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But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
-- Matthew 6:33
It happened quite suddenly, my falling in love. You know the kind I'm talking about -- that bam, love-at-first-sight kind of love.
It was January 30, 1990. I was a part-time speech teacher at the Queens Broadcasting Center, in the Jamaica section of Queens, New York. My full-time job was as writer/producer of entertainment and information programming at the Sheridan Broadcasting Network at One Times Square Plaza in New York City.
The day before, I had decided to take a "sick" day. I cleaned off my desk, returned all phone calls, and handed in the weekly scripts a day early -- much to the delight of my executive producer.
On my "sick" day, I took a lengthy bubble bath, washed my hair, and lazed around until it was time to get to class. For some reason, I dressed carefully, in a red silk blouse, leather pants, and high-heeled pumps. It was quite snazzy attire for a teacher who was about to spend the next four hours correcting speech patterns for on-air hopefuls.
About an hour into my class, I excused myself to make copies of handouts. On my way to the copy machine, I glanced into the recording studio and saw the tallest, finest honey-dipped colored man I had ever laid eyes on in my life. I ran to the office of the director, longtime on-air personality Johnny Allen, of New York City's KISS-FM, to inquire about the eye candy I had just glimpsed.
Johnny replied, "Oh, that's Steven. He's a really niceguy."
"Hmm, Steven," I said. "I have a brother named Stephen; what a coincidence."
While at the copier, I took another long look at the honey-dip, giving him points on his name alone, before returning to my class.
When we were saying good-byes for the evening, Johnny introduced me to Steven and I turned as red as my blouse, overwhelmed by his charming demeanor. Johnny announced that he had arranged for Steven to take me home.
"Take me home? All the way to Brooklyn?" I asked.
We were in Queens -- a forty-five-minute train ride and easily an hour-plus drive away.
"I'll take you all the way to Pennsylvania, if that's where you live," Steven said.
I raised an "is this guy for real" eyebrow at Johnny, and he winked a sign of approval.
"Let's roll," I said, gathering my things.
On the ride home, Steven and I exchanged regular pleasantries, asked typical questions, and laughed a lot. He kept thanking God. I liked that part. Since I come from a Baptist-born-and-bred background, God is indeed at the top of my list.
"Why do you keep saying 'Thank you, God'?" I asked.
"I wasn't even supposed to be at the school tonight," he said. "I missed my final because I was in the hospital and I had to complete it tonight. So I'm saying 'Thank you, God' because I wouldn't have met you if I hadn't been in the hospital."
The reporter in me was piqued. "Why were you in the hospital?"
"Bleeding ulcers!?" I asked in disbelief, contorting my face. "How old are you?"
"Thirty-one," he answered. "I've just had a lot of problems -- a bad marriage and lots of stress in my job. But now that I've met you, all of that is about to change."
We continued with pleasant conversation and before we knew it we looked up and had no idea where we were. We were lost somewhere between Queens and Brooklyn. The only way he knew how to get us out of the circle we seemed to be driving in was to go all the way to Manhattan and then to Brooklyn. Our one-hour ride turned into three hours.
We finally arrived at my front door, where we exchanged numbers. He waited at his car to see that I had made it safely into my apartment. I looked out of the window to wave and he was still there, leaning against his car, looking up at my window. He acknowledged my wave with a beep of his car horn. As much as I hated to admit it, I was soaring from my evening with Steven.
The next day at work in the studio, we had WBLS-FM on in the background while making preparations for our weekly syndicated production. All of a sudden, we heard deejay Bugsy announce, "Here is 'Ready or Not' by After 7 for LaJoyce Hunter from Steven. He wants her to know that he's coming for her -- ready or not!"
My office mates and I screamed. And my phone started ringing off the hook. Everyone wanted to know who this Steven was. My reply was the same: "Some dude I met yesterday!"
Being in the radio and record business had some advantages, and one of them was access to the hotline number for the deejay booth at WBLS. The other was knowing Bugsy personally. After fielding phone calls from friends, I called Bugsy myself to inquire about how in the world this Steven managed to get him to make such a declaration before and after "Ready or Not" played.
"I know Steven, too," Bugsy told me. "He is a part-time producer with Vaughn H arper's Quiet Storm syndicated radio program for Japan."
