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My Husband Had A Stroke… you can’t teach an old dog new tricks

He woke up at 4:45 A.M., screaming.

I jumped out of bed and asked in a panic, “What’s wrong?!”

He screamed again.

“Honey, what’s wrong?! Are you in pain?” I was thinking heart attack.

“Nooo!” he said, dragging out that little word.

I noticed he was sweating, but not profusely. I put my ear to his chest thinking I’d hear an erratic heartbeat – nope, seemed normal to my uneducated ear. My thoughts of a heart attacked lessened.

Again I asked if he was in pain.

Holding his head, he said, “I’m diz-zy. I can’t take it.”

That’s when I knew what it was – vertigo.

I’ve had vertigo once – never ever want to go through that again, but it doesn’t make you react the way Husband did. You may wake up, saying “whoa” or “what the fuck?!” but no screaming – at least from my experience anyway. So, why was he crying out like that?

He and I went to the main campus of Penn State University because of Family and Friends Weekend. We stopped at the Hampton Inn first then picked up the College Kid (CK) after her last class which was around 5:00 P.M. We swooped her up to stay with us overnight on Friday evening.

Back to Saturday morning when the scream happened.

The CK and I tried to get him up because he needed to pee. The bathroom was only a few feet away yet he couldn’t even attempt the try. In whatever he was going through, he did manage to squirm from a normal sleeping position from head of bed to foot, to laying across it. I encouraged him to calm down and let him know he was going through a temporary case of vertigo, but he was acting like a man baby – not hearing me at all.

I told him we have to call 911. “No!” he shouted. I was ready to slap him. Clearly, he was in a state of panic and in need of medical attention, yet he did not want help – like what were we supposed to do without emergency care? I knew one thing though – he was not gonna die on my watch – that’s for sure.

The CK said, “Dad, we have to call just in case something is wrong that we don’t know about. ” Man, how those words turned out to be so true.

While she kept her eye on him, I went down to the front desk and told Brandon (receptionist) about our situation. I could have called from my cell phone, but I wanted my face seen, and I wanted my husband’s name known other than just being a guest. Brandon called 911 and I gave him Husband’s name, my name, my cell number, and our room number for the paramedics.

I got back to the room where Husband was still writhing on the bed – eyes closed, holding his head, and very afraid. I dabbed him with a towel and before you knew it, the EMTs were knocking on room door 410 (for all you number playing folks).

They asked all the standard questions. When they asked for his medications, I gave a note with that particular information. I received a nod of approval for having it ready. Important lesson to everyone – know and readily have medical information handy.

Evangelical Community Hospital was only a four minute drive (if that) from the hotel.

We arrived at the E.R. where he was already being worked on. He had the sticky things all over his upper body, and he was still complaining about going to the bathroom. He was not allowed to stand – even with help, and he wasn’t allowed to relieve himself until after he had a CAT scan and then spoke with the doctor on call. Nurse Julie brought in a cart with a monitor attached. “What’s that for?” I asked. Well, apparently, that was for the doctor who would do the evaluation even though he was not in the facility.

After he was evaluated, he was given a container to  relieve himself. That didn’t work because he was not in a standing position and it was not practical. He was about to go, but not the way he’d hoped – poor thing was about to be introduced to a total invasion of privacy. Nurse Julie announced she would have to catheterize husband, and lifted his gown. At that point, the CK couldn’t get out of the room fast enough. “Ut, I don’t wanna see that; time for me to go!” The nurse and I chuckled then she went to work. I saw a rubber tube inserted into Husband’s penis that went in his bladder. Poor thing. His vocals were very different this time; more like a manly kind of grunt, showing all teeth as opposed to screaming like he wasn’t in control of his own body.  I felt bad for him and thought he would squeeze the life from my hand. There he was – room already spinning and now experiencing a foreign object going into his most manly part. However, he was instantly calmed as the liquid left his body. I’m being very graphic because these are all real things that one will go through. You need to be prepared.

After the ER, he was admitted to ICU (and stayed there for 2 days), which scared me, but it was explained that he had a minor stroke. This was determined after numerous tests, CAT scans, and a MRI. The doctor said it occurred in the cerebellum part of the brain, which controls equilibrium hence the aggressive case of vertigo (Bam! Just as I thought!). I asked the doc why did he get so emotional? He was upset and blaming himself for “messing up” our weekend. What’s wrong with him? I thought it was because he thought he was going to die (and I’m not ruling that out either), but whenever someone asked about his welfare, he’d just break into tears, which explains the emotional part of the brain. Deep.

Upon further explanation, it stunned me to find out this was not his first mini stroke – he’s had several! As the doctor spoke to me, in hindsight two signs were visible. I noticed a couple of months ago that he was holding his mouth in an abnormal way. I thought maybe his mouth/teeth were bothering him. When I questioned him, he shrugged it off. I never considered  a stroke and left it alone because his mouth eventually went back to normal.

Another time I noticed him stumbling (equilibrium was off), and I asked, “Why are you walking like that?” He said he was “just tired.” Both signs of mini strokes I missed. When you normally think of strokes, you think of the debilitating ones that leaves your face distorted and one side of your body useless – unless you are in the medical field or had it happen to you or someone you know then you could pick up on it right away. In my case, I was alert enough to notice a difference in his body, but not relate it to stroke symptoms.

So, for three days, Husband was fed through IV, and barely opened his eyes because of the vertigo. He was given medicine for nausea (because of dizziness) and to slow down the vertigo. It was only on Tuesday that he was able to open his eyes for long periods of time – thanks to medication. When I asked why he screamed the morning of, he said he thought he was falling. Imagine you wake from sleep, on your way to bathroom when all of a sudden you begin to fall and never land…. I think I would scream too.

During his four day stay, he was eventually able to keep his eyes open on day three and hold a complete conversation, sit up, eat solid food and walk to the bathroom with assistance of a walker. According to the doctors and nurses I spoke to, they all said the same thing about men not being able to handle illness, and I know mine did not handle this well. He’s never been hospitalized so this was a major blow to him. The staff was even impressed that, he at age 62, had never been hospitalized.

To keep this from happening again, he now has to swallow an aspirin every day of his life to help prevent blood clots. He is now prone to having another stroke if he does not stop smoking, which is “non-negotiable” according to Dr. Weber. Other contributing factors are: dangerous cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, stress, wife named Tillie….

Now, I’m not in the medical field at all, I’m just a simple chic from the ‘hood who enjoys sharing her God given gift of writing to inform and educate. This story is to make you all aware of how important it is to pay close attention to yourself and your loved ones – especially the ones you live with and look at on a daily basis. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you notice something that’s not quite right, take action. Each second wasted is the loss of blood cells – if we hadn’t called the ambulance when we did, Husband would have lost vital blood cells and could have died or had a severe stroke. Now that I have told you how I missed the signs, you have no excuse. I’m giving you what I missed – a twisted mouth, a loss of balance here and there when nothing is in the way. If you suspect something (and this may sound corny, but it’s a sure sign), tell them to repeat “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, ask who the president of the USA is, tell them to smile, and if that smile is crooked, get to the Emergency Room right away – don’t let them tell you what they don’t want to do – you be the decision maker and save their life because a panicky person cannot make rational decisions.

I’m a firm believer that prayer in numbers work. We thank everyone (and there were lots of you) who were genuinely concerned and prayed for Husband’s health and our safe traveling mercies back home. You showed this through phone calls, text messages, and visits – one of Husband’s friends drove the 3 hours from Philly with his girlfriend, just to see about him, which was quite touching. We are very fortunate to have such caring people in our lives.

Once the CK was returned to her dorm that same weekend, and I went back to the hotel room alone, I realized that I could have lost my husband. I looked around the room at his things and thanked God I didn’t have to go home without him.

A week later, Husband is progressing well. He uses a cane now, but still does everything he did before just on a slower basis. Doctors said he should recover completely and he appears to be on his way. A lot of tears were shed during this time.

This stroke stuff ain’t no joke, y’all and I’m telling you because we just lived through it. And if you don’t pay attention after reading this – you’re a fool.

Psalm 30:2 Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.

Thanks for readin’ my writin’ y’all.

 

 

 

Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

I engage in interesting and provocative conversations on a daily basis (I’m like a magnet; folks find me easy to talk to and appreciate my honesty). I get a glimpse into how you really feel about yourselves, and I must admit that some of you are your own worst critics, which begs me to ask this – how is it that self-deprecation wins over self-appreciation?

Answer: Because of feeling unworthy, which is stupid – but then maybe I just don’t get it. Doesn’t it take a lot from you (mentally) to feel disheartened day after day? Wouldn’t it be more mind healthy to compliment yourself – you know, that polite way to show praise, admiration, and flattery – toward self?

We applaud for others, we smile, and nod a sign of approval toward them too. We admire O.P.P (other people’s property), and even their goals and achievements. Yet, there are those who are still not satisfied with their own accomplishments until I reminded them of such.

What I’ve found in talking to others is that they are not where they want to be in life and where they are is not considered successful – but, by whose standards? It depends on one’s interpretation. Having reasonably good health, a great career, decent house, car, kids or not, spouse or not, money in the bank – all could be considered forms of success.

No matter what you go through on a daily basis and whatever your particular issues are, there is something decent in you that ought to be acknowledged by you.

You are someone’s everything. You may mean a little or a lot, but someone looks forward to seeing your face, hearing your voice, receiving your hug, and reading your Face Book posts – all because you have made a positive impact in their lives.

So, don’t be too hard on yourself that you can’t see your own self-worth. Start with the small stuff. Look in the mirror and get to know or dare I say, “like” the person you see. The one who’s done some terrible stuff in the past and the one going through whatever it is now; there is plenty of good in you. I’m sure you don’t have to dig deep to find it.

The Book of Proverbs is a guide to help us live happy and peaceful lives. Check it out and be blessed.

Thank you for readin’ my writin’.

Hidden Figures Hidden From The World

History has taught me through all levels of school (elementary, Jr. high, and high) about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks. I didn’t learn necessarily in that order, but they were the first three black icons to come to mind in reference to this blog. However, and later in life, I would find there were plenty others never to be mentioned.

School history did not teach me that Mrs. Rosa Parks was not the first black to defy the law of sitting in the back of the bus and getting arrested for the same.
Bayard Rustin, an openly gay black Civil Rights leader who organized the March on Washington, D.C. way back in 1963, sat in defiance before the legendary
Mrs. Rosa Parks. He was arrested for the same act, but it was not widely publicized because he was gay, black, and a man, which is another part of history I did not learn in school, but instead as an adult and from PBS (Public Broadcasting Service).

Two weekends ago my daughter and I saw the movie, Hidden Figures, along with a number of other teenagers, parents, and sorority sisters who were all a part of
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and ASCEND, the mentoring program. The AKA’s arranged for us to have a theater to ourselves, and after the movie was shown there was a question and answer session from Mildred Johnson, sister-in-law of the last living survivor, Katherine Goble Johnson. Lonnie Johnson, husband to Mildred and brother of Katherine was also in attendance.

By now everyone in the country is familiar with the movie and the actors who portrayed the now famous ladies with the brilliant minds:
Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), Katherine Goble Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), and Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) helped send men to the moon and orbit the earth.

Now, I gotta admit that even though this was a feel good movie, I had an unsettling attitude that left me with many questions:

“Why am I just learning about these women? Why weren’t we taught about their astonishing accomplishments at the same time the nation was praising and celebrating astronauts?” I am 54 years old and I’m just now learning that three women were responsible for launching men into space? Anger.

