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Excerpt from It's Not That Serious

by Alyssa "Lefty" P. about a year ago in humanity · updated 8 months ago
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By Alyssa "Lefty" Molina

Excerpt from It's Not That Serious
Photo by Pratik Gupta on Unsplash

Excerpt from It’s Not That Serious (2018) my unpublished, debut fiction novel.

Chapter II

Not many people spoke to Danny while he was at work. He clocked in, did his job, did it well, and clocked out. Though he projected a warm energy that everyone (especially women) at his job gravitated towards, he was well respected and kept others at a slight distance. Danny boy did have, however, two close girl friends that he trusted dearly. One was Julie – a young, vivacious Korean American girl who was born into a family of wealthy and talented K-pop musicians. She was Danny’s “hype man,” and she always had endless stories for him of her turn up sessions on weekends. Whenever he felt like he needed an extra boost of self-confidence, Julie was his go-to chick. To left of him was Kareema, a beautiful, dark-skinned Jamaican woman in her early 30s who never married with a precious three-year-old son who Danny boy adored. He knew he could speak to Kareema about anything involving women if he couldn’t get to his wela.

“Hey, K,” Danny softly directed towards Kareema as he tapped her on the shoulder while she was cleaning a diamond necklace for a customer. “You ever used any dating apps before? I…I mean, what do you think of them, really?”

“Danny boy,” Kareema replied without taking her eyes off the necklace, “There is nothing wrong with trying something new to get yourself out there, baby…shoot, I know I’ve tried a few of them. In fact, that’s how I met Malachi’s father, likkle no-good batty hole…But hey, he gave me the greatest gift in my life. You thinking of making a profile, Danny boy?” Danny paused for a moment to think of a response. “Nah…I mean, I don’t know…my best friend Adalberto mentioned it to me…but I feel like nobody takes shit seriously on those sites…all they want to do is smash and go, and to be honest, that lifestyle is getting kinda old.”

“Old? Aww Danny boy, you are so young, with so much life in you! It may not feel like it with all these bills you pay, but you have time to live your life, so LIVE. And you are right, nobody does take themselves seriously on these apps…tink about it though. Life is already so serious…you have debts to pay off, family to take care of, health to maintain, and you take loss every single day to some degree…finally having someone consistent just to have fun with and keep you company? ENJOY IT, cutie!” Kareema winked at Danny sweetly.

Before Danny could respond, Julie happily eavesdropped on their conversation while walking a customer out the door. She approached them with a much unwarranted input: “BEST FRIEND! Are you not going to try to get your girlfriend back? I thought you loved her!”

“Nobody wants used goods,” Kareema interjected with much attitude. She didn’t like Julie much, but Danny loved them both. “That Yankee girl did our likkle Danny boy dirty…played him for a fool.”

“Danny, oh no! I’m so sorry, babes…I had no idea she…”

“Nobody played anybody,” Danny said peevishly. “She just didn’t feel it in her heart to love me the way I love…loved her. It doesn’t matter anymore, I’m trying to get back in the dating scene. I’m tired of messing with these shallow ass, weird girls in the club.”

“Oh, Daniel! You love the glamour of a bourgie broad.” Julie jested as she gently slapped him on the back. “I gotta say, State of Mind app has been working beautifully for me. I met a sugar daddy, a boyfriend, and a play toy all in the same site…in one month!”

“Child,” Kareema said under her breath, “Give that pum pum a rest before yuh catch disease...”

“Try it, Danny! I’ll help you create a profile myself! Give me your phone…”

“Chill, Jay,” he said as he extended the palm of his hand out to her. “I can do it on my own. I’ll call you if I need any help.”

“Yaaaaasss, boo! Let me know when you make it, so I can help you swipe! And remember, please swipe only 10s…and no dingy ass white girls…please!” Julie flashed a bright smile at Danny and gave him a slight chuckle when she realized he was a bit amused at her candor and humor.

“Go tend to this customer, Julie,” Kareema demanded. “Your high-pitched voice is giving me a headache.”

******************************************************

It was around 6:30 pm when Danny got home. He lived in the basement of his great uncle George’s two-family home on Zerega Avenue in the North end of the Bronx. The family home was no Trump Towers apartment on Fifth Avenue, but it was surely all the space and privacy he needed. Danny boy could bring home whoever he wanted and let them out whenever he pleased, as long as he wasn’t interrupting George and his wife Anita’s “alone time.” He never interacted with either of them as much. As long as he was able to pay Tío George a tiny fraction of the mortgage as his so-called “rent,” Danny was left alone.

