You’d logon and connect to a server, join a chat room and yap with people you didn’t know. There were regulars and I have, let’s see… at least 4 friends I keep up with to this day from IRC and I’ve met them all in person.

There was one gentleman I would talk to occasionally. That was back when my personal site was a two pager – hand coded with pictures of me somebody from the IT department scanned for me at work. You could add a URL to your “profile” or signature and people would check you out. Anyway, the guy worked in finance and it sounded like he had some important job. I think he was of African descent… wasn’t Caribbean… I don’t remember. One day while chatting, we exchanged headshots. He sent me the picture off his passport. He wasn’t smiling and told me the photo was a little old, but it was him. He was handsome enough. We chatted online with some frequency and graduated to the phone. He was pleasant and intelligent but became increasingly insistent about meeting me.

I wasn’t uncomfortable about meeting him, just didn’t like to rush things, but he pressed and pressed. That was also back when I first started to come into my own… became more accepting of myself and realized I was more attractive than I thought. Finally, I agreed to meet him. He didn’t want me to drive all the way to the city (and I didn’t want to) so we decided to meet in Westchester – White Plains. I asked him if he knew Mamaroneck Ave. He claimed he did but wasn’t completely sure. I asked him if he knew where the Galleria or Sears was – right downtown. We agreed to meet near Sears. Back then, Sears had entrances on two parallel one-way streets.

The Wait Begins

It was a lovely summer day and I dressed casually in a summer skirt, top and sandals. I wasn’t dressed up, but I thought I looked nice. Good enough for a first date – not too revealing or formal. I hopped in the car and drove to White Plains. It was a Saturday and traffic was light. I arrived on time. There was two-hour parking on the street and municipal parking but I wanted to remain visible so my friend could find me. I found a parking spot almost directly across from Sears and figured I could sit there for a while before I had to move. I watched the entrance, relaxed, listened to the radio… but when he didn’t show, I got antsy. I had no cell phone so I used a pay phone to call my answering machine first, to see if he’d canceled. No messages. I called his cell phone and he answered.

He said he was on his way – ran into traffic. The connection was noisy and horrible. He asked me not to leave. I told him I would wait. He was already 40 minutes late, but I had nothing to do. I returned to the car, slid down in the seat and listened to the radio as I watched people walk by. Shoulda brought a book. I waited another 30 minutes until….

BLAM! There was this loud noise that jarred me from my semi-meditative state. I’d heard that sound many times before because my dad used to work on cars – a car had back-fired. I peeped into the rear view and saw bluish smoke. Geesh! That’s a raggedy car. My windows were cracked but nearly blacked out all around. No one could see inside the car unless they looked through the windshield. I used the rear view to watch this dreadful, rusty, mustard colored Ford Fiesta attempt to parallel park. You betta not hit me… the name on my insurance is “Yo’ Damn Fault.” 

Finally the car parked and I silently prayed their emergency brake worked. What a heap. I saw a man in a yellow shirt but only caught a glimpse because he got out so quickly. I turned my attention back to the radio, fiddling with the stations… I’m not sure what made me look toward the entrance of Sears. Probably because that’s what I’d been doing for a whole HOUR. There was someone new standing in front of Sears: the man who had just parked that Pieceosh*t Fiesta. I scanned him from head to toe. He couldn’t see me. Is that him? I only saw that one passport photo…

Is it a Bird?

His hair was low and he was dark brown – nice complexion. He had on a pale yellow long-sleeved shirt. Odd – it was pretty hot that day. But OK. Down to his VERY narrow high waist. I likes meat and muslos on my mens – preferably both. He had on some casual khakis – pleated – in olive green. They were faded but pressed. My eyes continued down the line of his frame and stopped. Kind of where the pants stopped – at his ashy ankles. Awww, damn. High-waters and no lotion – not a good combination. “But, but, but wait, it get’s worse!”– Sticky Fingaz. He had on what we used to call “boat shoes” but those joints were turned over – I mean REALLY turned over – flapping like cow tongues.

For the Record: I am no fashionista. I had an under-developed sense of style back in the day and some of my outfits may have been questionable. 

All I could do was laugh… a rumbling that started down in my gut and bubbled up to where I had to cover my mouth. I was cracking up. Silent, shaking, streaming tears and errything. NO HE DIN’T. Lotion, man – go to Duane Reade and get it fo’ cheap!

When I got myself under control, I wiped my eyes with a tissue and thought – wait, what if that isn’t him? I watched him a few minutes more. Great posture. He whips out a cell phone and looks around, seeming very agitated. I’m reminded of Starman as I watch him strutting around like a rooster in his capris and run-over, turned-over shoes. I can’t take it. I start laughing again. I bet that’s dude. Ohhh boy. I decide to ride around the block to see if there’s anyone, anyone please, at the other entrance. That can’t be him. Please don’t let that be him.

I carefully pull into traffic and make a right, planning to go around the block. Hey Val, know what? He never asked what kind of car you were driving! I drive by the other entrance slowly. No one on that side…. I go down a few blocks and turn again, preparing to go down the street I was just parked on. I’ll just see if the guy is still there… maybe it is him, maybe it’s not. My parking space is gone. I slow down and creep past Sears and the bird man with the ashy ankles. My windows are tinted out so he can’t see me. Yeah, I’m thinkin’ that’s him but I’m not sure. I’ll just go park in municipal parking and come around and meet him.

I make a left at the end of the block, get on Lake St. make another left and I see it: the sign for I287. I don’t turn, I keep going past the MetroNorth station and back out onto Tarrytown Rd. Going, going… what are you doing? until I am merging onto I287.

I Did It.

I’m not proud but damn straight I left him standing in front of Sears. And like Eddie Murphy said, “I giggled my m*&%#n ass off.” I laughed all the way home. I didn’t really want to meet him anyway. I stopped off to eat and had a leisurely drive home. When I walked in the door, I had several messages, each more terse than the last. Before I could call him back, he called again – he was headed back to the city – and PISSED. I don’t blame him. If I had driven that smoke-filled tin can on a hot ass day all the way up to Westchester to meet someone, she could have at least waited – even if I was over an hour late.

I told him I thought maybe I saw him but I wasn’t sure. He was ready to spit fire. He said, “You are so shy that you would not ask me who I was? Just to be sure?” Heeeey… I guess so. We never rescheduled and didn’t talk again. Whew – close calls man.