What They Want

Purple Dress had long muscular legs, a smile that’d melt frozen butter, and silky hair she seemed to like to fondle.  Her olive skin and coal black mane led me to speculate a Louisiana   heritage. I considered a lineage question  a subject for my opening line (“Baby, you got any of that Louisiana Indian in you?”) but wasn’t sure whether Creole or Cajun was the one Black folks could be.

And so, this was my reply to Black Miniskirt, who, two minutes into our introductory conversation at Oasis, injected the subject of religion:

“I went to this dilapidated church in Northeast about six months ago. It looked like a baroque theater; dark with angels carved into stone walls. The joint was mostly empty, except for a few old women with polyester dresses and lopsided wigs on. The service was completely non-structured! The greasy-haired minister said a few words at the beginning and then, pow: ‘Let Jesus in!!’ He spread his arms wide  and looked up towards a domed ceiling hovering over like The Mothership. You know, P-Funk? Funkadelic? You might be too young for that. Anyway, you should have seen it: On cue, everyone started wailing  long  prayers, speaking in tongues, falling out all over the place. Okay, I’m used to that. Well, not used to it but I’ve seen it before once or twice at country churches down South.  So this went on for nearly an hour. Nonstop! Once I realized that this basically was going to be it, I sat back, and listened to the noise. It was great, absolutely cathartic, beautifully freaky weird. They really had it going on, communing with the other world with no scripted rituals. That’s what I think religion should be all about.

Black Miniskirt responded to my confessional outpouring and oft-repeated last memorable church experience not with the charmed acceptance I’d hoped for. Instead she launched into more probing questions, like was I actually saved. My tongue fell limp, my words got garbled. Between sips of a green apple martini, she shook her head and said that  being saved meant utter unconditional total submission, no questions “axed.” There I was, giving up a sincere glimpse into my life at first meeting, even peppering the exchange with quaint details (there weren’t any Cherubs or stone carvings in the church, a converted mini-mart on H Street), and there she was dismissing me as damned goods. Black Miniskirt turned her nose upward, flipped her  braids and surveyed the prospects in view. She must have been crowding thirty, like most in the place, giving her flexibility to go up or down as far as target age was concerned. The below-thirty crowd was scarce though, scared off by the jackets-required dress code,   sleepy jazz, and  inflated drink prices.   She set her sights on a clean-headed beanpole wearing a herringbone suit.

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