He was exhausted from a long day at work, but he couldn’t get this online dating idea off his mind. Should I try it? Danny asked himself over and over in his head as he put his belongings away and hung up his clothes. He turned the T.V. on. One of his wela’s favorite shows, which he hated, was playing. It was a drama about an immigrant couple who fell madly in love and were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. They would not stop for anything to find each other, as they believed themselves to be soulmates. He suddenly got captivated by a scene in the running episode of the male protagonist writing letters to his long-lost wife. It made Danny think of the letters he used to write his ex-girlfriend when he had difficulty expressing his feelings for her in words. Danny boy was not the best oral communicator, but he could make a woman feel every nerve in her body with his touch and with his pen. His ex knew he loved her – she just didn’t have the emotional intelligence to love herself, & their break up left Danny with much self-loathing and insecurity. She was also born into a different world than he was – a world of money and wealth. Everyone who knew Danny knew that he had to work ten times as hard as everyone around him to get where he was. That difference kept both Chloe and Danny boy at odds for a long while.

Fuck this. He grabbed his phone, threw himself on the bed, and downloaded the State of Mind app.

Here goes nothing.

******************************************************

Danny didn’t have a difficult time choosing the right pictures to represent himself, as well as the perfect words to describe how handsome he was known to be. 6 foot 2 inches, butter pecan colored skin, pearly white teeth with one dimple. And boy, did he have gorgeous chestnut brown eyes that lightened in the sunlight. And those little “chocolate chips”? (That’s what I called the called freckles on his face when I used to kiss them all up and pretend like I was eating them.) Irresistible. Not to mention Danny had a fresh face shy of any facial hair, which coined him the nickname “Danny boy” by Kareema. He was fit with beautifully chiseled arms and just enough muscles in his abs to make him look like he worked out but didn’t try too hard. Danny had soft, callous free large hands with groomed fingernails, which always showed women that he knew how to take care of himself, which must mean he can take care of them. He had one tattoo on his left bicep of the Puerto Rican flag with the saying “La sangre me llama” wrapped through it in scripted font. This represented his yearning to visit his mother land, though he hadn’t been since he was a small infant. Danny boy definitely wasn’t worried about his looks, and he clearly projected this on his profile.

He did, however, have a hard time expressing his interests and showing his personality through the prompted questions on his profile. One question read:

Things I like to do on a Friday night…

Danny struggled. He considered himself a rather boring person. He either was getting wasted at the clubs to distract himself from the heartache of his break up, or he was home posted up in his house, rolling a joint and watching a Netflix series that everyone loved. He skipped that question for now, as he didn’t want to sound too wild nor too domesticated. Find a happy medium, Danny. C’mon, papa. The next prompt asked him to describe something he was really good at. Danny loved to dance salsa. He learned from his wela on Sundays when she would make him clean the house with her. Check. The next question read:

What I am looking for…

He thought for a minute. He didn’t want to come off too soft, nor too desperate…but Danny also didn’t want to be taken as a joke. He remembered Fat Al’s words, “It ain’t that serious.” He knew to have fun with this app. Who knows when his soulmate would come for him, and who cares if it didn’t happen now? If she did, great. If she didn’t, then that was okay, too. He smiled at the advice of his dear friend, and began to type his response:

A woman who will value my time and energy just as much as I value hers. Someone who is fun… Someone who loves herself first so I can love her more. To me, that is a queen.

He thought this response demonstrated his character in a concise way. He didn’t feel the need to fill all ten questions yet. His anxiety about searching for girls grew rapidly, and he saved his response. The swiping began.

257 swipes and 45 minutes later, Danny boy matched with someone who ACTUALLY caught his eye. Her screen name was “SomeoneToLove,” and judging by her musical taste which she described on her profile, she was referencing Jon B’s classic. He loved that. R&B was Danny’s favorite musical genre, because it made him understand his own deep feelings. This match was a painter and actor. She looked to be average height, with short, jet black hair that reminded Danny of Nia Long’s character in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. A curvy, short woman with glasses, she had a bright smile that made Danny forget about her physique. She even made him laugh when he read her response to the question “One thing I can’t live without,” to which she replied, “Clearly not this app. It doesn’t pay my bills, feed me burritos or make me have multiple orgasms.” He already enjoyed her quirky sense of humor. And she was a Cancer, like him. He shot her the first message.

A few messages and corny one-liners later, Danny boy exchanged numbers with this pretty, musically inclined artist, whose name he discovered to be Lisa. (Totally not a coincidence at all!) Lisa and Danny spent days exchanging texts that made each other laugh and smile, and they even squeezed in a couple of FaceTime calls on their lunch breaks. He was growing a profound interest to meet this girl in person. Look at all this peace and joy she brought into his life through just simple conversation. Not once was he thinking about his ex whose breath smelled like hot dog water in the mornings. (I laughed when he shared that horrific detail about her to me.)

