Sunday, July 21, 2019

Bienvenido a Miami

Back in the day, the Disney Channel was a premium channel that you had to pay extra for, like HBO or Showtime. About twice a year Disney would to do this marketing scheme where they offered their channel free for a week, so you could see what you were missing.

Well it was the summer of 1999 and NSYNC, whom I had fallen in love with on Total Request Live, was performing a live for TV concert in Orlando. The concert was going to be broadcast on the Disney Channel during the promotional week. Unfortunately, I was going to miss my opportunity to see Justin, Joey, JC, Chris and Lance's synchronized gyrating because I was being forced to go on a family road trip. I wanted to see that concert so bad, I would have sacrificed my little brother just like Thanos did Gamora for the soul stone in Avengers: Infiniti War.

Me sacrificing my brother in order to watch the NSYNC Concert

I was salty that entire trip. We went to the Columbia Zoo and out of spite, I may have thrown my brother’s Pokémon cards into the lion enclosure and tried to convince him to climb the barricade to retrieve them. 

In the new millennium, with the advent of online streaming, and for you rich folk that still pay for cable, DVR, there’s almost nothing better than going on a road trip. I won’t miss TV shows and I still get the chance to stuff my face with local cuisine, laugh until my sides hurt, and almost die in a car with my best friends.

Even if I finally find a guy to spend the rest of my life with, have cute babies and start my very own homemade artisanal jelly company on Etsy, I will make time to go on girls’ trips for the rest of my life. 

The first day of our trip to the 305, my friend JD and I fly into Ft. Lauderdale and meet up with MD who flew in from New York. JD and I met 20 years ago in Algebra II/Trigonometry the summer after I tried to have my brother killed at the zoo.

*Sitting next to each other in 1st period Math class back in 1999*

You’re TK, right?” JD adjusts the choker around her neck.


People keep telling me there’s a Black girl named TK that looks like me.”

She looks me up and down with a Regina George you-can’t-sit-with-us-glare. “I don’t see the resemblance.”

JD and I boarding our flight
I thought JD didn’t like me when we first met, but in actuality she is just a very observant and direct person. Later that year she encouraged me to try out for color guard with her and has been advising me on important life decisions ever since.

JD was also a huge NSYNC fan and we went to my first NSYNC concert together. I guess my family realized they had ruined my summer by making me spend time with them and tried to make it up to me with NSYNC tickets. Either that, or the ransom note I left on my parent’s bathroom mirror actually worked. If you ever want to see your son again, you’ll buy your daughter tickets to see NSYNC.

We pick up our rental car as the sun is setting and grab some sopas and horchatas at a cute little restaurant that has string lights hanging from their patio. Afterwards we decide to get some liquor and snacks from the supermarket to last us the duration of our trip.

My body feels fine, but my eyes feel sleepy,” JD says as she picks up a bottle of wine from the shelf.

Me too,” I yawn. “Almost like I’m high. But I know I’m not high.”

Are you sure you’re not high?”

I think about it for a couple seconds.

MD comes around the corner holding a 2 liter of coke and some baby carrots.

Do you guys feel weird?”

You know that part in The Hangover when Zach Galifianakis admits to drugging everyone so they would have a good time?”

Yeahhhh,” JD says suspiciously

What if they put something in our food at the taco place? I told them it was my birthday. Maybe they really wanted us to have a good time,” MD reasons.

Welcome to Dade County.” I smirk at MD, “I plan on having a good time."

You mean sex don’t you?,” JD says.

Ayyyyeeee! I’m so happy to be here with you guys,” MD gushes.

MD gets excited about pretty much anything and it’s so endearing to see her childlike wonder. Every time we go on a trip, she points out the most mundane things and comments on how beautiful they are. Leaves on trees, squirrels with bushy tails, finding extra french fries at the bottom of the bag: MD’s face

I met MD when her and JD were roommates living in Harlem. Over the years MD and I became close friends and travel buddies. I think living in New York for more than 10 years will make you appreciate the little things in life, because MD certainly does. 

