Sprawl—lie or sit with the arms and legs spread out, especially ungracefully: The people sprawled on the beach in their bathing suits.
It was a Saturday, summer afternoon, and the members of Nefertari --a belly dance troupe--and our instructor, TJ were sitting in Bar Louie’s in Hyde Park winding down from an intense 2 hour plus class. It was the whole crew—Tenisha, Diane, Nicole, Carmen and of course, me. Tired to the point of being silly, we were laughing and talking when Diane shared a recent conversation she had, had with her four-year old niece, Kyla who had discovered her vagina, and wanted to show her “toochie” to Auntie Diane. We were laughing hysterically and making all kinds of lewd comments, when this buff-body walked over to the table and interrupted our reverie. “Ms. Gates, is that you? How are you doing Ms. Gates?” said one of my former students all grown up. Freddie was in my class for two years when I first started teaching. “Hey Freddie!” I replied, silencing the silly in me before introducing him to my so-called friends. I felt my horns retracting, and was nearly blinded by the light from my halo when Freddie finished singing my praises. I was surprised my dance sisters didn’t throw in a few hallelujahs and amens of their own. As only my luck would have it, Freddie worked there and was our waiter. When he walked away with our drink order, they lit into me. “Looks like you might need to start teaching night school, Ms. Gates,” Tenisha said.“He’s 24 now, Ms. Gates,” Diane said, mimicking Freddie.“Yea, and you made him the man he is today,” Carmen chimed in. I had to take the ribbing because this is what we do when we get together. We tease each other all the time, about everything—no topic is sacred. Tenisha and I tie for being the most relentless. Carmen comes in second, and Diane is usually the group diplomat. Most of the time it’s Nicole, who gets got, but it was my turn that day--and they gave it to me good. “But he’s my student,” I whined. But they insisted that it didn’t matter because he was a man now. I gave up because I knew they were going to keep at it despite my feeble protests.After Freddie served our food and left, the conversation went back to touchies, and Tenisha said she was going to ask Freddie if he wanted to see mine. No amount of trying to explain why that wasn’t a good idea worked. I didn’t know if telling them Freddie used to have a crush on me would work for or against me, so I kept that tidbit of information to myself. We left without incident.Fast forward a few weeks. We return to Bar Louie on a Thursday night, and the place is crawling with people. Freddie and touchie were not on my mind, but should have been. Seated around the table, we are laughing and talking while feasting on chicken wings, chicken strips, fries and onion rings. The conversation is sprinkled with references to toochie, but it it’s a different time, a different night, and there has been no Freddie sightings, so I’m not worried. Tenisha excuses herself to go to the bathroom, which is close to where we’re sitting. Something tells me to turn around and when I do, I see Tenisha, the devil’s disciple, exiting the bathroom and slinking toward Freddie who is standing on the wall near the bar. She doesn’t see me, so I think I have a chance to foil her evil plan.I reach back to grab Tenisha’s purse, trying to snatch her, purse-and-all out of the room. It occurs to me that there is a reason why a chair needs four legs, but it’s too late. In that moment life slows down, just like in the movies, and I feel myself lifting off the ground. Carmen reaches for me, but to no avail. The chair tips over and keeps sliding right into the bar area. I silently pray for a trap door to open and allow me to escape with my dignity intact, but my prayer goes unanswered. Time stops, and the room stills. All eyes are on me—a grown sober woman, sprawled on the floor of Bar Louie. Someone is standing in front of me. My eyes travel up from the black gym shoes, to the nicely fitted jeans, to the chiseled chest, right into the eyes of Freddie. I just know the trap door is stuck, and is going to open any minute and get me out of this mess. “Ms. Gates, Ms. Gates are you alright?” I heard him say as he reached down to help me up. The bruise on my hip would heal a lot faster than the bruise on my ego. I assured him I was ok, and returned to my seat amidst the gawking and whispering of the bar patrons. When I sat down, my friends were hysterical. They said they couldn’t have done it better if they had planned it. I laughed along with them knowing that what’s done is done, but also plotting my revenge. I’m happy to say Freddie is married and living in Minnesota Last I heard, they have two children.