“Hey Vivian. I need to talk to you whenever you’re free.”
“Oh, you need to get clarity about those reports we have to send off? I wasn't really clear about those at first, either. I’m ready whenever you are.”
I was so confused. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about.
“What?” I asked. My face had to show how lost I was.
“Girl, you know everything about everything that goes on in this company. If there were any reports that needed to be sent off, not only would you know about them and understand them, but we’d probably be coming to you for help.”
“Well, I guess you’re right about that.” I said as I started smiling right along with her.
“Of course I am! But what did you really wanna talk to me about?”
“Nothing important, just more of this Twitter stuff.”
“Oh okay. That’s cool. We can talk during lunch, if that’s cool.”
“Yep! It is.”
And that was the end of that conversation. We went about our normal routine until it was just about time for lunch.
I was looking forward to lunch more than normal even though I didn't really know exactly what type of things would be
discussed. Then, at around 12:30, Vivian walked over to me.
“So, where did you want to go?” Vivian asked.
“Well, I’m kinda in the mood for some Chinese food. How does that sound?”
I guess that’s exactly what she was thinking because it seemed like only a few seconds had passed before we were out of our
office building and we were soon sitting down eating our meals.
“So, how’s your quest for finding online “friendship” going?” She asked almost immediately.
“It’s not really going at all.”
“Carla, if nothing's working on Twitter, that just means you’re not really working Twitter.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I mean, I know you, and there are a few things I’m gonna guess. Please let me know if anything I say is not true.”
“One, I would guess you actually set-up your account simply because you said you would and you're a woman of your word. Next, I know you like to think, re-think and re-think what you already re-thought about. So, it probably took you forever to come up with a name. Not only that, I bet you only have, like, a handful of tweets. Am I wrong on any of this?”
“Actually you are.” I said.
“Okay, I don’t mind being wrong. What exactly am I wrong about, though?” she asked.
I almost didn’t want to answer, but I had backed myself into a corner.
“You said you bet I only had a handful of tweets, right?”
She stood up.
“Oh shoot! You’ve been on your Twitter game heavier than that?”
Although we were fairly close in age, every once and a while she would say a sentence like that. It seemed like the main purpose of those type of statements were to confuse me and make me feel old. Well, mission accomplished.
I was lost for a few seconds, but I used context clues to figure she was asking if I had posted more than she thought I had. I had to tell her the truth.
“I don’t have a handful of tweets because I only have one.”
Vivian took a seat and shook her head in disbelief.
“And how many people do you follow” she asked.
“Probably like 5. I didn’t want to just follow anyone.”
I stuttered as if she had given me a calculus problem.
“I didn’t think you had a reason. Look girl, no disrespect, but you if we’re gonna use twitter, we don’t have time to overthink everything. Do you even follow me?”
“That’s okay, we’re about to change that. Will you pull out your phone and sign into your mobile store?”
I did as she requested. Once I was finished, I awaited my next set of instructions.
“Okay, now go ahead and search for the Twitter app, download it, sign in and then give your phone over to me.”
She took only a few seconds, then she was giving my phone back. I looked at her information. Her name was @_viv-i_am. She was following around 80 people, she only had 9 followers and she had a profile picture of a lady I recognized, but it was surely not her. Once again, I was confused.
“I don’t get it.” I said
“You don’t get what?”
“Well, you aren’t following that many people and you don’t have many people following you. Why?”
“Last week somebody hacked my old account, so I just set-up a new on a few days ago.”
“That makes sense, but who is that woman in your profile picture?”
“You don’t remember who that is?”
I thought about it briefly. Like I said, she looked familiar but I just couldn't place her face.
“Girl, that’s the original actress who played the aunt on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
"For real? But why did you decide to use her as your picture?"
"Well, do you know who the rapper J. Cole is?"
I knew most of the world listened to rap, but I didn't. I have absolutely nothing against it, but I'm just not a fan. Maybe it's because every time I try to listen to it, they just seem to be talking so fast I can't even understand what they're saying. I'm sure Vivian didn't' want to hear all of that, though. So, I simply answered her question.
