on my shoulder. I turned, and Tameka had her notebook pointing in my direction with the words "Are you still coming thru 2nite?" scribbled down in between a few doodles in purple ink. Damn. She didn't forget.
I really didn't plan on sleeping with Tameka. Actually, I can't say that with a straight face because, on the real, I had been planning it since the first day of class. I just didn't plan for it to work out like this.
Tameka Chavelle was this honey dip in her sophomore year at State, born and raised somewhere in the backwoods of Louisiana, so she had that southern charm and appeal that brothers just couldn't refuse. Plus she was fine. I mean fine. Her body was thick like homemade maple syrup, and she wasn't just turning heads, but was giving niggas whiplash. The Lord had definitely blessed her in all the right places. She was a sprinter on the track team too, so she had all kinds of leg power and conditioning, and her shit was toned, unlike a lot of these flabby-ass girls up here at State who had no idea where the gyms were.
Besides her fine physical attributes, there was one other key factor that made Tameka a campus icon, especially among the fellas. She was a freak. A straight-up, no-nonsense freak. In fact, that's what we called her-"Tameka the Freaka."
Stories were told about her like old fables, spreading far and near. There was the one about her messing with two kids from the same fraternity, at the same party, in the same closet. Not at the same time, though -she ain't that freaky. Then another time, I think this was during a Homecoming party last year, she supposedly got a little out of hand and tried to attack this kid from the football squad on the dancefloor. I've heard a few versions of this one, from her starting to strip, to her trying to take his pants off, to actual sexual exchanges taking place, so I don't know how much to believe exactly. Black folks at State have a way of stretching the hell out of a story in order to make someone else's dirt a little dirtier than their own. Unfortunately for Tameka, her dirt was about as grimy as it came.
Every freshman was given a certain amount of freak allowance-like a $500 line on the freak credit card. That's a must, 'cause with the wideopen, rules-free nature of college, putting eighteen-to-twenty-two-year-old males and females in the same general location was only asking for trouble. Especially in the beginning of the school year. It seemed like everybody was trying to get with everybody else as if the end of the world was near and people had to make that last hookup. Upperclassmen brothers were the worst. They would sit outside on move-in day like hawks hunting for fresh kill, while all of the first-year girls would be carrying their stuff to the dorms. Brothers wouldn't even wait for girls to get settled into their rooms, but would be out on the prowl trying to kick game while some girl's mom and pops toted luggage from the car.
It was always a race to get to the finest freshman girls first, like niggas were mining for gold. Being new to the campus scene, young, naive, and ready to establish their independence from the parents and their high school boyfriends, freshman girls always got the short end of the stick. They'd get caught up in the same lines that frat brothers, athletes, and pretty-boy types had been running for years. Then, after the hookup and the girl starts thinking that she's the campus queen 'cause she's got a new college man, reality sets in. "Your man" hasn't called you in a couple of days. That's 'cause he's messing with your friend now. Year in and year out, it's the same game. Some freshman girls figured it out earlier than others, but they all got talked about behind their backs 'cause news was news. If they still had some loot left on their freak credit line, they were cool. They didn't get humiliated too much. But after about three hookups, the credit starts to wear thin and people really start talking. It seemed like Tameka was still trying to figure out the game, or else she had mastered her own game and didn't give a damn what people said, 'cause she was still adding chapters to her collection of stories. She had long since run out of her $500. This was year two, and she was working with the platinum card.
I had seen Tameka in all of the parties her freshman year, usually entangled with some dude in the corner, or getting freaked in the front by one brother while another worked the backside on the dancefloor. I had all but forgotten about her last semester 'cause my party attendance had dropped off since my freshman and sophomore years. Even though I knew enough people around campus to work the free hookup into the parties, this was junior year and the party scene was really starting to get boring. Week in and week out it would be the same faces in the same frat houses, apartments, and Student Union Halls, drinking the same punch-and-alcohol blends, dancing the same way to the same songs. A brother needs some variation. Plus, I haven't had the greatest relationships with girls that I met at parties.
Whenever my crew and me did go out, though, Tameka was always in the house shaking what her momma gave her. That was probably why I wasn't all caught up with her like these other kids flipping over each other trying to get down with her program. She was too much in the mix for me, and not really my type. I like the girls that are sort of doing their own thing, and not trying to be up around every nigga on campus. I'm not talking about a corny girl, though, 'cause I surely ain't trying to be with no corny-ass girls, but just someone who's not up in everybody's face all of the time. Someone who's not the "Freak of the Year." I can't say that I didn't think about hitting that though, like getting a few hours alone with her to find out if all the stories were true. Every kid in his right mind has to have thought about sleeping with Tameka, even those brothers committed to their girls and above all of that "typical guy stuff." Even if it was for a split second, all of us have traveled to the fantasy zone, and seeing a sight like Tameka was like being handed a free ticket.
