People think I’m selfish. I’ll own that. But I’m selfish for a reason.
My first priority is, has always been, and will always be me. Period. You can’t be anything to anyone else if you aren’t everything to yourself first. If I can’t make myself happy, then everyone else will have to wait. That includes my husband and two twin boys
Here is my point of view: I am 28 years old – 25 and holding to anyone who doesn’t know me – and I refuse to dye my hair for any reason other than I want a richer shade of brown. I’m young, sexy, and business-minded. Limiting myself to the titles of wife and mother does me an injustice. I want to enjoy myself before my skin starts to wrinkle and menopause sets in.
So if I spend $500 on a pair of shoes, so be it.
If I get my hair and nails done at the most expensive spa in the city, so be it.
If I flirt with sexy men who find me irresistible, so be it.
Wait, did I say that out loud?
“What time will you need us to be there?”
“Us?” Calvin asked while sipping a cup of coffee. “I thought you were a one-woman operation?”
“I have associates that work with me. Even I understand the importance of working with others.”
“You mean managing others. The chefs work for you.” Calvin reached out and touched the top of Lydia’s hand and smiled at the slight blush that followed from her. “So, is lunch to your liking?”
“Yes, thank you. We really could’ve talked about this over though phone, Calvin.”
“I prefer to discuss business in person.”
“Over lunch?” Lydia raised her eyebrows.
Calvin returned the same expression. “You’ve never been to a lunch meeting before?”
“Something tells me you wanted more than just a lunch meeting.”
Calvin sat back and laughed. After running his fingers across his goatee, he responded, “Is that right?”
So was that necessary? Lawd help me, those lips! Lydia fought to maintain composure. “Yes, that’s right. So, Calvin, if this was just a regular lunch meeting, why was all of the physical contact necessary?”
“I’ll get to the point. I’m interested in you. Speaking with you for these past few weeks has got me wanting to know more about you …”
Lydia flashed her left hand. “You do see this wedding ring, right?”
“And?! I am a married woman! Have been for the past seven years…”
“Are you happy?”
“Why do men use that same sad line? Am I happy? No, I enjoy the torture of waking up next to a man that makes my stomach turn.” Lydia laughed, took a bite of her salad, and then pointed her fork at Calvin. “Sweetie listen, I don’t willingly participate in anything that I do not plan on seeing through. If I didn’t want to marry Tony, then I would be single and then maybe this would be a different conversation.”
“But it’s not?”
“Exactly. I love my husband, I adore my children, and I enjoy being married…”
“And I’m happy for you.” Calvin replied calmly, unmoved by anything that Lydia had just said. “But he has nothing to do with me. You peak my interest, and you are a very beautiful woman…”
Lydia’s ears perked up. “Beautiful, huh?” She sat silent for a moment as thoughts raced through her head. Ok, get it together. You can’t let some smooth-talking man in a $500 suit come along and mess up the life that you worked hard to build. Calvin knew that he had her in the palm of his hand, so he grabbed her hand and gently kissed it. I can’t let this man…saved by my phone! Lydia grabbed her hand from Calvin’s light grip to answer her phone. “Hello?”
“Some friend you are!”
Sydney talked loudly so she could be heard over the heavy winds that blew in downtown Chicago. “I was supposed to get a ride to my audition from someone who shall remain nameless so that way I don’t walk in looking windblown but clearly that didn’t happen. So I walked into the Goodman Theater looking all kinds of crazy!”
“Hold on,” Lydia put the phone down and pulled out her calendar, scrolling through all of her to-do list until she saw ‘Pick up Syd and take her to audition at Goodman’ written on it. “Oh.”
“That’s all I get?”
“Did your audition go well?”
“Yes it did. Thanks for the fake concern. I have a callback tomorrow at noon. Do you think you can remember to come get me?”
“What’s wrong with your car?”
“You mean the 200,000 mile-having Ford I’m pushing? Not gonna happen. Where are you now? I’d at least like a ride home.”
