Tania was not certain what it was, or if it could be defined or quantified in some way, but the brotha had it, was wet with it. Like energy, like cool water being poured between breasts, like egg on sidewalk in Sahara heat was it.
Night, at The Color Purple, Tania found the man in the grand lobby of the Hobby Center in Houston, she on the ground level, he on the second floor terrace, by the bar. An animated crowd of patrons mingled around him, ordering drinks and snacks.
Time went fuzzy when he stepped through the people-like a man in a movie-down the wide, marble staircase between the floors and walked her way. And when he moved close enough for Tania to see the breadth of his shoulders, to smell the Bacardi and rum on his breath, to see her face in his mellow, brown eyes, she decided that the pursuit of any other man would be a waste of clock.
He stole her energy, this one. She remembered his introduction as, “Good evening, I’m Harold Busby the third. I’m an architect. That means I erect things.”
“Ha. Ha. Is that right? Well Harold Busby the third,” she said. “My name is Tania Westbrook. I’m a chemistry student. And that means I break things down.”
“I bet you do”. His voice was smooth, baritone and perfectly suited for a cleft-chin and square jaw. He was tall and brown and muscled in the way men were when serious about being muscled. She was freckled, tan, and dressed with wild, black hair that danced over the top of her back; fruit not far from the Halle Berry tree.
Closer, he whispered, “I’m going to marry you. But you already know this, don’t you?”
Tania absorbed the words, watched his lips move, thinking how nice it would be to reach them on her tiptoes. Then, she backed away, remembering her date at the bar where Harold just left. He was getting her a drink.
“Ah, I see,” Harold nodded, following her glance with his own. “But of course. “Why would a woman as beautiful as you be alone?”
“Is he at the bar?”
“Is who at the bar?”
“Your man Ms. Westbrooke.”
“My date is at the bar, yes.”
“What are you are drinking? Wait, don’t tell me. It’s Wednesday night, you probably have class tomorrow, so something easy, virgin perhaps.”
“A Sex on the Beach.” Tania interrupted.
“Ah! Well, I won’t touch that.”
“Hmm. Let me guess,” he said, tapping a finger on his chin and pivoting towards the bar on the terrace. A large assembly, mostly men now, stood in front of it, ordering. Harold smiled and directed her attention to a short, red headed, frumpy man in a navy blazer and brown slacks. His stomach bulged and jiggled when he walked. “Him?”
“You like to play games I see. But no, not him.”
“Okay, okay, just kidding.” Harold chuckled, pointed to a blond man in a pin-stripe black suit. The man was with a woman who doubled over in laughter at something he said. “Him.”
Tania shook her head. “I don’t think so.”
“Right, right.” Harold mocked a pensive look, then smiled and snapped a finger and said, “Ah-ha!”
“Ah-ha!” Tania followed, lowering her voice to match his.
He pointed to a portly, bespectacled man in stonewashed denim and asked, “Is that you?”
Tania grimaced as her date waved to her like a sailor waving bon voyage. In return, she raised her hand slowly until her eyes followed the glass in his hand drop to the floor and crash into a thousand little shards. A silver haired woman, who stood nearby, clutched her chest and fell, cutting her hands on pieces of glass. Several men, including Harold, rushed to the woman’s side as she yelled for help.
Tania lowered her head, pinched the area between her eyes and groaned, “No, that’s not me.”
It would be the last she would see of her date and the first she would see of Harold.
Dawn, seven days and ten hours later, after a night of B movies and giggles, they made love at his uptown apartment. They made love on Egyptian cotton, on granite countertops, on a thick, Tibetan wool rug, and in a sunken tub filled with eucalyptus bubble bath. They made love until the bed grew tired.
She remembered how he whispered her name for the first time- Tah-nee-ah- past her ear as he bit it. She screamed his in return and internally resolved that things did indeed grow bigger in Texas.
The next time he whispered anything, he did so at the altar of his father’s church. Eric Benet’s Spend My Life serenaded them over a rose petal path to a horse drawn carriage. Two snow-white doves, a male and a female raised together, were released from a powder blue, heart shaped basket. They circled each other for awhile, and then flew away in opposite directions.