Black Femme Collective calls for creative nonfiction submissions from Black Queer Femme Storytellers engaging in the theme REST.

Wild Nights in Atlanta

Briana Ladwig
Visual art by Briana Ladwig

Hello lovely lady, I’m Destiny’s friend Che. I’m in town for my birthday and I’d like to take you out to dinner to celebrate with me. 

I read the text message from an out-of-state number that popped up on my LG Chocolate-White cellphone in January of 2008.

It was a Friday night as I laid on my futon in my master bedroom watching reruns of “Sex and the City.” I ate honeydew cubes bought at the overpriced Whole Foods on Midtown’s Ponce de Leon Avenue, rather than at Stone Mountain’s affordable Kroger where sketchy people sold one-hundred-fifty dollars’ worth of food stamps for seventy-five bucks in the parking lot.

I watched season two episode eight of “Sex”—as my friends called it—when Carrie asked if modern humans, like Ancient Greeks, need myths to get through the random torture that modern dating is. Just as Carrie asked the question, “Have the relationship gods smiled [down on us],” Destiny’s friend messaged me. 

Hey Che, Happy Birthday! I’d love to celebrate with you! I messaged back.

A year ago I met our mutual friend Destiny at a work event and we became fast friends after having lunch together one day. While we worked at different locations, we kept in touch and went out to bars and clubs on weekends in Atlanta. We drank Cosmopolitans and did vodka shots and danced our Saturday nights away.

I perked up at the idea of meeting Che for dinner.

Should I wear my hair natural? My teeny-weeny afro? Or your Remy wig on my date? I messaged Destiny.

She texted back, You look cute either way. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable.

I didn’t want to worry about my wig accidentally coming off if I danced too hard or getting caught in a sudden wind or getting caught in a door like in the movies. Plus, I’d never met Che before, so I didn’t need to impress him with an expensive wig. I just needed to have a good time. I decided to wear my natural short hair.

I picked up Che from his friend’s house in the Atlanta suburbs in my two-door white Toyota Celica that looked like the off-brand Ferrari I wanted but couldn’t afford. I wore a body-hugging blue tank top and form-fitting black pants. I went braless as my B-cup breasts were full, perky, and well…perfect. My hourglass figure, round butt, and flat tummy were a product of nightly workouts and lean meals—a consequence of living paycheck to paycheck.

I was on the brink of broke despite my two-story townhouse, two jobs, and car. I owed about one-hundred thousand dollars in student loan debt and some credit card debt, too. Bill collectors called me nonstop. Although my workday started at 7am and ended at 11pm, teaching public school during the day and answering calls in a call center at night barely cleared $2,000 a month. I needed $4,000 a month to make ends meet—$6,000 to really live. 

I started dating to eat decent meals. “Dating for dinner,” I called it.

Through Craigslist personal ads, I met guys who were more than willing to take a twenty-something woman out. I had dinner at a steak restaurant in Atlantic Station with a cute lawyer who took me shopping for shoes afterwards, but never asked me out again because I expressed my distaste at my job holding a work event at a megachurch. I had drinks with a French guy with a four-hour layover from Paris to San Francisco. When I thanked him for the drinks and said I had to go, his response was, “Is that all?” This was before I knew sex workers answered personal ads on Craigslist. Then there was the guy who took me to Café Intermezzo for drinks and dessert and then offered to pay my light bill. To his disbelief, “I pay my own bills,” I replied.

I didn’t accept money from men—just meals.

When I wasn’t out on a date, I ate oatmeal or salads or fresh fruit for dinner. Sometimes I treated myself to small fries and a side salad from Wendy’s, for 99-cents each. To say I was on a budget was an understatement. So I jumped at the opportunity to have dinner with Che to celebrate his birthday. The added perk of a party was perfect.

We had breakfast for dinner at the Landmark Diner, where Che introduced me to Grand Marnier. The sweet orange liqueur over ice was exactly what my sweet-tooth needed. We had fun, witty, intelligent conversation. We also had a moment when a thin white male teenager dressed in all black and a long black trench coat walked into the diner and stood with his hands in his pockets at the door. Che and I both got still and stared at him as he stood in the diner’s entrance. Then he turned around and left. 

Che and I looked at each other and erupted into laughter. 

“You know what time it is,” he said to me.

“For real!” I said.

Sitting across from each Che, I felt safe. His energy was electric.

