In my bed that April night, my mind everywhere but where it should have been, which was on my ex-husband's tongue as it slid across my stomach and down my side.
Instead, my mind was on how hard my life was. How hard it was in so many different ways. Hard like a stone when you're black, female, and a single mother holding a GED instead of a high school diploma.
I wasn't thinking about how good it felt when he pushed his fingers through my hair and moved his tongue in circles around my navel. No, my mind was on the fact that I had missed three weeks of Calorie Counters meetings and how in that time I had stopped counting points, calories, carbs, and everything else.
Now my size-sixteen skirts and pants were giving my size-eighteen hips hell! Every morning it was an out-and-out fight. And I was steadily losing. Not the weight, of course. And on top of it, my Calorie Counters sponsor, Nadine Crawford--a former soda-guzzling, pound cake-eating accountant and mother of three, who'd joined the program three years earlier, had shed half her body weight and was now a size six and Calorie Counters' biggest cheerleader--was now calling my house every other day like a goddamn bill collector, talking about "When are you coming back, Geneva?" and "I'm here for you" and "Let's get together for an eight-point lunch and talk about it." I know I should have followed my first mind and joined Weight Watchers!
My mind was everywhere but in that bedroom where it should have been.
It was on my two-decade-old secondhand Cold Spot refrigerator that was humming so loud, it sounded as if any moment it would hack up something green, cough, and drop dead.
If that was to happen, it would take Housing a whole month to get me another crappy refrigerator in this apartment, and then how would I keep the milk cold for my sixteen-year-old son's morning cereal?
And he was another problem--my son, Eric Jr., who we all lovingly refer to as "Little Eric."
Little Eric hasn't been little since he was ten years old, and now he's a sophomore in high school, towering over me at a staggering six feet, and that boy still has years of growth ahead of him. Just trying to keep him in sneakers is going to send me to the poorhouse.
He was a good kid, even though I knew he was sampling weed. I mean, do these kids think we weren't kids once too? Do they think we were all born big?
The other day he strolled into the house, smelling like he'd been rolling in a field of reefer. I snatched him by his collar and dragged him through the living room and into the kitchen where the light is better and looked him in his eyes and asked him if he'd been smoking. Of course he lied and blinked those big brown eyes at me and said, "Look at my eyes, Ma--they ain't even red or nothing. I was just hanging out with these guys that was smoking it, but I didn't."
I said, "Fool, I know Visine gets the red out, but it don't take the scent out of your clothes or off your breath!" And with that I popped him upside his head and sent him on his way. I told him that if he came back in my house smelling like a pothead, I was going to call the police on him my damn self!
Ohhhhhhhh," I moan, just so Eric can feel like he's doing all of the right things even though my mind has skipped over to my best friend, Crystal.
Not only is she my best friend, but she has been on many occasions a godsend as well.
I've had some rough times, and Crystal has always been there. Like the time when I was still on welfare and I had just collected my money and food stamps for the month and was on my way downtown to buy Eric, who was just about four years old then, a new pair of shoes. I hadn't even stepped off the bus good when two young boys rushed toward me, ripped my pocketbook from my hands, and then took off across Union Square.
I didn't even have a token to get home. It was Crystal that I called, and she left her job and came downtown and got me and then took me to the supermarket and filled up my refrigerator and cupboards with food. When I collected again the following month, she wouldn't even let me pay her back.
Crystal is also the one who saved me from the cosmetics counter at Macy's and got me a job as a receptionist at the Ain't I A Woman Foundation. Ten dollars an hour is certainly better than seven-fifty and standing on your feet for eight to ten hours a day. Much better, and I will be forever grateful to her.
But lately Crystal just hasn't been herself. Something is bothering her; I see the sadness lurking behind that phony smile she walks around with all day.
I keep asking her what's wrong, but she just says, "Nothing."
I guess she'll tell me in her own good time.
That feel good, baby?"
"Ooooooooooooooooh yeah, baby, real good."
Okay, now where was I?
Oh yes, my mind being on everything outside of this here bedroom.
