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The first time I introduced my parents to my girlfriend and future fiancée Edith “Miss Thing” Banderas, they were surprised, to say the least. There was the whole thing about her color, for starters. She’s Black. By the way, I’m Black too, but until I met Edith, I have never dated a Black woman. How we met is certainly a tale for the ages, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Gabriel Berihun, and I’m a young Ethiopian-American living in the City of Boston, Massachusetts. My parents, Michael Berihun and Valerie Dabir Berihun, moved to New England from their hometown of Asella in Central Ethiopia. I was born at Boston’s very own Mass General Hospital on February 5, 1988. My whole life, I’ve been accused of not being Black enough, whatever that means.
Sometimes, I wonder what that means. Black enough. I’m six-foot-one, lean and athletic, with light brown skin, curly black hair and pale green eyes. I’m often asked whether I am mixed and I always tell people that I consider myself one hundred percent Black, thank you very much. A lot of the African-American guys and gals I knew growing up would tell me that I acted white, and I was offended by that. Just because a brother isn’t into rap or acting thuggish doesn’t mean he’s white-washed. Of course, people believe what they want to believe, and the fact I lived in a mostly white neighborhood and attended a mostly white school didn’t help. If those brats who challenged my blackness only knew that I wasn’t just black, I was of direct African descent. I wonder if it would have changed their opinion of me.
I’ve always been proud of the fact that my parents are authentic Africans. My father was born in the town of Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, to a Lebanese mother, Amina Abdullah, and Ethiopian father, Bilal Berihun. He’s mixed, not me. As for my mother, she’s half black and half white, born to an Italian father , Gaetano Tartaglia, and an Ethiopian mother, Abrihet Dabir. Yeah, I’ve got Ethiopian, Lebanese and Italian in my family, which probably explains what I look like. Growing up in Boston, I tried my best to immerse myself in the metropolis vibrant culture. I graduated from Boston Latin Academy in 2006, and won an academic scholarship to Northeastern University. My father wanted me to go Boston University, his alma mater, but I liked Northeastern University better. It’s more diverse and more my style.
Every summer for ever since I could remember, my parents sent my older sister Annabelle and I to stay with our paternal grandparents, Grandpa Bilal and Grandma Amina. I loved spending the summer in Ethiopia, and I learned to speak multiple languages as a result. I am fluent in French, Spanish, Italian, Lebanese Arabic along with Amharic and Oromo, the main languages spoken in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Not bad for a brat raised in Boston’s South End, huh? I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood. My parents came to the United States of America to pursue higher education and success, and by anyone’s estimate, they succeeded. My dad is an immigration attorney who earned his J.D. from Boston University’s Law School and my mother works as a nurse at the same hospital where I was born. Still, even though we lived in a nice neighborhood surrounded by Italians and Irishmen, my parents made sure I never forgot where I came from.
When I was in high school, I dated this tall, beautiful redhead with piercing blue eyes, Deborah “Debbie the Red One” O’Shea. The daughter of our widower neighbor, Boston Police sergeant Sean Patrick O’Shea. I’ve got a thing for redheads, I guess. Growing up I had posters of Julianne Moore, Amy Adams, Nicole Kidman and Ashley Greene. I think it had something to do with the fact that there are so many redheads in Boston. The only place in the Western hemisphere where they’re more common is probably Ireland itself. Deborah and I had known each other our whole lives and our parents knew each other as well. The tall, athletic tomboy with the killer rack and nicely rounded booty excited me to no end. We got into all kinds of mischief together in high school. I still remember how we got caught making out in the washroom during a basketball game between our high school and a visiting team from nearby Brockton. Deborah is the gal I would lose my virginity to during the summer of 2006, after we graduated from high school.
Debbie and I loved each other and I thought we were going to be together forever. However, while I was lucky enough to win a full academic scholarship to Northeastern University, one of Boston’s top schools, she lacked the funds to go to a big school and ended up going to Bridgewater State University, which is about an hour away from downtown Boston. Well, an hour if you drive slow. On my Yamaha motorcycle, I can make it in thirty five to forty five minutes. Debbie and I continued dating as we began our freshman year at our respective schools. Sometimes, I’d visit her at Bridgewater State University. She turned me into a Bridgewater State University football and wrestling fan, especially mamak escort after Northeastern University’s football team got terminated due to lack of funding and the dreaded politics of Title IX. Personally, I think Title IX needs revision. In the old days, women lacked the sporting opportunities that men had at the college and university level. Today, when women outnumber men in higher education institutions, Title IX is really unfair and targets men’s college sports teams. That rule is gender biased against men in today’s higher education universe. Don’t tell that to the feminists who control the lawmakers, though. They think everything is fine just the way it is.
