I Only Have Eyes For Youbymiserybusiness©
"Good grief, mom and dad, how do you expect a fella to get to know anyone if he's constantly moving from town to town?" I was bored to pieces in the back of the car, and mom and dad's cheery demeanor was really ticking me off.
"Pipe down, Brendan, will ya? This is the last time we're moving. It's such a swell neighborhood!"
Swell? Sure. That's what mom said the last time me moved. That was the third time.
Dad cleared his throat in that loud, obnoxious manner that I hated. He pulled up in front of some white picket fenced, too-good-to-be-true, straight out of "I Love Lucy" shack. Whoopie.
"Here we are!" He shut off the engine and opened the door, then walked around to let mom out. She re-tied the sleeves of her cardigan, artfully placed on her shoulders. She swore she was Marilyn Monroe sometimes.
I slid out of the Cadillac--my dad's most prized possession--and kicked the door shut with my heel of Converse sneaker. Dad preferred I wear dressy penny loafers like him. Then again, dad preferred a lot of crap I didn't care too much for.
The movers had pulled up a few seconds after mom and dad entered the fully furnished house. From inside, I could hear mom going on about the gorgeous pool in the backyard, already filled with sparkling water. Whatever. Give a fella like me a good vinyl record of Buddy Holly, Frankie Limon, or Elvis Presley, and I'm good. Pool not required.
Dad beckoned me inside. I reluctantly followed. I had to admit, the house was pretty boss, but I just didn't care. The only thing I wanted to do was hurry up, get through these two months of my life, go on to college, and live life away from this drag of an existence.
Mom was clamoring over how much space was in the living room, perfect for viewing Lucy on the weekends. Dad told her she needed to be worried about how much space was on the counter for the coffee machine and toaster. Typical.
I decided to run away from all the fun and do a little exploring. I walked around the backyard and looked both ways. Two identical houses. How predictable.
Since there was nothing else to do, I just leaned on the white picket fence and pondered my own existence. I felt like Holden Caulfield from "Catcher in the Rye." Totally useless, wayward, and unsure of everything. Maybe if I just let the sun burn my neck, it'd motivate me to get up and do something else, but until then, I'd just be a lazy son of a gun.
Mother nature eventually gave me the sign and I looked up. When I did, I saw something completely out of the ordinary.
She was wearing a bikini, another thing out of the ordinary, since all the girls were expected to cover up everything. She also had on cat eye sunglasses, a towel in her arms. She set it down on a lawn chair and looked around. After that, she took off her glasses and set them on the towel. In a sexy, seductive move, she stretched and then dipped her foot into the pool, laughing at how cold the water was.
I knew one thing. She was a babe. I was just going to guess that she was the only black girl in the neighborhood. I wanted to talk to her, but didn't know if she would be scared of me or think I was part of the Klan or something. At least my parents had finally picked a swell spot for us to move into.
When I turned around, she was gone. Damn. I sulked back into the house only to see my parents outside, greeting the family right next to us. They looked like nice people, the mother a lot prettier than my own mom. However, my parents didn't look too inviting.
I had to stop the awkwardness as the movers began ambling everywhere with stuff. I rolled up the sleeves of my cardigan and stepped outside.
"Hi." I extended a hand. "My name is Brendan Thomas."
The mom smiled. Perfect white teeth. "So nice to meet you, Brendan. My name's Veronica." She turned to her left. "This is my husband, Mr. Allan Wayworth, and my daught--" She sighed. "Tiffany! Tiffany, get over here so you can meet the new neighbors!"
I looked over to where Tiffany was. She yelled out, "But mom, I'm practically naked!"
I swear, I flipped at the thought of seeing her naked.
"Just wrap a towel around you!" Mrs. Wayworth chuckled to herself and then said to my parents, "She was about to take a dip in the pool."
Nothing. My parents were so dry. Geez, they weren't aliens, they were just black people.
When Tiffany showed up, my jaw dropped.
She managed to put on shorts. Tiny shorts. Very tiny shorts. Shorts that made my heart race. She'd thrown on some cardigan over her bikini, and looked absolutely delicious. Tiffany had beautiful brown eyes, skin the color of amber, and a body that would make Sophia Loren jealous.
Now if only I could get out the words.
"H..Hi. My name...My name is Brendan." I adjusted my glasses--something I always do when I'm nervous--and held out my hand, waiting for hers to touch mine.
