Leaning over the bathroom sink, I tried to ignore Johnny’s happy whistling in the next room.He was always out of tune.I scrubbed my face for the second time that day to get the oily residue left behind by my make-up.Spring was bringing on heat too early in the year and making my make-up run.I was drying my face on Johnny’s big fluffy towel when I saw a long strands of brown hair tucked away at the corner, almost covered by toiletries.I picked the hair and examined it.It looked familiar.It wasn’t mine for sure, I had short black hair.The owner had to have almost waist long hair.I firmly believed I had no jealous bone in my body so I tried to rationalize the discovery.Maybe it was his cleaning lady – wait – he didn’t have one.May be it was old hair left over months ago by some one night stand – no, it couldn’t be – Johnny was not a one-night stander, he didn’t seem the type.Then I remembered his ex-girlfriend had very long hair, a little darker in the photos I had seen of her but about the same length.
I walked into his bedroom and held up the hair.
“Has Jessica been coming around here to pick up her stuff?” I said careful not to sound accusatory.
“Hmm?” Johnny said.
“Does Jessica still come around here?” I asked him again, showing him the strands of hair.
“Whose hair is this?”I asked.
“Probably hers from a while back,” said after examining it closely.He took it and threw it in a trash can.He looked a little uncomfortable. “We have to get ready, we are running late.”
I thought he changed the subject a bit too soon but I was not in a fighting mood.We were having a nice day and I would not let strands of hair get in the way and even though my female intuition kept telling me to dig deeper, I let it go.
This happened three weeks ago.Today, I was calling his house trying to get a ride from him.I had been in fender bender accident that had given me the worst whiplash I had had in years.My back hurt so badly and my head ached from not having enough sleep.I had to wait hours for the cops to arrive and then drive to the police station to give my statement to the oh-so-efficient Detroit’s finest.Guess the cops were too busy chasing gang bangers to attend to a fender bender accident -thus my trip to the station.
Johnny’s phone was still ringing.It was Sunday morning.I was supposed to be at work that day at the hospital.I worked most Sunday mornings and I guess he would not be expecting me to call him till later in the evening after work.I was about to give up when someone picked up.It was a woman.
“Is Johnny there?” I asked.
“No he is not,” the lady said.
“Can I leave a message?” I asked.I assumed it was his sister, whom I had not met.Strange thing was, she sounded so akata-ish … er … sorry … African American.
“Could you tell him to call Irene when he gets in?”
“Of course,” she replied.
I hung up and lay down to nap.My back hurt so badly.I figured I would have to see a chiropractor the next day.Five minutes later my phone rang.It was the same woman.
“I don’t mean to be rude but is it okay if I ask you who you are?”
The hair on the back of neck stood straight.My stomach lurched forward as I realized my accident was not going to be the worst thing that would happen this week.
“I am Johnny’s girlfriend,” I answered.
“That’s strange,” the woman said, “I am his girlfriend.”
At that moment, I had the strand-of-hair incident flashback.I should have listened to my intuition.
“Jessica?” I asked.
“Yes, that’s me,” she replied.
“I was under the impression you broke up with him five months ago.”
“No, I didn’t,” she replied.Her voice was taut.She was beginning to sound distraught.
“Is Johnny in?” I asked again.
“Yes,” she said.
“Good.Don’t tell him I am coming over.He needs to explain this,” I said and hung up.
I dressed quickly and got into my beat-up car, which was in no shape for travel but at this point I had no choice.I needed to settle this sinking feeling in my stomach.You see, my life was divided into two: B. J. (Before Johnny) and A. J. (After Johnny).Before I met Johnny, it was just meaningless dates and acquaintances and then there was Johnny.It was like things made sense when I met him.We clicked instantly.And the fact he was good-looking did not hurt.When I met Johnny, all the noise in my head got quiet and I was happy, really happy…goofy happy…like a crazy person.I thought this is it; this is who I have been waiting for.
The knots in my stomach and the feeling in my heart were indescribable.Johnny was leading a double life.I made the twenty-five minute drive in fifteen minutes, ignored the front door and walked in through the garage door I knew was always open.
Johnny was sitting at the kitchen table with Jessica; his eyes took on a deer-in-the-headlights look as soon as I walked in.
“Who is she?” Jessica asked him.
“Yes, Johnny,” I countered, “Who am I?”
Johnny did not say a word.He stood up and walked to the living room.I did not blame him.No man should be made to ever encounter the situation playing out in his home at the moment.I took his seat across Jessica.I checked out her hair.Yep, the strand belonged to her alright.She was very light skinned and plump in a wholesome way.I am dark and slender. We were literarily as different as night and day. I guess Johnny likes both light and dark coffee.We looked at each other for a while and without saying a word to each other, we agreed the problem was not either of us.The problem was Johnny.Good old Johnny.The man I thought would rock my world till the day I die apparently was rocking another woman’s world.
“Johnny, come here, we are not finished with you yet,” Jessica yelled at him.
Johnny appeared and leaned on the door frame.This took me by surprise.You see, Johnny is a man’s man. He is very tall and masculine and every inch an Igbo man.He was very traditional and believed men and women had their places in life.He would not have tolerated that tone with me.This pissed me off.I just realized I was a second class citizen in his house.
“Why did you do this?” Jessica asked quietly.
“Because you said you did not want me any more!” he said pointing in her face.
“No I did not say that.”
“Yes you did.You wanted to leave me!” he replied.”I had no choice!”
“This means you go get yourself another woman immediately?Am I easily replaceable after all these years?” she asked, pointing at me.
“Don’t talk about me like I am not here,” I said tensely.
They both looked at me like they had forgotten I was there.Then suddenly, Jessica leapt from her chair and jumped on Johnny, they both began to wrestle. She was hitting him with her fists and Johnny was doing his best to dodge them.If I was not in so much pain, I would have laughed.I would have cried.I would have screamed at both of them to stop it.Instead, I picked up my car keys and left both of them still yelling and hitting.Unlike last night after my fender bender accident, I did not want to be there when the cops arrived.
This is a true story.