“And whose methodical decision was it to purposely seal this part of history?” So, now I’m tapping my chin wondering who the hell I should be pissed with. I’m feeling some kind of way with the educational branch of government and whoever else had anything to do with omitting this story from the school curriculum and history books. Disappointment. Was this a systematic way of suppressing the next generations of Jacksons, Goble Johnsons and Vaughans because these women were black? Nah, the government wouldn’t purposely do that (written with all the sarcasm I can muster), would it? Had this story not been withheld maybe there wouldn’t be a desperate awareness and need for students to become interested in S.T.E.M
(Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), which brings me to my next paragraph….

How in the world was the entire country left in the dark about this part of history that was hidden in plain sight? How could the country celebrate John Glenn when he first orbited the earth without mentioning what it took to get him there? He didn’t just get there on his own. He didn’t calculate all that needed to be considered – including that if calculations were off, he could have burned to death in his space craft or left to drift in outer space for all eternity. And Neil Armstrong may not have even landed and left his foot prints on the moon – had it not been for a few good women.

Only one 98 year old survivor remains. Anger, disappointment – and now sadness.

It was announced this past weekend that Eugene Cernan, last astronaut to land on the moon in 1972, had passed away.

John Glenn, the first American astronaut to orbit the earth, died in 2016 – the entire country heard of his triumphs and death.

Neil Armstrong, the first astronaut to walk on the moon died in 2012. The nation celebrated his historic accomplishment and then his death. As perpetually reported by Walter Cronkite who verbally wondered, “what there is to add to that.” Oh, there was a lot more to add, Mr. Cronkite 〈me whispering〉 but it was one of the country’s best kept secrets.

I’m not going through each person who was heralded and praised for going into space because with each one, I’d get a little more pissed – color me what you will, but they’ve had their lion’s share of praise and respect. I can’t help but wonder if it was ever nationally announced when Mary Jackson passed in 2005 at the age of 83 or
Dorothy Vaughan in 2008 at the age of 98. I knew nothing about either. How ’bout you – did you  know?

I am still softly angry, but at the same time so very proud of those incredibly talented women. When a question was asked about why this movie is just coming out, the answer was partly because they were women who went to work, did their jobs and weren’t looking for any recognition – women like any other woman who goes to work to support their families. I get it. It’s no big deal for me to do it; however, my job is in no way comparable to what theirs was. I don’t even like basic math! And yet these women were known as human computers! Can you even imagine being smarter or quicker than a computer – it’s almost unimaginable to a layman like myself – but they were, and according to Mrs. Goble Johnson’s sister in law, she is still mentally sharp at 98 years old. A feel good moment.

So, from this point forward, whenever I witness anything that has to do with aeronautics, astronautics, space or a space craft whether it be in a movie or on live T.V., I will proudly and forever know that three young women with exceptional minds had everything to do with it launching into space.

Thank you Mary Jackson (aerospace engineer).

Thank you Katherine Goble Johnson (physicist and mathematician).

Thank you Dorothy Vaughan (mathematician).

And thank you to the group of lesser known women who worked with the aforementioned, but are still as valuable.

So, I say shame on anyone who denied these women their due praises, accolades, awards, odes, interviews, and most important an acknowledged place in history.

Shame on NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration).

And shame, too, on the United States of America.

Jeremiah 22:3
This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed.

Thank you for readin’ my writin’.

The Storm; God’s Way of…..

We’re all busy with everyday life; moving about, parenting, going to work, school, appointments, volunteering, traveling, lollygagging, and serving our God.

We drive our vehicles into the ground, hop on public transportation, hail down taxis, hire Uber drivers, are Uber drivers, ride bikes, motorcycles, scooters, and oh, yeah, let’s not forget the latest sensation on wheels – hoverboards!

All of them needing a period of rest, which also means less pollution on the environment.

We’re always on the go and we don’t rest our bodies the way we should. We overwork ’em and then don’t get enough sleep (me) to properly maintain and sustain them.

Then God sends a snow storm.

Sure it’s a major inconvenience, but was it purposely designed to keep us housebound? To get some rest? To contemplate? To read His word? To get our homes in order? Has anyone other than me thought this is God’s way of telling us – no, forcing us to sit our azzes down and rest? “Shuddup and relax,” I imagine Him saying.

I mentioned to my kid that the storm is God’s way of forcing us to pause; slow down. God knew my body needed an additional day off. He also knew my car needed a break as well because it’s on the move every day like its owner. Most of the city is shut down. Some businesses were closed or delayed opening, which meant lost revenue.

Yesterday, my family (twenty-something of us) was supposed to have brunch at Relish restaurant to celebrate my nephew who graduated from the State Police Academy.  The restaurant called to say they, unfortunately, would be closed due to inclement weather. Yes, a disappointment, but I’m sure the cooks, managers, and other personnel needed and welcomed the break.

Yesterday, our church service was cancelled for the same reason. I believe Pastor along with everyone else appreciated the break too. We need to be refreshed and focused – God’s way of giving our minds a rest period.

And notice the subject title, I didn’t specify what type of storm. Whatever personal storm you’re going through, address it during this snow storm.

Psalm 46:10 (International Standard Version) in part reads, “Be in awe and know that I am God.”

God’s plan. Now y’all do with it what you will.

Thanks again for readin’ my writin’.

 

Snow Storm Hype…please

Here we go again.

The news media doing what it does best. Controlling our minds. Manipulating us into believing we got to get the milk, cheese, and eggs – all while shoving a microphone into someone’s face and peering down into their shopping cart asking the same old stupid questions they always ask during every pre-snow storm or blizzard.

Why do they do it? (Me whispering)… Maybe they’re in cahoots with supermarket chains and home improvement stores.

What’s more interesting is our panicky reaction. Why do we fall for the hype?

They got us all scrambling around, rushing to get gas when the tank is half full or better, going to grocery stores to stock up on junk food – because let’s face it, that’s what we’re supposed to do in this first Blizzard of 2016. Then they make us paranoid enough to go to home improvement stores for salt, shovels and snow blowers because it’s gonna be one hell of a Monster Storm and “you have to be prepared.” So, in keeping up with the Eye on the Storm, we’ll stay glued to our TVs for different reasons: to watch movies or the Wives with Knives marathons on the ID channel, to clear what’s on the DVR, or continue to watch the progression of The Deadly Storm (because we need to know when it will eventually end, right?). Sidebar: I got all those names from three different news stations.

As for me,  I’m not falling for the shelves are empty crap. I went to Aldi’s with The Kid because it’s pay day and that’s what we do. We didn’t do the supermarket because we wanted to run in and out, and not be around the paranoids. But, thanks to the news media hype – brainwashing everyone into thinking we’ll all starve to death if we don’t fill the  fridge – our trip wasn’t as simple as we had planned. The parking lot was filled to capacity. Folks were speeding around like they were on an open highway. And then to top it off, there were no more flat bread pizzas! – my sole reason for going. However, we weren’t too disappointed and we weren’t alone. We, along with plenty others, got our feel good grub: some other pizza, chocolate to go with the popcorn, ice cream, OJ – oh, and a few bags of frozen vegetables thrown in for good measure.

Earlier today a co-worker of mine told me she had already picked out her socks, blanket, comfort food, and plans of relaxation – we both got a good laugh when we agreed that showering may be a real possibility of being ignored this weekend…. Oh, please, I chuckle because I know some of you haven’t even showered today!

So, like some of you, The Kid and I are already getting our snow day on this evening by having food of no nutritional value (such a good mother) while enjoying Jurassic Park III and then Jurassic World.

But back to the title, I love the fresh snow. I think it’s one of God’s most beautiful gifts. However, it can be harmful and deadly too. So, whatever your pleasure is on this snowy weekend (don’t go into debt ordering from Amazon because you’re all comfy and cozy in your pajamas), enjoy the storm and stay safe and warm!

I thank you for readin’ my writin’.

 

 

 

 

 

DEATH OF A SPOUSE

A co-worker of mine has been mourning the death of her husband for little over a year now.

She mentioned how she has been crying continuously for over 365 days. She was teary eyed even at the beginning of our conversation.

“Why are you still crying everyday at this point?” I asked. She knew I wasn’t being insensitive; just my curious mind at work again.

Her answer: she still expects to see her husband, hear his laughter, smell him, and have him take care of things. She wonders why it happened to her family. Why was the love of her life who was only 46 years old taken from her?

All understandable points, and from that conversation comes this blog.

Halloween, October 31, 1993 – 22 years ago today when I was 31 years old, my mother died (I can say that word now). I thought my world would end; thought I wouldn’t be able to go on. After all, my mother was everything to my dad and my five siblings – she was our nucleus and the first we’ve ever lost in our close knit family. When I think back to that time, I remember how my mother consumed my thoughts every second of every day – did you understand what you just read? I said “every second of every day.” Can you imagine someone in your thoughts to that degree? Well, I did it – can’t say for how long though, which is probably why I didn’t properly mourn until six months later (finally broke down emotionally and took a month off work).

My father died 12 years later in 2005. I cried like a baby when he was in the hospital. I remember asking my nurse sister, Trish, “How long can he last like this?” A day. A week. A month. As long as his heart is strong, maybe longer than that. I cried harder. I prayed his heart would give out because I couldn’t stand to see him suffer as he was. I drove all the way home from Einstein Hospital with tears in my eyes; soon as I wiped them, they welled up again and at some point, I just stopped wiping and let ’em flow. Only God kept me from being in an accident. So, unlike my mom’s death, there was no waiting period for my dad. My grief was immediate.

We respond to grief differently even within the same family as I just demonstrated. We also grieve in our own time.

But unlike Z, I still have my husband so I don’t truly know the depth of what she’s feeling, although I can imagine. I get why she still cries. To be with someone you’ve shared a life with, had children with, went through some stuff with – I get it.

It’s inevitable that we all will experience the death of a loved one, but I want to focus on the death of a spouse. I don’t want to imagine my life without my husband and I’m so sure he feels exactly the same way. I’ve thought about life without him and I don’t particularly like the outlook. Even though we get on each others’ nerves to no end, we still do not want to live without each other. He’s already proven that he would be a total mess because I’ve seen his reaction when I went through hip surgery. I wasn’t even in the operating room, yet he was already freaked out, telling me he wouldn’t know what to do without me. And I feel the same way. We’ve been married for 17 years – we got time invested; he’s a habit to me and I’m a habit to him.

And now the questions.

If something were to happen to either of us, what would we do after the funeral? Once all the phone calls and text messages stop, and the cards no longer come in the mail? How would we deal with coming home expecting to see the other one when it’s not going to happen. What do I do with his car? His clothes? All his things? How long do I do nothing before I do something? At what point will the urge stop to buy birthday and father’s day cards? The unfinished or non-started household projects? And the two of us sharing financial situations – how to do deal with being the only one handling everything? All fearful and real thoughts.

There are so many things to consider and the questions keep coming, for instance, what do we do about missing our spouses and their presence? Privately and at family functions? How long do we grieve them; you don’t know if you’ve never lost one, right? And when should you begin dating (if that’s what you choose to do)? Will people look at you differently and expect you to live differently? When do you have sex again (well, that is a real consideration folks – don’t frown at me because I said it)? How do you stay strong for the children and then parent them by yourself? How would a mother raise her male child/children without their father? And how does a father handle a female child without the wife’s input? And what about the dog, cat, and the bird, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, paying the bills, reassuring each other in difficult times, which brings me to this as I’m typing – your spouse will not be there to help you deal with their own death. What do you think they’d say?

I could go on forever with this subject so let me stop here.

