Vanilla Man

I was sweet sixteen and never been kissed. I would be seventeen in a few weeks. I wanted that damn kiss before the day of reckoning when I turned seventeen. There was a party going on in teenage land that my brother was going to. All the cool kids were going to be there. I begged my eighteen year old brother to take me. He finally relented as I was making him miserable with my excessive pleas. I was hoping to get closer to that kiss. There I was walking into my first “real” party. I remember it felt like my coming out party in manner of a John Hughes movie (pick any one of them).

Dont you forget about me! Whats your name again?

I didn’t know anyone there except my brother and he did not speak to me the entire time. Well, it wouldn’t be cool to socialize with one’s sister. I understood that. I was trying to act cool too. I was sitting there all alone acting like I really wanted it that way. I might have acted a little too cool since only one person spoke to me. She was trying to find out about my brother. YUK! Then, I saw him. Yes, that’s him over there looking at me with that “who is she?” look, my Vanilla Man.

Well, he was really good-looking. Everyone thought he looked like Tom Cruise. He really did too. He had arrived very late and the party was breaking up. My brother and I were getting ready to leave. He had seen my brother telling me that we were going to leave soon. Vanilla Man then asked my brother if he and I were dating – EWWWWWW! He thought I was dating my brother. That is disgusting. He was happy about the answer and came right over and asked me out – the movies next Saturday night. Yeah! Maybe I would get kissed before I turned seventeen years old after all. What a stupid yardstick!

He took me to see a really stupid movie too. I can’t remember the name of the film but it was about professional skiers and there was a lot of bared breasts and illusionary sex going on. It was pretty boring. I thought about the kiss through the whole movie. He is gonna kiss me I just knew it. And it’s gonna be so cool and the next day I would call my best friend and give explicit details about everything. I was so naive. Still am, in a lot of ways actually. Well, the movie was over “Whaddya wanna do now?” he asks. I replied, “I dunno, what do you want to do?” So, we took a drive and then we parked.

So, he puts the car in park. He turns towards me and then it was all tongue for the next thirty minutes or so. Unga Bunga! It wasn’t a very magical experience but it wasn’t unpleasant either. I kind of felt suffocated by his tongue at first. It took me a minute to figure out to draw breath through my nose. That’s better. It was kind of yucky all that moisture but then it was all right. I realized I was in a little over my head. He was a gentleman though for the most part. He did cop a feel, over the clothes.

Do you want to know why he’s called Vanilla Man? You do, don’t you? Well you will have to wait till the end of the story. Sorry, no backsies.

So, just like that we were dating exclusively. I don’t know. Why not? I’ll have a boyfriend. I was so diffident back then. Whatevs! I remember sitting in band. Oh, yes I was in the High School band. I played the clarinet. I was awful, second string second to last seat. I worked just hard enough not be dead last. When I first started playing, I was first string first seat. Clarinet playing is an artful endeavor but ultimately I just wasn’t really interested. I just did it to do it and we had a clarinet in the family. So, there you go. This one time, in band camp … no way, not a clarinet! I couldn’t resist the “American Pie” reference.

Anyway in band, I sat next to this girl, Yvette. All the guys liked her. She was a girlie girl. She did have a graceful way of being sort of effortless. I could see why guys were attracted to her. Anyway, she was in the grade above me and had dated Vanilla Man. “Oh, so you’re dating so and so, huh?” she said. I replied, “Yes we are going steady.” She says, “Oh, that’s nice. So and so is a really nice guy. He just was not for me, ya know.” “No, what do you mean?” I was genuinely curious. “Well, he’s really cute and all. He’s just not that exciting.” I was thoughtful thinking of what Vanilla Man and I had been doing. He took me out every weekend to the movies or dinner or parties or gatherings. He bought me gifts all time. In the summertime, he would bring me a bouquet of flowers from his farm. See! He was a good guy. So, I didn’t agree with it being unexciting. She saw my face and basically said something like boring might be fine for me but not for her but she said it in a nice Yvette kind of way so I wasn’t pissed.

Should I listen to the Chili Peppers and just give it away?

You know how things people say leave a mark on your brain. You replay it over and over but don’t seem to really be paying attention to it.

Well, he’s just not that exciting

Anyway, it was a few months later and we were still going strong for the most part. Anyway, one night we were playing a drinking game, “Quarters” with another couple and I got a little tipsy. So, we made out afterwards. He was all over me like an animal. But I was so drunk I don’t remember much except kissing and groping. I don’t even remember how I got home. No, we DID NOT have sex that I know for sure.

I remember waking up the next morning and I went straight to the bathroom. In an effort to de-fog my brain, I figured I would splash some water on myself. I was washing my face when I caught my reflection in the mirror. Good lord, what the hell is that? No, seriously, what the hell is that? What is that all over my throat? Oh my lord, I looked like someone beat me up in the freakin’ neck. That son of a bitch hoovered me. It was world’s biggest (and ugliest) hickey right there in front of me in that mirror. And, it was on my neck!!!

