Darryl James

*Tony had seen Gina in a few of his classes, but like most sisters, he had not seen any signs that she noticed him.  When a mutual friend, Yvette said that he should ask her to the junior prom, he was almost certain that she would say no.

But she said yes.

And to both of their surprise, they had a nice time.  Tony’s fears of rejection and ridicule that came from too many other sisters were dismissed when Gina showed a genuine interest in his conversation.  And Gina’s fears of his sexual advances were dismissed when she discovered that Tony was a perfect gentleman.

He showed up at her door with the corsage for her gown in his left hand, and a single daisy in the other hand simply for Gina’s “being so Black and so pretty.”

It was a treat for Tony to parade a woman on his arm and show her all the respect and admiration that was due a sister who carried herself like a lady.

He knew that there would be little more than a kiss on this, their first date, and waited at the doorstep for her to bestow such upon him, or shake his hand, which he was also fine with because he actually liked her.

To Tony’s surprise, Gina did kiss him ever so softly on the lips, even though she made certain that their bodies did not touch when she did.

“Good night, Tony.  I had a nice time.  Thank you for inviting me,” she said as she planted the kiss.

“Thank you for the company.  I was so proud to be with you.”

“Okay, Yvette,” Gina admitted after the prom, “I did have a nice time.  He’s not that bad.  And he did look good in his tuxedo.”

“I told you.  Now you don’t ever have to see him again if you don’t want to.”

“But I do.  He asked me to go to the movies with him.”

Gina had insisted that they go so that she could see what Tony liked.

Tony sat watching the movie with wide eyes.  Gina sat mostly watching Tony while clutching the single daisy he presented her with when he picked her up for this date.

They had decided that the next date would be Gina’s choice.

One date lead to another, and the days and weeks of dating all merged into one event until they found themselves spending time together in between classes, as well as after school.

They also found themselves downtown in the dead of winter, walking around holding hands and talking after taking in a movie.  As cold as it was outside, Tony felt warm inside, and felt the coldness and numbness in his heart begin to melt.  The coldness and numbness that he had built up in order to protect himself from the pain that sisters had caused him with their rejection or by simply ignoring him.

Gina had melted and warmed his heart because she accepted him.  With all of his shortcomings, she was interested in who he was.  And for the first time, he was unafraid of exposing all of himself.

They stopped in the massive outside stairway of the Chicago Bank building, and softly, gently, Tony held Gina close to him.

“I really like you, Gina.”

“I like you, too.”

“And I like the time we spend together.”

“So do I.”

“I want to ask you something.”

“Then ask.”

“Will you be my lady?”

Tony held his breath for what seemed like a thousand years.  This was not the first time that he had asked this question.  In the past, this question had always been met with a negative response, scorn and ridicule.

But those were sisters in whom he did not have very much investment, in terms of time or emotions.

Gina and Tony had been dating for a while and had a great deal in common.

So there he stood, bravely in her shadow, waiting quietly for her response.

“Yes,” he heard her whisper.

“Yes???” he asked, checking, and when she confirmed, he could almost feel himself begin to shed the layers of skin that had kept him safe from what hurt more than the cut of a knife and drew more than blood.

The rejection that drew tears.

Tears that he had learned to shed inside but tears that hurt, nonetheless.

No more tears.

He had Gina.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on BlogTalkRadio.com/DarrylJames every Sunday from 6-8pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at djames@theblackgendergap.com.