By Zondra Hughes
Can you handle the truth? Really, if a lover sat you down and told you exactly why he was in this thing with you—whatever your thing is—would you be able to handle it?
Gracie* had no choice.
Gracie was an event planner, the A-list kind that the moneyed set kept well-fed. She was a good looking woman at any age, but she was especially good looking now that she was nearing 50.
At 48, Gracie was 14 years older than her new boyfriend.
Well, they weren’t exactly boyfriend and girlfriend; he was more like an assistant, a younger man who ingratiated himself into Gracie’s life so seamlessly that even Gracie became suspicious. He was a fashion designer, and in Gracie’s world fashion and event circles only came together, really, when the event was a fashion show or unveiling. Conversely, fashion designers and photographers were far closer; same can be said of event planners and caterers.
Gracie's and Chris' paths would cross by happenstance, of course, but there would be no reason for them to be intertwined. Nevertheless, they bumped into each other, constantly. Serendipity never seemed so sweet.
At one chance meeting Chris introduced himself, and told Gracie of his travels and how he built a dynasty before 30 came knocking. Charmed with his tight body and pretty boy looks, Chris made the standoffish Gracie a true believer.
Not long afterwards, they became lovers.
“How did you get next to me? How did you get to be so close, when I make it a point to be intangible?” Gracie asked her lover and herself as well.
Chris smiled knowingly, but didn’t say, at least not while they snuggled underneath the soft down comforter.
Chris designed a gown for Gracie; he treated her to a cooked meal, and to long conversations about where he’s been and where he’d like to go. Gracie would open doors for Chris, and she marveled at how he made moves and deals on his own. Chris was responsible for his success, and that made her feel their union was authentic.
Gracie gave Chris her heart. And he took it.
Gracie was no fool, however, she knew that their thing couldn’t become anything more than an intimate friendship, as surely Chris would one day long for a wife and family and for her, children were out of the question.
One day after a long conversation about his ambitions, Gracie asked Chris once again, “How did you get to be here with me? How did you win me over?”
Chris had grown comfortable with Gracie. Theirs was an intimate friendship, in one conversation he could talk about finances just as easily as he talked about former lovers.
In a trance of truthfulness, Chris told Gracie exactly what she wanted to know.
“You’re the key to everything,” Chris exclaimed, his dark-gray eyes wide, his boyishly handsome face animated.
“Find an attractive woman of power, get in her circle. Then she introduces you to her friends, they each are also women of power. I’m known as the fashion designer to this distinctive group of women and the clients will follow. And men too; I make my money from the men who chase you and your friends. When you appear at my fashion show, you’ll give me that much more clout and popularity...and clients.”
Chris continued, “So where are your friends? Help me f*ck my way to the top.”
Her sweetheart had planned everything. There was no serendipity here, just a plan, his plan, her feelings were the collateral damage. If this were a cartoon, Gracie’s heart would have protruded from her chest and crumbled into pieces at Chris’ feet. And then her body would have morphed into a big lollipop, and the word “sucker” would hover above her head.
Of course Gracie knew their thing was a game, but she thought their game was a sexual fantasy only, a younger man fulfilling the need to conquer an older woman. It’s the time-tested game that some younger men have always played with mature women.
Everything Gracie thought she knew about Chris slowly revealed itself to be anything but true, even the intimacy they shared…she made love to him, but he had sex with her. In hindsight, her kisses were displays of affection; his kisses were calculated to disarm her with a false sense of security...especially that forehead kiss that he gleamed from the romantic film, The Best Man.
Gracie recalled the last thing Chris said before he realized he may have said too much, “Where do your friends hang out? I’m trying to f*ck my way to the top.”
Chris laughed at that; Gracie smiled, and then bit her tongue until it bled.
It’s lowdown to play a woman, it’s another thing to tell the woman exactly how she’s been played, and it’s a different beast altogether to ask this played woman to fork over her friends so they can get played as well.
Chris played Gracie, but Gracie played Gracie too, as takers can only take what is given to them. That jagged little pill of truth was hard to swallow, but she had no choice but to swallow it, sooner or later.
Gracie considered herself lucky that she hadn’t introduced Chris to her friends—would she want to be responsible for the games that he played on them? Absolutely not.
Chris was no longer invited to her bedroom, but he was a good contact to have if Gracie ever needed another one-of-a-kind gown, so the Cougar and the Taker coexisted without drama.
As for Gracie, the experience was a teachable moment that she’ll never forget: in love and war, it is what it is, and sometimes, it wasn’t what it was.
Thus, if you stumble upon the truth about something, accept it with grace, and then plan accordingly.
And that is all.
*names have been changed by request.