Every year my friends and I go on an annual ski trip. It’s a group of ten of us who went to Hampton University together and it is literally a week of non-stop partying. Black professionals hit the slopes and afterwards head over to a happy hour party that rivals any college frat party. The only difference is the beer kegs are replaced with expensive scotches, whiskies, and vodkas. We revert to college students only we are 30+ with bank accounts and careers. We rent a house and we leave the warm 80 degree LA weather and head off to the cold slopes. This year we went to Aspen. While on the shuttle to pick up our rental car I sat next to a handsome brotha in his mid forties. He had bronze coloring and salt and pepper hair. He wore glasses and just looked like he had his shit together. He was wearing jeans, Ferragamo loafers, and a coat. He was clearly ear hustling on the conversation my friends and I were having. My girlfriend was telling us a hilarious story about how one of the Nigerian guys who sell the fake designer purses on the NYC streets outside of her work building gave her $200 for a Christmas present “Just because.” He chuckled but remained a little standoffish. So at a certain point we decided to include him in the conversation. There is an assumption any black person you see in the area is heading to the slopes for the same event. We introduced ourselves and discovered he was an Alumni of Hampton University as well and graduated nearly a decade before us. As soon as we made that connection, “Russell” turned into a different person. He loosened up and joined in our vacation foolery. “Russell” was a married father of twins. He immediately took out a picture of his beautiful family. There sat “Russell” with is beautiful wife that looked like she stepped off the runways of Paris. She had a chocolate complexion with high cheekbones and the natural wild hairstyle. His little twin girls were dressed in their Christmas dresses and were the perfect blend of the two parents. And the color coordinated family sat beaming under a Christmas tree in their holiday card picture. He informed us that his wife “allowed” him to have a vacation with his boys but just for a day and a half. This makes absolutely no sense! To spend all that time travelling for ski week only to be there for a day and a half is plain stupid. Obviously his wife was the boss of that household. But why only let him go out for a day? I am a firm believer in the idea of still maintaining your own life after marriage. I think it is healthy for a husband to have his “guys” trip and for a wife to have her “girls” trips and then have a romantic trip by yourself as a couple. I do not understand the concept of keeping your man on a short leash. Clearly, “Russell” was a stand up guy. He even showed us a picture of his wife. But hell, this wasn’t my marriage and he certainly wasn’t my man so I honestly could care less. “Russell” was actually excited that the weather conditions were bad because that meant regardless of his wife’s demands, he was stuck in Aspen for an extra few days until the snow slowed down. “Russell” exchanged information with one my friends so we could all connect once we were settled in Aspen. A few hours later, there was a knock on our door. And to my surprise there stood “Russell.” One of our friends had sent him our condo information and invited him over. I invited “Russell” in and offered him a cocktail. My friends and I were just bugging out having cocktails. “Russell” fit right in. He told us the group he was with was already getting ready to go to bed and they were not as much fun as we were. Clearly, our group had unleashed the beast in “Russell.” I guess we reminded him of how much fun he wasn’t having. We were having a heated debate about relationships and the guys were giving their take and the girls were shutting down the BS notions. It was a scene from A Different World. The bond that happens when you attend an HBCU is unlike any other experience. Times like this really brought me back to our college days. We had been friends since freshmen year and here we were many years later just as close and able to relate to each others as adults. The drinks were flowing. The shit talking was at an all time high, and the altitude had all of us FUCKED UP. It was awesome!!! Little by little the group started retiring to bed. It had already been a long day. Between the travel and drinks we were spent. Most normal people would take a hint that it was their time to go. But not this guest. The more “Russell” drank the more inappropriate he got. We were all tired and were trying to give him a hint that it was time for him to get the fuck out and he just didn’t get it. At one point “Russell” was sitting next to me and whispered in my ear:
Russell: There is something so sexy about you. I could wear you out!
I practically spit out my Yellowtail Pinot Noir (don’t judge, we had to buy the big bottle of wine).
Russell: You are just so sexy.
Me: Ok Russell. (I condescendingly patted him on his leg writing him off)
Russell: I’m dead serious. You are so fine. I can’t take my eyes off of you.
Me: But you’re married. Where are your single friends?
Russell: There is a guy that I think would be perfect for you. Why don’t you come over and I’ll introduce you to him. He’s staying at my house.
Me: I’m not going anywhere with you. You can email me your “friend’s” contact information.
I’m not sure if “Russell” saw the words “dumb, stupid, and desperate” written on my forehead. But I looked at him like he had two heads. First of all, I didn’t care how high the altitude was, I wasn’t going anywhere with a stranger to a house with a bunch of men I didn’t know. I would never allow myself to get that drunk. Not to mention, I think the friend “Russell” had in mind for me was the bulge that I was seeing occur in his jeans. At this point I got up and went to the other room where 2 of my other friends were conferencing on how in the hell to get this now drunken fool out of the house. And of course they turned to me. Why did I always have to be the one to be rude and do the dirty work? My friends answer was plain and simple…That’s what you do. I glared at the friend who invited his ass in the first place. I took a deep breath and went back out to the living room. I thought maybe just maybe one of the guys could do it, but they were nowhere to be found. When I went to the living room Russell was pouring himself another drink.
Me: Hey, there Russell. I don’t know where you’re going but you got to get the hell out of here.
Russell: (words slightly slurred) I know, I know. I have overstayed my welcome. But let me just finish my drink.
Me: We are all really tired. You’ve had enough.
I took his drink out of his hand and handed him a bottle of water and his keys. Luckily “Russell” was walking distance. I went to get his coat and when I came back he was patting his jacket for his keys.
Russell: I lost my keys.
Me: What do you mean? You just had them.
Russell: I don’t know where they are.
I looked down on the floor and his keys were perfectly placed behind a chair. Clearly he was trying to be slick and stay. I bent down and handed them over to him. Walked him to the door and gently nudged him out of the house and locked the door behind him. He wasn’t a belligerent angry drunk so I wasn’t concerned for our safety.
That’s when it hit me. I was so quick to judge his wife for only “allowing” him a day and a half to go on a trip. That’s probably why his wife only allowed his ass to travel for a day and a half. She probably knows what a fool he becomes when he is away from home. That’s not a way to live. When I am in a relationship I don’t want to have to worry that my man is going to be out somewhere showing his ass. Think about it, if I was a scandalous bitch, I could have had a fling with him and kept it moving. But I have this wonderful thing called MORALS! I had a feeling that wasn’t the first time “Russell” tested out a woman to see if she would get down. And suddenly I had a great amount of compassion for his wife. Here this lady was at home taking care of twins trying to give her husband the benefit of the doubt and he took advantage of it. I can’t imagine being in a relationship where I constantly had to worry if my husband would do the right thing. When it comes down to it, if a man is going to show his ass, he can show it in a day and a half, a week and a half, or an hour and a half. I don’t think “Russell” is a bad person, I think perhaps he just felt so free to be out and about having a good time that for a moment he wanted to be irresponsible… I know it’s a stretch, I ‘m just trying to give the brotha the benefit of the doubt. I have friends who are married and have perfectly healthy relationships where there is trust and respect. They give each other the freedom to still have their own life. I chose to focus on those relationships. I must believe “Russell” is a minority when it comes to this. I guess it is true, for some people. When the boss is away… the children will play.