"Hi." She smiled and grabbed my hand. "Tiffany. Nice to meet you." I held her hand for just a second too long, and she must have noticed it, because she kind of forcefully ripped it out of mine. "Sorry." Then, I willed myself not to blush.
"New neighbors, eh?" Veronica said, noting the movers. Mom nodded. "You have excellent powers of perception."
Allan caught wind of my mom's little chide remark and cleared his throat. "So what made you folks pick this neighborhood?" He straightened his tie and folded his arms.
"Great location," My dad answered, uninterested. "And because of the people who live here."
They were ruining my chances of talking to Tiffany again by being racist! I hated my parents! I was so frosted, I didn't know what to do.
I had to save the way the conversation was going.
"Mr. and Mrs. Wayworth, it'd be swell to have you guys over for dinner sometime. My mom makes a mean pot roast." I smiled and then looked at Tiffany. "You're invited too, of course." Nervously, I ran a hand through my hair. She didn't smile at first, but I saw the corners of her mouth twitch.
"Sounds great." Mrs. Wayworth grabbed her husband's arm and squeezed it. "Honey, let's go inside now. Service starts in an hour. Can't be late. Come on, Tiffany." They all left. My parents scared them off.
As soon as they were out of earshot, my mom whispered, "Filthy niggers. What are they doing in this nice neighborhood, anyway?"
I watched Tiffany walk away and hoped she would turn around, but she didn't. Well, at least she touched me. Yes, it was just a handshake, but it was enough for me.
That night, I spent most of the time listening to my parents lecture me about the dangers of 'cavorting with trash,' in reference to the Wayworths. I didn't listen. I didn't even bother to say anything, because there was no convincing my uptight mom and dad about anything.
"And stay away from that little slut Tiffany." Mom said, sitting at her vanity, robe splayed behind her. She set down her brush roughly. "She's no good for you. Did you see those shorts she had on? Definitely not marriage material."
Dad lit one of his stupid Cuban cigars and put in, "One day son, I'll let you take the car into town so you can meet a nice little dolly. You know, you're at the age when you should be thinking about settling down."
I was only nineteen.
I'd endured enough. I left and headed for the backyard when I knew my parents would be asleep. They're such fuddy-duddies, they slept at around eight, which gave me much freedom. Since I was bored, I put on my trunks and went for a late night dip. It wasn't until I came up for air that I noticed Tiffany was swimming in her pool, too.
Bobbing around in the water, I just wanted to get up and walk over to her place. Do something. Hell, a fella got tired of only talking to his parents. My old friends were back in Wisconsin, and with no phone yet, I couldn't even talk to them. I needed to be social, and if she was the only one around, why not? Didn't hurt that she was beautiful.
I worked up enough guts to haul ass over to her backyard before she got up and dried off. A million emotions ran through me as I knocked on the yard gate. She looked up and saw that it was me. At first, I thought she was going to ignore me, but then she opened up the gate.
She squinted her eyes. "Brendan, right?"
I nodded. "Evening, Tiffany. How's it going?"
Tiffany frowned. "Why are you here?"
Because I like you, and I want to make out with you, I wanted to say. Instead, I said, like a coward, "What, am I not supposed to be here?"
Tiffany folded her arms and wrung her hair dry. "Your parents are racist."
I grabbed onto the gate to keep from looking nervous, but it only made me look more nervous. "Yes, they are."
"So who's to say you aren't?" Though she was mad at me, I had to admit, she had the best figure. I wanted to squeeze her thighs, fondle her medium-sized breasts, and as soon as she turned around, I could survey the attractiveness of her derriere.
I had to plead my case.
"I'm not racist. I promise." She didn't look like she was moved.
"Sure. Every white person I've met has been racist. Same crackas who smile in our faces are the same ones who put crosses on our yards and then burn them."
What was I going to say?
"Tiffany," I tickled the tip of the picket fence and hunched my shoulders. "my parents are idiots. They're not hip. And I apologize for their rudeness this afternoon. Please don't think I'm like that, too."
Tiffany sucked her teeth. "Brendan, do you know what happened when my family and I went to a public pool?" She walked over to the pool and dipped her foot in. Now I got a view of her butt, and it was marvelous.
"What?" I asked, scared to walk in for fear of her telling me off.
"They drained it. They fucking drained the entire pool." She folded her arms and walked back over to me. "We moved here so we wouldn't have to worry about that. But we can't keep running from people. We can't let everyone run us out of the neighborhood because of their ignorance. I mean, I'm a normal girl, I should be able to listen to Frankie Limon in my own room without worrying about someone burning the house down."