Death is a difficult and unwanted part of life that no one looks forward to it.

Z, I understand your tears and I thank you for allowing me to share part of your story.

I’ve Done It – Now It’s Your Turn

How can I get your attention – and keep it?

I’m not living in a fantasy world. I don’t expect everyone to find interest in my blogs and become followers, but I must admit it would be a wonderful thing if you did. I realize there are different strokes for different folks, which means you may not like my subject matter, my style of writing, the length of my writings, and blah, blah, blah…. That being said, I’d like to know how to get more of your attention, and that of your friends.

I recently re-read all the blogs I’ve ever written – all in one sitting – and you know what? I liked them; found ’em all enlightening, entertaining, and relevant – no matter the subject. Each one held my interest which is what made me want to read one right after the other.

Now, what I’d like you to do is revisit them as well – you know, refresh what you’ve already read or if you are new, acquaint yourself with my site.

When I created Writing is My Thang, the primary purpose was for me to write whatever came to this active mind of mine.

My goal, however, is a three-parter:
1) to see how you all respond and get your feedback, which is something I crave from you
2) to inspire you to work on your own goals whatever they may be. So many of you have expressed to me that you want to write. There is no magic remedy, “Just start writing. Do it.”
3) and finally, to get more than the 598 followers I currently have

Now, it’s perfectly fine to have followers who are only interested in reading and not responding. That’s cool; however, I’m interested in knowing your opinions on different subjects. Were you encouraged, entertained, informed, inspired or felt nothing at all? Aside from the nothing at all part, I have done all of those actions according to those of you who have ever responded.

Another thing. I want men!

Yes, I want men to find this site just as interesting as women do; interesting enough to pass on to others, and say to someone, “Hey, check out this blog that a friend of mine wrote.” Those words wouldn’t sound corny coming from the lips of men, right? If word is spread from men, that lets me know I got a good thing going here.

Right now, I have over 400 Facebook friends, but not all are followers. How can I get all of you/them on board?

Here’s what I think about those not following, but not necessarily in this order though:
1. You don’t give a damn about my opinion
2. You knew nothing about me having a blog site
3. You don’t know what the heck a blog is
4. You haven’t been invited to join (I’ll need your e-mail address for that)
5. You may be a “short burst” type reader and find my scribes too long

If you know me well enough, you know I always ask, “Wait, what?” “Why?” “How?” “Explain to me like I’m 5 years old,” and my two favorites, “Hunh?” and “How do you spell that?” I’m a detail kinda gal. I want to know things. At times, I’m inappropriately nosey or childishly curious. If you’ve had an operation, I want to see the scar – and some of you have shown them to me because and again, I’m naturally curious; always asking, “Can I see?” If you have a boil on your body, I want to see it and then bust it! Yeah, yuck, I know, but hey, I can admit things like that. Some of you are shaking your heads in agreement and laughing because you’ve told me about your boils, saw my excitement and then gawked when I asked to bust it! If it wasn’t on your ass, you probably would’ve let me at it!

To bring my point home; it is not unusual at all for me to question my non-followers. Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t mad if you don’t follow me, I’m just curious as to why you don’t. I’m trying to improve this thing called Writing is My Thang. I don’t want it to be a regular ole blog site. I want you to get excited when you hear or see that title.

I can’t leave without saying this: You know what I appreciate most? Your responses. To know that I’ve touched a nerve or your heart on any subject that warrants a reaction is a welcoming gesture to me. I can’t express the satisfaction I feel when you guys interact.

So, do me a favor, and go tell a friend.

I thank you.

Sneak Preview – Swap Party

“When are you gonna finish your book?”

I’m asked that question all the time, so to prove that I am really writing the sequel, I got a lil sumthin’ sumthin’ for you.

This is a raw (which means you may see an error or two) sneak preview chapter from the sequel of Office Antics & Sexual Liaisons. It picks up a while after one of the main characters, Gayle, had an affair with a married man. After she and her husband worked through therapy and began to rebuild their marriage, it is now time for her ex-lover to face his wife’s wrath as she comes face-to-face with the former object of her husband’s desire.

What you are about to read is the wife’s reaction after she found out in a most unsuspecting way. Is her reaction realistic? And what about him – the cheating husband? Did he respond in a way most men would?

It’s been a while since my last blog – I hope this is well worth the wait. Read on and include a comment at the end….but remember to enjoy.

“Do you even know this person?” Gayle asked, frowning at Caprice.

“Nope. Not at all.”

“Why are we visiting someone’s house if you don’t know ‘em?”

“Because she’s a friend of a colleague of Sebastian’s. Since this was a girly thing, he thought my girls and I would be interested. Did he think wrong?”

Gayle scoffed, “Well, he usually doesn’t. You and I have gone to more of his colleagues’ functions than he ever has. How many has he actually gone to?”

“A few.” Caprice counted on three fingers. “Those that involved pool sticks, a basketball, or a football — the ones typically not geared toward women.”

Gayle laughed. “I know that’s right. We’ve been to some interesting events because of your husband.”

“True that, and we’re going to have a good time at this one.” Caprice patted Gayle’s thigh. “You told me you’ve never been to a swap party before, so let’s go, take our stuff, get some other stuff in return, and enjoy it!”

“Did you bring any of Sebastian’s things?”

“Yup. Got a bag from him, one from me, and one of the babe’s stuff.”

“You got three bags? Dang, I only brought one.”

“Yeah, but look at the size of it.”

“I had a lot of things for the secondhand store that I never took, including candles, books, DVD’s, clothes and some other stuff.”

“Did you label them?” Caprice asked.

“Heck no!” Gayle joked. “Was I supposed to?”

“Gayle, you just don’t pay attention. I told you to tag your items.”

“Well, I must’ve forgotten. You’re lucky I’m even going with you. You know I don’t like to visit people’s homes when I don’t know ‘em.” Gayle readjusted herself in her seat. “Shoot, they might be some mass murderers who can’t wait to get us all up in there and chop our black asses up into tiny little pieces.” She rubbed her fingers together for effect. “Don’t you watch 48 Hours Mysteries?” she asked as if it were a requirement for everyone who owned televisions.

“Not every week like you do, no.” Caprice knew that was one of Gayle’s favorite shows. She was not to be bothered while it was on.

“Well, you should. Folks find very creative ways to slaughter people, and usually because of money or sex, sometimes both, depending on the episode.”

“Even if Sebastian is at his angriest with me, do you think he would send me out to be slaughtered by a colleague’s friend?” As an afterthought, she added, “And bring along two more unsuspecting people?”

“You never know. I’m just saying.” Gayle snuck a peek from the corner of her eye. “You two didn’t have an argument before he told you about this swap thingy, did you?”

“No, we didn’t,” Caprice said without blinking. “And it’s swap party, Gayle. My goodness! Why is it so hard to go out and have a good time with you without death being part of the scenario?”

“Because I don’t know this person. Not saying I got an ill omen type vibe, but you just never know.”

“Well, I say don’t put any negativity out there in the universe. It may come back at ya. You know what I’m sayin’?” Caprice looked in the rearview mirror. “See what I have been dealing with for our entire lives, Indirah?”

Indirah had been sitting quietly in the back seat, completely engrossed by Caprice’s and Gayle’s interaction. In one minute, they could be cursing each other out and the next, it was clearly evident how much they loved each other; especially when Gayle playfully touched Caprice’s face and said, I’m sorry. You know I love you. Or when Caprice affectionately touches Gayle’s thigh and shoulder. Indirah found their chemistry a rare thing – at least in her world. She’d never seen two mature women interact the way they did. Their connection was real. “I could definitely learn a lot about female relationships from you two,” she laughed. “You’re a riot together!”

Gayle turned around to face Indirah. “Truth be told, Little Girl, she really gets on my nerves.”

Indirah giggled in anticipation of Caprice’s witty come back.

“I take on pity cases all the time, sweetie. It’s part of my ministry.”

“Is that why you befriended Vernette?” Indirah asked in a childlike manner.

“Oooo!” Gayle almost choked on laughter.

“I’m sorry,” Indirah said. “I didn’t say that to be sarcastic.”

“It’s okay, baby. I know you didn’t mean anything by it. But to answer your question, yes. That girl needs a lot of help.”

“Seriously, Caprice? That girl needs Jesus.” Gayle did not want the conversation to be dominated by talk of the Reality TV Star. “So, Indirah,” she said, changing the subject, “you feel where I’m coming from about going to someone’s house you don’t know?”

“Well, Miss Gayle – I’m sorry – Gayle. I actually like visiting people’s homes. I like to see how everybody lives, from the richest to the in between to the lowest class – I’m fascinated by ‘em all.” She stared thoughtfully out the window as Caprice drove across the Betsy Ross bridge into Willingboro, New Jersey. “They all have stories of how they came to live where and how they do.”

Gayle touched Caprice’s leg and whispered, “See, I told you this young girl was deep.”

They drove in silence, looking out the windows and listening to the radio until they reached the correct block. “What’s the address again?” Caprice asked Gayle, referring to the directions of the GPS.

“Slow down, it’s right there,” Gayle said, pointing. “See the Welcome to My Party flag?”

“That’s beautiful. Where’d she ever find a flag like that? Would you look at the colors!”

“Damn the flag, Caprice! Hurry up and get the space in front of the house before that white car gets it!”

“I can’t fit in that tight spot.”

“Caprice, haven’t you learned anything about parking from me yet?”

“Would I say what I just did if I had?” Caprice put the car in park, waiting on the white car to make a move.

“HURRY! She’s about to get it! Move! Move your ass, Caprice! Get out!” Gayle jumped out and ran to the driver’s side.

Caprice knew to quickly move her short legs over to the passenger’s side before Gayle got in. In the process, she knocked her knee against the gear panel that separated the seats. “Ow!” she screamed. It wasn’t the first time she’d done this and it wasn’t the first time Gayle did that.

“Look at her! She ain’t even paying attention,” Gayle said about the driver as she jumped in the driver’s seat. “Caprice, I swear! I’ll never understand how you sit right up on the steering wheel! How can you drive this way?”

The driver of the white SUV stopped to answer a phone call, which gave Gayle time enough to swerve around the vehicle and skillfully back into the spot.

Indirah was shaking her head and patting her knees. “Dang, Gayle, you gangsta!”

“That, my dear, is how you steal a parking space.”

“You are so wild,” Caprice laughed while rubbing her knee. “I don’t know why you didn’t drive over here to begin with.”

“Well, you can best believe I’m driving back.”

“I love you guys, honest, I do.” Indirah said, as she sat back, smiling.

“I’m so glad we amuse you.” Caprice could tell her relationship with Gayle intrigued the young study. “Everybody got their bags?”

Indirah grabbed the shopping bags and held them up.

Caprice was satisfied and excited. “Good, let’s go inside and swap some stuff!”

The ladies exited the car and were surprised when the driver of the white SUV turned out to be a man. Apparently, he was dropping off a young lady who was attending the same function.

Gayle shook her head thinking what a sissy he was to let a woman steal his spot.
*********
The brick entry way to the house was lined with outdoor lights that formed a snake-like path to the front door. The house was the most modest on the block, but had the best looking enclosed porch by far.

At the doorway, the girls were greeted by the hostess – a naturally slim woman with deep dark chocolate skin. Her hair was in its natural state fashioned by an auburn colored two inch Afro. Her left eyebrow was tastefully decorated with a small eyebrow ring that was inserted above the brow with the tail exposed just underneath. Each earlobe was adorned with multiple earrings ranging from tiny to mid size that stopped at the middle of her small ears. The nose ring she wore glittered with every movement she made. She had a petite figure with a small, but shapely frame. The scent she wore was some type of soft musk oil – in short, she was a natural beauty.

