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Grown Virgins: Mystery Man, Pt. 2


His eyes travel around the world, while his mind hovers a ditch as I rise to grab water. He is a friend of a friend, an acquaintance; he is a man of no type of wonder who mysteriously reappears despite my taking the long way around. I see him everywhere: at school, in the neighborhood, on TV. Every Tuesday, before an afternoon of classes, I make it a point to converse with beautiful black and brown students in the common area. Going days without meeting them on campus drains my ability to just “do,” but Tuesdays are all I get some weeks. This is one of those many weeks. As a music major, one sees a lot of late night practice rooms, and a little of “hey lady” and “how’ve you been.”

Mystery Man is brown like me, though, and hella weird. I glance at my phone’s clock and regrettably take a seat. There are three minutes until I have to head to class. Time runs while I scan the room for welcomed, familiar faces.

Every face is familiar here; every way of walking is, too, but I’d just rather not with most people. Call it discernment or the sensing of energy, my university is small and I’ve learned to just “not” in many cases. Senioritis is strong enough to pull a student down; I can’t risk trying any more honorable endeavors—not with how my grades are shining dimly this semester. Where are they? Two minutes.

He travels again and I smell ditch water. “It’s nice to see you!” he chuckled. “You too.” my smile drifts towards him way too nicely. “Did you come here alone?” Mystery Man asks. “What?” I squint. Oh, please don’t.

“You’re sitting alone. You always alone?” he yipped. Correction: was sitting alone, peacefully. Did I walk from my major-specific class into the common area “alone,” where many students sit “alone” to do homework or sit “alone” to wait for their next lonely class? Please don’t do this to me right now. I have two glorious minutes of no practice and potentially fresh conversation to encourage me throughout this long week. Friends, friends, I look around for my friends.

“Yeah. I mean, you know.” he configures. Spare me, my soul sighs. “It’s just,” Mystery Man leans in, “I haven’t seen you with anyone yet. That’s a little weird to me.” He smiles, eyes tracing my hair to tabletop. Putting on my kindest dumbfounded face, “Oh, you know who I’m coo with. I don’t know where they are though.” I shrug like a well-rehearsed script. “No, not like that. I haven’t seen you with anyone. You cute, you’re not with anyone? What’s wrong, you feeling okay? You look sad,” he says. I took a sigh, filling soul with boredom and disappointed logic. Mystery Man’s lips became dry all of sudden, though they looked moist already, he couldn’t help but lick them furiously. Ew. Guys still think that’s cute? Lick, lick, furious lick.

“I’m fine.” I ring, “I’m great actually, just tired because it’s senior year. I just don’t like anyone.” One minute. “I know you saw me watching, that’s why you walked like that, right?” he scoots closer. Alright, he just scooted past Politeville and crashed into Stupid Drive. A person knows when they are being watched most of the time, true, but just because we know, doesn’t mean we welcome it.

“What?” in the actual… where my people at? I sigh again. They aren’t coming, and they are probably fending for themselves through other skewed conversations that we won’t want to mention later on. I feel for them. I’m more tired than when I sat down, but my Romans course starts soon, and I have to learn about the apostle Paul.

“Wow. You’re so quiet. It’s okay to let it out sometimes. I don’t mean anything by this, but you know you’re beautiful, right? You don’t have to be so shy.” This dude is still talking. “Aye, you want to study at a coffee shop later? I have a lot of homework this week, that Romans paper is going to kill me.” That’s a thought! I quickly pray for forgiveness. “No.” I grab my water, sling my bag full of books over my shoulder, and leave.

A couple of years ago, I would have put him in his place. I would have explained that I have a grounded sense of inner beauty, knowing full well that my external form is a work of art, too. I would have explained how being a virgin in college isn’t a result of my being shy or questioning how dope I am. I would have energetically exclaimed, in a kind fashion, how I actually do believe whole heartedly in the Scriptures I left my home to study, knowing that my value is in a most lovely Lord, and not in who I can be seen with. But that was Freshman Tiana; this Tiana Senior. Tiana Senior is just trying to graduate.

I make it through Romans class and head nod through two other courses before commuting home. Sometimes the best feeling of early evening is walking to the bus stop, waiting for those Metra doors to fold open, and anticipating that sweet moment of pressing play, drifting off while the window shows you the world. I cannot wait until the bus comes! A golden sun touches the sidewalk, hues of blue and light pink kiss gray clouds. I’m proud. Another day on campus conquered. If I am motivated, I could put in a good four hours of homework and practice at home.

The bus stop greets me with a scratchy “Welcome back.” I smile at the city in gratitude of being off campus. A car honks at me. Not wanting to get hit or miss a cherished human, maybe it’s a friend I was looking for in the common area earlier, I glance at the car. To my disgust, I see Mystery Man again. He is not the same face, but the same persona; he is not the same person, but has the same ideals. Mystery Man glanced at me through a different nose bridge and brow. This time he is white, not caramel; this time, his eyes travel around the world when they should be on the road.

Then the infamous, forever split second happened. The moment many women cringe at while traveling on pavement, a moment that gives the initiator satisfaction and the responder quick defeat. Our eyes meet and I am belittled. That’s it. No fireworks or exclamatory feud. Just that. And just like that, my walk turns into show and my thighs are deemed honk worthy as he smolders a ditch-face and speeds off stinky.

I am heated for the one-hundredth time this Tuesday. I breathe hard knowing full well that this steam has no other escape route except for logic. At least that is the only route available right now, so I dissect the way I walk. Again. Did I sway too much, too slow, too fast? Are my clothes too artistic, shoes too high? Is my chin too confident or eyes too full of light? Maybe it’s my hair? Maybe I was too close to the street, or did I misinterpret his lip licking and stupid ditch stare? I must be too sensitive, or thinking too critically.

No. Hell no. I am heavenly.

The way my hips sway when I walk speaks more of settled confidence than thirsty wells. I’m not moving for Mystery Man. I’m swaying because I am physically walking somewhere—walking, as in, moving my limbs to cover a physical distance through exerting energy and overcoming friction. My chin sits high from mental work most men and women do not dare to traverse through. My eyes hold light from genuine joy, not longing for hot breath and curious fingers to touch me. When I do want to be touched, even still it is a desire that does not come from a weak and commonly assumed frame of mind.

I look like this, because I am like this. I’m not swaying for you. You, whose shallow critical thinking skills are deemed a mystery, simply because it misses the mark set right in front of you, at closer than an arm’s reach. Steam, steam, I want to speak to my friends. But we are all so damn tired, and are just trying to graduate.

Bus doors fold open. Window seat taken. Pressing play. I don’t want to do my homework anymore; I’ll just get up early. But as I drift through the window and see the world, I remember my God. Forget Mystery Man, I have homework to struggle through; you can miss me all the way with that "ditch, you should get with someone” nonsense. Sometimes the best thing to do when dealing with Mystery Man is to simply let him miss.

 

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