We head to the registers to pay for our snacks and I see JD look up from her phone. 

TK, your entire boob is out,” she says nonchalantly.

OMG! How long was it like that?” I slip my left breast back into my bralette. It's always been the rebellious one of the two.

I was right next to you and I didn’t even see it,” MD laughs.

I catch the eye of an older White guy in front of us in the checkout line.

After nipple gate is handled, we go to our hotel and I can tell the ladies need a pep talk. 

If we don’t go out, then we won’t go out.”


“I think she really might be high,” JD says to MD.

If anybody even sits on a bed, we will realize how tired we are, and we won’t go anywhere. We are over 30!”

I successfully bully the group in to going out. MD pours everyone Hennessey and Cokes and we all get dressed. We get to Mango's in South Beach and its every bit the discoteca I thought it would be.

Attractive people stand along the bar shouting their orders at bartenders. Women wrapped in bondage dresses with their boobs sitting under their chins rhythmically move to Afrobeats on the dance floor. A guy is singing Reggaeton on a stage surrounded by living palm trees while a beautiful woman wearing a glow in the dark thong shakes her (real? fake?) butt cheeks beside him. Either way, her ass looks good.

The three of us make our way through the crowd to the back of the club where there’s a DJ playing Ozuna and a fog machine blasting cool air across the room.

We start dancing when an attractive man that looks like the sexy bad guy you’d love to hate in a novela (Spanish language soap opera) bumps into someone, splashing a drink onto JD. He quickly turns around to say sorry and then our eyes meet.

The 3 of us on our way to the club
The fog machine smoke clears and in one swift move Novela Villain puts his hand on the small of my back, pulls me towards him and we start dancing. Multi colored lights flash down on us from the ceiling and it looks like confetti is tap dancing from his face to mine.

He is an amazing dancer, almost as good as I am. We dance all night except for the moments when he stops to kiss me. When we kiss, the people moving around us blur into the background and the music almost sounds muted, like we’re in a tunnel. 

Our lips part and I can hear the base line of a J. Balvin song start bumping again. 

I want to go for a walk mamí. Ven conmigo.”

I breathlessly mouth, "Okay," but inner me is like...

We snake through the crowd towards the exit and I see JD and MD dancing with drinks in their hands. 

I’m going with him.” I cock my head in Novela Villain’s direction, who is standing next to me.

MD steps in front of Novela Villain and wags her finger in his face. “You better take good care of her.” But the music is so loud that I don’t think he can hear her tipsy threats.

He takes my hand and leads me outside of Mango's. When we finally get to the street a warm ocean breeze blows across my face and makes me aware of how much I was sweating inside the club.

"Soy de Honduras, pero vivo en Cali. Sorry, do you speak Spanish?"

"Sí, hablo un poquito de español."

"Tell me something."

I try not to giggle like an insane person

I reach over and run my finger down the side of his cheek, over his close shaved beard. "Me gusta esa barba."

In a heavy Honduran accent he says, “You are so cute. I want to kiss you all night long.”

We kiss in the middle of the street and when we pull apart a group of people walking past slow down as they get closer to us.

“Awww,” a black girl who looks to be in her early 20’s cooes at us. She has on a neon green bikini covered by a bright pink fishnet mini dress. Basically the standard dress code for a night in South Beach. “You guys look really cute together.”
I put on that MD smile...

I mean direct deposit every 2 weeks and finding extra french fries at the bottom of a McDonald's bag is great, but have you ever had a group of complete strangers tell you how cute you and your telenovela villain are? Maybe thats just the Libra in me talking. Us Libras like to look good and feel good. 