Well, about two months ago I received a complimentary season pass to Fantasy World, because I walked into the first day of Spanish 2, and lo and behold, Tameka was sitting in the second row. I couldn't believe that this girl was in my Spanish class, or any class at all for that matter. I never visualized her as an actual book-carrying, test-taking student. I couldn't see her running track, either. All I could see was her being pressed up against a wall by some sweaty dude in a crowded basement party while Shabba Ranks played in the background. But there she was, sitting there with her sexy chocolate self, looking all attentive and shit. She had some glasses that I had never seen on her before, giving her that intellectual look. She even had a brand-new pink spiral notebook, and not one pen, but two.
I sent a quick "thank you" up to the Lord as I walked into class 'cause at least now I would have something to look at for the semester. This was actually a reason to wake up in the morning and make sure that I was here on time.
That first day, Senorita Samuel introduced herself and started breaking down the course requirements in Spanish, then in English so that we could actually follow along, and at that instant my whole plan came to me, right there in a vision. Tameka and I were the only two black students in the class. It would only be right that we look out for each other, uplifting and unifying the race, and form a study group. We would get to spend all of this quality time together away from the party scene and all of the other brothers trying to get with her. It'd be like a nice cozy and intimate setting, either at her spot or mine, doing worksheets and quizzing each other on vocabulary and shit. Our own little world of Espanol. But all along we could mix in friendly conversation here and there, I would shower her with my jokes and charm, and have her thinking about me at night after we've parted ways. Then after a while, she wouldn't be able to resist the temptation any longer, and we'd be doing things that I had no idea how to say in Spanish.
That's exactly what happened. Kind of. We were chilling over at her spot on the fifteenth floor of Buckton Tower, in the middle of our third study session, finishing up preparing for a quiz the next day. I forget exactly what we were talking about, but we were just sort of lounging around on her floor after studying, chilling, which was all part of my plan. Most of the time we talked about our friends, funny stories from State, other people's business, and all of that good stuff. This time we started talking more about relationships and all the people that we had messed around with.
Relationship discussions are always funny. It's like, there's really no reason to be talking about this stuff. Who she has gotten with has very little effect on my life. She's telling me about Jo-Jo, and Big Mike, and Rick, and I'm thinking, "Why are you telling me this? I really don't care." But once the conversation jumps off, you start asking all kinds of questions just to see where exactly it's going to go. This girl was trying to take it all over the place.
She started breaking down all of her escapades in vivid detail. She told me the deal about Marvin Freeman, the football player at the Homecoming party (she did try to take his pants off, but all sexual activities were taken care of after the party), and about a whole bunch of other stories that I hadn't even heard. Honey had a whole lot to tell, and wasn't ashamed about any of it. It was weird, but it was almost like she was a guy. I mean, her whole "going for mine" attitude was definitely not what I was used to from a girl, but it was cool after my initial shock wore off. For a second, I even had kind of an admiration for her, 'cause she was doing her thing. But what was really on my mind was whether she was down with going for hers with me.
Brothers are always searching for a way in. That's the other funny thing about relationship discussions. Nine times out of ten they always come back to one simple question-what's up with you and me kicking it right now? We think that if we can get a girl to talk about her business and maybe even take it to the physical realm and get her to talk about sex, we can drop some subtle hints here and there, run down our resume, offer our services, then it's on. All we need is the final signal-maybe a head nod, a thumbs-up, a flashing green light, or even a verbal "I want you right now" will work too.
So I'm sitting there on the floor with her, smiling and laughing, going along with the program, listening to her go through her stories, and waiting on the signal. But I'm also thinking to myself, this girl has messed around with a whole truckload of brothers ... there's gotta be a reason for it. Next thing I knew, I had asked her what that reason might be.
"I like sex," she said. Point-blank and straight-faced, with no chaser. "Do you like sex, Tony?"
And there it was-the infamous green light. But it was kind of an awkward green light, and I didn't really know how to respond. Why are you gonna ask a brother a question like that? Hell yeah I like sex. All I need to maintain my sanity is sex and basketball. But that answer wasn't gonna work. It would make me seem too anxious, like I had been planning this thing all along. Even though I was, I wasn't trying to let her know that, so I was going to have to be more subtle. But now I was thinking too much. The light was starting to turn yellow. This was the moment I had plotted and schemed for, and I was folding. What was going on? How did this one simple question catch me so off guard?
