“I’ll Date Who I Want”

My choice to date a person of color, however unpopular that decision was at the time. In response to TeriJo’s prompt “Choice.”

First things first, today I’m happily married to my loving husband, the guy that saved me from so many bad choices 33 years ago.

However, back in 1980, things were different for me. I was an eager, trusting, young woman in the military, just starting out, feeling my oats, the world my oyster as they say.

I had no vices, no prejudices, no preconceived notions about anything or anyone. I was a naive little girl, boy crazy, and recently graduated from basic training, one of the hardest things I had ever done. I was feeling accomplished, yet knew I had so much more to learn, explore, and experience in my life.

My bestie Teresa and I used to get in so much trouble together in basic, and here we were together again in AIT, we were just looking for adventure, and yeah, we wanted to learn stuff too. We were stationed in San Antonio, Texas-my favorite place to be-and even though we heard all the warnings about rape and assaults off base, we were young and dumb, craving the moment we were given time off to go explore and party.

A little background on me, I was extremely overprotected as a child. I was not allowed to date, was raised strict, in a household where my Dad was ex-military and my Mom was a control freak. I had a younger brother who was also protective, to the point of not letting me out of the house if he didn’t like what I was wearing. It was all too much. The military was an escape plan for me.

Anyhow, Teresa and I took every opportunity we got to go explore San Antonio when we got time away from base. That’s when I met B. He was black and I am white. I did not see that though. I saw a tall, dark, handsome, sweet dude that could dance his butt off and that acted like a complete gentleman around me. Imagine my surprise when I discovered we were stationed at the same place, in the same company!

Cut to the chase, the first time we kissed, it was magical. His lips were so soft, his hands were so gentle. He was my gentle, chocolate giant. He carried me around everywhere, which all my fellow soldiers, and instructors thought was cute, at the time. We behaved as we should on base, then snuck off base to explore our relationship when we got the chance. He was so kind, thoughtful, and understanding, he told me as long as we were together, he didn’t care if we never “did it” until I felt ready, if ever.

Imagine my horror then, when I discovered after calling home to tell them about my new beau, that he was not acceptable, that I had relatives in Mississippi that would not cotton to this type of relationship. What the hell? What was everyone talking about? I had never heard this type of language growing up. Did not understand racism, could not fathom what everyone was so upset about. What do you mean I have a brother-in-law who’s a thriving member of the Ku Klux Klan? what the hell is that? I kept all that inside, did not share any of that info with B and continued on…for a while.

Teresa and I had a great time, double dated, she with her beau and me with mine. I’m sure I shared the news with her because we talked about EVERYTHING. She assured me everything would work out, and I felt like love would prevail also. B and I continued to learn all about each other, still not going all the way, yet learning other ways to express our love for each other.

I remember a time we stayed at a cheap motel so we could spend a night together, and the next morning I was inhaling the scent of him and told him “I love the way you smell.” He replied, “That’s Black Man, baby,” only he didn’t say Black Man. I still have trouble penning the other word. Anyway, after snooping around his things in the bathroom later, I discovered what I was smelling was cocoa butter. He used it all over his body every day. I still love that smell.

Flash forward to the first time I got to go home. I wanted to bring B with me to meet the family. They said it would be best if I didn’t, in their most kind and understanding voices. Meanwhile, I had talked to his mother over the phone, she was nothing short of angelic, welcoming and sweet. I couldn’t wait to meet her! He had a brother that had married a white girl, so they were plenty used to that idea. Not my folks though, no way. when I went home, I got the dose of reality slapped into me for good.

Not that they were physical. They just sicced the neighbors, all my friends and the rest of the family on me. They introduced the concept of racism and my poor, naive mind could not handle it. All I knew was that I loved him, no matter what they all said. They said horrible things like, “He will eventually beat you, you know that right?” “You won’t be able to walk the streets with him if you take him to meet your extended family, he might get shot.” I was appalled and horrified.

I made the choice to continue the relationship. I had the support of the military, and B’s love, that was all I needed. Until I got to my permanent party in Colorado. We tried to keep up the long distance relationship for a while. Yet pressure from my family and the fact he was being shipped off to Germany was more than I could take. I broke it off, and he hated me for it. He took my high school ring, I never got it back. I understood his anger and hurt but what could I do? I was young, there were lots more fish in the sea.

I decided if I could not marry the one I loved, I would date whomever I wanted, but not let it get serious. So that was not the end of my “spicy” relationships, yet in the end I married a white boy from Texas, and we have had 33 fabulous years so far. He knows my past, he does not care. He knows I can’t stand talk of race, or the “n” word, he tries to be sensitive. When he is not, I ignore him and go about my business.

I wonder about B and what ever happened to him. I hope he found happiness with someone, and I appreciate all the lessons he taught me. I still believe in my heart, our relationship would have been fine, had I been stronger. At least I made a choice to explore something different, even if it was brief. I chose love over race, I just couldn’t choose him over blood in the end. They say everything happens for a reason. I choose to believe that the reason was to learn the lesson that not everyone fits into a box. B was not the stereotype anymore than I was a white trash, wanna be, or a whore…although some might have said so at the time.

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Where an exploration of the Intricacies of Intimacy can be found. One piece at a time… Come join us.

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Kim Smyth

Kim Smyth

Freelance writer/blogger, editor-creator of Words on a Page blog-https://inkonapage.com. Interests are creative writing, alternative medicine, and music.

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