“Hi, I’m Athena. Welcome to my home.” She stepped aside to let her guests in. Her cheeks displayed deep dimples.

“Oh, that’s so gracious of you,” Caprice responded. “My, you’re beautiful,” she said, in one blended word. “I’m Caprice and I was invited by-”

“I appreciate the compliment, and I know who you are,” Athena stated matter-of-factly. “Sebastian’s your husband.”

“Yes, you’re right.”

“I make it a point to at least know the primary person on my list. I don’t mean to offend, ladies,” she said to Gayle and Indirah, “but in my personal experience, folks usually bring other people at the last minute that I’m unaware of. You know how we do. Or if that’s not the case, they’ll end up ruining your party some other kind of way.”

“We’re glad to be here, Miss Athena, and we’re not offended and we won’t be the ones to ruin your party,” Indirah said.

Athena touched Indirah’s shoulder and said, “Call me Athena.” She smiled at the young girl’s childlike enthusiasm. “At least Caprice let me know she was bringing two other guests, which is fine, so you all don’t fit of that category.”

“Okay, then. Meet my friends in the flesh, Athena.” Caprice turned to Gayle and Indirah, and introduced them by name. It was Gayle’s suggestion to bring Indirah along since Megan was unavailable.

“Glad to meet you both.” With slightly muscular arms, she picked up the bags. Working out was an integral part of Athena’s daily ritual hence her toned body. “I’ll take these to the recreation room.” She looked inside the bags. “Everything labeled?”

Gayle responded before giving Caprice the chance to. “You realize how much effort goes into doing that shit? Yes, all items are labeled by sizes, artists, and candle scents—all of which are ready to be swapped.”

Caprice glanced at Gayle and whispered, “Why, you little liar!”

“I like you,” Athena said to Caprice. “You RSVP’d timely and made sure you and your friends tagged everything just as asked. Watch and see how many of the items are not labeled by other folks.” Athena winked. “Just watch.”

“I hear you,” Gayle said. “You know Negro females rarely do what they’re supposed to. But lead ‘em to another woman’s man and I’ll betcha they’ll label him as their own.”

Caprice shook her head. “Cool your tongue, Gayle. That was unnecessary.”

“C’mon in and get acquainted with everyone,” Athena urged. “I’m expecting a few more guests then we can get started.”

“You have a very nice home,” Indirah admired as she inhaled. “It smells good too.” She was enthusiastically smitten with everything about the house. She let out a loud gasp. “Oh my! Look at the winding banister! That’s the original wood, isn’t it?”

All three ladies stared at the young girl in amazement. Who knew someone her age would be interested in wood other than a man’s penis.

“Yeah, it is,” Athena laughed. “My husband is into the whole restoration of original wood thing.” She cleared her throat and spoke in a fake man’s voice, “Keep the real wood and framework. They don’t make stuff of this quality anymore.”

Light laughter broke out. Athena led the three ladies into the living room where a few guests were already gathered. The room was sizeable enough for a small crowd to move about comfortably. It was brightly decorated with cream colored leather furniture that was pushed against peach colored walls. The throw pillows were a mixture of metallic bright orange and rust that blended well with the caramel colored wood floor. A tasteful, but inexpensive area rug was perfectly placed in the center of the floor. Hanging above the table was a chandelier that captured all colors of the room.

The table was decorated with a matching set of burnt orange napkins and tablecloth, including plates tinted with orange and brown. There were different types of hot and cold appetizers, raw, fried, and grilled – whatever your taste buds, there was something for you.

The pleasant aroma of orange citrus matched the theme color of the room and the hostess’s outfit!

“Hot damn!” This girl is bad, Gayle thought to herself. The large pillows on the floor beckoned anyone brave enough to sit down on and able enough to get up on their own.

The “Orange Room” as Athena called it, had a positive effect on a person’s disposition. Where most people used safe colors, she chose bright iridescent colors not ordinarily seen in residential homes she’d been invited to. She experimented with all things, but never were the results shoddy or done in poor taste. What made her proudest was that she did all the decorating and designing within a reasonable budget. She shopped at second hand stores, consignment shops, and flea markets – sometimes driving miles and miles for bargains. Being a great negotiator, she never spent more than she had to, and if she did, the item had to be a one-of-kind-find (she once talked a seller into shaving off more than half off a sleigh bench she had seen online). Presentation was key in providing the best end result, which was evident in every room.

While her husband maintained the house by doing repairs himself, she was without limits to do her creative decorating. He had no problem walking into rooms that his wife brought to life with vibrant colors and styles. As long as he had cable, central air in the summer, heat in the winter, meals, and sex, he didn’t care what she did; however, his man cave was completely off limits. She had no input whatsoever and was fine with that decision.

“Ladies, please make yourselves at home and get your fill of everything. There are all sorts of beverages, including sugar free for my diabetic friends, in the container right in the corner over there, and gluten free food as well. If you need anything else, don’t hesitate to ask. I’m also open to making smoothies on demand. If food allergies are in the house, please let me know.” Athena clapped her hands together. “I’ll give another ten minutes and then the party can begin,” she stated and walked away.

“Wow! Do you believe all of this?” Caprice asked. “So, how do you think we’ll be slaughtered this afternoon, Gayle, huh?”

“I admit that I may have to retract what I said. She seems nice enough and very hospitable, but the night ain’t over yet. Something’s gonna happen—it always does.”

Caprice shook her head, thinking that if something does happen, it’ll be because Gayle brought it on herself with her skepticism and distrust of all things human.
“What can happen in a house this happy?” Indirah innocently asked. “I adore this house. She’s not afraid to be bold. That’s just what this house commands; dare to be different. Now, do you both see why I like visiting other people’s houses?” She looked around the room and extended her arms. “This is exactly why?”

“I see you’re quite taken,” Caprice said, while trying to decide on glazed meatballs, stuffed mushrooms, or bite sized crab cakes.

As the girls conversed and grubbed, more ladies joined the party in the Orange Room.
The hostess encouraged everyone to snack on as much as they wanted to and afterward go into the room where the swapping would take place.

By the time everyone filled their bellies with miniature delights and made way to the lower level toward the rec room, Athena had everything set and arranged by categories from vintage albums to candles, books to clothes and all things betwixt and between.

There was a collective gasp and a bunch of “Oh, wows!” when the ladies hit the rec room. Athena’s eclectic taste hit everyone above the neck as soon as they hit the door’s threshold.

The first thing they heard was Maxwell’s sensual moaning from his Urban Hang Suite CD. It didn’t matter that it was a romantic CD, Athena just loved herself some Maxwell. If you weren’t a fan, you would be by the time you left the party. Fast tempo would make everyone feel rushed which is why she chose a mild tempo sound. Having a relaxed head was good for conversation and swapping. Athena overheard someone joke about swapping husbands. Really? she thought to herself. Why the fascination?

Questions about the contractor came up.

“Who did this room?”

“What’s the number?”

“Will he travel to Philly?”

Athena was humble, and simply told everyone that she and her husband did everything to their house. They bought it together and it looked nothing remotely close to they way it did when they moved in. There was a closed off section down the hall that the hostess announced was her husband’s domain. “This area, including the bathroom is off limits, but you’re welcome to use the one upstairs.”

Once all the guests had finally gathered, Athena made sure everyone got to know everyone else by playing ice breakers games. The ladies seemed to have enjoyed mingling and conversing with someone other than the person they came with.

“So, how are you enjoying yourself, Gayle?” Caprice asked.

“Surprisingly, I’m having a pretty good time.” Gayle took a sip of tea. “And lovin’ this house,” she said, feeling a bit envious.

“Where’s Curious Indirah?” Caprice asked.

“I think she asked for a tour,” Gayle chuckled.

“You know, this house is nice and when you look at it, it’s really not that different than the one Sebastian and I live in. It’s just the way she decorated it after her husband remodeled.”

“Yeah, he’s got skills, no doubt. Maybe I should hire him.”

“You can always ask. You and Adrian will be moving next summer, so why not get his number and book him early?”

“I’m not so sure the house will be ready for us to move into by then.”

“Even if it’s not, just hold on to it. And by the way, I think it’s great your grandfather-in-law left y’all his house.”

“It is a generous gesture. I can’t wait to have an entire house compared to an apartment.”

“I know you hate to leave the apartment especially with having your garden on the roof.”

“I already told Adrian that I want a section of the yard for my garden. I don’t care what he does with the rest – he and the boys can figure that out.”

“I’m sure they won’t have a problem with that since it’s the size of a small school yard.”

“Yeah, but I’m so afraid we won’t be able to afford everything that comes with owning a house. I’m scared.”

“Of what?”

“In one word – taxes; another – repairs. I already looked up houses in that area, and boy-oh-boy, Caprice…. I’m gonna need a raise or a second job.” Gayle shook her head. “Seriously.”

“So, you’ll have to pay real estate taxes. Let’s not forget you won’t have a mortgage! What are you really afraid of?”

“It’s a huge obligation. I mean when something goes wrong, we can’t look to a landlord to solve our problems.”

“True that. You’ll just pay for repairs yourself like everyone else or get the guy here. This is something you already know so why are you trippin’? The house will belong to you and Adrian, and when your boys get old enough, it’ll be theirs. It’s something to pass on just like Pop-Pop did for Adrian. And Gayle, it is a beautiful house in a much better neighborhood hence the amount of taxes… girl, please.”

“But, I’ve never been responsible for a house – you feel me? And this is a huge one! Things go wrong and it’s expensive to get them fixed.”

“Gayle, you act like you’ve never had home responsibilities.”

“Not for one that my apartment could fit into!”

“Have you told Adrian about all this – I mean, your feelings of doubt?”

“Of course.”

“What does he say?”

“You know Adrian, he sees no problem. He’s looking forward to the move; says we’re both working and he’ll hustle to get another job if need be, but I really don’t want him busting his ass because of it.” She smiled. “I want my man around for a very long time.”

“I hear you, Gayle, but that’s what husbands do. If they didn’t do what it takes to keep their families well cared for, they feel useless, like they’re not doing their jobs as men.”

“No argument there. That’s Adrian all the way.”

“I’m sensing something else. What is it?”

“I’m not sure. I’m just a little worried.”

“Is something else going on?”

“Not at all.”

“Well, stop worrying then… unless you’re not telling everything.”

“I’m not holding back, trust me. I would tell you.”

“I know you would, but now, I’m concerned because you seem overly concerned.”

“What if we fail? What if the responsibility’s too much?”

“Gayle, where is your faith? Have you forgotten about passing your fears on to God?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“You act like you have. You see folks doing this every single day. Sebastian and I do it, Megan does it and by herself.”

“She don’t count. Money’s no issue for her.”

“You’re right, bad example.”

“What about that girl at work who has thirty days to move because her landlord decided after eight years of renting to her that she wants to sell. What’s gonna happen to her and her child?” Gayle asked sadly.

“Gayle, you will have no landlord to fear. Are you afraid of being put out in the streets again?” Caprice completely forgot about that time in Gayle’s life when she, her sister, and their mother got evicted when her father was sent to federal prison. Even though it happened a long time ago, she realized now that Gayle had apparently never gotten over it.

“Anything can go wrong. Suppose Adrian loses his job – suppose I lose mine? One of us wouldn’t be able to handle all the bills along with the boys?”

“That’s not going to happen again. Why are you thinking on those terms?”

