"Hey mami... what's yah name?" I heard a man yelling from across the street. It's a warm and cheery spring day. You could smell the scent of magnolias dancing in the wind and the color of the sky was a kaleidoscope of blue and white. I didn't look, why would I? I was annoyed. He had interrupted my daydream.
He hurriedly crosses the street ignoring the red light and the oncoming furry of traffic heading towards him.
There are clues as to who you are in every decision that you make and I took note. I always take notes. He didn't care for rules. I needed rules. He was courageous; stupidly daring. He made his way to me with swagger. He really looked more like he was limping but the perfect smile across his face gave his strut swagger. His friends were watching from across the street.
He tried again, "Hey mami... what's yah name?" He was relentless. He calls me “mami” and then wants to ask my name, his approach was generic, uncreative. I wasn't being judgmental, I just couldn't imagine this man being meant for me.
"You are almost right,” I said playfully. "Ama."
He deserved my respect and politeness. He did make his way over to me and didn't insult me for not responding. That’s a miracle here in Philadelphia, where telling a man you aren’t interested usually leads to insults and/or violence.
"Emma, do you have a boyfriend?" he asked.
"It’s Ama, spelled a-m-a and yeah, I do." I lied. I hated to lie but sometimes it is necessary. Telling men that show interest in me that I have a boyfriend usually allows me to go on with my day without getting assaulted. And why bother with him anyway? He doesn’t know anything about me, except for the fact that he finds me attractive enough to endanger his life by crossing a street with cars speeding towards him! I have a better shot at winning the lottery than romantically getting along with this man.
"Can you have friends?" he smirked lasciviously.
"Wow, well there is a word for you. Friends. You know, the word 'friend' is a heavy word." I said as I looked into his eyes. He looked at me, licking his lips. You could see droplets of nervous anticipation budding from his caramel skin. It was obvious that he means a different kind of friend.
" If I were your girlfriend, how would you feel about me making a man like you my friend?" I smiled politely. There. I was kind and I got my point across. Relief. I didn't enjoy running for dear life and I hated hurting peoples feelings unnecessarily. After all, what he was doing was indirectly a compliment.
"I understand.” He turned and started to walk away, but then he stopped and turned around, avoiding my eyes. “Hey, can I tell you something?"
"Of course." I replied.
"You are really beautiful." He said as he shifted his gaze towards the other side of the street where his friends were still watching.
I looked at him and blushed. I smiled, an honest smile.
"Thank you. What's your name?" I asked.
"Reggie" he said, still avoiding my eyes.
"Thank you Reggie." I tried to catch his gaze, but he runs across the street again to meet his friends, this time the light was green. He had the right-of-way. I was upset. Why couldn't he have approached me with a polite greeting and his compliment? Why couldn't he have asked me something about who I am? Why did he have to ask to be an ambiguous “friend"? I don't even know what the word means anymore. But, I smiled to myself appreciatively. He was a good man. He was sincere and kind, even in the face of rejection. Maybe I’ll walk down this street again tomorrow, maybe tomorrow he will be here again, maybe tomorrow I'll be able to ask him about who he is and if he can have a friend.