"Yeah, I'd have to say that I like sex," I finally said, probably grinning all wide and trying my best to still sound smooth. It was hard to keep my cool 'cause she was turning up the heat on a brother.
Then she did it. She slid right over beside me, pressing her arm up against mine in a more-than-friendly way, and was just looking at me. I could feel her looking at me. You know how it is when someone is staring at you and you don't really know how to respond. So you're just kind of frozen there for a few seconds that seem like hours. Next thing I knew, her voice got all seductive and sensual, like one of those bad actresses on a soap opera trying to make a move on somebody's husband. I wasn't worried about her acting skills at the time, though. I was more concerned with trying to keep a cool composure and not start drooling or say something stupid, because I knew without a doubt that this was the green light. But it was still awkward because technically, she's not supposed to move when the green light goes on. That was my cue. She was trying to make it easy on a brother but I was confused. So again, I was just sitting there trying to figure this shit out.
"Isn't that interesting?" she asked me in that seductive voice, taking off the Knicks hat I was wearing. "Here we are, you and me." She ran her fingers on my fade, and stroked my ears, too. "You like sex," she whispered in my ear, grazing it with her lip, making my whole body tense up. "I like sex," she whispered again, then kissed me right on my ear lobe. "I'm wondering, how much do you like sex?"
She had me. By this time, I wasn't trying to figure shit out anymore. I was done thinking for the evening. I was now under the total control of Tameka. She could have told me to run up and down the halls naked, or even throw my books out the window. I was down to do whatever she said.
She kissed me on my ear again, nibbling on it like it was a snack, then wrapped herself around me like a boa constrictor, moving her kisses from my ear, to my cheek, to my chin, to my mouth, taking her time on each one like she knew what she was doing. She did. This was her game and her arena, and she was trying to go for the gold. And I was more than down to run on her squad, for real.
She led us up to the bed then straddled herself on top of me, running the show like the point guard on a basketball court. Then she reached down and untucked her Nike T-shirt from her jeans. This was the moment that I had been waiting for. Finally, I would get to see firsthand what so many brothers had been talking about, and what I had been wondering about myself every Monday through Thursday from eleven to eleven-fifty-five for the entire spring semester.
I was amazed. Simply amazed. There were some girls who looked better with clothes on but Tameka wasn't one of them. It was like her body had been carved to expert precision out of the finest black marble by God Himself. This shit was well worth the wait. I would have even bought a ticket to peep this. This was a sight that makes a nigga want to write a poem.
First, there was her silky blue bra filled to the brim and showing all kinds of cleavage around its lacy edges. Before I could fully take this all in, she reached around to her back, undid the clasp, and as the bra fell to the floor I swear my heart was about to stop beating. What was in front of me was probably the most spectacular pair of perfectly round and bountiful titties I had ever seen. And that's saying something. They were firm, but yet soft to the touch. Not droopy, and not one stretch mark, but so round and shapely with beautiful brown nipples sticking straight out in my face. I was like a kid in a toy store thinking, "All of this . . . for me?" I didn't know what to do 'cause there were just so many things that I wanted to do. I could have reached up and touched one, or teased her with my tongue and made her laugh her little silly giggle. There were numerous possibilities, and we did them all. And I can't front, it was good. Everything that I had imagined, and more. But that was then.
The whole essence of the game was to sleep with Tameka once and only once. So after I hit it, the second time really couldn't measure up cause I had already hit it. The mystery had been discovered, the battle was won, and another notch had been put in my list of accomplishments. The third time was even more routine. And now she was asking me to meet her tonight for what would probably be the fourth time, and the magic just wasn't there anymore. I didn't want to make a career out of this, or even a part-time job, but that's what it had become. On my Wednesday list of things to do for the past four weeks we have class, lunch, more class, work (I got fired two weeks ago, so I don't have to do that anymore), dinner, study, fuck Tameka, study some more, and sleep. This was not how the original program was supposed to work.
That was probably the fatal flaw of the study-group vision. That's the problem with a lot of my ideas. Underdevelopment. I get a good beginning going but don't really try to figure out the middle or the end and the idea sort of goes off on its own after a while, which can be cool sometimes, but not in this case. How was I going to start up this whole weekly study-session thing, hit the skins, then not study with her anymore? I mean, it's doable, but it would still be kinda ill. Plus, the studying was actually going all right and it made the class a little more fun. I didn't want to be in Spanish in the first place. Why the hell did they even have a language requirement? Where was I gonna speak the little bit of Spanish that I would remember from this class?