"You're right. You're absolutely right." I kept looking at the distance between us. I hated it. I wanted to get closer. "Can you please let me in?"
She squinted her eyes. When she sighed and reluctantly opened the door, I felt like I'd conquered the first step.
"I hope God sees what I'm doing because I take a lot of crap off you white people only to get nothing in return," she said, locking the gate.
"Tiffany," I walked over to her. Face to face. "I'm positive that I'll never understand how it feels for you to be ridiculed because of the color of your skin. For you to be made fun of before you even open your mouth. Being judged is no fun. I'm sorry you have to go through this, but I'd really like for us to be friends. I mean, I moved here from Wisconsin for crying out loud. I have no tangible friends at the moment." When I finished, I looked down at my bare feet. Hopefully, I'd won her over.
"Not only that, but you listen to Frankie Limon, and that's terrific."
She softened a bit, and smiled. Tiffany touched the back of her neck and licked her lips. "Yes, I love Frankie. You like the Platters?"
Of course! I could already tell she was my musical soulmate.
"I love them. I went ape when I saw them on "American Bandstand."
She smiled again. Yes, warm up for me. Actually, she looked like she was getting cold.
"Do you want a towel?" I was about to hand her the folded towel on the chair, but she declined. "I'm getting back in," she responded.
I stood up. She began making fun of my glasses.
"You look like Buddy Holly in those things."
It was true.
"Hey, Buddy Holly is the man." I laughed behind my joke and stood before the pool, watching Tiffany glide through the water. I had to get in there with her.
"Tiffany, you mind if I join you there?"
She bobbed in the water, like she was contemplating. When she let me in, I rejoiced on the inside.
"You better not be racist, Brendan. I feel like I'm betraying my gut instincts right now."
But why? If I was just going to be a friend to her, why did she feel this way?
I swam a bit closer until I was at the edge. "Why?"
She swam to the edge, as well. "Because you're white. Maybe sometime in the future, this wouldn't be a big deal, but right now, this is dangerous."
"I know that, but I'm just an aquaintance. I mean, maybe...maybe we'll get to know each other, but why are you so scared, Tiffany?"
Tiffany rolled her eyes. "You have no idea what it means to be colored, so you'll never know."
"Don't you mean black? Colored is so derogatory. I mean, to be honest with you, I don't see the purpose of segregation, either. If America is so forward-thinking and so open-minded, you'd think they wouldn't be too miffed about us hanging out in the same pool."
That must have won her over, because she nodded and agreed. "I guess you can't be totally racist if you're dropping lines like that."
I got closer to her. "I'm not racist at all, I keep trying to tell you." I smiled. God, she was beautiful, and she couldn't bring herself to look at me completely. "Let me prove it to you."
Tiffany looked away, then back at me. "Okay, fine. You wanna prove it to me? Prove that you're not racist?"
I nodded. "More than anything." That came off a little too eager, but she didn't seem to mind.
She licked her lips. "There's a malt shop about a half an hour away." She poked my shoulder and went on, "It's predominately white, not segregated, but still racist. Take me there tomorrow at around noon. If I feel like you're not being all disrespectful or anything, I'll take you seriously."
It was a challenge, being around all those racist white people, but a fella had to do what a fella had to do.
"I will. You got yourself a deal." I held out my hand and she shook mine. When we let go, I watched as she inched out of the water. I followed.
"I should be going to bed." Tiffany grabbed a towel and wrapped it around herself. "I'm actually kind of tired."
I nodded. "Okay. Well, you get some shuteye. I'll see you tomorrow?"
She smirked. "I don't know, will you?"
I laughed and then headed for the gate, Tiffany right behind me. She locked the gate and I turned around and stared at her for a second. "Night, Tiffany."
Tiffany ran her hands up and down herself and replied, "Night, Brendan."
The next day came quickly. Dad told me to take the Cadillac into town and find a nice girl. I would, alright. Dad took a cab into the city while mom stayed behind and fixed dinner. I had no idea about Tiffany's parents' whereabouts, but I hoped they weren't around in case they kept Tiffany from going.
I rang the doorbell. Buddy Holly glasses? Check. Worn-in leather jacket reminiscent of Dean Martin? Check. Jeans? Check. Converse? Check. Once she opened the door, I realized that I looked entirely too dressy, but then I saw her.