One day when he was able to call her in between work and a gym session, Danny boy coughed up the courage to ask her on a date. “Hey beautiful,” Danny crooned in his flirtatious voice that Lisa adored. “Sleep well?”

“Hey baby…I would have slept better if you were next to me, but yes I did,” she giggled. “What’s up? You never call me this early. Everything OK? Did Adalberto bail on you at the gym?”

“Nah shorty, I actually just wanted to show you that I was thinking about you…”

“Aww cito, you are the sweetest…I’ve been thinking about you, too…”

Lisa loved Danny’s Puerto Rican heritage, and although she was more Irish and Italian than Latina, she grew up around many Puerto Ricans in the South Bronx, where she picked up some Spanish slang vernacular. She nicknamed him “cito” as a term of endearment.

“Listen, Lisa,” Danny replied with a hint of hesitancy in his voice. “We’ve been talking every day for about three weeks now, and I think it’s time we actually meet. I would love to take you out to this dope Italian spot on 119th street and Pleasant. I hear they have great salmon. Please say you’re down, because I am tired of taking myself out on solo dates.”

“Um, yes!” she replied and laughed with enthusiasm. “I have been waiting for you to finally say you’re ready. I am so excited. When would you like to go?”

“Tonight at 8. I don’t drive, but I’ll send you an Uber to meet me there, since I know you’re all the way out in Woodside. Call you when I get off work. Cool?”

“Sounds great, babe! I can’t wait to see you.”

“Me too, mama. Wear something nice for me.”

She blew Danny a kiss over the phone before they hung up. Date night was set.

******************************************************

Dinner went just as planned for Danny and Lisa. He ordered the spaghetti bolognese, and she the salmon with spinach and roasted red potatoes, as he recommended. Danny didn’t know much about wine, so Lisa took this moment to educate him on it. He asked for the restaurant’s finest bottle of Duckhorn Merlot Three Palms, dry. They were not carded. They both exchanged genuine laughs and incessant eye contact. She was the most appealing four-eyes he’d ever seen. Danny boy even noticed she had freckles on her nose and around her eyes, which he didn’t catch in her S.o.M. profile. His attraction to her grew exponentially at the sight of her countenance and the choice of her words. She was well educated. They finished dinner, and as he asked the waiter for the check, Lisa jumped in:

“Please, cito. This night has been so special. Please let me pay for it. You’ve already done enough.” Danny didn’t know what to do, considering how she aggressively interjected in front of their server. The tall, bearded Italian man looked at him with his eyebrows raised, ready to see what his response was. Then, he thought to himself, Chloe never did this for me…ever. Why not? I deserve it. Shiiiiit. Danny crooned, “I don’t know, baby, as a man, I…”

“As a human, you deserve to be valued the way you value others. Please, it’s on me.”

Lisa flashed her adorable gap-toothed smile at the server and handed him her gold American Express card. “Consider it paid for, madame,” the server said gracefully.

Danny couldn’t believe he let a woman treat him. Never in his life had he done this before, not even with me. He grabbed her hand after she signed the receipt. “Angel,” he told Lisa, "Let’s take you home. Thank you.”

“I don’t want this night to end…please stay with me tonight?” Danny boy knew this was a trap. He could see a sticky situation coming from a mile away, before it even manifested. But Lisa looked so damn fire in her little red pencil skirt and black crop topped blouse. He couldn’t resist.

“Okay, baby. Whatever you want.”

******************************************************

The Uber dropped them off outside of Lisa’s gorgeous two-story home. Danny was impressed. She lived there with two of her actor friends that she met in college. Her room was painted in this strange mustard color yellow, but it was adorned with lovely paintings that she had worked on for years, which Danny found aesthetically pleasing. They both sat on the edge of her soft, queen-sized bed.

“Let me help you get your shoes off, you look a little buzzed,” Danny jested.

They both giggled. She extended her feet out to him. She had pretty feet, with toenails painted the same color as her skirt, and the wine that they just enjoyed. Lisa smiled at his warm gesture. She gently brushed his hands away from her feet. As she proceeded to come to her knees, Danny slowly reclined on her bed with both legs up. She inched towards him to kiss him sweetly. She didn’t care that her skirt was riding so far up her behind that the little thing she called her “cake” below her waist was easy access for him to grab now.

As they kissed, Danny ran his arms down her back. She was straddling him to the point where her skirt was but a waist adornment, but he still respected her enough not to reach for her bottom so quickly.

“Touch it,” she whispered in his ear seductively. “Please.”