“Because I’m a realist and it’s a real possibility.”

“Gayle, you are not going to be destitute and you’re certainly not in jeopardy of losing your job. CEO will see to it that you will always be gainfully employed. If his business goes down the drain, you before anyone else will have a job within the hour.” Caprice scoffed. “He’ll probably pay the real estate taxes you’re so concerned about considering the way he feels about you.”

“That’s a major exaggeration and you know it.”

“Whatever you say. On another note, if it’ll ease your mind, Sebastian threatens to evict me all the time. Told me I’m costing him money just by ambulating from room to room.” Caprice had to laugh at herself.

“Maybe you should be still, Caprice.” Gayle laughed. “You are detrimental to your own environment.”

“I know, right.”

The girls giggled together. Gayle pointed to two chairs that were housed in a corner. “Let’s sit. I’m tired.”

“Why have you been so tired lately? Stressing too much about the move?”

“It’s not lately, I’ve been tired for about two years now.”

“Stop playing.” Caprice couldn’t believe her ears.

“I’m serious.”

“Even before the affair?”

“Although he did energize me,” Gayle recalled with a smile, “yes, but well before then.”

“Really?”

“Yepper. But I chalk it all up to getting older, work everyday, sexing my husband and dealing with the boys.” She took a deep breath. “That’s enough to make any woman tired all the damned time.”

“And?” Was Caprice alluding to Gayle hiding a medical condition, perhaps?

“And what?” Gayle eyed Caprice suspiciously.

“Have you seen your doctor about your fatigue, Gayle?” Caprice looked to Gayle for an answer. “Well?”

“Nope.”

“ ‘Nope’? Athena was walking by and overheard them talking. “Why not?” she asked, concerned.

“Because I had other things on my mind at the time.” The affair. The anticipation of seeing him. The forbidden sex with someone other than her husband. “That’s why!”

Caprice leaned over and whispered in Gayle’s ear, out of Athena’s hearing range. “So, you mean to tell me that the only time you’ve sought medical attention was after the incident at work?”

Gayle was hesitant to admit it, but answered anyway. “‘Fraid so.”

Caprice was outdone and could not believe that her so-called level-headed friend was less than smart when it came to her health. As often as they spoke about their own welfare and being healthy to take care of their families, it was beyond crazy to Caprice that Gayle slacked on getting medical attention. She shook her head in exasperation.

Athena noticed Caprice’s disappointment and Gayle’s nonchalance, and decided to put her two cents in. “There are so many possibilities for you to be feeling the way you do; however, I suggest you get yourself checked out before you check out – permanently.”

“Thanks for being so blunt, Athena – I mean, really,” Gayle scoffed.

“Why pussyfoot around. You’re a grown ass woman who knows better. You’re not a child who needs her hand held and led to the doctor – c’mon, Gayle.” With that, Athena shrugged her shoulders and walked away.

“She’s absolutely right and you know it,” Caprice said. She leaned in on Gayle and whispered, “That little woman speaks the truth.”

Gayle rolled her eyes and said, “Yeah, but I didn’t ask that little woman for her input.”

“Right is right whether you asked for it or not. It does not change the fact that you are being irresponsible with your health.”

“Caprice, damn it, I know! I am well aware that I‘ve been neglectful,” Gayle snapped; mainly at herself for not addressing her own health issues.

* * * *
“CAPRICE! GAYLE!” Indirah ran in the house. “Come here, quick! You gotta see this!”

“Caprice and Gayle jumped up and ran after Indirah. Everyone else was just as curious and followed along.

When they reached outside, two men were in the middle of a tug-of-war involving a car. A tow truck was double parked in the middle of the street while the driver was arguing with the owner of the white SUV.

“I was sitting on the porch smoking when that truck rolled up and start attaching that gizmo to the white car. But what the tow truck driver didn’t realize was that someone was asleep in the back seat!” Indirah started to laugh. “And by the time the truck driver hooked the car and tilted it on the back wheels, that’s when the driver woke up, yelling and cursing. I mean they were going at it, calling each other all kinds of mofos. The car driver even threatened the truck driver, telling him how many different ways he would kick his ass!”

As Indirah continued with her story, the girl who came with the driver pushed her way through the crowd and cutely ran toward the car.

“What the hell is going on here?” The girl had a British accent.

Gayle laughed. “She ain’t even from theses parts.”

“Why is that trucked hooked up to my car?” the Brit asked.

“Ma’am because this is a repossession which means you or the owner have not paid the note for several months now. Are you the owner?”

“Say what?!” said the boyfriend. “This note is paid every month because I give her the paper to pay it.”

“How do you know she paid it? Did you walk her to the mailbox and see her mail the payment. Did you take her to the bank where you saw her exchange money for a receipt? Did you see her make an online payment?” Before the driver of the car could answer, the tow truck driver continued. “Look, man, I see this all the time. And not just with women; men do the same stupid shit.” The truck driver shook his head still amazed at the thought of people thinking they can drive without paying.

“Is he right, baby?” The guy turned to his girlfriend. “Do I have to walk your ass to the mailbox? Tell me you paid the bill and he’s making the first mistake of his career?” The boyfriend didn’t necessarily believe the repossessor had made a mistake. “Right?” he asked, looking at the girl.

“Sure, baby. I paid that note.”

“Every month?”

“Well, yeah,” she shrugged.

All the tow truck driver needed to hear was doubt. He stepped in between the man and woman. “Ma’am, here’s the paperwork. You can call the number that’s on it and they’ll let you know how to handle it from there.” He went ahead to finish with the hook up.

“Wait, I can pay you now. Please don’t take my car!”

The boyfriend shook his head. “Oh, now you wanna pay?”

The tow truck driver had enough and was ready to go. “It’s a little too late, ma’am. I suggest you take that money and pay the note to your financial institution—not me.”

“Explain why this car is being taken away when I give you money every month to pay the bill? What have you been doing with my money? You had me getting with this brother, who is only doing his job, because I thought he made a mistake while your trifling ass —”

“My trifling ass? Who are you calling trifling?”

It was on now. The truck driver took that as his out. He had seen this play out way too many times before.

Voices were raised and folks were coming to their front doors to see what all the fuss was about.

“I should have known better than to get involved with you, but that’s my fault. A big ass, fake nails, and all the weave God created, attracts stupid mofos like me every time! Yeah, I can admit I got caught up.”

The British girl moved closer to the guy’s face. “Well, how about all the times this big ass made you cry because your punk ass never had it done to you so good! And when these fake nails dug into your flesh and you liked it! And I got all this weave because this is what your insecure ass wanted and paid for!”

“Whatever! You’re cut – as in – off!”

“Whatever! Back at you! You’re stuck – as in – stupid! In case it didn’t hit your dumb ass yet — I live around the cor-ner, and you live in Phil-ly! How are you gonna get home?”

“You think you’re the only fat ass, fake nail an’ weave wearing sister there is?” He pulled out his cell phone. “Philly ain’t nothing but a bridge ride away – believe that.”

“Who would be interested in you other than me?! Dumbass!” she screamed.

“Go ‘head girl. Never liked that goth lipstick anyways.” He tapped the speaker button, purposely not to have the cell against his ear. It was a rare occasion that he held the phone against his ear for fear of supposed radiation. He didn’t believe in speaking through an earpiece either because of what he thought would cause cell phone cancer.

The girl took her boyfriend aside and stroked his back with one hand while she cupped his balls in the other.

He ended the call and put the phone away.

While the two of them were making up, the tow truck driver hopped in his vehicle and drove off with the repossessed white SUV in tow.

By then their audience grew tired and retreated into their homes.

“Whew!” Gayle flagged the couple and turned toward the house. “You believe that nonsense? What a couple of jackasses,” she said, shaking her head in disgust. “Caprice, we’ll continue with our conversation because I know you want to, but I need to pee-pee.” She turned to Indirah. “Where’s the bathroom? I know you know by now.”

“Sure do. Go up the winding staircase and follow the hallway – bathroom’s on the left.”

“See, told you she’d know.”

“Yeah, you definitely called that one,” Caprice laughed.

“Be right back.”

Gayle followed Indirah’s directions and went up the winding staircase. Once she got to the hallway, she noticed a line of pictures on both sides of the walls. She thought it odd that there was a lot of art work downstairs, but no family photos. Being naturally curious, she turned on the hall light to get a glimpse of Athena’s family. Is there anything this girl can’t do! She figured she must be into photography, too, because all the photos were in black and white. Aw, how cute – dog and cat playing together. The next photo was of a teenager shooting hoops. The third was of a guy with his back facing the camera, arms up, towering over the teenager. Gayle chuckled and thought, what a nice shot. There was also a shot of Athena in a marathon race. Gayle would have peeped the last frame, but her bladder prevented her from seeing it. She rushed into the midsize bathroom, took care of business, and on the way out, was finally able to ogle the last frame she missed. She bent down a little. “This must be her Mr. Fix It husband – lucky bastard.” Suddenly, she placed her hand in the middle of her chest. Her heart started to race. She shook her head and backed away, whispering, “No! No way, Jesus!” She looked down the hallway at the row of photos, starting again at the beginning. Recognition became more apparent like the way the husband’s right elbow was abnormally bent because it had been broken as a teenager. And his Afro phase when he let it grow slightly. Just like the current style of his wife’s hair. “Lord, why would you play with me this way? Why bring me to this place of all places? Why?!” Her heart pounded loud enough for her ears to throb. Surprise quickly turned to anger. What the hell had Caprice done, bringing her to the house of her ex-lover! She had to leave. Her breathing was becoming unsteady. Panic was about to take control and she couldn’t let that happen. “Not here, dear Lord! Oh my god, oh my god!” she repeated as she quickly descended the stairs, searching for Caprice. “Why would he cheat on her?” Gayle asked herself. She had too much pride to outwardly admit how naturally gorgeous her ex-lover’s wife is.

By then Caprice had made her way back to the area where she and Gayle were sitting before Indirah had scooped them up to go outside.

The hostess was in the middle of explaining the swapping rules when Gayle rudely pushed past her and grabbed Caprice’s wrist. “Come with me! Now!”

Athena stood there stunned; mouth wide open as the two women moved swiftly up the stairs and out the house.

Indirah was still sitting, wondering like everyone else, what the heck was going on.

Gayle’s foot steps could be heard above as she stomped her way out of the house toward Caprice’s car. “Gimme the keys.”

Curious, Athena followed the girls. “Hey, I was wondering what was going on with you two. Is everything okay?” She was genuinely concerned.

“Oh, hey. Gayle had a female issue going on that she wasn’t prepared for,” Caprice lied.

“Is that all? Girl, I have feminine products.”

“Well, she kinda messed her up clothes – not just her underwear. You don’t want your furniture ruined, do you?”

“No. I guess you’re right. I’m sure she wouldn’t have felt comfortable in that situation so it’s understandable.”

“Yeah, I think it’s best we leave. We had a really nice time and enjoyed your home. You are such an endearing hostess and I’m sorry we didn’t get the chance to swap. You can have our bags though.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, very. Again, thanks so much for your hospitality, Athena.”

“Listen, I feel bad you have to leave. Maybe you can come again – just the three of you and I’ll whip up a nice meal and we can have our own chat and chew session.”

“Um, let’s play it by ear for right now.” Caprice felt uncomfortable lying. “Let me get this girl home. Thanks again.”

“Sure. No problem,” Athena said as she waved bye to Caprice.

Caprice, always the calm one, turned to her friend. “Okay, Gayle, you’ve managed to embarrass us both. And for what this time? I swear I can’t take you anywhere.”