Lydia looked at Calvin, who smiled as he patiently sipped on his water. “I’m at my favorite Thai spot…”
“Good. I’m hungry anyway. I’ll be there in 5.” Noise from the trains above her head drowned out her voice, so Sydney decided to just hang up before Lydia could change her mind.
Shaking her head, Lydia put her phone back in her purse. Before she could even respond to the look of amusement on Calvin’s face, he said, “Friend of yours?”
“I was supposed to pick up my friend Sydney before I met you. I had to drop something off at my boys’ school before I came here and didn’t want to meet you late.”
“Was she upset?”
“She’ll get over it…” Before Lydia could finish her sentence, Sydney walked in the restaurant and let out a big ‘Woo!’ She took a moment to adjust her long dress, check herself in the mirror by the door, and pull her hair back into a ponytail. Sydney then pulled a pair of denim and hemp wedges from the big bag that she carried with her and slipped them on in place of the flats she was currently wearing. After applying a bit of lip gloss, she walked into the restaurant as if waiting for cameras to flash. Lydia just shook her head. “I thought you said five minutes?” She called out to her.
“Well, you had it coming.” Sydney stopped for a second to look the man that sat at the table with Lydia. Before saying another word, she sat in the chair directly next to him, hung her purse and bag over the edge of her chair, and waved over the waitress. “Sydney Wells, nice to meet you.”
“Please feel free to introduce yourself, Syd.” Lydia stated while rolling her eyes.
“Calvin James, and the pleasure is all mine.” Calvin laughed as he extended his hand for a handshake which Sydney returned.
Sydney smiled at Calvin and then faced the waitress as she came to the table. “Hi, I’d like to order, please.”
Lydia was completely taken back as Sydney placed her order with the waitress. Is this crazy chick really ordering food right now? Seriously?! “Syd, I can just take you somewhere to grab something to eat…”
“That’s ok,” Calvin interrupted while laughing, “I need to get going anyway.” He pulled $100 out of his wallet and ceremoniously laid it on the table in front of Lydia. After kissing her on the cheek, he continued. “Here’s the money for lunch for us and for Miss Sydney. I will give you a call this evening to follow up.”
“Um, Calvin, our lunch didn’t come to this. And as much as I know Sydney can eat, she won’t eat up that much either.”
“Tip the waitress and keep the rest as a down payment for the supplies you’ll need for the job.” He winked at Lydia, then turned and nodded his head at Sydney before leaving the restaurant.
Lydia waited until Calvin left the restaurant and then stuck the $100 bill in her bra. “Well, alrighty then.”
“So you’re just gonna hold on to the money, huh?” Sydney asked while sipping her water.
“First of all, you don’t accept money from random guys that are, last time I checked, not your husband. Second, the guy gave you money for our lunch, not the over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder fund…”
“I’ll just use my Amex business card to pay for the lunch. I can use the money for something else.”
Sydney stared blankly at Lydia. “And what will that something else be?”
“Shoes, clothes, hair, nails, I don’t know. It’ll be something I need.”
“Not that I’m one to talk, but you need another pair of shoes like you need another hole in the head. And your nails look fine. At least if you are gonna take dirty money, use it for what it’s intended for.”
“How is it dirty money!? The man gave me money for supplies I’ll need for the event.”
“And a pair of shoes is needed for the event?”
“I’ll need to have proper attire, right?” Sydney just shook her head as the waitress brought the soup she ordered. “You never answered my question.”
“How is it dirty money?”
“Calvin was clearly flirting with you, Lydia. I don’t know what kind of business you all were discussing, but whatever it was supposed to be was not the first thing on that man’s mind.”
“And how do you know what was first on his mind?”
“It was obvious, from the way he was looking at you to the kiss on the cheek. If I hadn’t have showed up, he’d still be sitting here ogling you.”
Lydia laughed loud and hard. “Ogling? Really?”
