The king up on the stage isn't bothered as much by this as I am. He's off in his own plane..soulfully singing of love lost and regained in a dimly lit room. His fingers flutter over the black and white keys like he's been doing this his whole life. This man is making my insides shiver. What would my girlfriends think?
They'd say "girl, he is too fine. And he can sing. Go for it."
I've never made the first move. Ever. Never had to. Men have always poured in abundance around these parts. I make it a point to never appear that desperate. But this one. Whew. This one is making me not care. Abandon all of the self-implemented rules. I think I'm gonna talk to him. No, I know I'm going to talk to him. Why not? I'm grown. Educated. Pretty. And if I must say so myself I'm looking the part of a real head-turner tonight. I feel grown and sexy. He should be honored.
His set winds down and he looks around, whispers a deep voiced "thank you" to the five of us who were actually paying attention. It's hard to keep a room full of Josh Grayson fans interested in his Mos Def demeanor and Raheem Devaughn soul grooves. That's okay. I'm hooked. And that's enough. He looks so out of place with his Okayplayer t-shirt and jeans. The crowd patiently waits for their karaoke party to begin, break out the Kelly Clarkston cds.
I stand, smooth the imaginary wrinkles out of my black pants. Pull my black halter down over the top of them. Check the toes peeking out of my black sandals for any signs of a pedicure emergency. Fluff up my huge halo of kinky ringlets in my reflection on the bar. Hotness.
But I'm still nervous.
Mr Too Fine For His Own Good is off to the left of the stage, engaged in a spirited conversation with a 30something white man with spiky Hollywood hair, not noticing me and my mini meltdown at all. I take a a last sip of my luke-warm water and walk towards him carefully, confidently. The last thing I need is some blooper reel worthy fall right now.
Oh snap. I see the 30something white man stroll past me, giving the appreciative smile that all white men give black women that they can't have. Mr Too Fine notices that, notices me. His eyes smile. His lips follow. Even his teeth are beautiful. I'd thank his mama right now if I could.
I don't notice that he's walking towards me until he's a foot in front of me.
"This makes eight." He says and smiles.
He smells like Heaven. I inhale deeply.
"Eight?" I just know he is not counting all the women who have approached him tonight.
"Yes, eight. I have seen you sitting in that exact same spot at that exact same table eight times in the last two months. Seven of those times I was too stupid to talk to you."
I smile. "You have any history of stalking in your past?"
"I should be asking you the same thing. I know you're not here every Tuesday cause you like the food." He shoots, one eyebrow raised.
"This is my getaway. I go out with friends on the weekends, but this, Tuesdays are my day to spend time with me. To know self is to love self, right?"
"Oh definitely, in your case I can appreciate that. I feel the same way about coming here. Cause you know the majority of these people in here don't even pay me any attention. If i wasn't doing it for myself...it would pretty much be pointless."
"No, you'd be doing it for me." My words are coming out smoother than I expected. Good.
His smile is genuine. "I'm sorry, I'm being rude. My name is Abram, yours?"
He extends his hand. It is surprisingly soft.
"Ata. And no, it isn't a stage name." I say, anticipating his next question. It's one I have been asked many a time.
"Ah, okay. I was just wondering what it means, didn't peg you as someone who would have a stage name."
"Why not? It means 'a gift'. Ata Nafia. Arabic and Swahili. My first and middle name both mean the same thing. My mother had difficulties having children. I was her last attempt, and the only child to live. I guess Gift was too ghetto."
He laughs. "Well it's beautiful. Fitting. And I only meant that I've seen you eight times here at open mic and you've never once gotten up on the stage. That's not someone who goes around telling people her stage name."
"Guess you're right."
Okay, so far he's doing well. He can count (at least up to eight), speak correct English, smiles a lot, compliments, pays attention to things, and hasn't called me baby, boo, ma, or sweetie yet. Good sign.
We walk out together and I head for my car, glad to have the whole anticipation of this meeting over with. I'm still slightly nervous, but the overwhelming sense of disappointment that usually accompanies a conversation with a gorgeous man such as himself has not come yet. Another good sign.
He lingers. Leans on my white Honda Accord. Asks if we can 'chat' sometime over coffee. Hands me a baby blue business card with a pic of a baby grand in the corner. Abram Montgomery. He gives the best deals on piano lessons for those age five and up according to his card. How sweet.
I tell him I may call, he just has to stay tuned to his cell to know. But I know I will.
Looking at him up close, he's almost unreal. The photographer in me admires his angles. Wishes i had my camera, he'd be nice to shoot. Strong chin. Full lips. cheekbones any female model would go under the knife for. But there's something else. Something magnetic. Maybe it's the moonlight casting the romantic glow on his peanut butter skin. Or the extreme sense of testosterone his tall, muscular frame is emitting. Or the way his smile travels from his mouth to his eyes. I don't know.
Abram Montgomery. Nice. I guess we'll see...