“Oh, you can’t?” Gayle put both hands on her hourglass-figure hips. “How I wish you hadn’t, especially this time! Do you have any idea whose house this is? Huh?”

Caprice was trying to figure out if Gayle was for real or if she was having an anxiety attack. “C’mon, Gayle. What?” She threw her hands in the air. “Let me guess. You decided that Athena is a serial killer after all and you realized you did see her on an episode of 48 Hours Mystery?” Caprice laughed and began walking back to the house because she realized she didn’t have her purse.

“Really, Caprice? Sometimes I hate it that you don’t question things enough.”

Caprice stopped in her tracks. “Okay, um, it’s obvious that your anger is misdirected, and you are about to get on my last nerve, Gayle Holmes. What would I question about this? What?! Should I have asked Sebastian the background of the hostess? Do a criminal history check for heaven’s sake? What, Gayle? You tell me.”

“I’m serious ‘Preese – just as serious as when I was body slammed against that file cabinet at work.”

Caprice grabbed Gayle’s hands. She knew then the seriousness of Gayle’s words.
“Why? What is it? What did you see in there?” Caprice gasped and put her hand over her mouth. The only thing that could make Gayle rush out of the house of someone she didn’t know, was if she knew someone else in the house.

Just as Gayle opened her mouth to answer, Indirah came running out of the house toward them. “Guys,” she said, nervously, “Wh-what’s happening?”

“Nothing, baby. Get in the car,” Gayle said. “We gotta go.”

“We’re leaving?” Indirah didn’t hide her disappointment.

Gayle and Caprice locked eyes. Caprice gasped as she finally figured it all out.

“But, our bags and the car keys are still inside.” Poor Indirah was being scared to death – of what she hadn’t figured out.

“Don’t worry about the swap bags. Caprice told Athena she could keep them. Let’s just go,” Gayle said.

“I wasn’t talking about the swap bags. I meant our handbags.” Indirah didn’t wait on a response. “I’ll get all of ‘em.” She stopped to look at the two women. “What do I say?”

“Absolutely nothing,” Caprice said, as she broke away from Gayle. “I’m going with you.”

“And I’ll be in the car,” Gayle responded without thinking, totally in another zone.

Caprice turned to Gayle with a frown. “Are you remedial? You can’t be in the car because you don’t have the key! Snap out of it, girl!”

Gayle laughed nervously. “True that,” she said, buried in her own thoughts. “Hurry up. I’m going crazy here.”

“You know what, go ‘head, baby,” Caprice nodded to Indirah. “I’ll catch up with you.”

Indirah slowly headed toward the house confused by what was going on. She looked backed and slowly shook her head. “Something ain’t right. Something just ain’t right.”

“Do you trust that girl as much as you like her?” Caprice asked Gayle.

“Yeah, I guess so. Why?”

“Because she’s gonna hear an earful in about five minutes.”

“I’d rather not discuss this in her presence.”

This, you say? You should have thought of that when you started your tirade against me.”

Gayle folded her arms and looked past Caprice, knowing an argument was about to ensue.

“How do you plan on explaining our sudden departure to the little girl then, huh?”

“I don’t – I don’t know, Caprice! You do it,” she yelled.

“Listen to me, woman. Don’t you ever blame me for some shit you got yourself involved in. This is your mess; not mine. How dare you even try to turn this on me!”

Gayle shot Caprice a spiteful look, but dared not say anything. After all, she knew she was the cause of Caprice’s reaction to defend herself.

“Now, I’m going into that house, grab our handbags and Indirah, and apologize again to this woman so she won’t think we’re the classless ghetto folk she made reference to earlier. And keep in mind that I did not sleep with that woman’s husband, Gayle, – you did!”

Gayle felt shameful after meeting perfect Athena. “Indeed, I did.” She had not completely forgiven herself for her role in the affair. And now she had a face to the once invisible woman. She gazed at the cracks in the pavement, knowing Caprice was right. Peering up from the ground, she came face to face with Indirah.

She was holding their purses and car keys. She looked confused. How could she have totally misjudged Gayle?

Gayle held her finger out to Indirah. “Fix your face, Little Girl.”

Next to Indirah stood Athena who was holding a bag with three take out trays of food. “You did what, Gayle?”

Gayle’s heart began to beat rapidly and then sank to the bottom of her feet. Her nerves were like sparks, fluttering throughout her body. She didn’t know how to respond – none of them did.

Athena asked again. Only closer to Gayle’s face. “You did what, Gayle?”

“So much for not ruining the party,” Indirah mumbled.

“You slept with my husband?”

“Guess this home wasn’t that happy after all.”

Caprice turned toward Indirah. Through clenched teeth, she whispered, “Little Girl, please keep your mouth shut. Now ain’t the time to hear from the peanut gallery.”

“I asked a question and I want an answer.” Athena looked Gayle up and down; sizing up the competition. “So, you’re the one….”

Caprice stepped in. “Athena… please….”

Gayle stood with her head held high, but said nothing while her ex-lover’s wife berated her in front of her best friend and the young girl she was a mentor to.

“Do you have any idea how you destroyed the trust in my marriage?” That went for her husband too who was going to get as good as she was giving to Gayle. Athena unknowingly shoved the bag of food into Indirah’s chest while she continued in on Gayle. “I’ve always had my suspicions, but no proof – until now.”

“Athena, we shouldn’t – not here,” Caprice interjected.

“Oh, no, Caprice? Where then? Or maybe, we should ask her! Gayle, where would you like to tell me all about the torrid affair you and my husband had, huh?”

Gayle remained silent. She knew at the time of the affair that she could have been ruining a marriage. A family. Hers and this lady’s here. And even though the affair has long since been over, it’s now time to relive it from a different perspective because the wife found out. Now, all this humiliation is going down in front of two people she really cared for.

Gayle and Caprice exchanged glances. Now, I’ve brought this innocent, Indirah, into my drama, Gayle thought.

“I’m sorry,” is all Gayle could muster. She had to appear in control for Indirah’s sake even though her previous actions were completely sinful.

Athena wanted more. “Tell you what. I’m gonna clear everyone from my house so that you and I can have a sit down. Because you will explain why you insinuated yourself between my husband and me, and between he and I in our bed.”

Gayle couldn’t believe that after everything she had gone through; the attack by Jonah at work, hospitalization, the confession to her husband, and going to marriage therapy – that she was at this point, reliving the affair that she hadn’t thought about in a good while. She wasn’t sure how to react. She really wanted to be angry and not accept Athena’s attitude, but Athena had every right to be upset. This was raw for her – coming face-to-face with her husband’s former mistress. Gayle realized she had to take it all from Athena, and she did just that. But she would only take so much and Athena would soon be aware of it. “I’m not stepping foot in your house again, Athena.” It felt surreal saying her name.

“Why not, Gayle?” She made sure to emphasize her name. “You stepped foot in my marriage.” Then all of a sudden, Athena snapped her fingers and chuckled. She had a light bulb moment. “That’s why the fuck you had to leave so abruptly – and rudely, I might add. You went to the bathroom and saw the pictures hanging on the wall!” Athena continued to laugh. “Oh, this shit is unbelievable.” No one paid too much attention when she pulled her cell phone from her pocket. “You recognized him, didn’t you?!” she said, inching even closer to Gayle’s face.

The phone call connected.

“I understand your anger right now, but please back away from my face,” Gayle said, as politely as she could.

Hey babe. I’m right around the corner – gonna stop to fill up then I’ll be home.
That’s all Athena needed to know.

“C’mon, Gayle. Thug it out, sistah. Were you this bashful when you met my husband at your secret places? Were you this reserved when you screwed him – when you fucked my man?”

“Alright, that’s enough,” Gayle said, becoming increasingly annoyed with every insulting comment directed at her. She would only take so much and time was quickly running out before the real Gayle emerged.

“You think so? Are you not curious to know what this cost the wife of the man you snuck around with? How it devastated her? I stand here and I look at you – another woman – who knowingly slept with a married man. I’m assuming you knew…. Am I wrong?”

“No. You’re not wrong,” Gayle snapped.

Athena thought back in time when things seemed off in her marriage. With every womanly intuition she had, she felt it but had no proof. She wasn’t the type to go searching because as she figured, it would all come out in time. She had noticed that their once healthy sex life had diminished, and how he no longer stared into her eyes – the eyes he once lovingly admired. “At the time I questioned my own femininity. My conversations. My looks. My spirit. My sexuality – my, everything! I wondered what was it about me that changed in his eyes. I just couldn’t figure it out,” she said, like she was searching for some sort of clue.

Caprice was caught up in her own thoughts. She was too logical at the moment. She needed Megan’s don’t-give-a-shit attitude right about now. She wouldn’t give a darn about either of their feelings as long as she could tell them both to shut the fuck up! Normally, that would’ve been Gayle’s perspective, but even she wasn’t herself and understandably so. Gayle was too calm. Caprice knew she would never allow anyone in her face like that. Caprice couldn’t think clearly. Here was one woman who is devastated by finding out who her husband had an affair with. Then there was her best friend struggling with how to react to the wife finding out. She knew Gayle was fuming inside. She also knew Gayle would say nothing comforting because there were no words of comfort to say to the wife. If anything, she would tell her the honest truth. And if Athena kept pushing, that’s exactly what she was about to get.

And Indirah, who Gayle had vowed to keep in her life because she had fallen in love with the girl, was witnessing the second most humiliating experience of Gayle’s adult life. It was a good thing she wasn’t there to see when Gayle was attacked by Jonah.

“Why, Gayle? Just answer to appease me.”

“It had nothing to do with you, Athena. I can believe that’s hard for you to understand, but hey, it’s true. Now you want the truth, I’m gonna give it to you and hope you accept it or at least make some sense of it. I do owe you that much.”

“Well, amen, sistah. I’m listening.”

Gayle took a deep breath. “Your husband and I were neighborhood friends. I knew his family; he knew mine. As a teenager, I had a crush on him, but I was too young and he reminded me of it all the time. When I got of age, I pursued him, but he still rejected me until we had an encounter that changed everything.”

Athena, although distraught, was intrigued.

Indirah was curious.

Caprice had to pee. But she knew Gayle would tear her in half if she even attempted to go back in that house.

Gayle continued to let it rip. What did she have to lose now? She and Adrian were finally fine. They had already gone through what Athena and her husband were about to go through. “It was my selfishness and what I wanted at the time. So, because of my persistence, he agreed to have lunch with me, which led to another…” Gayle paused. She didn’t want to further crush Athena’s feelings.

“I can handle it, Gayle,” she lied. “Continue.”

“It started after that and the next thing you know, Old Jed’s a millionaire.”

Caprice slapped her forehead. “Seriously, Gayle? The Beverly Hillbillies?”

Athena was not amused. “So, you add a little humor to a sensitive situation? I’m happy to know you find this entertaining.”

“What more do you want, Athena? I am terribly sorry for my part in hurting you and your marriage. I am sorry that I did this to another woman – coming from a woman who knows firsthand how this can destroy a person, a marriage. I profusely apologize for fuck-ing your husband – I am, but I don’t know what more to say or do. I can stand her and let you berate and scold me if that will satisfy you.” You can do anything but put your damned hands on me. “Do I feel bad – yes, terribly! I felt like shit when it was happening and I feel worse now even though it’s over and we’ve had no contact. Why do you think I reacted the way I did? You are a beautiful girl with an exciting personality. I see that now, but it was easy when there was no face. I didn’t have to consider it, but I do now – up close and personal. But, I honestly don’t know what to do next. It’s over!” In an exasperated whisper, Gayle asked Athena, “What more can I give you?”

