It’s funny but I still think of him. It was at least a decade past now. But not very long ago. I met a man or a guy (well I guess he was like a dude) who made me feel incredibly special. I gave him my business card at an event I put on with my colleague. He was the DJ. We actually had not hired him. We had hired another person but they did us the incredible service of recognizing that they needed help and instead of making us look foolish, asked. That guy…man…ok dude asking for help ended up being the beginning of my last summer as a girl…lady…chick. He was beautiful. Not in any of the ways I was inclined to define that. He was the opposite of tall, dark and handsome. Short. Adorably short. With skin like pound cake. He was beyond handsome. He had the kind of smile that drew you in and made you feel safe. His eyes were flashes of lightning over a black horizon. Bright and dark at the same time. Full of life and light. But also dangerous. His face was like something from another world. Land and sea on an island not far where colonizers had fought indigenous people for the rights to the stars. An ancient beauty painted in tombs, carved in tribute walls. He had the face of a pharaoh. I wanted him to be everything that face told me he could be. And at times he was. Time passed and I had not heard from him. I wasn’t pining. It actually surprised me when months after the event I got a phone call from him. He had been incarcerated and kept my card for those months until he was released. I romanticized that. He deserved to be free. I don’t remember how we ended up seeing each other but we did. There were several occasions. His joy was easy. His greatest source of excitement that summer was Usher having released a new album the same time he was released from jail. I remember him snapping his fingers and singing a very flat “daaaaaddy’s home” while he laughed and said that was his dude. Dude. He caught that I loved his laugh. And placed his hands on my body in ways that were reserved for someone who wanted to take care of a woman for her whole long life. He put his cheek to my neck and told me he thought I was soooo something. I can’t remember that either. I just know I felt like I was the only woman in the world who mattered to him and I needed that desperately after a divorce had left me broken and the men who approached me afterward failed to impress me so miserably. I liked his sense of responsibility. He DJd around the city at clubs and parties. I visited him upon his invitation and enjoyed being the special woman…lady (well I felt like a girl) behind the table or in the booth. I rifled through his records while he kept a cushioning headphone to his ear. His hands worked so quickly and precisely. A turntable surgeon, his dexterity may have been what intrigued me. We talked after. Each thing was an opportunity. And I loved being with him about as much as I ignored the underlying realities. A woman was at home waiting for him. With children. He was a craftsman with those crates and speakers but not a connoisseur not an artist so when I asked him about the music and looked for a deep conversation about sampling and the history of R&B, he left my prompting empty. He had no conversation to offer me. His excitement was one dimensional. His physical promise of eternity came up intellectually empty. My gut knew this but my heart was making a fool of me. I continued to follow him around the city. His van was fun for weeks one two three. I don’t know when it finally occurred to me. Maybe I looked at my own children and realized it wasn’t going to work. Maybe his completely shocking jealous rage finally gave me the snap out of it girl I needed to block his number, stop calling him, stop showing up at his parties, and stop thinking we would ever be more than a minor flirt that got out of control. I don’t remember our last kiss. I just remember that he was sweet. He was the LL Cool J arm around my neck I had always wished would pick me up from the bus stop while I was sucking on a lollipop. A kiss like candy. It stuck to me. Sticks with me. I think of him occasionally. I wonder if he’s ok and if he ever began to dream. I wonder if he fell in love with that woman behind the scenes. Sometimes I even play an Usher song and send him a little spiritual pleasantry. I’m grateful that this is how I left it. An imperfect but not completely horrifying memory. I hope maybe he eventually got inspired and found a life spark to match his eyes. Maybe.