Vaughn Harper was the premier nighttime voice in New York and was like a father to me in the business. Bugsy and I had always been really friendly with one another and he was like a big brother.
He issued his stamp of approval: "Now Steven is someone I'd really like to see you with. I can vouch for him all the way."
"Really?" I said, knowing that Bugsy had shared his disdain for the last guy from the station I had dated.
"Yep. Really," he said, mindful of that previous situation.
"Thanks, Bugs," I said. "I'll keep you posted."
Later that afternoon, a deliveryman brought two dozen red, long-stemmed American Beauties from Steven. This guy was really pouring it on and I loved it!
I phoned to thank him for the roses and the dedication, and he invited me to dinner the following evening. We went to a very pricey restaurant on the East River and we both had lobster and champagne. He had another dozen roses at the restaurant for me.
"These are for you to keep at home," he said, as the others were for me to keep at my office.
At least twice a week from then on, Steven romanced me with dinners at expensive restaurants. And between the dinners, we were always going to some event. As a producer of entertainment programming, I always had tickets to concerts, plays, or new movies in town. My responsibilities kept me out at least three nights a week. We always got two complimentary tickets to an event, so Steven became my new "hot date."
The dinners became his way of controlling some of our outings since it was a given that we would attend a promotional event. We ended up going out five nights a week!
For the first three months of our dating, Steven had roses delivered to my job every week until I told him to stop. It was established early on that we were both definitely in love. Like I said, it was love at first sight.
It was signed, sealed, and delivered by the time we had sex, intensifying the blush of our new love.
Steven further locked in the relationship by introducing me to his mother and two sisters. They all lived in the family home in Lakeview, New York, a predominantly black middle-class Long Island town. We all got along extremely well, and his older sister and I could pass for sisters. We both have that café con leche (with lots of leche) skin, light-brown-eyes-and-sandy-hair thing going on. When we went out together people always asked us if we were sisters, and we'd just laugh and say, "Yes!"
We did a lot of flaunting one another in front of our friends. It was mutual that there was nothing but love between us all. Steven's best friend, Stacey, and his wife, Claudette, were the best of our buddies. They were one crazy pair. We'd go to midnight bowling almost every weekend and win all of the trivia games, like guessing musical artists. Yeah, right! I'd only eaten and slept music for the last I-don't-know-how-many years. I was a shoo-in.
We discussed many times if it was even fair for me to play because I was in the entertainment business, but we'd just shrug and collect our prizes. The real superstar of that game was Claudette. We dubbed that girl "the foremost knowledgeable person about information that don't mean s-h-i-t." She needs to be a contestant on pop culture trivia shows; I guarantee you, she would win. To this day, Claudette and Stacey are permanent fixtures in my life.
Steven and I were spending so much time together every night that he had a hard time getting himself to his job at Bayside BMW, where he was the assistant parts manager. He had practically moved into my Brooklyn apartment, too. But I refused to say that he "lived" there. That was against my religion. I wasn't playing house with anyone. Plus, my mother would have killed me!
It was easier for him to bring a bag with his stuff in it every week for whatever we would be attending and leave for work from there. He definitely tried to move in on me, though, putting stuff in my closet. But I would take his clothes out of the closet that he'd leave hanging there and pack them for him every day, and I refused to give him space in my drawer.
Call me old fashioned, but it was bad enough that I was sleeping with this dude and he wasn't my husband. I knew better.
At the time, I had a male roommate named Derrick. Now, his girlfriend Tina did live with us. They met at Columbia University. Derrick was an awesome budding attorney at one of the top law firms in midtown Manhattan, and Tina was an accountant. We needed to share the apartment because neither of us could afford the rent alone for the magnificent two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in Brooklyn's Clinton Hill section. Our rent was twelve hundred dollars a month in 1989! Steven offered to help pay my portion of the rent, but I flatly refused.
By December 1, 1990 -- just eleven months after our first meeting -- we were married. The ride to the altar was rocky, as was all that followed the wedding. Here is my real-life tale -- the tale of a woman betrayed by a thing called love, a tale of putting my faith under fire.
Read on and learn.â??.â??.â??.
Copyright © 2006 by LaJoyce Brookshire