“Yes really! You may think this is just about business, but he may want more than that. Agreeing to meet him for lunch may have not been a good idea ‘cuz he may have considered this a date. Did Tony know you were meeting him here?”
“No. What does Tony have to do with this? And anyway, I’ve done it before. Tony understands that I have to meet up with clients occasionally to talk about jobs that I have...”
“Tony also knows that you are a flirt…”
“Syd, you are taking this way too personally. Tony meets up with clients all the time, male and female, and I don’t trip. It’s the nature of the businesses we are in. But you wouldn’t understand that.”
You know why I am taking this personally. Sydney fought to control her anger at Lydia’s callousness to the situation. “I know how business works…”
“Then why are you so concerned about what is going on in my house?” Sydney sat back and shook her head. Satisfied at her small victory, Lydia smiled. “Thanks for the heads-up, but I know how to handle my professional and personal affairs. I’ve got this.”
“What time are you supposed to be meeting up with Parker?”
“Seven.” Sydney replied, still sounding upset about the discussion.
“And where are you all going?”
Lydia tossed her head back in laughter. Her laugh was so loud that it pulled the attention of everyone in the restaurant. “Speed dating?!” She replied loudly. “People still do that?!”
“Can you be any louder?”
“That is so sad. You’re a good-looking woman. I’m sure you can find a better way to meet a man.”
“It’s not about meeting a man.” Sydney replied while eating her shrimp and pineapple fried rice. “It’s about being social.”
“Umm hmmm. How come you aren’t taking Urie with you? She needs to be social.”
“I asked her if she wanted to go…”
“And she said…”
“Not in this lifetime.” They both laughed as Sydney continued. “I swear, she is determined to stay faithful to that man no matter how bad he treats her.”
“I tried to introduce her to some of Tony’s single friends, but she wasn’t trying to hear it. She wants to make it work with Jackson. Such a waste of time, if you ask me.”
“In her defense, you have to admire her for wanting to try, if not just for her daughter.” Lydia huffed, looked at her watch, and began to primp herself in her reflection in the window – a sign that she was ready to leave. Sydney signaled the waitress over and asked that the rest of the food be taken to go. As much as I don’t like Jackson, I really do admire her willingness to stick it out. Everything ain’t always about money. But I guess some people will never learn that.
“I can’t believe you got me in here looking stupid.” Parker whispered as the hostess was giving her opening address to those in attendance.
“What do you mean? I think you look great right now!”
“You know what I mean! I’m at an event full of desperate women and probably certifiable men who are looking for a quick hook up.”
Sydney laughed as she waved to a few of her friends. “Girl, we are at a church event…”
“And that’s another thing. Why is a church, I repeat, a church having a speed dating event?! I thought the whole thing with church and dating is that you’re supposed to trust God and wait until He brings you your mate.” Parker shook her head as she smoothed out her asymmetrical t-shirt. “At least that’s what they teach at my church…”
“Mine too, but this isn’t my church…”
“Then whose is it and where is the pastor because I wanna have a talk with them.”
Sydney let out a loud laugh, which drew attention to her. She blushed slightly and continued her conversations quietly. “It’s just in fun, ok? I got invited by one of my friends and I didn’t want to come alone.” Parker stared at Sydney blankly. “What!?”
“So you brought me with you?”
“You could’ve stayed at home and wrote a blog or baked some brownies or something.”
Parker shook her head as she watched the other singles in attendance mingle around the room. “I’m probably gonna need some chocolate or a shot or something after this.”
Their conversation was interrupted by the sound of a loud whistle, which signaled everyone to go to their seats. After taking a seat at her assigned table, she looked at the gentleman in front of her. He’s handsome, I guess, if you like the overly preppy and obviously full of themselves type. Neither one of them spoke for about 45 seconds before Parker finally initiated conversation. “My name is Parker Peterson. Yours?”
“I’ve never seen you at this church before.” The gentleman responded in a dry tone.
