Dinner will be tense. You are not good at talking to people you don’t know.
A halfie will tell you that her parents met in the Movement. Back then, she’ll say, people thought it was a radical thing to do. It will sound like something her parents made her memorize. Your brother heard that one, too, and said, Sounds like a whole lot of Uncle Tomming to me. Don’t repeat this.
Put down your hamburger and say, It must have been hard.
It was, she will say.
She’ll appreciate your interest. She’ll tell you more. Black people, she will say, treat me real bad. That’s why I don’t like them. You’ll wonder how she feels about Dominicans. Don’t ask. Let her speak on it and when you’ve finished eating, walk back through the neighborhood. The skies will be magnificent. Pollutants have made Jersey sunsets one of the wonders of the world. Point it out. Touch her shoulder and say, Isn’t that nice?
Get serious. Watch TV, but stay alert. Sip some of the Bermudez your father left in the cabinet, which nobody touches. She’ll drink enough to make her brave. A local girl will have hips and a nice ass but won’t be quick about letting you touch her. She has to live in the same neighborhood as you do. She might just chill with you and then go home. She might kiss you and then leave. Or she might, if she’s reckless, give it up, but that’s rare. Kissing will suffice. A white girl might give it up right then. Don’t stop her. She’ll take her gum out of her mouth, stick it to the plastic sofa covers, and then move close to you. You have nice eyes, she might say.
Tell her that you love her hair, her skin, her lips, because, in truth, you love them more than you love your own.
She’ll say, I like Spanish guys, and even though you’ve never been to Spain, say, I like you. You’ll sound smooth.
You’ll be with her until about eight-thirty, and then she’ll want to wash up. In the bathroom, she’ll hum a song from the radio and her waist will keep the beat against the lip of the sink. Think of her old lady coming to get her, and imagine what she would say if she knew that her daughter had just lain under you and blown your name into your ear. While she’s in the bathroom, you might call one of your boys and say, Ya lo hice, cabrón. Or sit back on the couch and smile.
But usually it won’t work this way. Be prepared. She will not want to kiss you. Just cool it, she’ll say. The halfie might lean back and push you away. She will cross her arms and say, I hate my tits. Pretend to watch the TV, and then turn to her to stroke her hair, even though you know she’ll pull away again…