How the hell am I going to explain this to my parents? “What’s that on your neck, sweetheart.” I reply, “The weirdest thing happened I actually fell on my neck on to a vacuum cleaner and it sucked on me for a good hour and left that bruise.” Thank goodness it was winter. I wore turtlenecks for two weeks. I did get teased by this one guy until the hickey went away because the bruise went up underneath my damn chin. Every day in health class, “What is that underneath your chin? Is it a growth or something?” Every day he would ask me how my growth was doing. I really would have liked to punch him right in that smug goofy assed expression. POW! There’s your growth, ya smug ass bastard.

That summer I got a driver’s license. I was having a lot of fun hanging with my friends and going to the movies and to dinners and to parties with them. And I was beginning to realize what Yvette meant by “not that exciting”. Vanilla Man wasn’t a boring person. He just was a person of simple tastes and amusements. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. I was into the arts and writing and trying new things. He was an outdoorsman. He enjoyed hunting and sports and more traditional pursuits. Well as time went on, he wanted to become better acquainted with me if you know what I mean.

I didn’t want to. I just didn’t feel it. I liked being with him but not all the way. I had thought I would have to get married if I had sex with him and that prospect scared the hell out of me. Marriage I mean. I realized that marriage was very serious and should only be for two people who were well suited for one another. No way was I going to follow in either course that laid before me – marriage or bank teller – as if those were my only options. But at that time it did appear that those were my only paths in life that were expected of me.

I have a plethora of female cousins, all of them ten to twenty years older than me. They all got married before twenty-one. Most of them did not go on to higher education as they got married fresh out of high school. I didn’t want that life. Eventually, marriage would be great but not now. I wanted to go to school and get a job doing something I was remotely interested in and traveling and most of all living on my own. I very much wanted that. I wanted to know that I could take care of myself in the real world. Doing things myself is a major theme in my life. “Bugger off, I can do it myself.”

So Vanilla Man was getting more serious and I was getting less serious with each passing date. It grew difficult going through the motions as he shared more of his emotions. One date in particular sparked my determination to end it with him…

He picked me up in his Chrysler LeBaron. He spent all day cleaning it. It was a very hot evening and we decided to go out for ice cream. While he was in the store ordering our sundaes, a woman was admiring his car. She struck me as quite odd. Then, Vanilla Man walked out with our sundaes and handed me mine. The woman asked, “Is this a new car?” He said “No, but I just washed it.” She was so enamored of the car. She said, “Are the windows rolled up? Oh, my goodness I thought they were rolled down. I can’t even see the glass you cleaned the car so well.” Another one of those imprints

Can’t even see the glass….

over and over again. He says, “Thanks” to the strange woman and he gets in the car with me and we are eating our sundaes. My sundae was gooey hot fudge with rocky road and chocolate chip ice cream scoops covered in nuts and whipped cream and cherry on top. I was really enjoying it. Then, I looked over to see what he was eating. I kept staring at his cup as I couldn’t make out what was in his sundae.

I saw white and more white and a bright red cherry on top. I couldn’t take it. I wanted to know what he was eating. So, I asked, “Did you get a sundae or just a cup of vanilla ice cream with whipped cream on top?” He replied, “No, I got a sundae.” I asked, “What’s in it?” He said, “Vanilla ice cream, marshmallow topping (what the f….), and whipped cream.” If I could have seen my expression, it wouldn’t have been of disgust but one of complete incredulity. I just simply couldn’t understand that sundae. It didn’t make sense to me. If only he had put nuts on it, maybe things could have been different. I remember sitting in a daze for a bit but then I became resolute to end it with him.

When I think about it, he was a lot like his choice in sundae – very sweet but nothing that interested me. We broke up two weeks later. I like to tell people it’s because of the vanilla sundae since it seems to make people laugh. But, really it was because we were two different people who could never really get on well, not for the long haul anyway. He could never make me happy and I would make his life miserable if we had ever gotten married. There are many things in life that are just not meant to be. And, I still feel a vanilla sundae is one of them.

This is a true story from my perspective anyway.


17 thoughts on “Vanilla Man

    • David,

      I like vanilla ice cream too! My issue is NOT with the individual components of vanilla man’s sundae but rather the entire composition as a whole. Putting that together in a sundae made no sense to me.


  1. “Vanilla Man”? Did he belong to the Vanilla Man- Boy Love Association? Oh, wait, I’m thinking of something else entirely.

    Nice story. The claim that you dumped him because of that sundae will ALWAYS outshine the facts of the matter. You know how the world is. A good story trumps the truth, no matter what.

  2. Well I think it is a bloody good reason to break off with someone – dessert says a lot about a person – and I have to admit I’ve done it for less than the wrong choice in dessert. When you know – you just know – no matter what it is that is the thing that tells you – GET OUT NOW. πŸ˜‰

  3. I love your stories. They always start out one way, and gets me to thinkin and remembering my own stories, then they keep going (your stories) and I get completely wrapped up in the tale. Getting stuck with a boring guy forever would really stink. Life is meant for adventure!
    I wonder if vanila man and diner girl ever hooked up? They seem as they would fit together. I think though before you dumped him, you should have given him a hicky right on the forehead.

    • Thank you. I feel the same way about your stories. I find them completely absorbing. They make me think too! “Vanilla man and diner girl” sounds like an indie rock band. Yes, he deserved a hickey – the mark of unga bunga!

  4. Pingback: Can’t Go Wrong Combo: Traveling the World & Perspectives from Black Women « Interrace Magazine

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