I could feel the pull of desire, and the beginning of love when I looked in his dark-brown eyes set in an irresistible dark-brown face. There, I saw endless nights of stimulating conversations, laughing, and hand-holding. His white teeth, ready wit, and warm smile had me leaning forward when he talked, had me leaning into him when we walked, had me leaning into the possibility that one dinner date could turn into two or three or four or more.

I loved that he held my hand when we crossed the street.

I loved that he opened doors for me, even though I was driving.

I loved that he walked in front of me when going downstairs and behind me when going upstairs.

That night we met was a blur of house-party hopping from Che’s friend’s house where we watched a boxing match, to Che’s other friend’s house where we had drinks, to our mutual-friend Destiny’s house, where we talked and laughed and took pictures. I don’t remember who won the boxing match. I don’t remember Che’s friends’ names. I do remember that after hanging with Destiny I invited Che to crash back at my townhouse. 

I felt so comfortable with him that I invited him to sleep in my bed. He got in beside me and we laid in the dark in t-shirts. Him in designer boxer-briefs. Me in pink panties. We kissed and he tasted sweet, like Grand Marnier. He kissed my neck, my collarbone, and my breasts as his hands drifted down my body. He slipped my panties down off one leg and let them dangle on one ankle. He parted my legs and kissed my clit.

 

Eight months later, Che flew into Atlanta to celebrate my 28th birthday. Che, Destiny, and I went to a strip club. I wore a long black Remy wig and a little black dress and black high-heels. At the door, the guy said that it was $10 an hour to dance on stage. I laughed.

“I’m not here to dance. I’m meeting my friends.”

“Come on in.” The man waved me inside past the black curtains. 

I was flattered that he mistook me for a stripper.

I found Che and Destiny at the bar drinking. She wore the same little black dress that she had on the last time we went to a strip club, the time when she disappeared in the champagne room with a light-skinned stripper named Blaze. Destiny liked slender women with flat chests—like her. Destiny’s lack of hips and tits kept her in the friend-zone. I was completely uninterested in her sexually and the feeling was mutual. She was into thin women like her and I was into curvy women like me. We were the perfect wing-women for each other.

Destiny sipped a Cosmopolitan. Che ordered me a Grand Marnier neat in a snifter. We saw a mahogany skin-toned stripper with an hourglass figure who we both liked. He told her to give me a lap dance. She named her price, “$20 for five minutes.” She led us to an empty booth with black satin seating. I sat down. She straddled me. She let me touch her hips. He sat beside us and watched me run my hands up her back and around to her breasts. I rubbed my face between her full c-cups. Her nipples hardened. My panties moistened. I held her breasts firmly and moved my face over them until my 5-minute lap-dance was over.

“That’s what’s up.” Che said and paid the stripper. “What’s your name?”

“Peaches.” She said.

“Take my number.” He told her his cell phone number. “Call us.”

“Thanks beautiful.” Peaches said to me as she put on her black lace bra that matched her panties. She walked off in six-inch clear plastic high heels called Pleasers.

“You really are bi.” Che grinned at me.

Later we would end up in my bed together: me between Che and Destiny. My back to her, my face to him. The three of us drunk on cocktails, mixed drinks, and tequila shots. The three of us smelling like cigarette smoke, marijuana smoke, and strip clubs. Destiny behind me with her slender fingers tenderly in my soft pubic hair between my thick thighs playing with my clit. Che before me with his full lips on my brown breasts. His warm hands giving me nipple orgasms. Her soft fingers easing in and out of me, making me cum. Him making me cum. Me kissing him between orgasms. Me silently thanking Destiny.

Maybe watching “Sex and the City” conjured up my modern happily-ever-after full of fun, sex, and laughter. Maybe the relationship-gods had smiled down on us. Maybe urban legends about one night-stands turning into relationships do come true. Che and I coming together felt like destiny.

Briana Ladwig
Briana Ladwig is a Black, queer, mama illustrator based in Lawrence, Kansas whose work centers around Black Liberation, decolonizing storytelling, generational healing, and afrofuturism. She grew up learning to draw on the floor of her dad’s art studio, receiving a natural education from closely watching his work as a master book illustrator. She now draws inspiration from the cycle-breaking work of her ancestors and Black speculative fiction, especially the works of Octavia Butler. Bri’s favorite medium is lush, textured watercolors under detailed pen lines. Bri is currently working on an illustration/design degree at the KU while doing freelance illustration work from home.
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