The last time I saw Darrell had to be something close to three year ago, during my freshman year. I was mysterious then because I was still new. Fresh from the west coast and doing a terrible job at fitting in at a school that was predominately black
Darrell was the type of person who was quiet during the day hours, but at any party doesn’t like to see you without a drink in your hand, typically both hands.
“Drink.” He said shoving another beer into my hands. I think it was PBR, and instead of reminding him that I’m from the place where producing wine is more of a competitive sport, I just drank.
Darrell was built something close to maybe 6’6’’, but every bit of a gentle giant aside from the fact he wouldn’t let me acknowledge my own alcohol tolerance. Built broad, with skin so dark it almost glowed a deep purple color, like the skin of a plum. His full beard and dark eyes were both alluring and when he handed me drink, after drink, he pretty much knew he’d be assuming responsibility for any poor actions on my behalf later in the evening. Before I could even finish my beer, he was shoving another concoction into my chest.
“What’s in this?” I slurred shaking my plastic cup of an almost neon blue liquid.
He said something I couldn’t really make sense of. I know commercials on MTV tell you not to take drinks given to you by men, and yes, I could have stood to know Darrell a bit better before taking every drink offered, but MTV says a lot of things I don’t quite believe to be true, like 30 year-olds make convincing high school students in original programming, and nobody actually wants to see music videos anymore, anyway.
That, by the way, is drunk logic. And on such logic, I accepted another drink.
It tasted about as safe as it looked – perhaps a mix of cat urine, eye discharge, and whatever keeps glow sticks working.
Darrell laughed at how contorted my face was after taking just a sip. I think I looked the way Mariah Carey looks when she attempts high notes without a track in the background.
“Just finish it,” He said over his rolling laughter, and you know what, I did just that. Crushing the plastic cup against his brawny chest after completing every drop.
I can only vaguely recall what occurred afterwards. I think lights danced. Some of the lines on the walls moved. The room spun. Walking in a straight line resembled nouveu contemporary performance art. I remember lounging lazily among a group of our friends, playing card games I had never played before with rules that required everyone get loud, usually for no reason whatsoever.
I laid comfortably close to Darrell, who was becoming comfortably close with me, running his hand through my thick hair. I didn’t stop him. It wasn’t 2016 yet and there weren’t nearly that many think pieces out on consent yet, but I feel strong that for this unique case, if I wanted him to stop, he would have, but I didn’t want him to.
His hand moved down my back, up my t-shirt and his finger caressed my lower spine. My guess is he was seeing what point was ‘crossing the line’ and frankly, I think we were both figuring it out as he went and after a couple seconds of being touched, very secretly, in the presence of our friends, he got up, in the direction of what was the restroom.
Was I new to college? Yes.
Was this my first time being in a group of other black gay men? Yes.
Did I know protocol? Yep. Sure the fuck did.
I gave it a solid five minutes before I stumbled my way to the bathroom. The entire room was in full swing, voices fought one another to out-loud each other. I could have spontaneously combusted and I don’t think anyone would have realized until cleaning up the apartment the following morning.
I slipped into the bathroom where Darrell had been leaning against the wall, waiting. His eyes were dark and calculating. In more of collapse then a movement forward, we crashed into each other and began kissing there in the awful burned yellow lighting of the bathroom.
I have a bit of an insecurity about how slender my own frame is, not in a body image sort of way, but in the way where I’m highly aware that if a man wanted to force me into anything, I wouldn’t ever have the strength to protect myself.
I find it wildly attractive when a man lets me know that he is in fact larger but I have nothing to worry about. He gets double the points if he can make the statement, nonverbally. Darrell got all the points that night.
His large and powerful hands searching me carefully, but never making me feel trapped. He didn’t force me to be closer or to kiss deeper. He ensured me that drinking with him would be safe, and even if we were making an awful decision, I still felt as if he was a safe person to make bad decision with.
I choose my bad decisions wisely. I chose him.