What We Talk About When We Talk About Trust
It was a beautiful day. The bright yellow sun peeked through the dingy brown blinds in my kitchen. The only noise outside were the birds singing back and forth to each other. Inside the house, the stereo echoed the tunes of Marvin Gaye from the living room area. It was the kind of day that made you want to sit outside on the porch with a significant other or a parent and reminisce with a cold brewski in your hand and classic songs on the radio. The ones that would make you turn to them with a smile and say “Oh man! You remember this one?” I loved these types of days. I looked out the window daydreaming until I felt a pair of skinny, smooth arms wrap around my waist. Jada.
“Hey sweetheart.” I spoke to her with a smile running across my face.
“Hey you.” She replied. “Zerric is 5 minutes away and Brian and Juice should be pulling up any minute now.”
“Sounds good.” I replied with a kiss on her caramel colored check.
They were my best friends in the universe since grade school. Every fist fight, every break up, every party, we were together. Now look at us; late twenties, wives( aside from Juice) and careers. We came a long way since those days, but blood couldn’t make us any closer. Just because Juice didn’t have a wife didn’t mean he wasn’t good with women. He always knew how to pick up women. He tells us he’s just not the “settling down type” nut we think his day is coming soon. Zerric found his wife in Panama City Beach believe it or not. That’s the last place you expect to meet a girl. But she was a good one. Graduated from Spelman University with a degree in Broadcasting and now is the weather girl for Channel 2. Pretty girl. Brian on the other hand met his girl on his campus. She was African, dark chocolate in the skin, and as fine as they come. Green eyes, hourglass shape and a little accent that made EVERY man on campus try to talk to her. But she took a liking to Brian for some reason. Not that Brian wasn’t a good looking guy, but this girl could have easily been on the front page of a Victoria’s Secret lingerie catalog. She graduated with her Bachelors of Science and is working for the FDA. I tell ya, if she hadn’t looked Brian’s way………
My woman was better than them all. I met her in the 6th grade. Caramel skin, long curly, burgundy hair. She was skinny but thick where it mattered. She knew she was fine. Walked like it, talked like it every day. I got lost in her hazel eyes since day one and I’ve been hooked ever since. She graduated from West Georgia with an Early Education degree and is only the way to get her Masters. Mmmhmmmhmmm! I love it.
I was daydreaming again as if I didn’t need to start cooking these burgers and hot dogs. As I soaked the coal with lighter fluid and threw a match in there, a ball of fire shot up in the air. I threw the hot dogs on there and threw the hamburgers on there.
“Dammit, HEY BABE” I shouted to Jada, who was upstairs in the bedroom. “How many do you think were gonna need?”
“Probably 3 packs if you’re eating.” I heard a voice say from behind me along with laughter. It was Juice, along with Zerric and Brian and the wives.
“Man, shut up!” I laughed while greeting them with hugs, handshakes and smiles. Jada came outside with the typical “Heyyy Gurlll!”
“Man, I know you don’t think this burnt ass food is edible!” Zerric said.
“But I bet you’ll wolf it down as usual fool. And it ain’t even burnt! Its WELL DONE.” I said as I showed him a brown piece of hamburger on the grill.
They knew I could cook, but since everybody was around, somebody had to get the jokes started. The music grew louder and we began to eat. The table was full of laughter, dancing and of course, gossip by the ladies. They couldn’t go one cookout without it. When the food was gone and the sun began to set, I got up from the table and grabbed a bottle of Hennessey cognac, along with 4 shot glasses.
“Hell yea” Juice exclaimed. “It’s been a long week man, I need a drink.”
Juice wasn’t an alcoholic, but he’d never turn down a drink. The women laughed and Jada went and grabbed a bottle of wine from the cabinet along with 4 wine glasses. I smirked at her and she giggled at me.
“Let’s go y’all.” I said as the fellas followed me outside and the women went back into the living room to gossip as usual.
We sat at the table in the backyard and I slammed the shot glasses down, poured the brown liquor in all four of them and counted down from 3. 3,2,1, glasses up, glasses down.
“Blehh,” Zerric said with a sour face. “I love it but I hate it.”
“The hell you talking about Zerric?” I said with a smile on my face.
“The liquor! It’s a love hate relationship. I love the way I get after about 4 more of these but I hate the way it goes down. Catch my drift?” Zerric said.
“True.” Brian and Juice responded.
