Savannah and Jonah vs. The World

wonder woman

I was four mimosas in when Malik decided to give us his take on black women being “hoes.” He stood up from his chair and slammed one of Savannah’s stemless wine glasses down on her dining room table. Loud enough to quiet the drunken dissent around us; commandeering enough to capture everyone’s attention; obnoxious enough to make my shimmery eyes roll.

“All I’m saying is!” he shouted, as if he were Moses delivering commandments from Mount Sinai, “we need to hold our black women to higher standards! I know I ain’t marrying nobody who been bustin’ it open out here!”

A few of the women threw their hands up and collapsed hopelessly into each other. Some of the guys burst into trios of head shakes and laughter. Malik basked in the glory of all the attention.  

“Well what if a woman just wants to explore her sexuality?” one of Savannah’s other friend’s asked, sweetly and innocently taking the bait. A precious little lamb being led to the slaughter. The whole room seemed to hold its breath in anticipation of his response as I took another sip of my pear mimosa — studying the sense of hope all over this poor girl’s face.

I, too, had been hopeful once about the possibility of converting a non-believer to the light. Of showing a card-carrying member of the Black Patriarchy that my views on black women’s sexuality were based simply on freedom, love and personal autonomy, then watching hearts and minds transform before my eyes. “Who knows,” I used to think. “Maybe one day the two of us will get a kick out of how hopelessly misogynistic he once was.” I wanted so badly for this little lamb to snooze safely inside her dream.

“I don’t give a fuck if she’s Marco Polo,” he said. “Ain’t no exploring bi-, women, welcome over here! ”

The room burst into a fit of commotion, and I totally understood why. I mean, come on, were they not entertained? This coon ass nigga would provide fodder for the group text for days. It’s not like there was some vast historical precedent of literally everyone trying to control black women without any repercussions, right? They’d probably think about it on the drive home from work the next day, and have a good hearty laugh to themselves about it. Ha. Ha. Ha ha ha. Oh, Malik, what a ham.

But for me? Myself? When it came to black women, I personally was not with the shits. Even less so when the shit was coming from a black man. And don’t let your girl be gone off the fruit juice and Andre.

I gathered my phone and my clutch and my pear mimosa, giving polite “excuse me’s” as I stepped over legs wrapped in chic textured tights; smiled and waved at no one in particular; suddenly dying to catch up with folks on the other side of the room. Almost as if, in that moment, there were nice feelings inside me. As if there were anything but flames dancing under my skin.  

My eyes landed on Sav’s as I moved through the maze of furniture, guests and fuck boys that lined her and Devin’s living room. She was busy Phylicia Rashad-ing in the breakfast room of their brand new house — bantering in French with a guest someone brought from Côte d’Ivoire and setting out a new charcuterie board — while keeping an ear to what was going on in the living room. You wouldn’t be able to tell from watching her, but I could tell that she wanted to fight that nigga too.

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Halle Berry

halle berry pic

Christopher moved to a place off campus right before we started our junior year at Howard. He said it was because he had “outgrown” student housing, but I was like, “nigga, you just couldn’t get student housing.” He smirked at me like it was cute that I thought I knew his business, but he didn’t try to refute my claim either. Christopher knew better than to debate me on facts.

He didn’t tell me about “the incident” at first because he didn’t want me to know that he was messing with some girl in the Annex, but of course Braden’s messy ass told me everything. How the girl had snuck Christopher in through a broken emergency exit, and how the two of them had fallen asleep afterward, and how they snuck back out at the exact time that Ms. Hadley, the resident director, happened to be lighting up a cigarette in the courtyard. Christopher came up with a semi-believable excuse about the girl having his asthma inhaler and him desperately needing to retrieve it at three in the morning, but when Ms. Hadley asked to see said inhaler, they both stood there patting empty pockets like “uhhhh, ummmm, I think…”

A week later the two of them got a letter saying their housing for the next school year was revoked. A little dramatic if you ask me, even for Ms. Hadley, but the decision was final and no amount of calls from Christopher’s parents could get him into a dorm. Fool spent the whole summer with his mom slapping the back of his neck every time she thought about it, and his dad telling him he was out his mind if he thought he would be spending any of his retirement reefer money to get him a “batchla pad” in D.C. “You out cha mind, boy. You better believe that.”

It was all talk though, because after two and a half months of uncharacteristically humble behavior, coming straight home after his internship and promising to pay them back after graduation, Mr. and Mrs. Beasley cut the check for first month’s rent and a deposit, and early that August Christopher hit me up saying he found a place in Northeast. An old brick row house that wasn’t too far from Gallaudet’s campus. The picture he sent showed a scraggly tree leaning in the front yard and some cracks in the mortar, but he said there was a fireplace and a basement and a backyard that had a “real romantic quality.” The kind of space that was just made for blowing L’s in the grass late at night.

“Cool,” I texted after he sent the pictures. “Congrats.”

“Thanks,” he said back with like 5 ellipses. “So, when you coming thru?”

“Never,” I answered with a single period.

He thought I was playing but the first week of school came and went, then midterms and homecoming and even Christmas break, all without me stepping foot inside “Hotel Montegro.” Christopher and Braden and the rest of the niggas he lived with started calling it “Hotel Montegro” shortly after they moved in, once it became hard to tell who actually lived there and who was just a friend crashing for the week. The name stuck and someone even made a social media account for it. They posted pictures of the towers they made from empty beer cans, wild shots from whatever party they had the night before, and stray earrings they found in between couch cushions the next morning.

I rolled my eyes every time he brought the place up and pretended like I didn’t have time for his lil den of iniquity. Like I was offended by condom wrappers or discarded blunt guts. Like I just didn’t fuck with Chris at all. But that wasn’t the real reason I hadn’t gone over there. None of those were the reasons at all.

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