Continuation of Clash of Cultures.
As a teenager, especially at just 15 years old, I was generally a little shy. Just maybe one level more shy than the average kid trying to find his way in the confusing maze of social interactions. And where girls came into my social interactions, my shyness increased an extra level. I was often oblivious to feminine flirtations. (Heck, I’m still pretty lost with that stuff.) When I did actually realize someone was flirting with me, it was usually 30 seconds after the fact.
While working at the Chic-a-burger, this 30-second-later realization happened fairly often. My obliviousness proved humorous to my coworkers: a couple of twenty-something local [black] men, an elderly Greek [white] man, and my step-dad [white].
“Man, she was flirtin’ hard with you.” – twenty-something guy.
“You need to learn to say, ‘Hey, baby.’” – twenty-something guy.
“She only came here to see you.” – twenty-something guy.
“Don’t you like girls?” – old man.
“You could have at least winked back at her, son.” – step-dad.
But my missing all this wasn’t just from my shyness. This was my first real job. I was often concentrating so hard on doing what I was supposed to be doing – that cash register was complicated – that thinking of the cute teenage girl talking to me as anything other than a customer to serve usually didn’t enter my mind.
There was one flirtatious event that I understood right from the beginning. One girl whacked me square in the face with the obvious bat.
The restaurant was closed – we had cleaned up and turned everything off for the night – and I was sitting outside at a concrete table waiting for my step-dad to finish whatever he was finishing up inside. It was around 9:30 in the evening, so the area was dark except for what dim light reached the sitting area from the street lights way over there and there.
There were no patrons left, and the only people even somewhat nearby were those walking past on the sidewalk. I was just sitting there, leaning back against the table, and a girl appeared out of nowhere. She was about my age, definitely not much older. “Hey,” she said.
I sat up and said, “Hey.”
“You work here, don’t you,” she asked.
“Yeah,” I said.
She was cute, and that made me extra nervous as a matter of course. And to be perfectly honest, she was black and I was white – in the 80s, in both our cultures, this was something non-trivial.
She sat down beside me and asked, “What’s your name?”
I told her.
“I’m Keisha,” she offered. Then we made some small talk about our schools, our families, etc. She did most of the talking, and she kept easing closer up to me until she was actually side-by-side against me. OK, this I caught pretty quick: she was definitely flirting with me. As she talked, she’d occasionally touch me, on the arm, on the leg, on the chest. My hands were to myself. I was hella nervous – no girl had ever flirted this blatantly with me before, especially when we had been talking only about two minutes. This encounter was years before I had read anything like “Dear Penthouse” letters.
Then she said, “Let me see your dick.”
“What?” I almost stammered.
She repeated the request.
Trying to sound completely neutral, not shocked, I asked, “Why?”
“’Cause I want to see.”
“Um, my dad is inside,” I jerked my head towards the restaurant, “and he’ll be out in a minute to take me home.” My hands were in my lap.
“Where do you live?” she asked.
“Out in the county.”
“I live over on Simon Street.”
My step-dad came out of the restaurant. He had a humored grin on his face when he saw me and this girl sitting there. She didn’t back off from me when he appeared. He knew me well enough to know, in just a glance, that I was completely out of my comfort zone. “We’ve got to go now, son.”
I slid away from the girl and stood up. “I’ve got to go.”
“OK,” she said, still sitting. “Bye.”
* * *
In my step-dad’s pickup truck, he commented, “Your face is red. You make a new girlfriend?”
He teased me a little, but he also listened to me describe the encounter, in full.
“You handled yourself just fine,” he said.
In the following months I worked at the Chick-a-burger, I saw that girl at the restaurant a few times, but we never again had so much as eye contact. And that was a relief for me. I wasn’t ready for the fast track with that sort of situation.
Continue: Clash of Cultures – Fighting