In Black & White

My first year at college, a guy I sort of liked was a so-called party promoter. He’d hand out flyers for these parties at a place called Short Ribs, Little Miss Piggy’s. I kinda liked him, so the first time he handed me one, I made it my business to show up. Turns out he had a girlfriend, and I met her when I got to the party. But I kept showing up to those parties because they were insane. The liquor was flowing like water (I had tits, so it was real easy to get guys to buy me shots), the music was great, and, once drunk, I could dance and grind up against anyone and everyone. There was “professional entertainment” at these parties, in the form of a black guy who danced under the spotlight. The club billed this guy as Mandingo (I shit you not, I don’t know how or where they thought to promote a black guy who danced at parties full of white college kids as Mandingo, but that’s what the fuck they did) and while it was the 1990s and Brooklyn, New York was integrated, many of the females who went to those parties, myself included, had never been with a black guy.

And so I guess it was only natural that when we saw this guy called Mandingo dancing, sometimes without a shirt on, our curiosity was piqued. And after he performed his “set” under the spotlight, Mandingo would dance with the girls, one girl or another, grinding all over them. Sometimes I saw them shove money in his jeans pocket after he danced with them, as they walked away all flushed.

And me? I was short and plump, even then, and I didn’t get any attention from the white guys. I got lots of looks from random black guys when I walked to and from the subway in downtown Brooklyn going to and from class. So it started to occur to me, slowly at first, and then all at once at the end, that black guys were more appreciative of my physique than white guys. One night at one of those parties, I wondered if Mandingo was also appreciative of my physique. There was only one way to find out, I thought, as I sipped a mix of gin and juice that was mostly gin. I watched him finish up his set and then boldly elbowed my way to the front of the crowd. Fuck who I like, I thought, i’s time to find out who likes me.

“You got some sweet moves,” I shouted to him over the music, “you wanna show me your sweet moves?”

“Hell yeah,” he said, grabbing my hand and leading me to a less crowded part of the dance floor. He took his place behind me as the DJ spun Snoop Dogg’s (this was before he became Snoop Lion) Lawdy Dawdy We Likes to Party, and we fell into a groove. “Come outside and get some air with me,” he said as the song finished.

“OK,” I let him lead me out a back door into the alley behind the club.

“Thanks,” he said once we were in the alley, “I can’t be seen ‘fraternizing with the guests’ in there, y’know.”

“I get it,” I said, reaching into my bag to pull out a pack of cigarettes, “but you can fraternize the hell outta me right here.” I smiled, offering the pack to him. He shook his head no, so I lit up alone.

“You sound like an Italian.”

“I am an Italian,” I said between drags, “and you?”

“I’m black,” he laughed, “isn’t it obvious?”

“And I thought you were Scandinavian,” I said, “no, I mean, are you Creole, Jamacian, from down South, what?”

“Ohhhhhhhhhhh hell,” he said, “white girl knows her shit. I’m Creole. My real name’s Fabian.”

“I’m Cara.”

“Well Cara, you got a nice body. I mean that, I’m not just sayin’ it to push up on you.”

“Maybe I want you to push up on me,” I said, “maybe I think you pushin’ up on me would be just fine.”

“You know Mandingo’s just a stage name,” he laughed.

“And I ain’t lookin’ for any floor show,” I shot back, “I want Fabian, not the Mandingo.”

He pulled a bar napkin out of his back pocket and scribbled his name and phone number on it. “Are you sure?” He asked me. “Lotta white girls say they wanna, but then when shit get real, they get gone.”

“I’m not a lotta white girls,” I said, taking the bar napkin from him, “I’m nobody you met before.”

“Well I gotta get back in there and do another set before the manager come lookin’ for my ass.”

“Till the next episode, Fabian,” I said, shoving the napkin with his name & number in my bra.

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