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Tolerated

By Shenoba Ray (USA)


(An Excerpt)

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In the summer of 1981, a black suburban pulled up to the front entrance of La’Neil
State University. In the driver’s seat sat a well­groomed, dark­skinned masculine male, tall in stature. In the passenger seat, a small framed, fair skinned woman sat, putting on her make­up. Are you wondering who these people are and what’s their significance in this story? I’ll get to that soon. As the suburban came to a stop, out stepped a different kind of diva, well dressed with an all­natural beauty. The caramel colored beauty stood about 5’9 in stature, holding a petite frame. Giving off a slightly shy, but very calm presence, she walked with confidence. This diva is I, Yvonne Simmonz. If I sound somewhat conceited, I’m not, I’m just real. By the way, the man and woman that I described earlier are my parents, Mona and Thomas Simmonz. They had driven me to La’Neil so that I could enroll in college. Keep in mind, I had never been away from home or away from my family, but that was about to change. I didn’t think that I was ready, for what my grandmother called, ‘the real world’, but my parents felt that I would be just fine. I got back into the suburban and sat down for a few minutes, staring at my surroundings and wishing I were at home. Don’t let any of this confuse you about my confidence. I was highly confident and I loved me, but I wasn’t very socially inclined.

“Well, young lady, aren’t you going to get out?” asked Mom. “Yes ma’am, I’m getting out.” “You know that your Dad and I took off work to make sure that you get registered for classes today.” Now, I wanted to go to college, but I wanted to wait until the following semester and then go. However, my parents saw things a little differently. They told me that if I waited, I might get lazy and not want to go at all. I didn’t argue the issue, because it would have been a ‘no win’ battle for me anyway. “Yvonne Simmonz, put some pep in your step, we don’t have all day,” Dad said. “Dad, don’t talk too loud, no one uses the phrase “pep in your step” anymore.” “Well Yvonne, can you move a little bit faster,” he said sarcastically. “Was that a better choice of words?” he asked. Well, I guess I was moving rather slowly, until this good­looking guy caught my undivided attention. What a dreamboat I thought, as my eyes followed his every movement. His face reflected a smooth chocolate color as he flaunted his athletically inclined body.  Adonis had nothing on him. I know he had to stand at least 6’5 in height. “Mmmm, nice” I thought. “Yvonne, are you ok?” asked Mom. “Sure, I’m just fine.” When I looked back, he was gone. Well, who knows, maybe I’ll see him around the campus. All of a sudden, I had a strong desire to attend college. “Come on Yvonne, let’s get the ball rolling, so your Dad and I can get back home before dark.” “Ok, Mom.” Now the campus wasn’t that big, but it seemed like it took me forever to get where I was going. I don’t know where Mom and Dad wondered off to, but after they walked me to the registrar’s office, they disappeared. See, they once attended La’Neil also. Maybe they were just walking around the campus and reminiscing.  Who knows where those two are.    