Novela Villain kisses me on the cheek and the scantily clad group of amigas say, "Awwww," in unison one more time before continuing down the street. This is the best night I've had since last Tuesday. I definitely feel high. But not from tacos this time. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

Sisterhood of the Traveling Panties

People often ask me what I do for a living because I travel so often. The short answer is that I'm self-employed and work special events for marketing companies. In theory, being self-employed means I get to make my own hours, but in actuality there have been times when the jobs were few and far between.

About 2 months had gone by, I hadn't picked up any work and was starting to get low on funds. My good friend Melisa, who I had met when we both worked an event for Google, was in the same unemployed boat as me. Over Blackberry Messenger, Melisa and I would chat about how we were spending our jobless days and send each other jobs to apply for.

So when she offered me a gig working along side her as a crew member on a cross country train trip, I was extremely grateful.

"Working on the train is hard work, but it can be really fun too," Melisa walked down the train's narrow hallway, leading me to the sleeper car I'd be using for the next three weeks. "There aren't a lot of rules, but the first one is simple: Don't fall in love with Tom."


"I'm just saying, every time some woman works on this train trip, she falls in love with him. Then I have to hear, 'Oh my God Tom is so hot! Do you think he likes me? Should I ask him out?'" She rolled her eyes.

I laughed and offered her my pinkie finger, "I promise I will not fall in love with Tom. Pinkie swear."

And I didn't fall in love with Tom on that work trip. He didn't make it easy though. He was a very charming guy with a strong jawline.

A few months after I returned from working with Melisa and Tom on the train, my Recruiter Jake called and asked if I’d be interested in working a three week event for Microsoft.

What are the job duties?” I could hear Jake typing while I spoke.

You’ll be driving a Microsoft branded Tahoe across the country and making a few stops for 1 day events along the way. You’ll have a partner to help you with everything and your final event is at the BET Awards in Los Angeles.”

Sounds fun. I’m in.”

In my industry, a coworker you go on the road with is called a tour partner. Jake was supposed to give me my tour partner's info so that we could get to know each other before hand, but he never got around to it. 

The night before I’m supposed to leave, I get a text from someone named Andre, who is apparently my tour partner to be.

Andre gives me his address so we can carpool to the office. I ask him for his last name and tell him it's so I can add him to my contacts list, but the real reason was so I could stalk him on the Internet.

I browse Andre’s Facebook profile and he seems normal. He doesn’t post much, but he has pictures of him smiling with friends and family. There are a few action shots of him playing various sports. We don’t have any mutual friends, but he doesn’t strike me as a Chester the Molester type. My mind is nearly at ease about traveling with a complete stranger.

You know how you start looking up something on Wikipedia and get sucked into researching a bunch of other things? Somehow you’re reading about flying squirrels when you originally wanted information about an actor you saw on a Sprite commercial.

Well an hour later, as I’m snacking on a fried chicken sandwich from the restaurant around the corner from my apartment, and scrolling through who I believe to be Andre’s sister’s church friend’s profile, I come across a photo of Andre that makes me pause.

Naturally I download it and text it to my best friend Tina.

This is my tour partner for the next few weeks.”

Tina immediately texts back, “Daaaaaaamn son.”

I reply right away, “Nothing is going to happen. We are coworkers and I am a professional.”

She replies with the quickness, “Girl you better GET 👏🏾 THEM 👏🏾 DRAWERS 👏🏾

The next morning when I pull up to Andre’s house, the photo I found of him on Facebook flashes through my mind. I’m super nervous for some reason.

Andre opens the door, and there stands one of the most attractive men I have ever seen in my life. He was about 6'3, which is the perfect height for me because I’m 5’9 and like to feel like I’m with my own personal bodyguard at all times. I also prefer guys who are at least 6 feet tall to ride this ride, however, I do make exceptions for shorter brethren with a good sense of humor and great cooking skills.

After his height, I noticed Andre’s muscular arms. He looked like he could chop down a tree without breaking a sweat. Another great trait to have if you're going to be a part of my life because I've always wanted someone to build me a treehouse.

Would you like to use the bathroom or get a drink before we leave?” He offers.