Well, I've also been thinking about Chevy. That's another friend of mine, who is just . . . just--I don't know--just crazy is the best way to describe her. Crazy and a chameleon. You can never tell what Chevy was going to look like the next time you met up with her. She could be sporting a long weave, short weave, hazel contacts, red weave, blue contacts, blond Afro puffs, green contacts. Who knows!
Dr. Phil said that a person who needs to change her appearance as many times as Chevy did is unhappy with herself.
I believe that. But what I want to know is, what does it say when that same person can always find money for a new pair of La Blanca stilettos or a slinky thong from La Perla but ain't never got enough money to pay her light bill or rent?
She's making at least twice my hourly rate, for chrissakes! And don't have chick nor child to worry about. Not a dog, goldfish, or hamster, just her! As my mother says, "When she eats, her whole family has eaten."
Crazy is all I can think to call her. Oh yeah, and selfish is another word that fits too. It's all about Chevy, all of the time.
You want it, baby, you want it?"
"Oooooooooh yeah, baby, I want it reaaaaaaaaaaal bad."
Now finally, there's Noah.
A dead ringer for Howard Hewitt, except fairer-complexioned. A successful merchandising manager for the high-end casual clothing company QV, and a Cancerian, so he can be a moody something.
When we were younger, Noah was the best double Dutch jumper in our building and could corn braid better than any of us. The highlight of his year was the Miss America beauty pageant, which we had to watch with him. Afterward he'd reenact the last fifteen minutes of the pageant--the surprise on the winner's face, the tears, the halfhearted hugs she shared with the losers--then he'd plop a lampshade on his head and tie a bedsheet around his neck and prance back and forth across the living room, demonstrating the proper way the new Miss America should have strutted down the catwalk.
Do you see where I'm going with this?
We've known Noah was gay since forever and have always accepted him. His Jamaican mother, on the other hand, is still in denial and even to this day still tries to fix Noah up on blind dates with her friends' daughters.
Noah is about the only one that I'm not really worried about. He seems happy with his career and has met some new man who lives in England, so he's always flying back and forth to London to be with him.
Yeah, I think that Noah should be the least of my worries right about now.
Now me; besides the war with my weight and a pack-a-day cigarette habit, I guess I don't have any real pressing concerns. Well, not that living in the projects is a great joy, but at least I'm not on the streets.
I'm thinking about going back to school. College. To major in what, I have no clue, but I think a college degree is something I should have. Well, I know it's something I need if I don't want to be a receptionist forever. And besides, maybe it will motivate that son of mine to do the right thing with his life.
Okay, enough of that, Geneva--try to concentrate on all of the kisses Eric is covering your body with, I tell myself, and I try, but my mind won't stay put. It keeps straying to the load of clothes that needs to be washed, the pile of unopened bills sitting on the kitchen table, and that goddamn pervert with the chiseled good looks and expensive suit who flashed me on the C train this morning when I was on my way to work.
"Turn over," Eric says, and I do and so do my thoughts.
He enters me from behind and I grip the headboard, not because it feels good--it does, though--but to hold on tight to try to keep it from banging too hard against the wall. Little Eric should have been asleep hours ago, but I don't want to take any chances.
Eric stops, his body shudders, and he withdraws. This is his control method. It's been the same for years. Our sex life should have ended when I caught him cheating, moved out of our Queens apartment, and signed the divorce papers, but it didn't. It went on through all of it and still goes on.
Why? I don't know. Stupid, I guess. Or just plain horny.
"Where are you, Geneva?" Eric coos.
"I'm here baby, I'm here," I assure him and push my behind up into his chest.
He starts kissing my back while his hands massage my shoulders.
He begins to ease his penis back inside me. "You like it? You like it, baby?" he whispers in my ear.
"Uh-huh," I say, and in my mind I start to separate the white clothes from the dark, flip through the mountain of mail on my kitchen table, and clip coupons.
Eric's body trembles with excitement and then he whispers, "You want me to put it in your ass?"
My mind comes to a sudden and complete halt.
I've allowed him there only twice in my life, and both times we were still Mr. and Mrs. and I was really in love then. So in love that all I wanted to do was please him. But now I just wanted to be pleased and had no desire to have my asshole stretched out of shape. And besides, anal sex is notorious for leaving one unable to control the passing of air, if you know what I mean.
