Falling in love with William wasn’t something I expected to happen. Why not? Well, he’s younger than me, he’s not African American and he’s a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. They don’t believe in wearing jewelry and I love jewelry. I love wearing big gold and silver earrings, rings and bangles. They frown on makeup too. I don’t wear any but it’s not because of religious reasons. I’m allergic to it. So, all I wear is a tinted lip balm. Fortunately for me I have naturally long eyelashes so I don’t need Mascara to darken, thicken, lengthen, and/or define them.
Anyway, makeup aside, I was happily single, dating on and off when it suited me. Most of the men I dated were Christians but on a few occasions I dated non-Christians or men of other faiths. Well, that got my Christian friends talking. I was scolded. My friends Shirley shook her head and wagged her finger in my face. “Girl, don’t you know you’re not supposed to be dating any man outside of the church? Do you want to be unequally yoked?”
“And why would you want to date men outside the church when you have so many fine looking brothers in the church?” Rochelle piped in. “Did you see that visitor we had last week Sunday? I first thing I did when I was introduced to him was to check to see if he was wearing a wedding ring.”
Whenever they carried on like that, I would just look at them and smile. They meant well and I loved them dearly but friend or not, they had no business telling me who I should or shouldn’t date. After all, didn’t Moses marry an Ethiopian woman and Joseph the daughter of an Egyptian priest? I didn’t marry any of those men–I just dated them.
Anyway, we were out at a bowling alley one evening and having a blast when I noticed that this really good looking Asian guy kept staring at me. He was with a group of friends. He was well dressed in a crisp white shirt and black jeans. He had a really nice physique. As I waited my turn to bowl, I allowed my eyes to drink in every detail of him. Finally, I walked up to him and holding out my hand, I said, “Hi, my name’s Monique.”
He looked a bit startled. I guess he wasn’t used to being approached. “William,” he replied after a few seconds and shook my hand. His fingers were long and I could see that they were well manicured. This guy took self grooming very seriously. I like that in a man.
“Is this your first time here?” It wasn’t my first time. I had been there numerous times.
“Yes, it is. What about you?”
“No, I come here often with my friends.”
He glanced over my shoulder. “I think your friends are trying to get your attention,” he said, releasing my hand.
I turned to see Shirley and Rochelle waving wildly. I turned back to William, an apologetic expression on my face. “Excuse me.” I turned and walked over to my friends. I could feel him watching me. I knew I looked great in the red shirt and the jeans which hugged me in all of the right places. Being a Christian didn’t mean that I had to dress like a nun. I bowled and got a strike. My third in the game. Pleased, I returned to William who was up. I watched as he too made a strike. “How many have you had so far?” I asked.
“Good for you.”
“After we have finished our games, would you like to grab something to eat?”
“Here or somewhere else?”
“Here is fine.”
“Sure. If your friends won’t mind.”
“They won’t. What about yours?”
“They won’t mind either.” Of course they would but that was their problem. “I’ll go and finish my game and meet you right here.”
He smiled. “Okay.”
I rejoined my friends who were watching me very closely. After we finished our second game which I won, I told them that I had a date. I indicated with whom the date was and I could just hear the lectures. “Sorry, Ladies but I don’t have time right now to listen to why I shouldn’t grab a bite to eat with a guy I just met.”
Rochelle shook her head. “You really need to be careful when it comes to men,” she said. “The guy is a perfect stranger and you’re going out with him?”
“We’re not going anywhere. We’re going to have something to eat right here. And when we’re done, I’m going home–alone.”
“Well, I should hope so,” Shirley said. “You’re a Christian, remember? You shouldn’t be taking men back to your place and you should never go to theirs.”
I wonder what they would say if they knew that years ago I had slept with one of the brothers in the church. We hadn’t planned to, of course, but it happened. The following week at church we avoided each other like the plague. I just go out with men and have a good time but at the end of the evening, we part company. I try to be celibate but it isn’t always easy. I’m not a robot. I have needs.
“Don’t worry, ladies,” I said to my friends. “I’ll be good. Now, run along. I’ll see you in church on Sunday.” Then, I turned and walked over to William who was alone. I guess his friends had left. “Do you mind if we ate here?”
“No, I don’t mind at all.”
“Good.” We both order burgers–his was a veggie and mine was a cheesy cheeseburger with fries and milkshakes. We sat at a table and as we ate, we talked about all sorts of things. “Do you have a girlfriend?” I asked. He wouldn’t be the first guy to step out on his woman.
“No. What about you? Do you have a boyfriend?”
“No. I’m single. How old are you?”
“I’m thirty-six.” I figured that he was younger than me. “Have you ever dated an older woman?”
He shook his head. “No. Have you ever dated a younger man?”
