I didn’t notice him come through the door. Before he showed up, the party was going strong – the rhythmic, Caribbean music was intoxicating, and the only distraction was the occasional crashing sound of ocean waves hitting the beach house. Suddenly, his grand entrance, including a clique of three people, interrupted the mellow atmosphere of this island beach party.
Admittedly, "the man" is fine. When I first laid eyes on him, my thoughts strayed momentarily. No one needed to announce his entrance; his good looks did all the talking. Our hostess introduced him as Michael. However, I know him by another name. He towers over the other men in the room. One would think it burdensome to be that handsome. Odds are, Michael makes looking good his priority. Square jaw, high forehead, electric eyes, and toasted almond complexion add to his appeal.
He makes a beeline straight for me. Next thing you know, Michael’s gigantic hands are squeezing mine.
"Care to dance, Susan?"
Three times, I say "No." Still, he persists.
Finally I say, "No thank you, for the last time!"
It all goes right over Michael’s head. He grabs me around the waist, and jerks me onto the dance floor anyway.
"Girl, come off your pretending. You know you like me," he whispers in my ear.
I struggle to free myself from his tight grip, to no avail. The harder I pulled, the more he tugs me close to him.
"Oh hell no," he yelled at the sixteen-year-old who stood cowering at his tall ebony Creole presence. He is Mr. Pounder, a tenth grade teacher in our homegrown southern town. We are college-bound students. His target is my friend, Susan – a born-too-old honor roll student. There is unrelenting anger in Mr. Pounder’s face, the image of which draws an easy comparison to the Devil.
In between Pounder’s roars, my mind wonders off to an image of his childhood. One could easily envision him beating up on little girls non-stop, mostly the darkest-skinned girls.
Mr. Pounder swears by his doctrine of skin color when it comes to girls. Our classroom lessons are intermixed with, "Listen class, especially you boys. Dark-skinned women are mean," he insists with equal passion to upholding the virtues of bright-skinned women. "Boys, you are better off marrying a bright-skinned lady. I’m telling you, the black ones are angry because God made them dark. Can’t bleach themselves any lighter so they take it out on everyone," he lectures to a wide-eyed class. Though the class contemplates what Mr. Pounder will say next, most of us girls sat frozen. Regardless of whether skin color had anything to do with our class, Pounder seized the opportunity to put an emotional chokehold on dark-skinned girls.