“Oh, I was invited by a friend. Well, really a friend of a friend. This is my first time visiting at one of your church’s events.”
“I see.” He responded quickly and then began looking at the other women in the room. “I see.”
“So you all have this event annually?” He did not answer, but instead kept looking around the room. “How many events do you all have a year?” Still no response. Um, hello? Is this thing on? “So what is your name?”
“Dion.” He answered while pointing to his name tag, still not paying any attention to Parker.
“You know, actually attempting to be cordial might make this a little less awkward than it already is…”
“No disrespect, my sister, but you’re really not my type. And I don’t like to play games so…”
“Not really your type huh?” Be nice, Parker. Be nice. “That’s fine. So, do you know anyone here?”
“Didn’t I already tell you I wasn’t interested…”
“Ok, there is no need to be rude. If you want to sit here in silence for the next few minutes then that is perfectly fine with me…”
“I’m not being rude. I already told you that you weren’t my type. Women like you turn me off…”
“Women like me?...”
“Yeah, the pushy single chicks come to events like these thinking that if they look cute one, maybe two days out of the week they can catch a man. I said that I wasn’t interested, that should have been the end of it…”
“Oh you just got me pegged, huh? Look, I was just trying to be nice to you. Clearly, whoever you’re feeling ain’t feeling you because you’re at the same speed dating event as me. If I were her …”
“Well, you are not her. Not by a good 75 pounds...”
“Excuse me!” Parker’s mouth dropped. Right before she could respond, the whistle blew. Dion shook his head and left the table without making anymore eye contact with her. The next guy sat down at the table and immediately rambled on and on about his former life before he got saved. Parker smiled politely, but was not able to get a word in the entire time he was at her station. The next few guys offered decent conversation, but none of them peeked her interest. While another gentleman who came to her table answered a call on his cell phone, Parker pulled out her cell and sent Sydney a text that said ‘Um, I’ll be in the car.’
Upon reading the text, Sydney turned and looked at Parker with wide eyes. “Why?” she mouthed.
“Because this sucks!” She mouthed back.
Before she could grab her purse, the guy in front of her asked, “So, I know we aren’t supposed to exchange numbers, but if you have a card, I’ll take it. You’re kinda cute.”
“Kinda cute, huh?” Parker said while grabbing her purse.
“Yeah.” He leaned forward. “Truth be told, I think thick women are sexy.”
“Well, thanks for the truth report.” Parker stood to leave. “Nice to meet you, um, what was your name?”
“Right. Sure is. Nice talking to you, Derrick. Have a great night.” She smiled politely as she began to leave. She looked over at Sydney, who appeared to be having a really good conversation. At least she’s happy. Parker then watched as the body language of the other people in attendance. Some looked interested in conversation while others looked uncomfortable. I wonder how many of these women wish they had the guts to do like I’m doing and just walk out of this foolishness. As Parker walked to her car, she noticed Jackson standing outside door talking to a female. He was standing close to her with one hand on the wall, and the other one holding her waist. See, this is what I’m talking about! Urie deserves better than this loser! Parker began to walk over to where he was standing, but she decided against it. Instead, she pulled out her cell phone and calls Urie.
“Thought you were out?” Urie answered between bites of a cookie.
“And now I’m not.”
“That bad, huh?”
“Um, yeah. So what are you doing tonight? Are you, Eva, and Jack hanging out?”
“No, it was his night to work at the center. Eva’s at a friend’s. So it’s me and my cookies tonight. What are you gonna do now?”
“Go get a burger and wait for Sydney. She is in her element. I was in hell.” Parker sighed as she watched Jackson kiss the woman gently. Great. How am I supposed to address this?
About PLUS Inc.
PLUS Inc. is a multi-character drama following the lives of four friends. Taking place in Chicago, IL., the ladies – Parker, Lydia, Urie, and Sydney – face life as they hold each other up through the bonds of friendship.
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