by Malaika Booker-Wright

I had waited twenty-one years for this day. It marked my adulthood and my independence. Therefore, the celebration had to be perfect.

I was single and decided to let my friend set me up on a blind date.

The night before my twenty-first birthday, I dreamt of my ideal celebration.

I received an invitation in the mail the morning of my birthday:

You are cordially invited to a
private birthday celebration
on this 15th day of June,
nineteen hundred ninety-five
at nine o’clock in the evening.
Evening attire is required
A Secret Admirer

I was excited and prepared for my date the entire day.

Sharp @ Nine
At nine o’clock, I was dressed and ready to go. I wore an A-line, floor-length, iridescent blue gown with a shawl to match. I wore open-toed heels that were dyed perfectly to match my dress. My hair was pulled up in the back with a sea of curls draped in the front and my make-up was flawless.

I walked outside to find a black stretch limousine awaiting my arrival. My dream date stood outside of the limousine to open the door for me.

He was six feet tall and had the body of a god. Muscles peeked from every corner. His skin was dark chocolate and blemish-free. His hair was short and curly. His eyes sparkled in the sunlight and his teeth shined so bright. He was dressed in a fine Italian suit with fine Italian shoes. He looked perfect.

We drove to an Italian restaurant overlooking the water. I love Italian food.

The view of the lights reflecting off the water was beautiful. The lights in the restaurant were romantically dim. The scent of the food being prepared was heavenly. Over the low buzz of the other dinner guests, there was a live Jazz band playing “Mack the Knife.” We sat at a candlelit table with silk tablecloths and napkins. We were served fine Italian cuisine by waiters and waitresses dressed in suits. It was perfect.

Date Conversation
My date and I had wonderful conversation over dinner. He was a self-employed businessman with a Master’s Degree in English. He owned a house, car, and several businesses. He was intelligent, well-spoken, honest, humorous, thoughtful, and well-mannered. He seemed to be the most loving and compassionate person. He was very attentive and very comforting. He was a single man with no children. He was perfect.

The end to a perfect evening came when my date showered me with birthday gifts. First, he gave me one closed, long stemmed, peach rose. While I was smelling the rose, he handed the cutest teddy bear to me. He followed that with an intimate birthday cake for two.

He then pulled out a four-foot birthday card, tore a small piece off of it, and said, “I know you can’t keep the entire card forever, but you can keep this small piece forever.” I thought he was finished until he pulled out a small jewelry box. I opened it and found a small key. It was the key to his heart.

I knew that this was the start of something special, but it was the end of my dream. I woke up to the sound of the telephone ringing. I eagerly answered it.

“Yeah, this yo birthday date. Imma come to yo house tanight at eight. Don’t git all dressed up or nuthin’.” This was my date?

At eight o’clock, I was dressed and ready to go. I put on some dark blue jeans, a red short sleeved shirt, and some dark blue sneakers. I longed to wear that beautiful blue dress.

I pulled my hair back into a ponytail and gave myself one “Shirley Temple” curl in the front. I put some clear lip gloss on my lips and was out the door. There was no need for flawless make-up for this date.

My date stood next to my car and subtly hinted that I should drive. I opened his door. He got in and didn’t even unlock my door. Maybe somewhere deep, deep, deep inside of him, there was a gentleman. I wanted so much for my date to let him out. Maybe he would open my door for me, just like the man of my dream.

Beauty in the Eye…
My date was about five feet, three inches tall. His fair skin really accented his acne. He was bald, but his hair had begun to grow back. His head looked like a fuzzy peach. He wore braces on his teeth, which wouldn’t have been bad if he knew how to clean them. He had blue contact lenses in his eyes. I thought, regardless of how light his skin was, the “Brotha” should never wear those contacts again.

He had on some baggy blue jeans that hung below his buttocks, showing his boxer shorts. He wore an oversized orange tee-shirt with a baseball cap to match and some untied sneakers.

His wasn’t my type physically, and he definitely looked nothing like my dream date, but I still wanted to have a good time.

I asked my date if he had something planned. He didn’t, but he gave me directions to follow. I prayed for that beautiful Italian restaurant in my dream.

He took me to a Chinese restaurant after I repeatedly told him that I hated Chinese food. He felt that I would like this Chinese food. Somehow, it was “special.”

We walked into the restaurant. The sitting area was just big enough to hold four tables that seat four people. We sat at one of the tables and I asked one of the cooks to clean it. My feet stuck to the floor. Who knew what the bonding agent was? There were flies buzzing around my head. The lights flickered dim then bright because the bulbs needed to be changed. The noise was amazing. There were people yelling out orders and the register kept ringing. My date ordered the most greasy dish on the menu. I tried to eat some of it, but I couldn’t.

What little conversation we had led me to believe that my date was self-centered. He was unemployed and, at twenty-six years old, still lived with his mother. He didn’t have any goals. He didn’t pay attention to a word I said. He gawked at every female that walked in the restaurant. I found out that he barely graduated high school.

He tried to be humorous, but in light of how our date was going, I didn’t find him funny at all. He had two children by two different women and his girlfriend was pregnant. He constantly talked about sex as if I owed him that for this date. His speaking in “ebonics” spoke for itself in terms of his intelligence and mannerism. Where was the intelligent, well-spoken, honest, humorous, thoughtful, and well-mannered date I’d dreamed of? I couldn’t wait to get home.

Conclusion
I drove home and en route, he proceeded to ask me to drive him home to Brooklyn. I looked at him as if he had just committed a crime. To me, he did.

“Are you stupid?” I asked.

“I guess you don’t want yo birfday presen’ then, huh?”

With that, he pulled out a small jewelry box. I thought my evening started to look up.

No, it wasn’t a thoughtful rose, or a tear-jerking card, or the sweetest teddy bear, but it was something!

I opened the box and found three Lifestyles condoms.

His plans were painfully clear!

I threw the condoms and him out of my car and went into my home, alone.

I must admit, compared to my ideal birthday celebration, reality sucks!

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