“No, but there’s a first time for everything.” Did I just say that? Was I seriously thinking about dating him? I must be out of my mind. He was younger than me, for Pete’s sake and he wasn’t a brother. Yet, I couldn’t deny that I was extremely attracted to him. I kept having all sorts of thoughts that a Christian woman shouldn’t be having. And it didn’t help that the first button of his shirt was undone. I tried to keep my eyes on his face. He had the most amazing brown eyes. I could drown in them. I realized that I was staring and I turned my attention to my fries.
“So, what else do you like to do besides bowling with your friends on a Friday night?”
“I like to read, go for long walks, shopping and travel. What about you?”
“I enjoy a good game of tennis, cycling, swimming and long walks.”
“What do you do for entertainment?”
“I’m not really into any type of entertainment except maybe a gospel concert or maybe an opera or a ballet or a classical music performance.”
“Really? So, you won’t go to a nightclub or a bar, then?”
He shook his head. “No.”
“Those are not the sort of places that a Christian should go to.”
“So, you’re a Christian?”
“So am I.” I could see the surprise on his face. “I guess it’s hard to believe that because of the jewelry.”
“Well, the women at my church don’t wear jewelry or makeup.”
“Let me guess. You’re a Seventh-day Adventist.”
“Yes. Are you familiar with our beliefs?”
“Yes. You are what I would call legalistic because of all your dos and Sony’s. You don’t believe in having fun, do you?
“I believe in having fun, yes, as long as it is done responsibly and it doesn’t conflict with my beliefs.”
“What about being with me, a non-Adventist? Wouldn’t the members of your church have a problem with that?”
He smiled. “Some of them might but I’m not answerable to them but to the Lord who welcomed all who came to Him.”
“I think all churches have the same problem. They say they are the body of Christ but they have a problem with us associating with people of other faiths. Adventists don’t seem to like being around non-Christians and non-Adventists. My grandmother was an Adventist and when I visited her church, I felt uncomfortable. Some of the members couldn’t hide their disapproval of me because I wore jewelry. After my grandmother’s funeral, I never went back to that church.”
“I’m sorry you had a bad experience. Does this mean that you wouldn’t go out with me because I’m an Adventist?”
“Are you asking me out, William?”
“Yes, I am.”
“All right, I’ll go out with you.”
“Have your ever been to a circus?”
He smiled. “Good. I’ll take you to one on Sunday and then we will go for dinner afterwards.”
“Sounds good to me.” I glanced at my watch. It was getting late and I had had a long day. “Well, it’s time for me to head home.”
He looked disappointed. “Do you have ride?”
I nodded as I stood up. “Yes, I drove here.”
He stood up. “I’ll walk you to your car.”
We walked to my car and before we parted company, I gave him my address and number. “See you on Sunday,” I said as I got behind the wheel.”
“See you on Sunday.” He waved as I drove off.
Sunday came and we went to the circus where we had a blast. Afterwards, we went to a Thai restaurant. Over mouth watering food, we made plans to see each other again. Then, we started dating. It wasn’t long before I realized that I was falling for him. That scared me. I have been in love before but this was different. I was actually thinking of marriage. Marriage! Me. The woman who liked being single. I wasn’t sure how he felt about me. I knew he wanted me–the kiss we shared the other night made that crystal clear to me. If I didn’t break off the kiss, grab my jacket and hightailed it out of his apartment, who knows how things would have progressed.
We are walking in the park now, holding hands. We draw a few stares but I’m used to it. We come to a quiet, secluded spot where we stop. We face each other. He has a very serious expression on his face. I swallowed hard, my heart racing. Is he about to break up with me? The thought terrifies me. I’m so crazy about this guy.
“Monique, we have been seeing each other for a while now. You must know by now how I feel about you.”
“How do you feel about me?” I wanted him to come right out and tell me.
“I love you.”
Relief washed over me and I smiled. “I love you too.”
“I know that we come from two different denominations but I can’t give up on you, on us because of that. I want to marry you, Monique.”
“Marry me? Are you sure?” I wanted to be sure that was what he really wanted.
“Yes.” He released my hand and getting down on one knee, he reached into the breast-pocket of his jacket and took out a little red box. He opened it and removed a beautiful diamond ring. “Monique Charles, will you marry me?”
Tears sprang to my eyes and for a moment I was too choked up to say anything. “Yes!” I managed to gasp and he sprang to his feet and pulled me into his arms. He hugged me tightly about my waist before he leaned down and kissed me. When we finally broke apart, we went to our favorite place to celebrate–the bowling alley where we met.
Two years have passed. William and I have moved into a nice, residential area just outside of the city because we have a son and another one is on the way. I’m no longer a Pentecostal Christian. My friends, Rochelle and Shirley were upset at first but they decided that it was my life to do what I wished with it and besides, they could see how happy I am. While we were dating, I began attending William’s church and after a lot of prayer and fasting, I got baptized and became a member. This means that I’m no longer wearing jewelry and believe it or not, I don’t miss it. I love my new life with William and I’m thankful to God for bringing us together. We are equally yoked in every way now.