“The truth, and you gave it to me.” Athena took a deep breath. She realized that Gayle could have come at her in a more aggressive way like telling her the ugly details of the affair that no wife wants to hear. She could have mentally taken her there, detailing telling how well her husband sexed another woman. She could have further insulted her by exposing how nasty he was and how the girlfriend usually got it better than the wife ever did. Or how many times they did it before it ended. The whens and wheres. Or how much he enjoyed eating her coochie. She inwardly thanked Gayle for sparing her the intimate truths. “I need to hear his truth now.” She turned to walk away, but not before grabbing Gayle’s hand in search of a wedding ring. “So, you did to your husband what I’m feeling now.” She looked at Gayle with complete contempt. “We were both innocent in this, Gayle!” Athena said in a low voice. “Neither of us deserved this.”

Everyone in Gayle’s camp was stunned at what just happened.

Caprice felt deeply saddened for Athena. To see the devastation and pain in her eyes was something she wouldn’t soon forget. She wanted to hug Athena several times during Gayle’s confession.

Indirah was disappointed in Gayle, but realized she was just a woman caught up. Sometimes it ain’t our fault, she thought, the heart wants want the heart wants. But she had already begun to love Gayle and Caprice, and would not judge – especially after the life she’s lived – one she had yet to reveal to either women.

After Athena’s departure, Gayle let out a heavy sigh. She began to cough uncontrollably. She was mentally exhausted, and was having a harder time with this than her body could handle, and her body was about to rebel. She grabbed Caprice’s hand. “I can’t breathe, ‘Preese.”

“Oh, my god! What’s wrong with her Caprice!” Indirah screamed.

“Alright, Little Girl, I need you to be as calm as you can and not freak out.” Caprice made eye contact with Indirah. “Are you with me?” No response. “Answer me!”

“Yes. I’m here.” Tears fell from her eyes as she watch Gayle grapple at her chest. “Please help her.”

“I will, but I need you to focus so I can tend to her.” Caprice snapped her fingers. “Go inside and ask Athena for a bottle of water. Pronto!

“I can do that. Okay. I, I got it,” she stammered.

Gayle forced a smile to lessen Indirah’s fears. Her heart was palpitating. She leaned against the car.

“Gayle, listen to me. Control your breathing. Look at me!” Caprice had been through plenty of anxiety attacks with Gayle and she knew exactly how to handle them.
Gayle’s body was at the trembling stage.

Caprice slowly slid her down the side of the car and onto the ground. “Gayle, stay with me now.” She looked for Indirah to dart from the house at any minute with the bottle of water. Instead she saw a line of women leaving Athena’s house. Apparently, she made good on her promise to clear everyone from her house, thinking Gayle would actually go back there. The women went in different directions toward their vehicles, and paid no attention to Caprice and Gayle.

Indirah came running with a bottle of water and a pillow. Athena was by her side. “What’s wrong with her?” she asked without compassion.

“She’s having an anxiety attack.”

Indirah quickly opened the car after realizing she never handed the keys over. She knew Gayle would not appreciate sitting on the dirty ground and that she and Caprice would hear about it later.

“Gayle, stand slowly and get in the car,” Caprice instructed.

“Oh, this is ridiculous,” Athena said. “Let’s get her inside the house until she calms down.”

“No!” Gayle choked. “No!”

Athena disregarded Gayle as the mistress, but saw her as a person with a medical condition in need. “Listen, I’m a registered nurse and you need to be stabilized, preferably in a quiet place.” She looked to Caprice. “Does she take meds for her condition?”

Caprice refused to give any medical information on her friend to Athena. “What she needs is to be calm and to control her breathing. If she can concentrate on that, she’ll be okay within a few minutes. Now, do you mind?”

Athena backed away with her hands up.

“Count, Caprice, count,” Gayle said through labored breathing.

Caprice placed one hand on Gayle’s back and rubbed in a circular motion. “Okay, baby. Let’s count. How high?” The chosen number was predicated on the severity of the attack; the higher the number, the worse the attack.

“Twenty.”

“That’s good, Gayle. Not too bad this time, huh?” Caprice smiled knowing this would be over shortly. She also knew her smile would soothe Gayle. And with that, the two best friends for life counted from twenty to zero in a slow rhythmic pace. By the time, they were down to ten, those witnessing this act could see the tension leave Gayle’s body.

“Wow! That’s absolutely amazing,” Indirah marveled, “even beautiful.”

Athena had mixed emotions, but displayed none. The nurse in her was concerned, but even she, the angry and betrayed wife, had to admit the bonding she saw between the two women was amazing.

Just as the situation had calmed, Athena’s husband pulled onto the driveway. Athena never let on that she and Gayle had a confrontation when she secretly dialed his number. She did so to find out how close he was to their home, and to make sure Gayle was still there by the time he arrived.

Athena made her way to greet him. “Come here, honey. I want you to meet a few guests of mine.”

“You know I’m not interested in meeting your people. I just wanna go inside – to my cave and chill, Tina.”

“I won’t keep you, but I think you may know them. C’mon, it’ll be quick. I promise.”

* * *

The short walk from the driveway to where Caprice’s car was parked took all of fifteen seconds.

Indirah was already seated in the back seat while Gayle and Caprice fussed over who was driving back to Philly.

“Driving eases my tension and you know this, Caprice.”

“I’d rather you relax while I do the driving.”

“This ain’t Greyhound, girl – I can do the driving.” Gayle chuckled.

Things appeared to be back to normal, which made Indirah happy – that is until Athena showed up with some man by her side. “Oh, shit.”

“Uh, ladies, excuse me,” Athena interrupted.

Caprice and Gayle stopped their laughter and focused on Athena. Standing next to her was him.

“Really, lady? You wanna do this in front of that girl sitting in the back seat?” Gayle asked.

“I would introduce you to my husband, but I have the distinct feeling you two already know each other.”

“What the hell are you doing, Tina?” he angrily asked.

“This is Caprice,” Athena went on, ignoring her husband and his mistress. “And sitting in the car is a sweet young lady named Indirah.” Athena shot Gayle a dirty look. “This is my husband, Lee Dorsett.”

Gayle never made eye contact and wasn’t planning on doing so. “Get in, Caprice. Let’s go.” Athena was playing dirty now, and Gayle would no longer have her friends be a part of her tangled web. “Had I known you were going to play this way, I wouldn’t have been so kind (she emphasized the d) in my explanation to you, but since you wanna play that way, little scorned wife, let me tell you how well he-”

“Come with me!” Lee snapped to his wife before Gayle could finish her thought. In anger he almost lifted his wife by one arm off the ground. Before shuffling her away, he heard, “Bitch,” from Gayle as she drove away.

And that was the last word that came from Gayle’s mouth as the ride home was in complete silence – not even the radio was playing – each woman deep in their own thoughts.
* * *
Meanwhile, Athena was pacing the floor, mad as hell.

He would not say a word. The most he would say was already said outside.

“Explain yourself,” she demanded.

“Explain what?”

“Oh, you really gonna stand there and pretend!” she screamed, “that you didn’t fuck that girl?!”

He wouldn’t admit to anything until he heard everything she had on him.

“Answer me, Lee. I am asking as your wife that you not do this to me – again.”

“You’re gonna believe what you already believe, Tina.”

“Oh, I’m gonna believe what I already believe? Even after you saw that girl standing right there – in OUR FACES?!” Athena got angrier with him by the second. How did he think he’d lie or weasel his way out of this? “Aren’t you the least bit curious what she told me?”

“Nope.” He knew he had to choose his limited amount of words carefully. His wife was no fool. Her mind was made up. He only wondered what form of punishment he’d received and when.

“Why not, Lee? She admitted you all had an affair. Yeah, she went into detail about how it began for her when she was a teenager who had a crush on you.”

So, Gayle did tell her. He was thinking damage control now. How do I spin this or should I even try?

“She knew your family. You knew hers. Even when she got older, you turned her down. Why, Lee?” she asked in a childlike manner. “She’s a good looking girl with hips and ass just the way you like ‘em.”

She definitely knows the truth and no matter what I say, she’s gonna believe what she was told, and why shouldn’t she?

“So, what made you eventually give in? Did she flaunt that ass in your face enough times that you just couldn’t resist? Was that it – the body, Lee? Did you fall out of love with this one?”

Will she leave me? She was breaking him down emotionally. He loved his wife. He didn’t want her to blame herself or feel inferior because of another woman. But still, he admitted nothing. He felt like shit because he saw her pain.

“Sit down!” she commanded as she finally quit pacing the floor.

He did. Will she expect me to leave?

“So, suppose I’m crazy enough to fall for your obvious lack of conversation – what do I do with the information your lover openly admitted to me about the affair you two had? Huh, Lee? What do I do with that?”

His physical response was to sit still and say nothing, which infuriated her. Down play it, but admit it happened.

“Okay then.” She began to remove her jewelry, starting with her eyebrow ring. From there she moved onto her left earlobe, removing the row of multiple earrings.
He stood up. “Tina, what are you doing?”

“I suggest you sit back down and enjoy the show.” She removed the earrings from the right earlobe and threw them all onto the floor. “After all, you created it – The Lee and Gayle Sexual Liaison. I’m just an extra, apparently.” Finally, she removed her nose ring and added that to the pile at her feet.

“Tina….”

After removing all nose rings, eyebrow piercings, and earrings, she started with her clothes.

Lee stood there speechless and put his head down for a second.

Wearing nothing but her panties, she slowly removed them and threw them directly in his face. “You bastard!” She stood butt naked with her hands on her hips. “This is what you married.” She spun around to give him a full view of her athletic body. She didn’t have the hips and ass the mistress had, but she was still very much alluring. “Now, tell me what it is about this body that turned you off?” She looked down at her naked self. “Oh, I have stretch marks from giving birth – to your son! Did ya girlfriend not have marks on her body?”

“Stop it, Tina. None of this is your fault.” What if she decides to have a fling or affair of her own?

“Is that an admission?”

“I am saying to you that you are to blame for nothing. I don’t want you feeling down on yourself. You think I’m enjoying this right now? Watching you suffer?” Better hide all the knives and tools….

“Then tell me what happened in our marriage,” she pleaded. “Do you know how humiliating this is for me?”

“Baby….” Was just being a man, but I can’t tell you that.

“You really won’t talk to me about it. Taking it to the grave, huh?”

As much as I can. He never respond; just stood there looking simple like the simpleton he was.

FUCK YOU, Lee! You hear me! Keep this bullshit to yourself – I do not care!”

He reached out to her. Damn!

She snatched away. “You may as well have killed me. That would be better than the hell I’m going through right now.” She left her clothes exactly where she dropped them, and left her husband standing there speechless. “You know, Lee, this is not what I signed up for when I chose you for my husband. I was honest, sincere, and knew I would continue to love you without ever cheating on you.” She placed her hand on the banister before climbing the stairs.

His eyes followed her body as she went toward the upper level. Her small frame still tight because she made sure to keep it that way for him – just so he wouldn’t stray. And still I did even though I’m crazy about that deep dark chocolate woman. They had a teenage son to consider. How do I explain to the boy when he sees his mother?

Athena yelled from upstairs. “I hope you enjoyed your time with her because I don’t know what’s gonna happen to us now.” A few seconds later she released all the hurt they had inflicted upon her.