     It took me all day to get registered, but I finally got everything taken care of. I even got my classes scheduled. When I walked back to the suburban, my parents were already waiting for me. “Perfect timing,” I thought. “Let’s go and get your housing paid for,” said Mom. “I thought I was through with everything,” I replied “No, you’re not through, yet,” Mom said. I went and signed up for housing and my parents paid the fees. I was now officially enrolled at La’Neil. Afterwards, we went shopping. It seemed as if we bought out half the stores. My parents hooked me up with so much stuff. I probably had enough snacks to last for a year. I told them that I was going to get fat from eating the snacks alone. They just looked at me and laughed. Mom told me that I only weigh 110 pounds and it is very unlikely that I will get fat. By the time we got through shopping, I had a compact refrigerator, a new television, sheets, towels and a microwave, among the many other things. I thanked God everyday for my parents and wouldn’t trade them for the world, not because they bought me nice things, but because of who they are, loving and supporting parents. When we got back to the dorm, Mom helped me to put everything up. “Well Yvonne, it’s time for us to go,” she said. “Ok, are we going to leave now?” I asked. I actually thought I was going back home with them. “Yvonne you need to stay and get familiar with the school and go to the bookstore to get your books; your classes will be starting soon and you need to be prepared,” said Dad. I guess you could say that my parents were strong believers in being prepared, especially when it came to education. As sad as I was about not going back home with them, I agreed. We must have hugged and said our good­byes for at least thirty minutes. Poor Mom had tears in her eyes. Dad tried to comfort her the best that he could. “Mona, we’re coming back in a couple of days to bring Yvonne’s car, so what are you crying for?” “You act as if we’re never going to see her again.” “You’re right Thomas, I guess I am overdoing it a bit.” “Yvonne, we’ll call you before we bring the car,” Dad said. “Ok Dad, I will see you all then,” I replied. After they left, I went to check out where my classes would be held and then I went to the bookstore to purchase my books, just to get it out of the way. As I walked down the isles, looking for a history book, there he was again, the dreamboat that caught my attention earlier, but he was with another female. There goes my chances of meeting him, I thought. Well, like my cousin always said, sometimes it’s best to leave well enough alone. See, I never had a boyfriend before, just crushes and a few adventures, not worth mentioning. I was still a virgin and the guys that I went to school with always looked at me as “the girl who didn’t” but I guess you could say they respected me for it. They always seemed to be more attracted to the girls who were more advanced, if you know what I mean. No pun intended. At one point in my life, it bothered me, but later on, I was glad that I loved and respected myself enough not to get caught up. I owed it all to my fear of God, my parents, my grandparents and the older people in the community who all shared a part in my upbringing. It didn’t take long for nightfall to come, so I put up the rest of my belongings, plugged my television up and jumped into bed. I was still trying to get used to this strange environment. I watched television for a while, but I must have dozed off, because the next morning was here before I knew it. As the sun shone through my dorm window, I awoke from a sound sleep. I sat up in the bed rubbing my eyes wondering where the time went. It was just night, I thought to myself. Still half­asleep, I noticed the clock registered 7 a.m. I panicked. I have an 8 a.m. orientation and then a history class afterwards. I had intended to be up long before now, just to get an early start. My television was still on, so I turned it off and went to the bathroom and turned the shower on and waited for the water to get hot. This took a while. I guess because there are so many students on campus using the hot water. Who knows. I’ve always been used to instant hot water, at home. Back to reality, I’m not at home any more. When the water got hot, I mixed it with cold water and I quickly jumped in and out of the shower. I fumbled around for about fifteen minutes or so, trying to find something to wear. I normally get everything together the night before, but I guess I was lazy or either I was still tired from walking around the campus. Anyway, I finally found something suitable to wear. Now my hair was a different story; it was a hot mess. It was standing straight up on top of my head; yeah, just like someone had scared me. I guess there was nothing left for me to do but pin it up.
I have got to find a beauty shop around here. “If I don’t get out of here, I’ll be late for class,” I said aloud. I threw on some shoes, grabbed my watch, my books, locked the door and got on the elevator. As I ran from my dorm and across the campus, I found myself frozen in my tracks. There he was again, “Mr. Dreamboat.” I could see him from the distance. I wonder will he ever notice me. Then a little voice popped in my head and said he has a girlfriend anyway, leave it alone. Reality kicked in again. Oops, time for me to get to class, I thought, as I looked at my watch. I only had five minutes to get there, so I put my “Flo­Jo” on. As I ran to class, I felt the heat of someone’s stare. Yes, I was being watched. As I glanced around, there he was, “Mr. Dreamboat,” standing on the steps with some more guys. Well, I guess he had noticed me after all. I pretended as if I didn’t see him and hurried to class. I must have been running pretty fast because I made it there in two minutes instead of five. As I sat in class, I thought to myself, “This is a two hour class, would he still be waiting around by the time I get out?” Then that little voice popped inside my head again, saying, “Leave it alone.” This brought me back to reality and focused my attention back to the instructor, as he lectured. He was a very short man with an accent, but very articulate. He told us that we’re having a test next week. I thought that this was too soon, but I guess college is different from High School. It only reminded me of how much I didn’t miss school, but I still knew that I had to stay focused so I can pass this test with an A+. I’m aiming for the top grade. The two hours soon passed. As the instructor looked at his watch, he told us class was over. At this point, you can imagine where my mind must be.  As I walked out of the classroom door, I heard someone say, “Hello.” My mind raced with excitement, but I turned around only to find disappointment. The voice didn’t belong to “Mr. Dreamboat.” There stood Nelson, a guy who sits behind me in class.   

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