During our first Christmas after college began, Debbie dropped a bomb on me. She met a guy at Bridgewater State University and he was all that and the proverbial bag of chips. Some Irish stud from the football team. And she was dumping me for him. Wow. I did not see that one coming, ladies and gentlemen. Especially since Debbie and I had sex the night before she dropped that bomb on me. I mean, she called me over to her place, after making sure her dad was gone. He was at some police seminar in Connecticut and wouldn’t be back for three days. Just like the old days, I snuck into the house, and Debbie met me in the basement. My favorite redhead greeted me wearing a bathrobe and nothing underneath. There she was, a vision of beauty. Five-foot-nine, slim and sexy ( but curvy where it counted) with her short red hair, big tits, round ass and bright eyes. She gestured for me to come to her and I did. We kissed, and she stroked my cock through my pants.
Off came my pants, and Debbie led me to the bed, where we did our thing. She sucked my dick, and I fingered her pussy while licking her tits. Then I put on a condom and she climbed on top of me. I hung on for dear life as she straddled me, then rode me hard. How I loved the feel of her tight pussy around my dick. Hot damn. After making love for hours, we lay in each other’s arms. Just like old times. I had my lady in my arms, and I felt like all was right with the world. A day later, she broke up with me to be with Trevor Wilkinson, football player and campus ladies man. Chicks really know how to tear a guy’s heart out, don’t they? After Debbie ditched me, I was morose for a while. I decided to focus on school instead of other stuff. I tried to put her out of my mind. The problem is that I’ve known her my whole life. What she did to me was incredible. I couldn’t get over her that easily.
I went on a string of dates ( and occasional one-night-stands) with girls who could have been clones of her. Tall, slim redheads with blue or green eyes. I went out with an Asian chick named Samantha Lee a couple of times but we had no chemistry. I drifted through life like a ghost. I had lost the woman I loved, and she did not want me back. In fact, Debbie blocked me on Facebook for good measure. Isn’t that awesome? My parents often asked me if I was alright and I told them I was fine. But who was I kidding? I wasn’t fine. I joined the Christian Youth Alliance at school because I thought faith might get me through this. My parents attended the Ethiopian Evangelical Church of Boston, a place they loved, but I always felt out of place there. I’ve always felt awkward around other people of African descent. I like country music and I am on the Men’s Ice Hockey team at Northeastern University. Do I sound like any Black man you’ve ever met? I’m different, and Black people, especially Black girls, constantly remind me of it. In high school, before Debbie, I asked out a Black chick named Natasha and she laughed at me, calling me an Oreo. As in I was Black on the outside and white on the inside. I told her to fuck off and focused on the white girls instead. When I began dating Debbie, Natasha and her friends would roll their eyes as we walked through the hallways together, hand in hand. Oh, well.
One night, out of the blue, my life changed. I was walking through Dorchester, one of the rougher areas of Boston, doing some Christian outreach work for the campus group. That’s when I walked in on something incredible. A skinny Hispanic guy , a Chinese-looking guy and a burly Black guy had a chubby white guy pressed against a wall, and he was bleeding from getting hit by their fists. They hadn’t seen me. The Hispanic guy took out a knife and stuck the white guy with it, and he moaned in pain before slumping to the ground, dead. A gasp escaped my lips, and the three killers whirled around, spotting me. I ran. They chased me. I was unfamiliar with the neighborhood, and they would have found me and killed me for sure if someone hadn’t intervened. A short, skinny Black chick wearing a bandana darted out of the darkness and held her finger to her lips before gesturing for me to follow her.
