￼This is mostly true, juiced a little to make it a tad more interesting. It's based on some real conversations, and what happened later; many liberties have been taken and timelines tweaked, but essentially autobiographical.
There's not a lot of explicit sex in this telling. It's mainly a reminiscence.
James was sitting at his table, looking very mellow, and not all that much different from the last time I'd seen him, a tad over ten years earlier. He was tall, even sitting, and he was enjoying a cigarette, something I'd forgotten.
I sat beside him, casually. He looked at me, inclining his head by way of greeting; it did not appear he recognized me.
"Hi, James," I said.
His eyes narrowed and focused on me; then, a grin broke out as he said, "Jeff, my man. How you been?" His rich bass voice was so comfortable, so familiar.
"Good," I said. "Main reason I came over here was to tell you something."
"Zat?" he asked, not seeming to care.
"You were right," I replied simply.
His eyes narrowed again; he inhaled from the cigarette, ciphering, thinking, knowing there was something he should know.
Finally it hit him. He chuckled, spewing little plumes of smoke as he did. He stubbed out the butt as he said, "I told you. You white boys all alike."
James and I attended the same high school, a consolidated affair servicing three small cities and their various suburbs (using the term loosely). I'd attended junior high in one town, he in another.
We'd not met right away, of course: we were culturally and academically divided, as I hung our with the white science-and-math crowd, and he kept with the slightly more diverse cluster of jocks. Integration was only a few years old, but our school seemed to ride out that storm pretty well. The few unfortunate incidents failed to prevent the student body from melding.
James and I shared one class as freshmen, and none as sophomores. It was during the summer before junior year that we became better acquainted.
My dad had been on me since late the previous school year to find summer employment. He was insistent I begin to pull some of my own weight; not that he'd have tossed me out, but he was trying to instill a work ethic.
My mother, through some contacts at her work, lined up an interview with the owner of a fast-food place, Tastee Burger. It was a DQ knock-off of sorts, in the years before McD and BK and Wendy swarmed the landscape, a time when a local, privately-owned business could do quite well, thank you, with no franchise assistance.
The owner was Lee Davis, a surprisingly short, thick man, a Marine veteran of the Korean War. He offered me a position that would put me behind the grill most evenings, at least during the summer travel season, and likely the occasional weekend day shift. I told him that would be just fine: I allowed how I'd been raised by people who loved to cook, and it had rubbed off on me, at least a little.
He was soft-spoken when we met, very polite and attentive, and as I discovered in the weeks that followed, perfectly capable of making R Lee Ermey sound like a Sunday School teacher (but that had nothing to do with this tale).
I reported for work on a Thursday afternoon, a few minutes before four p.m. I was greeted by two girls, Cathy and Edith, students in my school who had a fairly low opinion of me, and David, a twenty-one year old who was the evening manager.
"So I see you know these two," said David, thumbing toward the girls; they'd been giving me some shit, of a nature that indicated familiarity. "Now we need to wait for Widu," he continued, looking at his watch.
About that time the back door opened, and James walked in. "'Bout damn time," David said, grinning.
James looked at me and said, "Oh, you the new guy.'
David said, "Okay, I guess you know everyone, then. How come no one told me?" His grousing, I would come to find, was good-natured unless it wasn't, and you could tell when it wasn't.
There was a lull in the action, the late-late lunch crowd having evaporated and the dinner mob not yet hungry, or at least not yet passing through our town. David introduced me to all the food stations, and then turned me over to James for Advanced Grill Studies.
The cooking part wasn't that tough. The hard parts were the terminology (an all-the-way vs a no-onions, and that applied to hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and hot dogs) and the logistics (how to make a Biggie Burger, a more complex operation; where the pre-cut items were located in the walk-in cooler).
I had memorized things pretty well when the early dinner session started; forty five minutes later, ahead of the big crunch, while we were cleaning up and re-stocking, David allowed as how I had done a pretty good job for a first-nighter.
The next few waves of diners came and went. By the end of the evening, I was bushed, but happy.
The next days and weeks were more of the same. I learned my way around well enough, and got to know my co-workers (there were others besides the first night crowd). David, it turned out, was married with a baby on the way; Widu, James explained when I asked, was his notion of an African king's name.