"No, I don't know who he is."
I expected her to look at me crazy because of my answer, but she didn't. Instead, she just continued with her explanation.
"Well, he's one of my favorite rappers and on his new cd, he has a line that says, "I want that real love, that dark-skinned Aunt Viv love!" When I heard that, I freaked out because normally people consider darker to be...well, not as cute. So, I was glad he said that. And when my account got hacked, that line was stuck in my head, so I just found a picture of 'Aunt Viv' Plus, the fact the name Viv was used, I pretty much had to use it!"
Her explanation didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but I guess it really didn't have to simply because it didn't concern me. So, I just casually moved the topic of the conversation back to me.
"So, how do you think I should get more followers?"
"Like I said, you have to put yourself out there by posting. And you have to follow people. Like, you can't meet someone by just following me and a few celebrities. Don't take this the wrong way, you're a beautiful woman, but if you're only following people like Kevin Hart, I don't know that you'll be able to start any new meaningful friendships. I mean, I doubt Kevin is gonna leave the chick he's with, leave Hollywood and move out here to Austin for you."
Her words were a little harsh, but they were honest. I respected her for speaking the truth.
"Okay, So, help me, Viv."
She looked around the restaurant before responding to me.
"How do you feel about asking a stranger for their phone number?"
"It's not really something I do, at least not at this point." I said
"What about giving your number out?"
"I will, but...."
"But you don't really feel comfortable doing either of those, right?"
"See, social media lets you get over your fears and insecurities. You control what the people see and know about you."
She paused and looked around the restaurant again.
"What do you think of that guy?" she asked.
She was pointing at someone that had to still be in his 20s and to a 43 year old woman, that's still a baby.
"I'm gonna take your silence to mean you at least think he's okay. Carla, here's what you're about to do. You're gonna go over there and see if he uses Twitter. If he does, you're gonna get his info. I know it seems stupid, but if he has info and he gives it to you, then you'll be on your way. So, go ahead and get up, go over there, introduce yourself and get his information."
I didn't questions her. As dumb as the whole idea seemed to me, I got up and headed in his direction. I was nervous, but I continued to walk over.
"No thank you, ma'am. I don't need anything. I'm good."
It was so embarrassing. I wasn't even looked at as someone attractive, or someone there to have an adult-to-adult conversation. He assumed I had to be an employee in the restaurant. By no means was I saying there was anything wrong with working there, but....well, I just was hoping for a different reaction.
I put my head down in shame and started to walk back to Vivian so I could tell her what happened, but then I was stopped.
"Excuse me ma'am! Excuse me!"
I wasn't going to turn around, but for some reason, I did.
"Ma'am, I apologize for thinking you worked here. I just don't get approached by very many pretty women."
I couldn't believe what I just heard.
"I'm sorry, are you speaking to me?"
"Of course I am!"
We exchanged some laughs and a great, but brief conversation. After a few minutes, I saw Vivian stand up. Obviously, she was ready to go. So, I had to go ahead and try to accomplish my goal.
"Ummm, this may seem kinda weird, but are you on Twitter?"
"Yeah, I have an account. Why?"
"I know people generally would try to exchange phone numbers or something, but I'm trying something new in my life, so I just want to get your Twitter name, or you can have mine. Whichever you think would be easier."
I didn't know how he would respond, I just stood there hoping it would be in a positive manner.
"I like the way you operate, Miss" he said.
"And I like...I..umm... thank you." I replied nervously.
I knew my sentence made me sound anything but confident, but the person I was talking to didn't seem to mind.
"I know you just asked for my Twitter name, but I wanted to tell you, my real name is Dawayne."
"Well, Dawayne, my name is Carla."
"Carla, you have a beautiful smile, and I would like to be able to see it again sometime."
Wait! Was someone showing interest in me? My heart was beating very quickly and I was ready to agree to going out on a date, but I knew that wasn't what I was supposed to do.
"Do you have your phone or some paper or something?" I asked.
He pulled out his phone.
"Okay, so could you put it on an app that'll let me type in my info?"
