“Just a Friend” Friends without Benefits

by Michael Oluwagbemi II

“I am sick and tired of this…”

“Of whom? Not me I suppose. You can’t be, I am innocent”

We both erupted in laughter – the shallow kind. Somewhere beneath our guts lay the unspoken truth. It is the collision of will versus passion; of what can be and what is. Anita spoke clearly but with dint of regret and sorrow in her voice. With the confidence and vivaciousness of a Nefertiti like figure she cuts in her olive colored skin meshed on well rounded curves, with flesh in the right places for boots, sitting on high cheek bones and long necks like those of a made for calendar models whom the Creator spent overtime on when discharging his duties at their making she could not be asked.

“I am sick of wanting something and not being able to get it”, she said.

Raising her hands up in exasperation she dashed across the room like a deer possessed by evil spirits. With my eyes firmly on this possessed body of hers, I could not but help feel the lift in between my legs. We’ve been here before. Yes, countless times; especially in the past few months. Things have changed very quickly between us. I think it is her last relationship, she thinks it is me growing on her. She never used to be needy; at least, so it seems. All those years while we built our friendship, I just assumed our sphere of attraction stopped at the couch in her well furnished apartment. Not a woman lacking in class, beauty, brilliance or taste- I had no better past time than to spar against this iconoclastic conservative on ideological wars that takes us through world politics, international affairs, military history and regional geography.

No woman could do it for me. While the other women in my life fed me in their own ways, Anita was the ultimate mind feeder. She repeatedly says she feeds off me, but I don’t believe her. She is the smarter of the two of us, and I must admit she is the only one that really makes sense. As my mind travels away from my other brain in between my legs, and as my lustful eyes removed from those devil curves and thinly veiled night gown she had on, I tried to make a quick retreat to her den room on the far left side of the room. I know somewhere stuck between those shelves that hung high behind the creative modernistic bar that we both built from scratch in her garage, was my favorite scotch. That will take my mind off the curves, and Anita’s latest connivance i.e. blackmail.

“Is it that I am not good enough for you?” She said; continuing – “I think this is some kind of plan; a mind game sort of”. Why else will a full blooded man like you- handsome, well read, and intelligent and I know, definitely a freak not want me? I know you are not gay, so I won’t even go there. But I also know you are smart enough to plan the most elaborate mind twisting game on a woman not in the know of your enormous capacity to be mischievous”. I am thinking this is going to be big now. “Well, this is no mind game my dear”, I said. “Ah-aah…” sensing utter disdain in her expression and her eyes, she sidesteps the stool as she sinks heavily into the sofa that stood at the edge of the room divider. “This is not a game? Convince me Michael, please do! Go ahead and make my day!”

What can I tell her now? Looking and speaking firmly like a queen pharaoh, she said with confidence and the pungent sarcasm that I have come to expect from this genius in drop dead gorgeous skin, “Even if you are afraid to break my heart, please do it. I’d rather have you break my heart than all these good for nothing guys out there. Even then, we will still be friends when it is all over. There is nothing to fear”. I don’t believe you Anita, no I don’t. I won’t fall for this, I saw it coming. I refuse. I know I have everything to lose, because either way I am screwed. But I cannot afford to lose my respect, clout and your friendship all at once. Okay, clout- yes, call it man ego. There is a certain clout that comes with being friends with a drop dead gorgeous lady; one, with beautiful friends herself, with no strings attached and on top of all that, one who desperately wants you.

I met Anita about five years ago. Just fresh out of college, our meeting was less memorable than our friendship. It was on a flight back from Denver. She had asked to take a sit beside me, as I had been on the plane on the connecting flight from Las Vegas where I had gone to spend my first Memorial Day vacation away from the hustle and bustle of Dallas Township. I had ton of fun, and lot of numbers to boot from the ladies in my blackberry. I couldn’t be asked- it is not every day these ladies come across a “successful, black man” – well not the super rich type- but I could afford a small mortgage back then and a car. That was all mattered as she settled beside me. I still had a little drink in my system, but my hazy eyes could make out the luscious curves the tight clingy dress she wore revealed; cleaving onto her skin like ant onto leaves and leaving enough room for my eyes to rove those beautiful legs of hers for the entire two hours.

But my first impression of beauty soon gave away very quickly to an appreciation of her character and brilliance as she engaged me in what will become our first of many enriching conversations. She was a mother of one daughter she told me; just freshly divorced and relocated to Dallas from California. She had moved to cash in the property she inherited from her Uncle who died with tons of money made in Silicon Valley, and who left her a pretty house in SoCal. In the eyes and high of the real estate bubble of those years, she felt it was the perfect time to cash in; especially, since her disgruntled ex-husband had asked out of their eight year union. She kept her daughter, Myla- my own little princess, and moved to make a life out for herself in Texas. When I met her, she had just enrolled in an RN program, and worked full time as a CNA. She had given up school after her Associate Degree to care of her family, and now she has to build again.

