I can still remember it like it was yesterday. The day I had that “gut feeling” you always hear about. I’m a smart woman. I have the mind to think outside the box and I have a memory like an elephant. I can remember watching my sister as a child indulge in all the wrong things. She would try and hide stolen electronics from our dad and tear up love letter into a thousand pieces before tossing them. I specifically remember my dad charging into the bedroom and questioning my sister. At the time, I didn’t know what the problem was but I knew it was serious. He tore open the door to the closet and started tossing out clothes and shoes. He open plastic totes full of clothes and random belongings and went through item by item, even checking the pockets like he knew what he was looking for. Then he found it. A bedazzled set of pager she’d bought with stolen money for her boyfriend and herself. After laying them on the bed, he pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket. Well, let me rephrase that- what he pulled from his pocket was a letter my sister wrote to a boyfriend that she tore up into about 239 pieces that he had managed to put back together, tape up ad read. My father was like a detective. He did things the average person wouldn’t think of to find the answer he knew was right and he didn’t stop until he got it. And he had the “gut feeling.”
It was May of 2006. Shortly after high school graduation and just weeks before I would be headed to the South for job training. My then boyfriend and I Don had a pretty good relationship. He didn’t mind me looking through his phone at pictures or surfing through drunken texts from the previous weekends. I would do this thing with him where I would go through his contacts, pick a number at random and have him tell me a story about how he met that particular person. Most of them were close or mutual friends I knew but his history to me was like the best book ever written. I was always completely lost in his stories, hanging on to each and every syllable staring at his lips as if I could see the words coming from his mouth as clearly as you can read these words. He was a great storyteller and that’s not always a good thing. On this particular day, we were sitting side by side on the couch at my parent’s house and the person of the day was T.I. (No, not the rapper T.I.) When I asked him who he was, Don told me that during his most recent trip out of town to visit family, T.I was being nice to his cousin Ashlyn during a bowling game. T.I was just a random person in the bowling alley who sparked up a conversation and somewhere along the way Don put T.I’s number in his phone. Why was he stored under T.I? Because he “looked just like T.I” was the answer I was given. Uh, cue the “gut feeling.”
The fact that he “looked just like T.I” isn’t what got me thinking. It was what he said about a guy, with a penis mind you, being nice to his little cousin and he thought it was cool. Any other time a guy would hit on Ashlyn Don would throw a fit. He felt like she made the wrong choices when it came to men (psh…don’t we all sometimes!) and he flat out called her a “hoe” at times. Yeah! So, the fact that he was ok with a guy “being nice” to her, while she had a boyfriend struck me as odd. What did I do? Nothing! I took the words I saw coming off his lips and I stored them in a drawer marked “ask again.”You see, with this memory I have, I can ask 10 questions get 10 long (overly explained, dead horse beaten) answer and I can remember every bit of it. I usually give an exact quote just so I can see a person’s expression change letting me know that they either didn’t think I remembered or because what I just quoted rang a bell. Needless to say I asked his ass again…one month later!
We were sitting on the couch at his mom’s house watching TV. He had his right arm draped around me and but we didn’t get too comfy. His mother wasn’t too keen on us “laying up” in her home. That entire day my mind was on T.I. I wanted to think of a way to “interrogate” him without being too suspicious. When a commercial finally came on I knew it was time to make my move. “When was the last time you spoke to T.I?” I asked calmly. He coolly told me he hadn’t spoken to him in a while but Ashlyn was still in contact with him. I told him I felt like he should call T.I if he was such a good guy and they were supposed to be friends. He pulled his phone out of his right jean pocket as if he had nothing to hide…as if my “gut feeling” was just bad gas. He scrolled through his contacts and pushed SEND. He put the phone to his right ear (the side I was sitting on) and when the call connected and someone picked up the other line, he switched the phone to his left ear. He asked T.I a few of the usual questions when you call someone; what are you doing? Are you at home? And what have you been up to? After about 40 seconds he hung up the phone after telling T.I he was watching a movie and he would call back later. Then he slipped his phone back in his right jean pocket. Now, to the average person that may not sound like much but to me…something wasn’t right. Oh and cue the “gut feeling” again!
A few days later, Don rode his bike to my house but somewhere along the way he got a flat tire. We threw the bike in the trunk of my car and went to his aunt’s house to use the air pump and during the ride I kept replaying the phone conversation in my head. The story of T.I was not sitting right with me so I asked him about T.I again. This time he answered with a raised eyebrow and the words coming from his mouth all ended in question marks. As if I had the real answers to the story of T.I. This time he told me T.I was good at bowling and he linked up with them during a game. He didn’t mention that T.I was being nice to Ashlyn. That’s where my detective like mind and mental filing system came into play. While he was pumping air in the tire of the bike he was completely engrossed. I grabbed his phone from the passenger seat and kept it low while looking for T.I’s number. I glanced at it once and memorized it. I closed the phone and tried to figure out the best way to go about things. When he looked up he gave me this weird/funny face we always did and I flashed a big smile and made a face at him in return. The first thing I knew I had to do was act normal. I had to cuddle with him throughout the day like usual, laugh at his corny jokes and wrestle around without smashing his face through the floor. I’ll be honest, it was pretty easy to stay positive throughout the day, but once I made it back home I was a bundle of nerves.
