She loves me she loves me not
she loves me
"Girl, he called me again last night" she said to her girlfriend sitting one seat beyond her, "but I ain't gonna let him know what's up yet. "He fine, but you know how boys be doing." Her friend nodded and chimed in "Tell me about it, you let them know how you feel too fast and they be trying to take advantage."
I was riding the New Jersey Transit out to Hamilton Mall on a semi-crowded bus that included these two young women, one of whom I recognized as a Cashier at an AC casino on the Strip, maybe Resorts or Revel. It was Summertime and the sun flowed through the bus windows like water through a hole in a ship, giving me plenty of light to read "The Northside" a hardback history of black folk in AC written by the same cat who penned "Boardwalk Empire." I had just glanced up to check the progress of the bus as I have a long history of missing my Stop while reading, sometimes not noticing until the bus reached the end of the line. I wasn't easvesdropping but caught that last snippet of conversation and turned to face them.
"What's up Poker Player, you all right?" she said to me, recognizing me from my frequent late night cash outs after poker sessions. I remembered her name as Adena.
"Aint nothing' I responded, "Just going to the Barnes and Noble"
"I see you over there all lost in that book" she said "Like you aint know nobody."
I laughed, "Yeah, I get like that when I'm reading, the whole world disappears."
"That must be a good ass book then" her girlfriend chimed in.
"It is." I said "It is, it's about black folk in AC going way back, by the dude that wrote 'Boardwalk Empire."
"That was a book?" she asked.
"Yeah" I said "But I haven't read it though."
"I watch the show all the time." her girlfriend said.
"I watched the First Season." I said
The bus groaned to a stop to discharge an elderly woman and a toddler.
"I see yall talking about boys." I added
They both laughed "Of course" she said rolling her eyes "What else would we be talking about? You know how yall do."
"Do you want some advice?' I asked her.
"Yeah, whatever." she replied.
"I think you'd be way better off letting him know how you feel up front."
They both looked at me like I had just suggested that they ride butt naked on top of the bus in a blizzard.
"What?" she said, "If you let a boy know how you feel right away he just gonna try to play you like a hand of Spades"
"Uh Huh" he girlfriend cosigned.
"Exactly!" I said.
"Huh?" they both said in unison, "You bugging, That don't make no kind of sense."
"Actually, it makes the most sense." I said.
"I aint gonna just sit there and let somebody take advantage of me." she said.
"Exactly!" I said again.
Now they looked really confused, like I was speaking Yoruba or something.
"Look" I said "Any dude that's trying take advantage of you is a predatory asshole who isn't going to make the best choice for a successful long term relationship."
"Of course, that's obvious." she said.
"So," I said "Why not find out right away, before you invest a bunch of time and emotions into it?
"Once you peep his game you can just bounce."
Her girlfriend objected, "But they only going to try you if you let them, if you show them you aint going for it then they aint going try that with you."
"Not at first." I said, "But an asshole is an asshole, it's going to come out eventually."
"I don't know" she said "It's different for yall than it is for us"
"Sure" I said "But look at it this way, is communication important in a relationship?"
"Of course!" they chimed in harmony.
" Is trust important in a relationship?"
"Of course!" they chimed again.
"So" I asked "Why you starting off with a dude not being honest in your communication and not trusting him?"
The bus hissed to another stop.
"Well, once you get to know him of course you'll be honest then." she said "But you gotta see if you can trust him first."
"Yeah", I said "But how a person acts when they think they can get away with something is who they really are." 'Why not find that out from Jump Street?"
"You crazy" Her girlfriend said "I aint going out like that."
"Ooh girl, look." Her friend pointed out the window.
"What?" she asked, craning her neck.
"Two people over there minding they own business" her girlfriend said.
We all busted out laughing.
"Wasn't you reading a book or something?" she asked.
"I was in fact." I admitted, "I was, but my stop is coming up anyway."
I stashed my book in my backpack and uncoiled my six foot frame.
"I'll catch yall later."
"Bye" they waved.
I ambled off the bus and turned my head to avoid the dust clouds following the bus down the highway.
About nine months later, I was leaving the Revel Poker Room to cash out my remaining $26 from the $400 I started with. it had been a brutal night and I was exhausted. I waited my turn in line with my eyes closed and then slowly pushed my few chips through the window.
"You must have had a bad night."
I looked up, it was Adena, the girl from the bus the summer before.
"Bad?" I said "Bad would have been an improvement. It was brutal."
"How have you been?"
"I'm good" she said smiling her work smile.
"How did that thing work out?" I asked.
"What thing?" she queried.
"With that guy you where talking to." I said.
"Oh, him?" she said, "I been done forgot about his sorry ass."
"He was cool at first, but for real he wasn't shit, just like most of yall."
I laughed, "How long did it take you to find that out?"
She looked down and away, "Too long" she said "Too Long!"
"Anyway I'm seeing somebody else now."
"I was just talking to my mother about what you said on the bus." she added,
"At first she agreed with me, but then she thought about it and said maybe you got a point and she wished she had thought of that when she was younger."
"And what do you think?" I asked.
"Both of yall crazy" she laughed "Both of yall!"
"But I'm going to keep it mind."
"Alright' I said as I faced my bills and walleted them.
"I'll catch you later" she waved.
"Later." I said, turning away and heading towards eight hours of dreams (where maybe I could actually win at a session of poker.)
"Next!" I heard her yell as I rounded the corner to the elevator.
And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)