Is she going to leave me? Blowing air from his cheeks, he bent down and carefully picked up her jewelry. He couldn’t resist chuckling at the thought of her wearing so many pairs of earrings. Why did she remove her nose ring for crying out loud? After placing the jewelry on the table in a decorative dish, he went back to remove her clothing from the floor. He placed them on the banister to take upstairs when he got the nerve to face her. He put one foot on the first step and his elbow on the wall. He couldn’t do it. He had never seen his wife in this way before. His actions had drained every bit of positive energy she proudly carried around. She had always been a strong and sometimes militant woman, and to see her reduced to the vulnerable person she was now was too much for him. He couldn’t be angry with Gayle, although he was curious as to how she managed to be invited to his house, and how she-

A slammed door broke his train of thought about Gayle. He could hear the loud sobs bellowing from his wife’s body that he couldn’t ignore. He didn’t feel good about himself. It wasn’t her fault for what she was going through, and it was less than fair that she be kept in the dark questioning herself and her body image. He headed up the stairs and then had a change of heart.

A few minutes later, Lee was sitting in his backyard, smoking what he deemed thee finest weed within the tri-state area of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania! As he inhaled and let the smoke invade his lungs, he thought about how he managed to turn Athena’s life upside down and how he had to make it right. He would reassure her that their marriage is his number one priority – in the morning.

What Double Hip Recovery is Really Like

Monday, June 23rd will be three months since my double hip replacement surgery. The first thing I must do is thank God for progress – something I say to anyone who asks about my recovery. When I think on these past three months and how my life, my mental state, my faith in God, and my renewed appreciation/love for my husband has evolved, I am so grateful.

Since surgery, I have experienced just about any emotion you can think of. Initially, I felt helpless; having to depend on Husband to do even the simplest task for me. As time went on, I became overly impatient; like the healing process wasn’t happening quickly enough even though I had been told by my in-home nurse and physical therapist that I was progressing extremely well during the first few weeks, and then later by my surgeon and out-patient therapist the same. There were times I thought I was depressed until I learned the real meaning of depression, which didn’t fit me. I do understand (now) why the nurses frequently asked that question. You can easily be suicidal or depressed if you don’t have a reliable support system. It was during those times when I just wanted to get up and go, knowing I couldn’t, and drive anywhere or run up and down the stairs like I used to – that’s when I wanted the implants out of my body. I cried because I could feel them when I’d rather not. For months I was frustrated sleeping on my back with a pillow under my knees (to relieve pressure from my hips) because it was impossible to sleep on my sides. I wanted to walk the way I did before experiencing the pain I endured. I cried some more because I wanted to be at the point of not noticing the difference in my body. “When am I not going to feel ’em?” I would ask Husband who couldn’t answer. “I just want to not know they’re there.” So, not only was I tripping; I was taking him on an emotional trip as well. However, I am encouraged in knowing I’ll eventually get to the point of feeling normal.

I thank God that He kept me alive and I survived surgery because as my doctor said, “You didn’t just have one surgery, you had two major surgeries.” I never thought about it that way. Today was the first time I looked up an actual hip surgery, which was something I made sure not to do prior to having it done. I couldn’t believe my small frame sustained the skin slicing and all the sawing, banging, and hammering that was involved – just the surgical instruments alone made the operating room, I’m sure, resemble a well equipped tool shed.

And when I think of where I am now, I praise God for keeping me infection free and with no signs of blood clots – all things associated with recovery. In real time though, three months ain’t long for what I’ve gone through. But, within that time, I was able to gauge my own progress by charting how long I used the walker (two weeks), when I could drive (seven weeks), when to leave the cane behind (9 weeks), when to wear sensible heels (ten weeks), and be able to side sleep on either hip (eleven weeks; no more sleeping on my back! I’m a side sleeper once again, y’all!). I frequently journal my progress, figuring I could help the doctor with estimations when a patient asks, “When can I do….” No one could tell me exactly when I would be able to do any of the aforementioned, which is why I tracked myself and decided when I felt comfortable enough to do them all.

I’ve progressed in ways that I can literally do a well-informed infomercial; however, still with all the progress I’ve made, I continue to have struggles. When I get tired, Husband tells me I look like I’m walking on stilts – and the ironic part is, I actually feel like I do. Sometimes, when I get out of bed, I forget about the titanium, which is good because it lets me know I’m healing properly. I have a tendency to rub my outer thighs now because they feel slightly different. And that’s another thing – my surgical lines (don’t call ’em scars because they’re not) have healed very nicely. I haven’t done anything special or bought a bunch of nonsense creams to remove marks. I kept the area clean and used Shea butter. I’m thankful that the doc had steady hands too; no zig zag lines on these hips! However, as I sit and write this, I know I’ve been sitting for far too long (it takes hours to write a blog). I can feel the titanium, letting me know I’m gonna regret not taking a standing break. And because I didn’t, I’ll most certainly be walking like I’m on stilts, and I say that with a :), which brings me to this – when folks see me for the first time, they are surprised that I’m walking sans assistance. One person told me they didn’t know what to expect – thought I’d be with a walker, looking all decrepit and whatnot. Really?

Another positive aspect of recovery is the well wishes I received from so many people (I am so blessed). I received so many cards that our mail lady asked Husband if someone died. I had visitors, Facebook messages, text messages, phone calls, and two edible arrangements sent. This is funny because one of seven “Sheilas” I know sent an edible arrangement – no surname included. I contacted six who said, “That’s nice but it wasn’t me.” The last Sheila I contacted was the one who sent it. Chuckles.

From my estimation, I may not be completely healed until a year or so post surgery, which will be March 31, 2015. At that time, I’m hoping to move about without feeling the implants and walking better than I was before surgery. I’m just guessing, y’all – I don’t know for sure.

One thing I’ve discovered in this journey is that I’ve helped by sharing my story and that is my goal. Many of you are experiencing similar medical situations. I’m glad to be in a position that allows me to honestly answer your questions. I’m telling you, this hip thing is so widespread and common that either you’ll go through it yourself or someone you know will. If this post has been helpful to you or if you enjoyed reading it, please let me know by responding or hitting the “like” icon.

Thank you for reading – pass it along!

My Double Hip Replacement

You are about to read an honest account of how it all went down.

In January of this year, I went to Rothman Institute because my lower back and lower extremities had been paining me for quite some time (so much so, that I was seriously contemplating retiring; didn’t feel as though I could go on in that way until 2017 – had sent away for my estimate and everything). After taking x-rays, I met with the doctor and the consultation went a lil’ something like this:

The doc pulled the x-rays up on the computer screen for both of us to see: left hip, right hip, pelvic area.

“Did she almost fall off the chair?” I asked myself. “Is this lady drunk?”

“You need to be on the table now!” she blurted out.

With eyebrows frowned and confusion in my head, I asked with attitude, “For what?”

“Hip replacement!”

Before I knew it, “What the fuck!” had escaped my lips!

My mind was racing with the following thoughts:

Don’t you have to be old for that? I’m too young! I got a 15 yr. old kid – we got things to do! My mom and dad didn’t even have hip replacement! For real though, Jesus?!

And then the real truth; I am in a lot of pain….

“I want it done,” I said.

And that is how it went down. The doctor explained that I had no cartilage in either hip and I was walking bone on bone – no cushion whatsoever, which explained everything. Bone had begun to grow on top of bone, causing bone spurs to form when cartilage is completely gone. When that happens, you can develop a limp when you walk – I did. I was really messed up with excruciating pain. Bones grinding together with no shock absorption – unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my entire life; however, I had been dealing with it. I continued on with my daily life: work, church, soccer mom for the kid, shopping and whatever else needed to be done until I could do it no longer.

February 2014, my husband and I met with the surgeon. He walked in the room and said, “Okay, where’s the 51 year old woman with the 80 year old hips!”

Doink! A comedian! That broke the ice and put us at ease. During the interview, we asked a host of questions (every time we thought of something, I wrote it down, including the lawsuits commercials). The surgeon was very thorough in his explanation of procedure, tools, and all things related. He asked how did I get to such a bad state. I told him I didn’t know; I needed him to tell me. He asked if I played sports or if I was ever injured. “Nope, was just a regular ole tomboy growing up – that’s about it.”

I asked if I could have both done at the same time. He said he would suggest it because he’s never seen so much arthritis in someone my age. He also explained that the pain I was experiencing then would be gone but replaced with surgery pain. I told him I could endure that because it would be temporary. That alone should give you an indication of how much pain I was actually living with. If he could’ve scheduled me for surgery the next day – I would’ve agreed to it.

During pre-op when you meet with several doctors, they all asked the same question, “How did this happen to you? You’re not old or overweight.” Well, maybe I am by five pounds or so, but I realize each one had to repeat the same questions for background information – but my answer remained the same, “I do not know! I need you all to tell me!” They couldn’t be sure whether it was hereditary or just the way God made me.

But there is something Wayne and I realized throughout the entire process; and I’m switching course here, but just stay with me. There was plenty of paperwork to complete and interviews to be had. And the one thing that we were so proud of was that we were there as husband and wife. I felt like I was signing my life away and when asked if I had an advanced directive, I said, “No. Now what?” They asked if I was married. “Yes, that’s my husband sitting right there.” If anything happened he would be the one to give a directive on my life! I looked at him and said, “You literally hold my life in your hands.” And it was the truth. If we weren’t married, the man I have been with for years, the father of my child, would not be able to make a decision for me if I couldn’t. He would be skipped as my next of kin- my siblings would have more say than he, and mind you, I come from a large family. Now what kind of funky sense would that make? Here I am with this man for over two decades and he can’t make a medical decision about my life when we make household decisions together and decisions involving our child? The man who would be, and is currently, my caregiver would be silenced in the eyes of medical services. To the naysayers about marriage, go through something like this and see just how important marriage is and how little you will matter by not being Mr. & Mrs. He’s my husband and I’m his wife. We are a team. Those words changed the entire tone of the room.

My sister mentioned that we are in love all over again. I might agree. I’ve never been the type to tell a man, “I love you,” but I have said it every dang day since my surgery – that and “thank you.” No matter what we’ve been through in our marriage, we’re at this stage now. The first day home from the hospital, I cried because it was beyond difficult for me to climb the steps. Once I got to the bathroom, I cried again being too afraid to get off the toilet without the lift. But right there with me, literally giving me his shoulder, saying, “I got you, babe. C’mon, I got you,” I knew I was okay. And when I had to shower using the chair he was right there washing my lower legs and feet (I could reach everything else), and afterward he cocoa buttered the same. I could not do this without him and I’ve thanked him every single day since, which is something coming from a woman who used to adamantly say, “I don’t need you!” Circumstances obviously changes and God has a way of shutting up the stupid from your mouth!

At this point, my loving husband has gone from being empathetic to a drill sargent. “Get up! Gotta keep those hips moving and that blood circulating! Did you exercise yet? Get up!” Needless to say I can’t wait for him to leave for work.

When my co-workers gave me a sendoff, they told me they had no idea of what I was going through. That’s because I didn’t tell anyone. I put up a brave front. It wasn’t for them to know. I was there to do a job; not complain about my health, but when I shut my door, no one knew what I went through behind that closed door. And when asked about me wearing heels. That was my preference. It would’ve been no more comfortable if I walked barefoot on cotton balls.

So, bring on all the jokes you can think of – heck, I’ve gotten a few good ones already and even some of my own. I’ll tell you something else too – I have a new appreciation for Steve Austin, Jaime Sommers, and Wolverine!

Hopefully, this has been helpful to you all because trust and believe, you or someone close to you could go through this same thing.

I can’t possibly continue this journey without God who gave me my husband. Make sure the person you’re with is the person you trust with your life.