Keith recalls why he has steered clear of relationships




Black&SingleBluesHe’d been sitting there, bugging out to Nicole Scherzinger and Busta Rhymes on the Pussycat Doll’s video “Don’t Cha.” Having searched high and low for the uncensored version. Digging it tough, toking, sipping, grinning all over himself. The intercom rang. It was Jesse downstairs, the doorman: “Ms. Hall is on her way up.”

“Oh, no! Stop that crazy witch. She been stalking me for the longest!”

He could hear Lesli laugh in the background. It was Jesse’s job to not get the joke. “Mr. Jackson?” The building was full of tenants, some celebrities, some simply well-paid working stiffs, who drew unwanted attention.

“Sorry, Jesse. Please, let the lady up.”

“Yes, sir.”

She’d walked in the door fussing: “My apartment still isn’t ready.” Dropped her purse on the coffee table, glanced at the television screen, then, hips churning beneath her skirt, flounced into the kitchen to get herself a beer. She’d pulled off her suit jacket, laid it on the counter, and come back to flop next to him on the sofa, slurping a good gulp. “I needed that. They were supposed to be done getting the place set a week ago. One thing I cannot abide is incompetence.”

“Mm-hmm.” He kissed her, grabbing a quick feel of the front of her blouse, then went back to watching the tube.

Lesli had kicked off her heels and propped her stockinged feet up on the table. After about a minute, she’d groused, “All these broads are skinny as a switch.” He’d reached over and taken a swig of her beer. “I mean it, baby, they need to run around in the shower to get wet.”

“Les, what you want me to do about that? I wasn’t they daddy.”

“Well? Why you watching this?”

Uh-oh, he’d thought. When she spoke in this tone of voice, there was no correct answer to any question she might ask. Nonetheless, he’d ventured, “’Cause I like the song?”

“Right. ‘Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me? Don’t you wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?’ Should I take the hint?”

Lesli knew damned good and well Keith never lost sight of her hotness or how freakish she could get. “Besides,” she poured it on, “you told me you don’t particularly like thin women. I know you told me, because I was right here, listening with both ears when you did.”

He got up to refill his own drink. “Okay. I got a confession to make. The reason I like this video, the whole purpose why I sit through it, is how good my boy Busta look shakin’ his butt in them raggedy jeans at the end.” Then he’d sat back down.

She’d realized she was not going to be able to start a fight. Or, if she did, it’d take a lot more energy than it was worth. Swinging her legs around, dropping them across his lap, she’d whined, “Rub my feet?” He massaged her feet, working his way up her calf. “Alright,” she said in mock protest. “Watch it, now.”

Keith gazed into her eyes. Intently. “What’s wrong? And it’s not your apartment. It damn sure ain’t the Pussycat Dolls.” She had, truth be told, been acting nervous ever since relocating to Manhattan. Ever since she temporarily moved in a few days ago.

She’d looked away. Into space. Then at the floor. At length, she’d finally answered, “I don’t know.”

“You think it might be all this change?”

She’d given a bittersweet laugh, a tear trickling down her cheek. “Oh, no. What would make you think that? New job. With everyone there expecting me to walk on water. Moving to a totally new city. And nobody told me just how big this damned city is. It’s huge! On top of everything else, falling in love. Nope. Couldn’t possibly be I’m feeling overwhelmed.” Lesli then got up, grabbed Bruno out of his catbed and went into Keith’s bedroom.

Keith finished the video, which did close with a hilarious shot of Busta Rhymes’ behind. He’d switched to regular TV, channel surfed, and settled for putting on some baseball. The Mets against, of all teams, L.A. It had been the late innings, Mets way ahead. He’d dropped the remote on the table and ambled into the kitchen to make dinner.

Relationships. He now remembered why he’d steered clear of one for so long. They require tending. Patience and understanding. Neither of which he’d seen much reason to exercise for quite awhile.

He saw it, now, though. And was grateful not to, as he had so many times, see the light with 20/20 hindsight. This time out, God willing and the creek don’t rise, he and Lesli just might make a good go of it.


Next week: Keith’s long reverie of romance with Lesli ends when she pops the big question.

Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403. 


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