I hesitated, but with my pursuers right around the corner, what did I have to lose by following her? I followed her and she led me into this building that must have been some kind ofise gelen escort of warehouse back in the day. We climbed up the stairs and she finally led me to a backroom where we hid in the darkness. I couldn’t see anything but I could hear people shouting angrily outside, just like I could hear footsteps echoing in the building. I don’t know for how long I lay there on a dirty floor, with trash strewn about, next to a young woman I didn’t know. I must have swooned at some point because when I came to, I felt some stinging slaps on my face. The young black woman from before was staring at me, telling me to wake the fuck up. I caught her hand as she got ready to smack me again.
I looked at her and asked her who she was. She scowled, and told me she didn’t want to know me. Then she looked around and told me we had better leave. I nodded, and made my way down. When I checked my watch, it was three in the morning. It was around eleven last night when I finished my outreach work in Dorchester and got ready to take the Redline Train at Ashmont Station in Dorchester to go home. Damn. I spent the whole night in this dump! I looked at my savior and thanked her, then told her we had to go to the police. I couldn’t shake the image of that white dude getting stabbed like that. The young woman looked at me like I had two heads and laughed. I stared at her. What was so funny? My savior, nameless though she may be at that point, was around five-foot-six, slim, with charcoal skin, long dreadlocked hair, and a slightly angular but very pretty face. Though slim, she had big tits and curves in the right places. I bet she had a wonderful ass. It’s weird the things a man’s mind notices in the weirdest of situations. She grinned and looked me up and down before spitting out the words “rich dude”. Then she told me I could do whatever I wanted, before turning on her heel.
I caught her arm as she turned to leave, wanting to reason with her. Surely she realized what we had to do. A murder was committed, and we had a duty to go to the police. The young woman whirled around and was on me in an instant. She yanked her arm from me, and told me that if I grabbed her again, she’d get my balls. I held my hands up, and told her I meant her no harm. Then I showed her my driver’s licence and Northeastern University student ID card. She looked at me and laughed, telling me that I didn’t look like a Gabriel. I scowled. What’s that supposed to mean? The young woman grinned and told me all the Gabriel types she knew were Hispanic guys. Then she asked me if I was mixed. I took a deep breath, and told her I was a pure Black man from Ethiopia. When I said the word Ethiopia, something in her demeanor changed. Wow, she said.
I nodded, and extended my hand. After a brief hesitation she shook it, and told me her name was Edith, but everyone called her Miss Thing. I smiled at that. Can’t imagine why anyone would call her that. When I asked her why she helped me, she shrugged and said it was no big deal. I thanked her again, and she nodded. When I brought up the idea of going to the police again, she grew cold and told me that my stupidity would get me killed. What was she talking about? Edith shook her head, and told me that these guys were part of a local gang that was fighting the gentrification of Dorchester by rich white folks. Or Black yuppies. She said that last word with disgust, and I realized that she meant me. Was I a Black yuppie? I’m not rich. My parents work for a living. I’m from a nice neighborhood and go to a good school that’s all.
Edith seemed most eager to get the hell out of the warehouse, a sentiment that I shared. We made our way down, and once outside, she said adios. I watched her go. The short black chick seemed to vanish before my eyes. I went to the Ashmont Train Station and waited for the next ride. I swiped my MBTA card at the machine and got on. I watched the stops go by. Fields Corner. JFK/UMass. I’m not getting off until near the end of the line. Charles MGH. I live in the area. When I got home, I thought I’d sneak into my bedroom but found my pops waiting. Yes, I still live at home and even though I’m a grown-ass man, as they say, my folks don’t want me coming home too late. I just went to my dad and hugged him. The six-foot-four, slightly balding and light-skinned, middle-aged black man who taught me how to be a good man hugged me back. Then I sat him down and told him about how my night went. Your mom’s going to flip, was all that said after I told him about the murder I witnessed, the chase, and my narrow escape thanks to Edith.
I went to bed and slept peacefully. I told myself that my dad would take care of everything just like he normally did. I didn’t know the maelstrom of trouble my whole family would find itself in because of me. The next morning, dad and I went to the Boston Police Station downtown, and we talked to detective Joanna Garrett, a tall redhead in her early forties. After listening to my story, they told us they’d arrange for otele gelen escort us to have police protection at our house. They wanted me to stay home. The reason why they wanted me somewhere they could monitor me? The three gangsters I had seen weren’t just fighting the gentrification coming their way. There were powerful forces at work which I didn’t know about. People hiding in the shadows, people with money and power, pulling everyone’s strings. The kind of people who could make people disappear. My dad assured the detective that we’d fully cooperate. A police car would be parked outside our house tonight. Damn, this is serious. I knew what I had to do. I had to warn Edith.
