Monique, the little sister


monique2“Are you scared of black girls?” Monique asked me, midway through our third date. She asked, I believe, because I’d only had the nerve for a goodnight kiss on our last two evenings out, politely declining her offers to “come upstairs for some hot chocolate.”

I smirked. “At this point, Monique, I think I’m scared of all girls.” I took a sip of chardonnay and asked, “Did you think maybe I hadn’t gone upstairs with you because I like you?”

“At this point, Knox,” she said, “I’m not sure anyone can really like anyone else. We’re all just going through the motions.”

That evening was my first look into Monique’s real psyche. Behind the assured veneer of the successful assistant DA, there was a woman who had been hurt enough times to never let herself get hurt again. She’d been an only child and was finally happy being self-reliant. She didn’t want to need anybody, period. Maybe I did like her.

We went back to her place afterwards, and she did indeed make me hot chocolate. In the immaculately designed living room of her starter-condo we fooled around for a while, but I didn’t spend the night, making an excuse about meetings the next morning.

“You are scared of black girls, aren’t you Knox?” Monique said, smiling through her disappointment.

“Why’s it have to be a race thing? Maybe I’m just scared of you.” I kissed her one last time at the door and went on my way.

I called her the next day and asked her to come to London with me the following weekend. “This client I have to meet with the week after, they’re flying me out first class. I’m going to switch the ticket to two economy seats and book it for a few days earlier. Have you ever been?”

“It’s a sweet thought Knox, but I don’t do impulsive.” She said.

“Wait, now you’re playing hard to get?” I said.

“I don’t play, Knox. Call me later.”

On a hunch, I switched the flight anyways. And sure enough, when I reiterated the pitch the next evening during dinner at my apartment, she was ready to buy in.

“Even though I already turned you down, you still went ahead changed your tickets?”

As I served her a slice of my entirely unfamous, home-cooked turkeyloaf, I said, “Well, I figure if you say no again, I could just stretch my legs out across the two seats and that would be kind of like first class, but really, I’d so much rather be sitting next to you.”

“Mmm. This is great, Knox,” she said, holding her fork in the air as she chewed. “How long is that flight again?”

After a beautiful spring weekend in London, I dropped Monique off at the tube station so she could fly back to Boston, telling her I’d see her in a few days. After which, I cruised through my meetings with more cheer than I’d had in years. That this-new-relationship-might-be-going-somewhere kind of optimism that you’re not supposed to let yourself feel, ever, because you don’t want to jinx it.

And sure enough, when I got back to Cambridge and called Monique up, she said she just wanted to be friends. “I like you a lot Knox. You make me laugh and make me feel good about myself and teach me things I didn’t know, which is something that I need in my life, but not something I want to mix with sex right now. Maybe someday down the line.”

And with that, I was resigned to be a big brother to Monique, to watch her run through guys who weren’t interested in a relationship either and to just be her friend, and confidant. Right before I left Boston for Seattle, Monique took me out for a drink to say goodbye.

Drunk, and a little sad, she asked, “Are you still waiting for me, Knox?”

“I guess I should have given up, huh?”

“If I could teach you how, I would,” she said, and rested her head on my shoulder. Monique could have taught me a lot, if I’d let her.

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