Andre looks confused for a moment and then I realize I didn't tell him if I needed to use the bathroom OR if I wanted something to drink. But he makes the choice for me and shows me to the bathroom.

Alone in the bathroom I start thinking, If he can figure out what I need without me giving him a straight answer, he's a unicorn, or at least boyfriend material. I'll wait for him to ask me what I want to eat, reply "something yummy," and see if he chooses the correct meal. If he succeeds at this task, he is the one I will marry

I realize I had been in the bathroom for a while. I was so nervous that I couldn't even pee. I just sat on the toilet thinking, “How on earth am I supposed to travel next to this gorgeous man, in an SUV, for the next 3 weeks, without farting?” 

On the start of our journey, we realize that we like the same type of music. This is a relief, because could you imagine having to listen banjos for 3 weeks straight, against your will? Instead of 20 questions, we decide to play 200 questions since we’re going to be driving for such a long time. Our first event is in Fargo, North Dakota and we have two days to get there from Milwaukee.

Why don’t we drive half way and stay at my Grandma’s place in Minnesota? That way we won’t have to pay for a hotel.”

You sure she won’t mind if you bring a guest?”

No, she’ll love it. My Grandfather passed away not too long ago and she likes the company. Plus my family from out of town is already there visiting.”

That night we start a bonfire and eat s’mores with his Grandma, Sister, Aunt, Uncle and his little cousins. There were as many fireflies flitting around the backyard as there were stars twinkling above us, but it felt like there were more mosquitoes than stars in the milky way. Not even bug spray or the smoke from the grill could keep me from getting bitten approximately 231 times. I'm slightly allergic to mosquito bites, so even though I was sure I’d look like this when I joined Andre's family for breakfast in the next morning,

the experience was still worth it.

Is that the North star?” I ask, pointing to a bright spot in the sky.

Andre’s Uncle replied, “No, that’s the planet Venus. It’s visible on clear summer nights when you’re this far up north.”

Venus y’all. The planet of LOVE. I took this as a positive sign.

Early the next morning, we say our goodbyes and make our way to Fargo. Andre has another Uncle that lives there who offers to take us to one of his favorite dive bars after we finish working our event.

So after work, I’m sitting in the bathroom trying to decide if I’m going to wear makeup or not when Andre knocks on the door.

Are you ready to leave? My Uncle is downstairs waiting.”

I quickly grab both my underwear and pants from around my ankles and simultaneously yank them up over my thighs. In the process I rip the elastic band of my Great Value granny panties. 

I look down at them in angst. “Ugh.” They are literally hanging on by a thread. If I were to take off my pants they would practically disintegrate, but I don’t have time to change.  

Fun fact: I still have these underwear. Not in a weird Monica Lewinsky trial type of way, but in a Marie Kondo, they spark joy in me when I think about that time of my life type of way. Also, this may mean that I'm a hoarder.

Side bar: Ever since I was a little girl wearing "days of the week underwear," I’ve hated the word panties. It seemed like a shameful word that you weren’t supposed to mention to others, even if they were really cute (the panties, not the person you were mentioning them to). Plus boys didn’t have to wear panties and they could scratch their itchy crotches in public whenever they wanted, but I wasn’t allowed to. It was all very unfair to me.

Days of the week undies
As I’ve gotten older, my dislike of most things undergarment related has grown as well. I think what I really hate is that there’s a smorgasbord of intimate apparel for women, most of which are uncomfortable and used as a way to make women look appealing for men. There are boa constricting shape wear, aggravating thongs and uncomfortable g-strings. Nobody cares if you can see a dude’s underclothes when he bends over to tie his shoes, but women jump through a lot of hoops to prevent the world from seeing bra straps, panty lines, or our colorful patterned knickers through our black leggings at the gym. Being a woman is mad exhausting yo. FACTS.

But forget about my disdain for women’s intimates for a moment so we can get back to the story.