I found myself questioning whether or not I really wanted to do this. Did I want to betray his trust? Did I want him to know that I accused him of cheating? I thought long and hard about it for a solid 45 minutes but then my mind switched gears. He had told me 2 different stories. And what about the weird conversation on the phone? Fuck betraying his trust! I’m going to call the number. I went outside in the parking lot next door…just in case I needed to put a hoe in her place. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t ready to wrap my hair, slather on Vaseline and call “Pookie n em” but sometimes you have to get loud with a bitch! Even at my tender age I knew that if another woman picked up the phone I couldn’t be mad at her. I kept that thought in mind as I pushed SEND and waited…for another girl to answer the phone!
You know when people say things like “everything around me stopped” or “my heart jumped to my throat” when describing how they felt at a certain point in time? Well everything around me stopped and my heart jumped in my throat! I hung up the phone quickly and tried to gather my thoughts. Could that have been T.I’s sister or girlfriend answering the phone? Maybe I called the house phone? It could have been anyone right? That’s what a naïve person would say. Everyone had cell phones in my high school. No one was calling house phones anymore let alone giving out their mother’s number. I knew that was T.I. I had to figure out a way to find out for sure. I was hooked. Something was drawing me in. I wanted answers…no I needed answers. How did they really meet? What did she look like? Was she prettier than me? How long have they known each other? Why was her nickname T.I?!?
I called my best friend and told her the story from start to finish leaving no word unsaid. She was just as eager as I was to find out everything we could about Don and T.I. She wanted me to call back and give the girl the 3rd degree but I just couldn’t do it. I wanted to save my energy for the real culprit so I gave her the number and she promised to call back as soon as she ended the call with T.I. I paced every inch of the parking lot sweating like a fat man running a marathon in Texas heat. I tried to make sense of the words fluttering about in my mind. I had so many questions for him. Hell, I had questions for her too. How could he do this to me? Why did I deserve this? Where did he meet her? Did he find her more attractive? And for her; did he tell you he was in a relationship? Did you approach him? What do you two talk about? And for myself- What you gone do now?!?
My thoughts were interrupted by my cell phone. I swear it didn’t even ring for half of a note before I answered. “Well?” I asked her anxious to know what they talked about but nervous to know the truth. My friend called T.I and pretended to be Don’s older sister and she fell for it. That’s when she laid it on me: Her name was Tiffany. She was 1 year younger than us. She lived with her single mother and younger brother. She was Hispanic. Long hair tiny frame. They talk on the phone every night usually after Don’s mom leaves for the night shift. They share interests in sports and comedies. And out of the year and a half Don and I had been dating…they had been talking for a year. And in her words they were “talking real hard.” For those of you who don’t know…that means shit was getting serious. I couldn’t believe it. Of course I was upset about how long they had been talking. I mean, this girl may as well have been a part of OUR damn relationship. I was probably kissing her lips when I kissed him and laughing at jokes she told him. Hell, she probably recommended the last movie we saw together…that he picked out! The thing that upset me the most was the lie about calling after his mom went to work. One thing I’ve been cursed with since childhood (kind of growing out of it now) is falling asleep early. I would go home from Don’s house and we would talk for about an hour until I fell asleep which was usually around 9 or 10. So, that’s why he never tried to wake me up like he used to? Pushing buttons or disconnecting the call and calling right back so the phone could ring in my ear would always wake me up so we could end the call with “I love yous” and other mushy nonsense. He couldn’t wait to get off the phone with me so he could call T.I…I mean Tiffany!
After my friend told me every detail of the conversation with Tiffany I called Don. Most guys would react using their God given defense mechanism: DENY DENY DENY! But no, this fool tried to play… no he DID play nonchalant like it’s normal to talk to another girl for a year while you’re in a relationship and lie to your girlfriend about the other girl you shouldn’t be talking to!! <Got me confusing my damn self over here> After I told him it was over, he called back begging for forgiveness and even rode his bike over to my parent’s house after 11 o’clock at night. (And we didn’t live near each other either.) I told me I could punch him, push him off the porch and any other thing that would make me calm down. My dad heard all the yelling from inside and told Don to go home and that I needed to go to bed so I stomped up to my room and cried myself to sleep listening to the constant jingle of my favorite sound at that time: his ringtone.
After all was said and done, I forgave him. Why? Because I was in love. And I knew that he knew he fucked up. I didn’t let him back in easy though. I gave him a hard time but I knew that I had to truly forgive him in order for us to move on and for me to have a peace of mind so I did. Oh and I think making him call Tiffany in front of me and profess to her how much he was in love with me and how he had made a big mistake helped me cope and forgive him. I did the honors of deleting her number and we kissed to seal the deal.
Lesson: Follow your gut. Even if you’re wrong, follow your gut. If a cheater is good at what he/she does, they can manipulate you and make you feel guilty because you caught them cheating. Crazy shit huh?