NOT THE REAL GUY, BUT REALLY, REALLY CLOSE
This is one of my favorite monologues from "BITTER." It was performed brilliantly by the wonderful and talented Kym Whitley.
The cable guy comes to my mother’s house today while I am preparing to return home to LA. He's a like a typical Oxnard guy: Ritchie Cunningham with flavor; an edge only acquired when you’ve been raised among the surfers, homeboys and homies. He could hang with anybody, and it seems he’d like to start with me. He says, “This is a beautiful home!” But he’s not looking at its furnishings, he’s staring at mine. His eyes have not left my perfectly and purposely positioned cleavage. I laugh out loud. I’m sure I should be calling his supervisor to complain, but I’m not offended. It’s been so long since anyone has flirted with me that I am flattered. Hell, I’m grateful. He’s been in the house for 30 seconds, and I’m contemplating telling him that these beauties can be his.
I lead him to the den and sit (oh so delicately) on the couch. I place my Bichon, George on my lap and stroke him gently and (oh so lovingly). And as the cable guy’s checking out the cable box, I’m thinking, “There’s another box that needs tending over here, sir!!” I remember the romance novels I would sneak from my sister’s room. The heroines were never aggressive. They were subtle. They knew how to look at the cable guy, in that special way that said they wanted him without ever having to say a word. I try ‘the look’ on the cable guy. My eyes go aflutter as I lean in close. So close that I can smell the Doritos he had for lunch. I ask, “How long do you think this will take?” And while I’m not listening to his response, I’m wondering what he’d be like in bed.
But he ain’t cute. My stud looks like the love child of Tom Arnold and Jim Gaffigan (sorry guys). Chubby and white with apple red cheeks and the reddest neck I’ve ever seen. I wonder what our bi-racial love child would look like. Would our child--my child be so red?
I lead the cable guy to my mother’s bedroom to check out the wiring. We’re in dangerous territory, but I maintain a safe distance, all the while sniffing his scent. It’s a little too earthy and greasy for me. But it’s manly, and I like that. My back straightens. My breasts perk up. But his back is turned, and the moment is wasted on me and my mother’s mirror.
I lean against the dresser with my back perfectly arched, and in my breathy bedroom voice I ask, “Where do you live?”
He smiles, and says, “Fillmore!”
Oh, God. Fillmore. I start to think of Little Rock circa 1957 but without all the Black people.
He continues,” It’s been real hot this summer. Average temp’s been about 104!” He wipes his brow and I see that the mere mention of heat causes the blood to rush to his neck which now turns plum red. And for the first time in my life, I understand the term, ‘red neck.’
And I’m kinda over it, but I want my fantasy to play on. I watch as he fiddles with the wires. He’s nimble. His fingers are long and cleaner than I expect; I envision them touching me where I need to be touched.
“Yeah, I know,” I say, “It’s been a really hot summer!” And he knows I know what he knows because I’m giving my dog way too much affection to be loving anyone human. I’m primed…and I could be his…I could be his this very moment, but now I am completely distracted by his redness.
He curses and stops his work saying he’ll have to come back because he doesn’t have the proper equipment today.
And I wanna say, “You’ve got all the equipment I need baby!” But again, the redness. He starts packing his bag, and his oversized jeans start to crawl down his ass, as he moonwalks his way out of my mother’s house.
“My name is Paul,” he says as he offers me his hand. His eyes are kind; hopeful.
And I think what I think when I encounter most men these days, “Maybe he’s the one!”
So what’s the problem? The redness. The Fillmoreness. The cable-guyness. Would this redneck man, make me into his redneck woman? Can a Black woman be a redneck? Would I suddenly morph into an All American Bud-drinking, baby on the hip-wearing, Chevy driving clone? I can’t. I can't do it.
I take his hand, “It’s very nice to meet you, Paul.” I’ll have my mom call to book a follow-up appointment when she’s available. And maybe I’ll see you around.”
He takes the brush-off much better than I do. I drive home along the coast listening to Gretchen Wilson and wondering if I could.