As the liquor began to flow, we began to become the wives and start gossiping. Everybody told their share of dirt. Brian said that the Patriots were about to trade their leading wide receiver to the damn Buffalo Bills. Outrageous. We argued about that for at least a half hour. You know it gets real personal when there are 4 dudes and football being discussed. Then Juice came in and talked about his “personal affairs” with some girl he met at the club the previous night. I swear Juice comes up with the weirdest stories about these women that make you want to laugh until your blue in the face and puke at the same time and this one was no different. We got around to Brian and we knew his story was about to be of epic proportions because of the look in his eye.
“Yo! Did y’all hear Robert and Rochelle are getting a divorce?” he exclaimed.
“NO WAY” I shouted as I stood up from the table with a shocked expression and a smile on my face. It wasn’t funny, it was appalling to me. I mean, the two of them were the quintessential example of a perfect couple. Robert bought her flowers every week, they took trips and cruises every year, and they always looked like they were in the “honeymoon” phase of their relationship. What’s even crazier was that they were about to celebrate their 4th anniversary.
I heard she was cheating. And get this; it was with Richard that works at WAL-MART.” He said as he looked at our shocked faces. He continued. “Yep. I heard Robert was at work at the bank and they let him go early because the bank closed early. They said he pulled up at his house and saw Richards’s old Chevy truck in the driveway. He walked in and heard something in the bedroom and walked right in on them going at it.” A burst of moans and grunts came from the table.
“That’s crazy man!” I spoke.
“That is pretty crazy. She’s wrong for that.” Zerric said. “But divorce? That’s heavy. Did they even discuss-
“Discuss what?” Juice interjected. “Aint nothing to discuss when a woman goes and does some crap like that. She can’t be trusted. Point blank period.”
“So Juice if you had a “Significant Other” and you guys were deep into a relationship, if she cheated, you’d just say to hell with it and divorce her?” I spoke
“I don’t know man, but that’s unacceptable. I couldn’t say with a woman who does stuff like that.” He responded.
“Juice shut up. You know you would stay with her.” Zerric said. By this time the liquor was flowing and I could tell we were about to have a deep conversation that could end really good….or really bad.
“Lemme ask you guys something. What is the foundation of a relationship?”
“Trust.” I quickly responded. “How do you plan to be with a woman you cant trust?”
“Exactly.” Juice responded. “How would you feel if your woman did that to yall? Like I understand you guys love your woman. I know, I’ve been there. But I trusted too many women and got my heart crushed too many times.”
Damn. I never thought of that. I trusted Jada, but my eyes can only go so far. I can’t see her for 8 hours out of the day, what does she do? I mean I know she works but what if she went “to get coffee” a couple times after work? I would have no clue. I’d just go for the usual “Hey, I’m grading some papers. I’ll be home a little late” excuse.
“I think that even if my woman cheated, I’d try to work it out.” Brian said
“Why? Just so she could do it again? That’s stupid and you know it. Whats the saying? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Juice resounded. Another shot, followed by the BANG of slamming the shot glass on the table.
“How have you guys come to trust your women?” Juice asked
“I love her. And I don’t think she would ever do that to me because she loves me.” I said
“Y’all remember what happened between me and Debra?” Juice asked while giving us all the death stare. Debra was the closest Juice ever got to being happily ever after. “I loved her with my soul. I had the ring in my pocket when I went up to her apartment that night. Who knew I wasn’t the only one right?” He laughed but it wasn’t a happy laugh. I sounded like a laugh that he was holding back tears with. “All it takes is one girl to ruin your perspective of women. She had my heart in her hand and with no 2nd guessing, she just stepped on it. I trusted her. She told me she would never do something like that. But she did, didn’t she? I would have never though-” he paused to gather himself.
“I don’t know what I’d do if my woman cheated on me. But it’s just hard for me to see her doing that. You’re making it seem like all women are like that Juice and they’re not. You just got a bad deal that time. It happens. It would take a lot for my trust with her to be demolished.” Zerric spoke up.
“More than somebody doing what you do to her? How many times? More than once? Twice? Shit, she’s probably doing it righ-“
“Watch your damn mouth Juice.” Zerric interjected with some fury.
“Come on now Juice, you don’t gotta go there.” I spoke.
