Monday, October 6, 2014

Loving Contrasts - Chapter 18.1

Chandler and Inaya had yet to announce their marriage to anyone outside of select family members and church friends. Instead they let their wedding rings speak for them. Inaya’s diamond studded bridal ring fit perfectly. However, both of their diamond encrusted and white gold wedding bands had to be resized.
Chandler oversaw the resizing task during the course of the week. He also had the bands engraved with a passage from Mark 10:9 – ‘What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Inaya’s coworkers were surprised by her elopement, but they took the news well. Although Mel offered his congratulations, he also gave his two weeks’ notice. He saw her marriage as a sign that it was time for him to stop being afraid to take more risks in life. Thus he decided to finally open up that barbershop that he always wanted instead of just cutting hair on weekends.
Chandler’s coworkers reacted well also. Loretta was extremely happy for him. When she called Blair with the news, she was cursed out royally for not telling her sooner. Sooner, as in before the elopement occurred so that she could have tried to stop it.
That argument led to an abrupt end to their friendship and a few hard-to-swallow revelations, one of which was the fact that Blair had never been her friend at all. She only pretended to be Loretta’s friend so that she could get next to Chandler.

Chandler learned about their fake friendship when he visited Loretta’s office and found her crying hysterically after that upsetting call with Blair. She spilled the beans about everything and apologized profusely for spying on him.
After telling Loretta that he forgave her, he offered to pray with her to receive Christ. She refused that kind offer, but she did ask him to remember to pray for her since she wasn’t yet ready to change her whole life.
“At least she was honest,” Inaya said when Chandler told her what happened at his office this week. “I think God appreciates honesty. I know I do.”
“I do, too,” he replied, driving them to another out-of-town location on that humid Friday afternoon.
They were headed to Kali and Neil’s house for the weekend. Chandler was very excited to finally meet members of her family in person. They got to know each other better over a delicious pot roast, creamy mashed potatoes, tasty carrots, and soft yeast rolls that Inaya showed Kali how to bake.
Neil was very friendly toward him. Kali was friendly, but more guarded and cautious, as if she was waiting for him to make a wrong move. Fortunately, Chandler made all the right moves, the same way he’d done on the basketball court in college. He did it by just being his usual funny self. By the end of the evening, he had Kali laughing wholeheartedly with everyone else.
“Before we go to bed, I need to see if my wonderful brother-in-law borrowed anything from my jazz collection during his last unsupervised visit to the townhouse,” Inaya said, heading for the cherry-wood entertainment set in the den instead of the staircase.
“All I did was retrieve that bread-maker you said Kali could have. I touched nothing else. Okay, maybe one album, but I was going to return it on my next visit,” Neil replied, following her to the den.
Kali chuckled. “Those two love their jazz music,” she told Chandler as they followed their spouses. “Sad to say, but sometimes my husband forgets to return what he borrows. Since that’s his only major flaw, I don’t sweat it.”
Chandler laughed, as well. “No man is perfect. By the way, does he collect sports paraphernalia, too?” He pointed to the various sports jerseys and hats on the den walls. “I have a similar collection in my living room.”
“Oh no! All of those are mine. I love sports, all of them, particularly basketball,” Kali said.
Chandler smiled. “I’m liking you more and more by the second.”
“Likewise.” Kali returned his smile. “You know, Chandler, I was all prepared to dislike you when Inaya first told me about you. I thought you were just another white man trying to sound and act black on the radio. However, after she told me about some of the charitable things that you’re involved in and about how well you treat her, I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt. I even encouraged her to keep dating you when she was at a crossroads. I’m glad I did, because after spending the last three hours with you and learning a bit of your history, I see that you’re truly genuine. That you actually have a heart for black people.”
“I have a heart for all people, particularly those that can’t seem to get a fair deal in life,” Chandler replied as he continued to scan Kali’s wood-paneled den wall.
“That’s even better. And I can see for myself how much you love my sister.”
“Yes, I love Inaya very much.” Chandler glanced in his wife’s direction, loving just the sight of her in the olive, tie-dyed sheath dress that hugged each and every one of her gorgeous curves.
“She clearly loves you a lot, too,” Kali said. “The fact that she not only married you, but also brought you here to meet us tells me that. Especially considering our tumultuous childhood.”
Chandler turned back to her just in time to see her frown. “Yes, so I’ve heard. Thankfully you both turned out so well.”
“Yes, I thank God for that. Since becoming an adult, I’ve come to grips with the fact that many things our mother taught us about men and race relations were wrong. Not only is my husband very trustworthy, which proves that not all men are dogs, but I’ve found several really good friends among non-blacks. On top of that, over half of my exercise clients are white and they’ve always treated me with the utmost respect.”
“Parents aren’t always right about everything,” Chandler replied.
“Ain’t that the truth!” Kali chuckled. “Which is why I wear my sandy locks straighter and longer nowadays. I’ve come to realize that I’m not any less black because I prefer to relax my hair instead of wearing it natural like Mama and Inaya’s.”
“Nothing wrong with being the you that you want to be,” Chandler encouraged. Suddenly his attention was diverted elsewhere – to a black and white Oakland Raiders jersey on the wall that he didn’t have in his collection. “Oh snap! Now that’s tight!”  

© 2014 by Suprina Frazier

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