"Uh-uh," I say and start to turn back over and onto my back.
"Oh, c'mon, please?" he begs and gives me that puppy-dog look of his.
"Uh-uh," I sound again and shake my head from side to side.
After the day I had I thought some sexual healing was in order, but my mind won't let me concentrate on it, which means I'm dry as a bone down between my legs. Really and truly, all I want to do is just have a beer, maybe some chips, and a couple of spoonfuls of ice cream.
"Turn back over," Eric presses. "I won't put it in your ass."
Now Eric is one who cannot be trusted. He's a liar, cheater, and all-around crooked cop. Oh yeah, he's one of New York's finest. And I do mean fine! Six foot four and chocolate-colored. He'd been working out a lot lately and so was cut and as solid as a rock.
"You know, Eric, I don't think I want to do this," I say as I clamp my legs closed and reach for the sheet.
Eric looks surprised. His erect penis looks even more astonished than he does.
"What?" He half laughs.
"I said I don't think I want to do this," I say again as I catch hold of the sheet and try to pull it up and over my naked body.
"You're fucking kidding me, right, Geneva?" His rock-hard dick gives me an accusing look. "What the fuck am I suppose to do about this?" he says, indicating his stiff member with his index finger.
"Whatever you do when you're alone," I say and try not to smile. "I'm just not here. I'm sorry."
Eric looks down at his penis and then back at me.
I could tell he was having a conversation with it in his mind. His dick was his best friend, and any woman who had ever been with him knew it.
Suddenly his features softened and a mischievous smile spread across his face.
"How about a little licky-licky, then?" he says, and sticks his long pink tongue out at me.
I think about it for a minute. If I let him eat me out, it would release some tension. No effort on my part. It seems like I win all the way around. But then I remember who I'm dealing with and say, "What do I have to do to you?"
"Suck my dick, of course," he says proudly and thrusts his hips toward my face.
"Nah," I say and pull the sheet up to my chin.
"You're so fucking selfish," he hisses and sticks his lips out like a two-year-old.
"Aw, c'mon, Geneva." He laughs.
Eric lets out a long sigh and looks around the bedroom for a moment. "Okay. You win."
Wow, I think, this is a first.
He pulls the sheet away from my body and gently separates my legs before moving into "eating" position.
Eric loves to eat pussy; always has. It's like a delicacy for him.
He begins by teasing my clitoris, rolling his tongue across it and then darting it in and out of my hole, bringing me to the point of orgasm seven or eight times before I finally scream, "Please, please!" when I know I can't take much more.
"Okay, baby, okay," he pants and takes a deep breath before moving in for the kill.
The firecrackers go off behind my eyes and bells ring in my head, and how it is that my behind and the heels of my feet are able to levitate above the sheets for a moment is anyone's guess, but they do.
That's how Eric makes me come: cussing, screaming, and levitating, which is why even after all of the low-down shit he's done to me and the half-ass child support he pays I'm still fucking him.
I don't have any excuse and won't even try to make one up. All I know is, a good dick is hard to find and an orgasm that can shoot you to the moon and back is even more elusive.
After my body stops shaking and I begin to feel uncomfortable in the wet spot, he lifts his head off my thigh, looks up at me and asks, "You sure you don't want me to fuck you?"
"N-no." I can hardly speak, and I lock my hands around his head and guide his mouth as far away from my vagina as possible.
Even if I wanted to fuck, I wouldn't allow it--shit, my pussy might explode!
Eric looks up at me and smiles. "I am good, ain't I?" he gloats and moves up beside me.
All I can do is shake my head in agreement and turn over onto my side.
Eric kisses my shoulder and then tries to put his arms around me, but I don't want that part of it. That tenderness belonged to us a long, long time ago. What we do now is primitive and carnal and that's the way I want it to remain.
"What's up with you?" he says and sucks his teeth in disgust.
"Shouldn't you go home to your wife now?" I say before punching the pillow and readying myself for dreamland.
From the Trade Paperback edition.