As the others became more settled with me in their midst, I was included in some of their conversations; at times they went beyond general and conversational to bawdy, and then to blue.
One evening, I was on with James, Cathy, Denise (a rather shy girl, at least at first blush) and David. There was a prolonged lull in business, and he took the opportunity to talk about his sex life with his wife. He spared few details of what they did; while girls these days would file sexual harassment complaints, Cathy and Denise were actually egging him on.
"We were watching TV last night," he said, "and this really big-tittied woman was on. I looked at my wife and said, 'I bet her pussy would be some good eating.'"
There was laughter all around. Denise said, "You did not say that to your wife!"
"I did, too," David retorted, looking mortally offended.
"And she'd let you go down on some other woman?" Cathy laughed.
"Well, I didn't say that," he replied sheepishly.
"She'd smack the shit out of you, is what you mean," Cathy giggled.
James was sitting there, enigmatic grin pasted to his lips, shaking his head. "Mmm-mmm," he grunted.
"So what's your problem?" David asked him.
James kept the smile. "White boys always be talkin' bout eatin' pussy. You wouldn't catch me doin' that shit."
There were some catcalls. He shook his head again, and said, "You white girls tricked these boys into stickin' they tongue where it don't belong. Nasty."
More laughter; then, David said, "A woman's pussy is cleaner than under your fingernails. Babies have to come out of there, so you know it's gotta be clean." David did not have an M.D., though I thought his reasoning was probably fairly sound.
"I have to go with James on this," I said. I wasn't much for joining these conversations, but I felt compelled. "I don't think I could do that."
I was jeered a little; but what could the girls do? Offer me a chance to prove it?
David said, "Aw, c'mon, you'll eat your wife's pussy someday."
Cathy cattily stage-whispered, "He wouldn't know where to find it." More laughter.
James said, "Yeah, he will."
I looked at him. "I don't think so," I replied.
"You white," he said.
"Yeah?" I said. What a snappy comeback. "So?"
He shook his head. "White boys always eat pussy. Sooner or later, you gonna eat pussy."
There was a little bit of spirited debate, cut short when a church bus pulled up outside. It was back to busy.
I worked at Tastee Burger for the next two years. The crew complement came and went, with David, James, Cathy and me being the only really constant threads.
The conversations continued to run toward the bawdy, but they toned down over time. Cathy and I actually began to get along; James and I were never going to be friends as such, but we were passable allies. I even gave him a ride home a few times, a fair stretch out of the way.
At the end of that summer, just before I went off to college, Lee announced he had sold the place. He was assuming ownership of a newer, fancier restaurant, taking David with him as manager. All of us were welcome to stay, said the new owners; but for the three of us students, we were all leaving in a few weeks anyway.
Still, it was sad to break up what had become a surrogate family.
It was in college that I finally began to experiment with sex. In high school I'd been too cloistered, a naïf too concerned with studying, as well as the possible repercussions of sexual activity, to explore anything beyond self-gratification
That changed when I was a second-semester freshman. I was studying accounting; my roomie, Bill, was a sports administration major, code for football jock. We got on well, believe it or not.
One Saturday evening after Spring break, he announced I was going to accompany him to a frat party. He'd talked one of his friends into lining up a date for me, a girl, he was told, a virgin who was sorta geeky, sorta like me.
I sighed and capitulated.
We got to the frat house; I met his friend, who told me I'd never regret that night. "In fact," he said, sales pitch over, "turn around."
I obeyed, and looked right at Cathy.
When she saw me, she blushed furiously, most likely matching me. Our friends, hers and mine, took our mutual silence as confirmation we were two innocents in need of one another. We were ushered onto the patio to make small talk and plan our "getting it on."
Well, we stood around, that's for certain. It was a full minute before I said, "Look, Cathy, this was not my idea."
"Yeah, I know," she said, not looking at me, not directly. "We were sort of..."
"Set up?" I finished.
"Yeah," she sighed.
We sat, and began making small talk. Finally, I said, "Listen, I don't want to embarrass you. We can just leave if you want."
"Yeah, I think we should," she replied.
I gave her a quick hug, which she reciprocated; then we left, unnoticed, and made our separate ways back home.