Red Flags

I approach the bar.

I am sure it is him on the lefthand side.

His tiny dreads are the same as in the pictures.

He is wearing a faded burgundy, similar to his profile.

He does not look like he is waiting for me, though,

As he is smiling, shaking his head playfully

At a beige woman standing near him,

Long dark hair, monochromatic clothes

She looks like everyone else.

Red flag

It takes me a while to catch his attention —

I have to brush my finger along his shoulder

For him to turn around in his seat

And smile, surprised, at my appearance.

Here I am.

We shuffle around, an awkward introductory hug,

I ask what he is drinking. How long he has been here.

The basic mundane questions. I try to easy my way into conversation.

He stares back a lot, smiling contentedly,

Asking “what?” Every now and then for me to repeat myself.

The music is loud in here.

We are talking about what states we have visited

When all of a sudden he pauses the conversation to say

“Man you are really beautiful. What ethnicity are you?”

Red flag.

I usually treat this question playfully.

I have heard it enough times that I can turn it into a game

The classic, biracial guessing game.

“I’m gonna let you try and figure that out while I order a drink.”

I smirk and turn my head away toward the bartender.

He does not probe further but does not continue the conversation.

I wait a long time for the waitress to come to me.

I order a whiskey or whatever. My wine buzz from earlier

Is fading fast. I keep asking questions.

They come to me jarringly. He does not ask me a lot about myself.

He just smiles and nods and welcomes

Any kind of attention as I try to keep my eyes light

And warm and invested.

Red flag.

We migrate over to the main seating area.

There are pool tables and lots of people clustered around.

For a moment I feel grateful to be part of

This crowded cacophony of social energy,

Sipping my whiskey as we talk about

His interest in acting and modeling and

Egyptian history.

Ok, cool.

I am listening, and then he pauses, steps back

And admires me from a leaning distance

Twirls me around in his mind

And gazes indulgently up and down

My outfit. He comments on my style,

The combination of florals and denim and leggings.

I mean, I agree. My style is bomb as fuck. But

I didn’t come all this way for that to be the

Center of attention. I want to talk about stories,

novels, movie plots, and philosophical ideas.

I want to probe and play with your mind,

Sapiosexuality before physicality. Yet

My interest is waning fast.

Red flag.

I’m getting tired of just standing there.

He mentions his love of vaping.

I suggest we go outside. He opens the door

And lets me walk first up the brightly lit stairs.

It is not until I reach the top and turn around

That I realize he has stopped midway on the steps

Smiling like a gleeful child. “God Damn.”

He says. He has been staring at my ass.

I laugh girlishly. What else is a girl to do

In the face of such blatant, manly

‘appreciation.’

Red flag.

We smoke outside, cucumber fumes.

The fresh air feels nice.

I try to steer our conversation toward

New subjects. Unsuccessfully.

At some point, I remind him

I cannot stay for much longer.

He pouts like a little boy.

“I will only be in town for a couple days. Let’s make this night last.”

His comments get more and more lascivious.

His eyes rove again and again over my body.

His hands start slipping, sliding, scaling my waistline.

Red flag. Red flag. Red flag.

I let him do these things to me. I do.

I let him. I try to enjoy them.

But I really just want to go home.

I came craving conversation and newness

Yet encountered, yet again

That leeching desire from a man

That only served to “leave me starving”

As Nayirah Waheed so aptly put it.

Her poem enters my mind several times that night.

Red flag.

Finally, I get home. After much coaxing and cajoling,

Prying my body away from his grasping hands,

My wryly smile stays plastered, placating, on my face,

At last until the car door snaps shut, and I am

Safe in a cocoon of silence and soft radio music.

My body tingles. But not pleasurably.

I crawl into bed, exhausted, though

I am not really that tired.

More so; Sad. Disillusioned. 

I had just wanted a good conversation

And ended up talking my way

Out of unwanted seduction

Yet again. I surrender.

I surrender. I give up. For now.

White Flag.

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