I was floored. She wore a red button up shirt over a black and white polka dotted dress with the saddle shoes. Tiffany looked better than any other white girl I'd seen wearing that outfit.
"Hey there, Buddy Holly." She joked, twirling a strand of hair around her finger.
"Hi, babe." I said, hoping I'd proven myself thus far. The real test was at the malt shop.
Won't lie, I was nervous when we walked in together. All the normal squares, I guessed, frequented the malt shops, because they were out in droves today. The whole place stopped when we walked in, though we were just friends. We each ordered two vanilla milkshakes and just sat around and talked. Tiffany and I had a lot of things in common. We both liked soul music a lot, hated everything about our old neighborhoods except our friends, and wanted out, badly. It was like we shared the same spirit.
Luckily, no one was ignorant enough to come over and rattle our cages, except for the dirty looks. I just knew that I'd proven myself. I was genuinely happy to be in her company.
During the ride home, Tiffany seemed shocked. I could tell. At a red light, she blurted out, "Guess you're not racist after all." She smiled and I turned to face her, adjusting my glasses again. "I told you."
Tiffany smoothed out her dress and grinned. She had to have been happy that her next door neighbor wasn't a likely candidate to burn down her house. And I was happy that she was such a nice, respectable young girl. And gorgeous, on top of that.
When I pulled up to her house, I opened the door for her and led her to the doorstep.
"Guess this is it. Did you enjoy our little date?" Oops. I smacked myself in the head. "Sorry, it was a Freudian slip."
Tiffany laughed behind her hand. "It's okay, Brendan." She touched my shoulder. I knew she could see me blushing.
"I had a real swell time, Tiffany."
"Me too, Brendan."
Silence. I had to do something.
"Tiffany, forgive me for saying this, but I think you're. . . well, unreal."
She laughed out loud. "Thank you, Brendan. I think you're unreal, too."
Standing on her porch with sweaty palms and a racing mind, I had to move fast. She was about to let herself in, but I grabbed her arm and went in for the kill.
Kissing Tiffany was breathtaking. She kissed me back, too. She had the softest lips, and the cutest little moan as I ran my hands over her back. I felt like I was in heaven.
Until my dad caught us and went ape, that is. He'd just been arriving from the city, and was not too happy about it. Neither were Tiffany's parents, just because I was the spawn of the parents they hated.
"You are not to see that nigger filth ever again!" "Stay away from her or suffer dire consequences, young man!" "I thought you were going into town to find a NICE girl?" were just some of the phrases thrown around during dinner.
It didn't work.
I kept sneaking around my parents to see Tiffany as much as I could. We'd fool around, but there was no sex. Not yet. I just couldn't pull myself away from her. She was too pretty for that. This went on for about a month until something really bad happened.
She woke me up by actually climbing onto the balcony of my room. When I heard knocking on the window, I put on my glasses and parted the curtains. Tiffany was there, hugging herself in her nightie, looking terrified. I quickly opened the door and let her in.
"My goodness, what's the matter, Tiff?" I closed the window behind her and gave her a hug after kissing her forehead numerous times.
"Someone put a cross on my lawn and burned it, Brendan." She hugged me back. Tightly.
"Oh, babe, I'm sorry to hear about that. Are your parents okay?" I ran my hands through her thick hair and she cried into my arms.
"Babe, babe, babe. Shhhh. It's okay." I kissed her lips and wanted nothing more than to wash that pain away from her. She buried her head in my chest and I led her to the bed.
"But your parents? Won't they--"
"Just have to fucking deal with it if they walk in."
I threw the covers over us and held her. "You're safe with me, Tiffany. I promise you." I kissed her cheek and rubbed her body up and down to keep her warm. "You're okay."
She turned around to face me and I wiped her tears away. "Dollface, don't cry. I hate to see you cry. I only want to see you happy."
She laughed. "Brendan, sometimes I wonder if you're really real."
I touched myself. "I'm not a ghost, dollface, now am I?"
It was totally dark in the room besides the light of the moon hitting the window. I thought it was romantic, despite the circumstances. Plus, there was so much body heat going on between us, I was ready for us to consummate our relationship. For hours.
I stroked her arm gently and whispered, "Are you okay, dollface?" I kissed her neck and she turned around, her hair almost landing in my mouth.
"Why are you calling me dollface all of a sudden?" She traced a finger around my glasses, which she'd now come to love.