Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ellen


I don't know what made me think of this girl. She is just one of many women I left scattered in the wind out there but, this story was just too bizarre not to tell...

About a year after I got out of college, I had a job at a shoe store in one of the strip malls in North Philly. I was selling "ladies" shoes, of all things. I worked with two other salesmen, a sharp talking well-dressed brother named Eric who was two years older than me, and another brother also named Keith (who we called "Baldy") who was a year older.

We met plenty of ladies and got to feel a lot of legs helping them try on their shoes. I also had another job in West Philly working at a Burger King. It was a lot of work and I hated it but, I got to eat free and the result of having two jobs is that I had money in my pockets. I had been out of work for six months after I came home from college and I was getting on my parents' nerves laying around the house. So, when I got these two "slave jobs" (as I called them), everyone was mutually happy.

The last thing I was thinking about was a woman or a girlfriend. I was just happy to be able to pay my student loans, give my folks a little money, and still have enough money to go out and have a good time on Saturday night. I was coming home from an after hours joint in West Philly early in the morning. It was near daybreak on a Saturday morning and there SHE was... she had the prettiest eyes, (they were gray), a nice shape, and mocha brown skin like my own. She had a fresh jheri curl and she was wearing some nice jeans and a white blouse.

She asked me, "Where you going?" I was taken back... was this girl flirting with me? Early in the morning? I couldn't believe it. Eric and Baldy were with me and they egged me on... "Go for it man. She's on you. You can get that!" I smiled and came back with a lame line, "Where do you want me to go?" She smirked and said, "Aww Lawd, I done found me a live one!" We started talking and just like that, we exchanged numbers and I promised to get in touch with her. (It never occurred to me to wonder what she was doing up and outside at 5:30 in the morning.)

Me and my two friends were walking to Baldy's car and he said, "Man, you in like flint!" Eric remained silent for a minute... then, he looked at me and said, "I don't know man. Something ain't right. I just can't put my finger on it." I should have listened but, of course I didn't.

A week went by and I promptly forgot about Ellen. I never called her and I think I lost her number. Well, much to my surprise, I came home from work one day and she was sitting in my house talking to my mother and father like they were old friends. I was stunned because I never told her where I lived. How did she find my house (and to this day, that remains a mystery)? My parents thought she was very nice. She was all smiles and soft spoken.

I asked her how she found out where I lived and she told me that my friend "Prince Paul" told her. I knew that was a lie because Prince Paul wouldn't tell you nothing. If one man could keep a secret... he could. But, I didn't press the matter. I asked her where she lived and she said "Better yet, I'll show you."

We walked about eight blocks and finally stopped at a house that looked like the mansion in your worse nightmare. I thought the house was condemned... half of the windows were boarded up and the other half were broken. I looked at her and said, "You live here?" She smiled weakly and said she did. I shook my head. Bell, Biv, Devoe said in a song, "Never trust a big butt and a smile"... and here was a classic example of why.

The house smelled like old socks, pancake batter, and urine combined. I couldn't see a man living in there, let alone a pretty young woman... yet, she did. Her room was surprisingly very neat and well put together. The kitchen was clean but, I never ate anything over there that I didn't bring (my mother's training was still very much with me).

We weren't in that house for a half-an-hour before this old guy named Jake came in. He looked like a black version of Grizzly Adams. He looked at me side-eyed and then, grinned, got a bottle of beer out of the refrigerator, and left. She explained that she lived with him, he wasn't her man, and she wasn't paying him. They had an "arrangement", she said. It didn't take a nuclear physicist to know what kind of arrangement it was. Still, I didn't say anything... I was intrigued. I 've been a fool many times in my life.

For two weeks, I would stop by her house, sit and talk with her, drink a few beers and watch the Sixers on television. Jake would always come in, grab a beer, and leave... never saying a word. He would just look at me and laugh. I often wondered if that man ever knew what a bath was because he stank and his breath smelled like he wanted to be alone, forever! I know I sound "bourgie" but, that wasn't it. I'm just explaining how it was. I'd try to kiss Ellen and she'd push me away... I'd try to hug or caress Ellen and she'd move my hands. This went on for about a month. I wondered if maybe she didn't like me but, then I reasoned... if that was so, why did she practically stalk me?

Finally one night I said to her, "Ellen, we ain't in grade school. What is the problem?" She said, "I guess I should tell you... I think I'm a freak." I looked at her and I thought of Rick James, who had a hit song out at the time called "Super Freak." I said, "That's okay, baby. I'm a freak too." She said, "You don't understand... I think I like women." ("Freak" was once used as slang in Philly for someone gay or someone who was "in the life", as they say.) I was dumbfounded. She said, "I've been struggling with this for a long time. When I saw you, I thought I could like guys because I was attracted to you. I wanted to like you but, I realize that I can't. I can't pretend like this and I just have to be who and what I am... a freak." I said, "You mean a Lesbian?" She gave me a look like, I can see you were at the head of your class, which made me feel kind of stupid.

I was actually kind of relieved. I didn't really want to be in a relationship at that time anyway and not with her in that creepy house and not around that creepy, smelly old man. After leaving that house, sometimes I'd have to take off all of my clothes in the living room and wash them immediately when I got home (the smell of that house was embedded in them). Apparently, the arrangement between her and Jake was not sexual, as I thought. He was laughing at me because he knew that she was gay and I didn't know. I don't know what kind of arrangement they had and I don't care to know. He just knew that I wasn't getting anything from her and he found that funny. I knew that he wasn't getting anything from anyone until he took a bath so, we were even. I don't know how she could stay in that house with him but hey, you gotta have somewhere to lay your head at night.

For a long time I didn't tell anyone about Ellen. I wondered aloud why I attracted such bizarre people and wound up in such bizarre circumstances and that's been a mystery for most of my life. Ellen eventually started dating a girl I used to have a mad crush on in junior high school named Donna. She was "train" raped in the ninth grade and was never quite the same again. She and Ellen lived together for years... then, get this... both of them married men and had babies. Go figure?

Every now and then, I run into Ellen. We speak but, we never mention the brief time we were "together." Uggggghhhhhh! The less said about that, the better!

10 comments:

Aretha said...

hmm...that's a crazy story. I can't believe they both got married...lol

Thoughts of a Southern gal said...

Man, you have some good stories.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Man you always have a story! I love that about this blog.

-OG

Keith said...

@Southern Gal-They sound good now, but when ot was actually happening,it wasn't so good. lolol

@Aretha-Thanks for stopping by..Don't be a stranger.

tiltedhalo said...

I think I dropped by your blog once awhile back...but since I see you around the blog world alot - I thought I'd come back by to see what I was missing. Man, you tell a really good story...that one was kinda wild, but a very interesting read. I'm going to have to go back into your archives. Hope you don't mind me dropping in.

The Dreamy One said...

yes indeed Kieth, lord you have had an interesting life,lol

now how you gonna be gay and then marry a man???

i think that is just plain crazy

you had me laughing so hard at the old man,lol

crys said...

man i was reading it and thinking "omg - ELLEN IS A MAN"
LOL - whew....good thing i read it all the way through to the end
:-)

Mizrepresent said...

I laughed outloud at this post at work...i couldn't respond then, but now i can. So glad that she found what she needed and you found what you have and wanted. We all meet so many people in our lifetime that in some way leave a stamp on our hearts and minds...but i think it is all good Keith.

LadyLee said...

Now that was an interesting story. Very much so.

karrie b. said...

damnnnnnnnnnn homie. you had it bad for some ellen.

-KB




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