I could never get it why bad things happen to good people; here was she -a truly balanced human being dealing with the pressures and unexpected turns life had dealt her. She was born in Vancouver BC, Canada to a Black father originally from the Nova Scotia region of Canada: descendants of early slaves, who have made a good living as merchants of the sea as the more tolerant Canadian society edged them ahead of their African American brethren down south. Her father moved to the western edges of Canada, an owner of a small shipping business, and got married to her mum, herself of Fijian extract. Her somewhat Pacific Islander mixed heritage is most visible in her sheen, nose, and height. Her voice, thinking and confidence comes down heavily on the Nubian side of her heritage which she however mends very well with her easy ways and nonchalant attitude uncommon in the women of the South where I had lived. She grew up in Tacoma, few miles away from Seattle. Her mother preferred the United States to Canada, having moved to the State of Washington when she was twelve. There, she and her husband raised Anita and her six siblings- a rather large family for these parts.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not like Anita is not my dream woman. In every respect but one she was my dream woman. No, I don’t have problem getting married to a divorcee. And No, I have no problem with raising another man’s child. I am a modern, liberated man. More so, I had grown used to Myla to the point that the only reason I could give in to Anita current blackmail will be my little girl: the angel that warms my heart and makes my day. You need to see her to believe it. She is every bit a miniature image of her mum. With her long, curly hair and bushy eye brows- she is a heart breaker waiting to happen. She is such a pleasant young lady; our best times together are spent walking the mall or park, or even a quick ride on track at the indoor go-kart pavilion close to my place for our shared passion of occasional jolt of adrenaline.

Myla is one tad bit smarter than her age. She is only eight, and she already confided in me she wants to grow up to be an Electrical Engineer just like me. She also wants to join the Navy, fly their planes in combat and end up as an astronaut with NASA. Knowing the daughter of whom she is, I will not be surprised if she ends up being everything and then some. I have been trying of late to spark her interest in the ongoing presidential election and she is already an Obama girl to the consternation of her neocon mum who we still find sitting on the wall. Myla is already weighing a Senate run in 2044 as an independent; she will be 44 years old and retired from NASA she posits. Rich she dreams, and ready to serve the country she loves so much. Never say never; better be prepared than late for Senator Myla from the State of Texas y’all.

With an MBA today after completing her RN a few years back, Anita is a successful black woman in charge of one of the biggest regional health centers in the DFW area. She had been through a lot also; so had I. She had been through heart breaks, more than I had been; but she also has been through some great relationships. We also share our stories. She knows of my trysts and my heart burns; but now they seem not to matter to her at all. To her, it is simply not worth it. Most of these men could not handle her success she posits, even when she is very artful not to blow her own trumpet. Sometimes I fault her extreme humility, but what can she do? She proclaims she enjoys the company of men, and wishes a father figure for Myla in the home- but many of these men are “fly by nights”. She thinks I have been all she wants for herself and Myla, and still can’t get why I haven’t sought to take this to the next level. Yes, she doesn’t get it.

It is not as if I have been a no-show when it comes to showing my affection to Anita. She knows as much as I admit that I am physically attracted to (and emotionally involved with) her. She is the first that will recall those moments of weakness when I planted a slippery wet kiss on her lips after a sultry night together at the spoken word club downtown, or the neighborhood pool parlor. Taken over by passion, I must have placed my hands on her well endowed hips a number of times and felt those luscious curves that make the African woman distinguishable in her rear, apart from all other races. A number of times, she confessed to what my voice, my body scent and my hands around her waist do to her body. But we knew better than to allow these moments of passion last longer than they should. At least then; I preferred friendship and she respected my choice. I had concluded as years wore on, that this status quo benefited me far more than what she wants today. I could have Myla, I could have Anita’s friendship, and yes, access to that large dating pool of her stunning friends and acquaintances. All these were side benefits of my life with Anita. And well she knows; she knows I won’t be married anytime soon. She knows I am thinking hard of becoming a priest. She knows it all; she knows this might be a wish- a wishful one for that matter.

As I sit here mulling my next move; I am confused. I replay the last five years. The experience and the alone times; the joys and the agonies; the regrets of soured times and bliss of reuniting after our little skirmishes; the highs and lows; the crests and the troughs- they all merge together right here and now. In her den room, like a proud lion of Africa, with my scotch in hand and my eyes on those curves…should I take the bait? What will Jesus do?

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Tams January 16, 2011 - 4:14 pm

Wow! interesting…very romantic story, i wonder what the final decision was. She sounds perfect for you…

Ebony June 29, 2009 - 3:39 am

It does not take 5 years to determine your intentions with her. Life goes on and it is too short. Stop being scared and get on with it. Do the right thing and marry her. Stop over analyzing and over thinking… That is how satan moves in and destroy the beautiful thing you two may have.

9JahBabe July 18, 2008 - 4:45 pm

If she’s everything you want and more, what the heck are you waiting for? The air we breathe is a risk and so is life. Go for it!!

Rosie June 12, 2008 - 10:15 pm

This is God Speaking: DO IT!

a reader June 12, 2008 - 9:31 am

eh, this one na love/lust nwantitin oh.

see long romantic story from a guy who normally stays in the political section!

na so e be.

omonikea@hotmail.com June 11, 2008 - 12:07 pm

Do it, do it, do it! Aaah love (sigh)! This is so romantic, I think you or your character should go for it and take the plunge, unless you have a hidden wife somewhere that we don’t know about…..

Please take a chance on love, I think you guys are great, maybe even perfect together, I think you’re soul-mates.

Ayo June 11, 2008 - 8:10 am

He’ll be pleased…


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