But even though I was on target to get a B and Tameka was making the time pass a little quicker, the whole situation was messed up 'cause when it all came down to it, she played me. All along I'm thinking I'm the one making power moves-setting up the study sessions, breaking the ice with the conversations, and running the show. Meanwhile, she's just sitting back, letting me play myself while she's sizing me up. She was just gonna let me make all the moves, run my little game, but in the end it's all working in her favor. She was down with the program from jump, and now that I've played all my cards, she's taken control of the whole operation like a corporate buy-out.
I don't know why I'm so bent outta shape over this whole thing. On paper it looks like the ideal situation for any brother. I've got this fly girl sweating me, she's got her own bedroom in her dorm, so we can meet either at her spot or mine, and everything is on the hush. Nobody on campus knows that I'm messing with her. Relationship wise, she's not looking for anything from me. I'm not her man. I don't have to take her anywhere, buy her anything, feed her, or even talk to her all that much really. All that I had to do was show up every week, do a little Spanish homework, and try my best to keep up with her in the bed. I was just a mindless little worker bee feeding the queen. This shit was too easy. I think that was another part of the problem.
I'm the type of brother who likes a challenge. Don't give me anything, make me earn it. Put up some competition, a little fight, or something. Here I am spending all this time strategizing, thinking I'm doing something, but she was onto me from the beginning and now that she's getting what she wants, there's nothing else to it. This shit was actually boring. I didn't even know this girl past her favorite colors being pink and purple, her best track event was the 200, she liked sex a whole lot, and she'd never master speaking the Spanish language because she couldn't roll her r's. So how was she gonna be lying up on me every week, moaning and groaning, letting out an "Oh, Tony" here and there like we were passionate lovers out on a sandy island somewhere? There ain't no passion in this, at least not for me. This was just sex.
It wasn't like we were seeing each other and had any real reason to be around each other. I never thought about staying the night at her spot, and there was no way she was staying at my place. I couldn't have people from my hall seeing her leaving my room at nine in the morning. That was dead. She wasn't down with the slumber-party routine anyway. The first time we slept together, she jumped out of her bed after a ten-minute nap, took a quick shower, threw on a couple of sweatshirts and some tights and was talking about going running. What kind of shit was this? I had heard about people boning, then feeling all energetic afterwards like they were about to start a bunch of home-improvement projects right that second, but I had never seen it firsthand. It was like eleven-thirty at night and about ten degrees outside and this girl was talking about running? I was still curled up in her bed, butt naked and trying to figure out what kind of excuse I could give her for having to go back home. But once again, Tameka made it easy on a brother.
I wouldn't have minded actually staying over there the first night. The sex was cool and I was way past tired. I was really about to be up in some deep sleep in her bed until she decided to go do wind sprints. I usually don't like sharing a bed, though. You can take one look at these little-ass beds they give you at State and see that they're only made for one person. If there's one thing I hated, it was having some random girl hanging on me in the middle of the night with her hair all up in my face, drooling on my neck, and snoring loud. Especially if she's the type to be moving around all of the time, 'cause once an elbow to the rib cage wakes you up at four-thirty in the morning, it's hard to get back in that same state of peaceful slumber.
But some nights, I'd be lying in bed wishing some girl would magically appear knocking at my door. It was something about the wintertime that makes a brother want to change up his rules a little bit and find a nice warm honey to snuggle up with. I wasn't the one to be snuggling up with Tameka like that on the regular, but from time to time it wouldn't have hurt, I suppose. But that's probably me not thinking all the way through again.
As hard as brothers try to get some play, how could I throw away this perfect situation? Niggas ain't supposed to turn down hassle-free sex. That's like rule number eight in the secret manhood codebook. The last brother that broke this rule was flogged, tarred, and feathered, and is still chained up out in the public square. I had to do this for all of the brothers who were out there struggling, getting slapped in the face and dissed, taking their battle scars. How could I walk away from this and look my fellow comrades in the eye again? Nah, fuck that. They'll have to get over it 'cause I gotta get out of this shit. Today is the last time. I'm down to my last condom anyway, and I ain't buying anymore until I get a new girl. But I bet Tameka has a whole bunch of jim hats stashed in her spot somewhere. Damn.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Move Over, Girl by Brian Peterson. . Excerpted by permission of One World/Ballantine, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.