Jerome was the new pharmacy manager at the store. He was half Puerto Rican and half Dominican, tall and in his early 40’s. He and I got along well. He was married to a Jamaican lady of East Indian descent. He would call her his “coolie Jamaican wife” jokingly. I had stopped using the word coolie when I learned it was aderogatory word
in some countries. He was the first non-Jamaican I ever met that knew how to speak patois like a Jamaican. He had the mannerisms and knew all the latest Jamaican slang. At times he seemed like just
another “yardie” but then you would see him “bust out” in Spanish at a moment’s notice when helping a customer. He told me that he hung out with Jamaicans all through high school. When he went off the college his roommate was Jamaican. He said he was destined to marry a Jamaican girl as he hung out at Jamaican clubs and parties.
He was a big fan of a Jamaican Chinese DJ Waggy Tee. I knew who the DJ was and had gone to a few parties where he had played. He is the most popular Jamaican reggae DJ in South Florida.
Jerome and I went to lunch together once a week. Typically it was a Jamaican restaurant or patty shop. It was fun and we talked about anything but work. On one of these lunch dates I got a life lesson.
“Can you believe it is my anniversary today and my wife forgot? I woke up gave her a card and she was asking what the occasion was,” he smiled.
I laughed. Women typically don’t forget anniversaries but men do.
“How did you remember?” I asked.
“I have every occasion in my computer calendar so I never forget,” his smile got bigger.
“Where we going to lunch today anniversary boy?” I asked.
“I have a special place in mind. It is a surprise,” he replied.
We got in the car together and started driving. We chatted a little and then he pulled up in front of a strip joint I had driven by a few times. It was called “Club G-Zone””.
I looked over at him and said in patios “fe real bredrin?”
“Jus watch the ride my yout” he replied in flawless patois.
“It’s my anniversary and this is how I want to celebrate. A grown man can look,” he said with a smile.
It did not feel right about going in a strip club in the middle of the day but I wanted to go in. I was on dry “dock” for a while since I was getting “married” to Juliet. I was close to getting my boat “wet” with Nicola a few weeks ago but Juliet “broke it up”. I could use a little excitement.
As I walked in, my eyes were fixed on the 2 naked women dancing on the stage. The place was empty. I soon realized that Jerome was a VIP in the club. Everyone knew him and all the strippers’ waved to him.
Lunch is on me. Go to the bar and order what you want. I will be back.
I watched him leave. He was being lead to a private booth by a very attractive Spanish stripper.
I went to the bar and ordered some wings and French fries. It felt weird ordering food at a strip club. I had been to a few before but not to eat.
Jerome came back about 25 minutes later with a big smile on his face. The lady he was with was not far behind. She made a detour to the rest room.
He dipped his finger in my plate and grabbed a French fry.
“Hey what are you doing? I don’t know where your fingers have been.” I said.
“You don’t want to know”, he said with a sly smile.
“Here take the fries,” as I pushed the plate over to him.
“We have to go” I told him. Our lunch hour was almost up.
“Put it on my tab” he told the bartender. He was a regular there.
When we got in the car he could not wait to tell me all the details.
“Some Jamaican women nuh like fe bow” he laughed.
My whole perception of him changed. I know men cheat but his wife being Jamaican made it feel weird. I felt like it was my patriotic duty to have him consider remaining faithful to his Jamaican wife.
“Aren’t you afraid of getting a disease or she finding out you are having sex with a stripper?” I asked.
He smiled and responded using defense of former US president, Bill Clinton.
“It not cheating as we did not have sex.”
John and I kept in touch occasionally. I was still a little shocked at whatJohn and Lecia
had revealed to me but had grown tolerant of the situation. He would stop by the store and my house occasionally when he was in the area showing a home.
I had not heard from him in almost 3 months. That was very strange. He helped me find a new renter. When we last spoke he was telling me that his homosexual thoughts were back stronger than before and he was trying to fight them. He got more involved in church and other activities to try and keep busy. He even mentioned he was part of a Christian based group that acts like a support group to change gay and lesbians. It was an awkward conversation. I listened intently even though I could not relate to anything he was saying. It was the last conversation when I saw him.
Should I have called him in the last few months? Probably, but I did not want to hear about his struggles with homosexuality. Not because I did not care about him. It was because I did not understand his point of view. My opposition to the gay life was still strong even though I was more tolerant than when I first came to the USA. I felt I could not give any advice without some of my comments seem like a condemnation of him and the gay the lifestyle. It was better to say nothing.
A week after I thought about him, John came by the house
“Lang time nuh see. Whappen yuh get rich an…” I caught myself. I was about to say “get rich and switch”. Which is a joke amongst Jamaican that people get rich and become gay.
“No I did not switch”, he laughed.
Whappen to yuh? Yuh dash whey yuh poor fren dem”, I teased.
No man!! He has a sad look on his face. He continued “a lot is going on”
“Ooh no”, I thought to myself. I did not want to hear it because I feared it would be complicated. But how do you tell someone you don’t want to hear about them.
“Lecia asked me for a divorce.”
“What?”, I responded.
“Yes, she wants a divorce”, he replied.
“Why?” I asked.
“She has been cheating on me. She met a young lady at her job and they were having an affair. They want to move in together”, he replied.
I was not surprised. They were both gay. The last time I saw him he was having trouble staying “straight”. They were committed to this marriage because of the pressures from family, friends and the church.
They were married 10 years.
Tears were streaming down his face.
It was strange seeing a grown man cry, especially a Jamaican man.
“I love her and I don’t want a divorce,” he stated.
He then explained how painfully the last 4 months had been for him. Lecia neglected him and that is why he believed his homosexual thoughts came back stronger. When she told him about the affair he told her he wanted it to work even if it meant an open marriage. She could have her women and he his men. She did not want to do that. He even offered to have the young lady move in with them. He was willing to make any arrangement to keep the “marriage” going. His hope is that she would come back around to him and his thoughts of men would go away.
He also ranted about the media pushing the homosexual agenda. He said Lecia had started watching a TV show that had a lesbian couple. They lived together and even kissed on TV. I remember the show because it was hailed as a breakthrough moment in television with a lesbian couple on network TV.
John went on to explain that Lecia stopped contributing to the bills on the house and most night did not come home. He told his son, Raymond, that mommy had a night job. A week ago she changed the locks on the house and he was living with another friend.
“We built a life together all these years and she is willing to throw it all away”
He was crying. I did not know what to do.