He did, and within a few seconds, I typed @jaded_carla into his phone and handed it back to him. He looked at his phone and then looked at me. He repeated these actions before asking me a few questions.
"Is this how you feel? Is this who you are?"
I didn't really know what to say. I felt I had just taken our great conversation and threw it out of the window.
"Honestly, Dawayne, that is who I am. Life has not always been great to me and so, that's just where I am right now."
I know it may sound a bit cliche, or maybe even corny, but I felt at that moment, honesty was the best policy. If anything were to actually grow out of our meeting, I couldn't have a lie about how I was feeling about life come back and haunt me.
"Well, Carla, you may have to change that Twitter name."
"I just don't think you'll be feeling that way much longer. At least, not if I have anything to do with it."
I thought the statement was incredibly sweet and I was sure that showed on my face.
"See, I've already made you smile a few times and we've known each other for what, like five or ten minutes? I'm off to a good start, if I do say so myself."
Still smiling I said, "Yeah, you're off to a good start, but we both know it ain't how you start, it's how you finish."
He let out a loud, very nerdy laugh that included a snort at the end.
"You can't have me snorting out here. You may ruin my reputation." He said.
"What kind of reputation?"
"I guess you'll learn more about my rep as we get to know each other."
He paused and reached out to shake my hand.
"I think your friend is ready to go." he said as he pointed over to Viv.
"Yeah, I guess it's about time for us to get back to work. It was very nice meeting you."
"Likewise, Carla, likewise."
"Make sure you contact me."
"Don't worry, I will.
Right after that, Vivian and I left. The entire way back to work Vivian excitedly asked me how everything went. I kept it cool by only responding with one or two word sentences, which I could tell was killing her. I guess that's why I kept doing it for the rest of the day. Before we left for the evening, though, I felt it was necessary to fill her in on how the conversation with Dawayne really went because if it weren't for her, we probably wouldn't have spoken in the first place. On second thought, I knew we wouldn't have.
She was super happy when I told her things went well and I gave him my information.
"So, has he followed you yet?" she asked as we were walking out of the door.
"I don't know, I haven't checked yet, but it's only been a few hours, so I doubt he has. I'll check right now, though."
I fumbled my way through the Twitter app Vivian downloaded during lunch to see if Dawayne had gone to my page. Surprisingly enough, he had. My notifications said he (@driley1989) started following me. Not only that, he had already sent me a message.
"So, did he say anything? Did he follow you?"
"Yes...to both questions."
"Oooohh, that's good, girl. What did he say?"
It was crazy. I felt like I was in high school. I was already excited, but Vivian's level of excitement was even greter and it was contagious. It made me more anxious to see what had been written to me. What I was saw was both simple and sweet.
@jaded_carla it was nice meeting you today. You really should tweet more often, though.
While I was reading, I hadn't noticed Vivian was looking over my shoulder.
"That is so nice! What are you going to say back?"
I had literally just read the message, so I had no idea, but after thinking about it for a few seconds, I responded.
@driley1989 nice meeting you too! maybe we can hang out one day...
Viv patted me on my back, smiled and walked away. She didn't say anything, but she made it easy to see she approved.
From those two simple sentences we sent to each other, things just grew. The restaurant where we first met became the place we decided to meet again. I don't know how long it actually took for him to see my tweet to him, but I do know when I got home I saw I had another notification. I couldn't wait to see what had been written.
@jaded_carla let's not waste any time! we can meet up at the same restaurant we met Saturday night if that's cool!
I was smiling so hard it hurt! I thought to myself, "Maybe I have actually found a friend." as I typed in my reply.
@driley1989 yep! that's cool! i'll see you around 8! #LuvStory
And I didn't know if it was a 'date' that had just been set up or not. I didn't really care what it was called, but I did know I had a very small sense of hope. At the same time, though, I wondered if life was going to screw me over again. Come to think of it, I was almost sure I would get messed over after all, the consistent inconsistencies of my life so far are the reason the title jaded is currently tattooed to my heart. I don't want to carry that sort of negativity with me to my date, but I have to. My pain is my baggage and life, just like the airport, requires you to keep an eye on your baggage, whether you want to or not.