Hopeless Danny boy slowly slid his right hand under her right cheek and palmed it, while he held onto her waist with his left hand. As she was kissing on his neck softly, he began to feel out of his element. Something doesn’t feel right. He remembered the one glass of that nasty tasting Merlot he had compared to the five that Lisa guzzled at the restaurant. (He hated red wine, from what I can remember, but he drank it just to impress Lisa.) He remembered that morning after Fat Al’s birthday party when could not recall anything that happened to him starting with his departure from the strip club. He just couldn’t do it.

“Baby…Lisa, stop,” Danny told Lisa gently. “I can’t, ma…not today…”

She stopped kissing his neck and looked him dead in his eyes like a confused puppy. “Can’t what, Danny babe?”

“We can’t do anything. Not tonight. Look at you. You finished that bottle. You’re stupid lit. Let me put you to bed.”

“Danny, I want you, citooooo,” Lisa slurred. She started stroking his junk outside of his pants and biting her lip with a smirk on her face, eyes half open, as she kept saying “Pleeeease,” but Danny gently shoved her hand away.

“Nah, Lisa. Not tonight. We’re going to bed.”

Lisa’s cheeks grew flushed. She seemed to be triggered by something Danny said or did. “You serious? I pay for dinner, I put on this fly ass outfit for you, I even wore make up which I hate, and you’re going to diss me like that?”

“Shorty, c’mon, it’s not even that, I just…”

“Just what? Don’t find me attractive? I’m not brown enough for you? I’m too fat? I’m not Boricua enough for you?!”

“Wow, none of the above, shorty, I’m just trying to protect…”

“Protect what?!” Her voice grew increasingly loud and echoed throughout her room. She exited the straddle position and sat next to him with her arms flailing. “Protect what? Me from yourself? You that much of a pussy that you can’t even fuck a girl who you clearly find fire because you think it’s going to hurt me the next morning when you don’t call me? Papa…if I come, then we good! Trust.”

Danny shook his head in disbelief at the words that were coming from her mouth. How is she trying to game me like that when I’m trying to show her basic respect? Poor Danny boy just couldn’t wrap his head around this situation. He was so shocked, he couldn’t find words to respond. So, he hopped out of the bed, and began to tie his boots back up.

“Now you’re leaving me. Great. FanTAStic.”

“Lisa, I’m sorry. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“You gotta be fuckin’ kidding me!” Lisa threw her hands up in disbelief.

Poor Danny boy was shocked, but not deeply surprised. She never really used profanity when speaking to him; Lisa always told Danny that “cursing was never necessary because it isn’t a reflection of the prestigious college education” that she received. He also never noticed how quick she was to start speaking like she wasn’t a half-privileged New Yorker who came from a tight nuclear family that never used slang in the household. With a few drinks in her system, Lisa was starting to speak like Lakeisha, the snagged-toothed neighbor from down the hall that he lost his virginity to at 13. He shook his head once more.

Danny attempted to give her a goodnight kiss on the forehead, but Lisa angrily shoved him away, eyes low, drunkenly yelling “Get the ffffffuck out my face, Dee!”

While headed to the door, Danny didn’t look back. He grabbed the doorknob on her bedroom door with his right hand. She screamed words he could never forget:

“So, you’re not even going to eat it, at least?”

******************************************************

Saturday morning. 11:35 am. Danny woke up feeling refreshed and alone, and although he hated sleeping alone, he felt quite pleased that no one was breathing in his ear, lying beside him to wake him up. He reached over to his night stand at the right side of the bed and grabbed his phone. Danny had to wipe his eyes a second time to make sure he was seeing correctly. No notifications. He knew Lisa had to be at an audition for an off-Broadway play at noon, so she had to be awake and on her way. Danny was worried about her, genuinely. Even if she made him feel like a piece of ass the night before, he still cared for her well-being. I mean, after all, Danny boy knew that women got treated like that all the time. To him, it was nothing compared to what Lisa probably went through in her past. He clicked on her number in his call log. To his surprise, the dial tone only rang twice. He then received the automated message: The number you are trying to reach is not accepting calls at this time. “Bitch blocked me,” he said to himself in disbelief.

His next call was to his wela. Three rings later, she picks up. “Bueno,” wela says.

Wela, bendición, I miss you. You won’t believe what happened to me last night.”

Dios te bendiga, pa. What happened?”

“I think a girl just canceled me because she tried to trick on me last night and I refused to be with her. I’m buggin’.”

Wela began to laugh with great strength. “Aye, nene…so what, she played you at your own game for once? Laugh about it, papi. I know it’s never that serious!”

humanity

About the author

Alyssa "Lefty" P.

28 year-old NuYoRican from Spanish Harlem who has a passion for writing, learning, achieving peace, faith, and empowering others. I've established a career as an educator and career counselor for over five years. Instagram: @alyssaleftyp

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