Andre’s uncle drives us to the bar where he buys us a round of shots. He seems like a cool older dude. He is probably in his late 40’s, or early 50’s, with tattoos and a beard. Andre told me he’s the black sheep of the family: Does what he wants, has never been married, has a bunch a cool life stories to share.

Now for a short story about me: I like to sleep and I've never really been a party girl. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there’s nothing more fun than going out with your girls, dancing at the hip hop spots, and cruising to the crews like connect the dots. Sometimes you’ve got to live la vida loca.

However it's hard to be a party girl when you drink a few drinks and want to go to bed. I know my limits and they only include about 2 shots of anything strong.

But on this fateful evening, I was so nervous that I kept the drinks coming in hopes of calming my nerves. Andre’s Uncle bought us 3 shots of tequila each and I had a pitcher of hard cider by myself.

Did I mention that I'm not a drinker?

By the end of the night, I felt completely comfortable around Andre. Not comfortable enough to fart in front of him, but comfortable enough to ask him if I could run my fingers through his hair. 

I ran my fingers through Andre’s prickly soft hair, and that’s when I made up my mind. I am going to kiss himTonight.

I'm in a drunken daze as we leave the bar and I quietly chant “do not throw up, do not throw up,” from the backseat of the car. However, I probably wasn’t chanting as quietly as I thought I was because from the front seat, Andre reaches back and rolls my window down. The warm summer night air blows in my face as his uncle drives us back to our hotel and I keep chanting my “Don’t you dare vomit in this man’s car” mantra for what seems like an eternity.

We arrive at the Holiday Inn, say goodbye to Andre’s Uncle and then Andre gives me a piggyback ride through the hotel lobby, just like they do in Korean dramas. (My love of Korean Dramas is one of the facts about me I shared with Andre during 200 questions)

As Andre steadies me on my feet in the elevator, I’m wracking my drunk brain, figuring out a way to get him to kiss me. I immensely want to make Andre think it was his idea to kiss me, so that he makes the first move, without realizing I was the mastermind behind our first kiss. Then I remember a conversation his younger cousins and I had that morning over breakfast, before we left Minnesota.

Did you know that today is International Kissing Day?” I slyly ask Andre.

It's past midnight,” Andre replies, “So technically it's not International Kissing Day anymore.”

Now to most people his comment would seem like a red light. Case closed. But in my hard cider state of mind I looked at his comment like a yellow light instead. Speed up and you just may make it through the intersection!

I counter with, “Everyone knows it's not officially the next day until you go to sleep and wake up again.”

Damn. I was surprised at myself for thinking on my feet like that. I think I missed my calling as a CIA Field operative.

Nevertheless, Green light! Case opened for reexamination.

Andre helps me to the room as I zombie walk down the hallway, fumbling for the room key in my purse.

We reach the door and I spin around so we're facing each other.

When I like someone I get word vomit. I just have to let them know how I feel, by any means necessary, nervousness be damned.

This is it, this is my chance,” I think to myself. But there is also the possibility that I may have said that out loud.

Andre,” I hiccup. “Andre, I really want you to know that I really…”

And then the real vomit comes up.

 I open the door, rush into the bathroom and make it to the toilet just in time.

The next morning I look over to find Andre sleeping on the queen bed closest to the bathroom.I quietly get out of my bed, pull some socks over my feet, grab my phone and gently close the hotel room door behind me.

It’s 7am on a Sunday. I dial my bestfriend’s number as I sit down in the stairway. She works weekends at a veterinary hospital so I know she’ll be awake.

Tina answers the phone after a few rings, “Whats up?”

I got the drawers.

*I want to dedicate this story to my friend Melisa Tomanek, who I mentioned earlier for helping me find jobs but more importantly for being an amazing friend. She passed away a few months ago from cancer and I'll never forget the kindness and love she showed me. I told her this story in person, and she was proud of me for going on tour, making money, and making out with a hot guy at the same time.
Melisa and I at a Nicki Minaj Concert