“Just hear me out. I was downtown yesterday and I saw a couple holding hands, all mushy and what not. I smiled because that warms my heart. The man gave his woman a kiss on the cheek before he got in line to get her some food. She went and grabbed a table for them. While she was sitting, some guy approached her and held conversation with her for a good minute. And right when he was about to leave, she gave this man her number and he gave her a kiss on the cheek. Here comes boyfriend, not seeing anything and she just goes right back to being all mushy-mushy with him. Who does that? It could have been miniscule, but who know? It could blossom into an affair between them.”
“How do you know he didn’t know anything? Or she doesn’t know him already?” Brian said.
“Because I WAS THE ONE WHO DID THAT.” Juice exclaimed. “I walked over there because I thought I knew her but I didn’t, and she started being friendly. If she’s gonna be friendly, I’m not going to pass up an opportunity. I didn’t even ask for her number, she GAVE it to me and told me to call her sometimes. I was disgusted, but I texted her 2 days ago and you should see what she tells me. I wanna do this and that to you. And she has a boyfriend, or a husband or something like that. I want to trust women so bad, but its things like this that prevent me from doing so. I know GOD doesn’t create women to do this. I mean in the bible, it’s one man and one woman, isn’t it? I don’t know, I haven’t been to church in a minute, but still. Where do they get these traits from? Loyalty is all I ask for and if I cant get that from a woman, then I’ll just do what they do. Play the game as it goes. Fellas, I love y’all to death and I love your wives equally. I would never want any of that to happen to any of y’all. But be careful with these women. Trust is hard to come by. Don’t let love block your sight. Because the way I see it, love is like a pair of shades. What do shades do? Block the sun. Don’t let love block your vision of what’s really going on. I would never want you guys to turn out like Robert, or worse; like me. I love y’all too much for that. If you trust her, cool. But be careful. Even Satan was once an angel.”
There wasn’t much more said after that about the subject. We talked about other stuff. But you could tell that the conversation was still fresh in everybody’s mind because there was an awkward mood around the table. It was now dark and the only light we had was from the fire we started. The wives popped out the living room jolly and full of laughter. We could tell that it was time to depart from each other. We gave hugs and handshakes, but when I got to Juice, I hugged him a little longer because I could tell he needed it. When we both drew back, he gave me a smile. As everybody left, I sat by the fire. Jada was cleaning up.
“You wanna come inside baby?” she asked me from the kitchen.
“No, not right now sweetie. I’m just going to finish this bottle and sit for a while. It’s soothing.” I responded. She smiled and walked back inside, shutting the screen door. I must have stayed out there for an hour, staring and talking at the stars hoping that was the quickest way for GOD to hear me. I asked him for one thing; please don’t let this happen to me and mine. I must have repeated that to myself 50 times. When I was done, I stood up feeling a little woozy. It was probably from the liquor. I poured water on the fire and the grill, took one more look outside, and made my way up to the bedroom.
A Critical Reflection on a Creative Short Story of “What We Talk About When We Talk About Trust”
The process of making this story was very long and time consuming. Some may see that as a negative thing, but I see it more in the positive because it made me sit down and really realize what I wanted to work on and what my inspiration and drive would be. The more time I had, the better because it allowed me to really enter the realm of creativity and brought forth thoughts and ideas that could not be accomplished in a mere 2 or 3 days. My inspiration came from the story What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver. It shaped my creative work because it brought me back to a time where I have experienced the same “intervention” with my friends and their significant others. The difference between Carvers work and my creative story is the setting and the topics discussed. But it brought me back to a time where the questions about love and trust were in great discussion. The story describes the thoughts of a group of peers about trust in relationships. Different things shape a relationship, but the key or the bolts that hold everything together is trust. The story is told through the narrator’s eyes, but feature dialogue from his best friends. This is where the conversation flows. Tempers flared and some people got mad, but that was the great part about it. Ideas were thrown around like wet paint on a paintbrush and it was beautiful and chaotic at the same time. I decided to write the story in first person so the reader could see through my eyes what was going on and how I saw it happening. I wanted the reader to feel as if they were me in this situation and not just reading another story. The first person point of view adds a different aspect so the reader understands what’s going on more thoroughly. It shows all the pain, all the laughter and all the love of the friends in this conversation. It paints a picture like none other. I believe this piece of work demonstrated an understanding of the work, but also adding a creative element to it.
Carver, Raymond. “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” The Story and Its Writer. Compact 9th ed. Ed. Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 132-41.