For seven or eight months, it stayed that way. RAM and I did no kissing, generally no touching unless we were on the dance floor, and not even a hug at the end of the night when he would walk me to my door and stand all up in my personal space to say good night and call me by my full government name. He’d smile that perfectly imperfect thing; I’d temporarily die from an unfulfilled longing, and I’d bolt away from him, trying to remain that good girlfriend I’d promised myself – and my boyfriend – that I was.
One night, Tony and I met up with RAM at a warehouse-turned-club for a Black Diamonds party on the West Side. The venue had a gigantic Buddha sitting in the middle of it. When we met RAM at the bar, something was different about him. He did his usual I -ain’t-trying-to-be-your-friend greeting, but this time his energy intertwined with mine more strongly than usual. I ran to the bathroom to escape it.
Eventually, I made my way back to the bar and found he’d disappeared. Maybe RAM had finally given up on me. Tony was gone, too. I spent the next hour trying to get a phone signal – pointless- and searching for Tony. I knew he hadn’t left me.
I was looking over a railing at the crowd below, contemplating heading home, when someone grabbed my elbow from behind and jerked me around.
“Ive been looking for you all night!” RAM yelled over the chorus of Jay-Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U. “Stop running from me!”
I was a split second from bellowing some bright feminist retort about who RAM thought he was, putting his hand on me uninvited, but I didn’t have a chance. He simultaneously yanked me to him and shoved me against the railing. He planted his lips on mine, slowly sucking my bottom lip first, then sticking his tongue square in my mouth like it belonged there. I didn’t even think about pushing him off me.
We kissed until I realized we were not alone and in a very public place. I pulled back and looked up at him with star-struck eyes. Something in my consciousness had shifted. Like the first time I had an orgasm, and realized what all the fuss was about. Yes, it was worth all the work, and the world is a better place because that feeling is possible. I also wanted to kick myself for waiting so long.
RAM looked back at me, his eyes equal parts confused, searching, and taunting. I had to know if I imagined what I felt. I stood on my tiptoes, grabbed the back of his bald head, and pulled him down to me. I know, I know, I had a boyfriend. But I wasn’t thinking about him at that moment. Plus, I’d already messed up. What was another kiss?
I recovered my common sense at the end of the night. Tony had long since left. I told him I wasn’t ready when he said he wanted go. RAM assured him I would get home safely. Tony looked at us and shook his head, told me to call if I needed anything. At all.
I was already inside the car, but RAM was holding the door open, waiting for an invitation. “Camron Zoe, do you want to take me home with you?” “I will go if you want me…….to,” he added when i didn’t answer for a full fifteen seconds.
I was someone’s girlfriend – not his. And just because I slipped down a slope didn’t mean I had to go tumbling down a mountain.
“No, I’m good,” I said, shaking my head. I didn’t mean it, but I tried to say it as if I did, if only because it was the right thing to well, say. Sometimes that’s half the battle.
Thump-thump went the traitor in my chest.
He said, “Oh-kay,” but what he meant was I’ll accept that for now, but I’ll be trying again later.
If later was sixty second, I was screwed, literally and figuratively. I reached for the door handle and pulled it shut before I changed my mind. As the cab pulled away, I had to stop myself from looking out the back window with longing.
Back at my apartment, safe and sound on my living-room couch alone. I did the same thing I’d done the night I met him: stayed up until daybreak thinking about my boyfriend….and RAM. I listened to Donnell Jones’s “Where I Wanna Be.” On repeat.
RAM called, and I answered, before the weekend was over (i.e, the next day). We didn’t talk about the Incident, just pretended the whole thing never happened. Perfect. we could go on as usual, as “just” friends. When I recapped the night to Cindy, I blamed it on the alcohol, but neither one of us had a drink that night.
I decided not to see RAM for awhile, although I didn’t tell him about my vow. And to his credit, he didn’t ask me to see me. And I didn’t call as much. Neither did he. I thought about him, though. Constantly. Went to visit my boyfriend one weekend and drove to his apartment blasting Luther’s “If Only for One Night”: “I won’t tell a soul, no one has to know……”
I did more pleading than I did singing.
But then I saw RAM again. I needed more than consequences to stop me. By then, I didn’t give a damn about karma’s boomerang.
I switched to Mint Condition’s, “What Kind of Man Would I be?”: “If we lay down tonight, it won’t justify throwing love aside…..”
It appealed to my sense of personal decency. It was all I had left.
That worked – for another month.
I broke up with my boyfriend.
And I began dating RAM.