First I looked her up on Facebook, but there were five hundred Ediths in the Boston area alone, and many more across New England. Damn. What’s a guy to do? I mulled over the risks of going back to Dorchester. The way I figured it, I owed her. First, though, I had to make sure nobody would recognize me. So I put on a black hoodie and sunglasses, and put a big silver crucifix around my neck. I ought to be able to blend in around Dorchester. It’s still mostly African-Americans and Puerto Ricans in the area. Off I went on my latest adventure. I walked all over Dorchester, asking people if they knew a short black chick named Edith. Nobody knew anything. Nada. Damn. I finally gave up and walked toward MacDonald’s, thinking I could grab a bite before going home. I told myself the cops would find the three killers based on the descriptions I gave to the police sketch artist. They recovered the old white dude’s body early this morning. It was an official police investigation now.
As I walked in, I noticed that Dorchester’s MacDonald’s restaurant was packed with people. I stood in line, with my stomach grumbling. I finally made it to the front, and my jaw dropped. One of the girls working behind the counter was Edith! Her eyes widened when she saw me, and she asked me what I was doing in her neck of the woods. I told her I was looking for her, and that the case was bigger than I thought. Edith groaned and asked her co-worker, a tall Hispanic guy named Pedro, to cover for her. Then she grabbed me by the arm and led me outside. Once away from prying eyes and ears, she let me have it. How dare I come to her place of work? How did I know how to find her? I told her what I had done. Edith shook her head, and worry crept into her face. Not for the first time I noticed how beautiful she was. We had bigger worries at the moment, though.
Edith and I were arguing in the parking lot when three familiar silhouettes seemingly materialized nearby. Instantly I recognized them, and they seemed to recognize me in spite of my ‘foolproof’ disguise. It’s them, I told Edith. She cursed as I grabbed her arm and ran. We ran through Dorchester, and the three bozos from the night before pursued us. Edith and I ran through the streets, into alleys and hid in corners. We hid behind a huge garbage can, safe for the moment. Edith seemed a bit rattled, and I worried about her. She whispered that she thought we should split, but I told her that she couldn’t go home. Seriously, they didn’t know they’d find me at the MacDonald’s, they had come for her. They knew who she was. A frightened look crept into her beautiful face. I gently squeezed her hand and told her everything would be alright. She batted my hand away, saying that she should never have gotten involved in this mess. I had to make her see reason. We had to go to the only place where they couldn’t get at us. I had a police detail waiting for me at my house.
Your place? Edith said, hesitation in her voice. My parents house, I said. We slowly made our way to the Ashmont Train Station, and got on. Edith sat opposite me, doubtless still rattled by the thought of our pursuers knowing where she worked and probably where she lived. I told her not to worry, and she told me to go to Hell. I rolled my eyes. Attitude, I thought. She’s got one, alright. Edith grabbed her phone and dialed someone. When I asked her who she was calling, she told me she had to warn her aunt Gabby to stay away from the crib. She couldn’t find her aunt but left a message on the phone warning her that she was in trouble and should go stay with someone for a couple of days. Worry shone through Edith as she hung up. I came and sat next to her, feeling a bit guilty. It was my fault that she was implicated in this mess. If she hadn’t helped me, she wouldn’t be in trouble. Of course, I’d be dead for sure if she hadn’t led me to safety last night.
Edith locked eyes with me and asked me how many cops there were at my house. I told her I had no idea. She rolled her eyes and told me she felt like smacking me for being so goddamn naïve. I laughed, and told her I could see right through her façade. Edith narrowed her dark, shiny eyes at me. I hesitated due to the intense look she shot me, but continued anyway. I told her that all would be fine if she calmed down and we kept our wits about ourselves. The police were looking for the three thugs. Soon they’d find them. We’d testify against them and send them to prison for life. Simple. Edith shook her head and told me I had seen one too many Law & Order episodes. I laughed and told her I was a CSI man. She laughed and told me Grissom was awesome. I grinned. Amen to that!
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