JUST LIKE JASPER
Circa June 1969
Chevron Gas Station in Corcoran California
I was running low on gas and pulled up to the gas pump and turned the engine off in my ’66 Ice Blue Fastback Mustang. I noticed a brand new Gold-Colored Camero at the other gas pump as I was about to exit my car….then a Handsome Brother came out of the store and walked to the Camero. He gave me the nod when he noticed me. My brother’s girlfriend Maxine burst through the door and headed for the Camero but then spotted me.
“Hey Girl what you up to?”
“Nothing much but I’m working a late shift tonight.”
“On a Saturday?”
“Yeah, but who is that fine brother with you?” I nodded my head not wanting to be conspicuous.
“That’s my cousin Jasper, I’ll introduce ya.” She motioned him over.
“Jasper this is PeeCee Paul’s sister.”
He reached out his hand and flashed beautiful white teeth. His complexion was light pecan brown, perfect Afro with a hint of curliness, nice groomed mustache, dressed impeccably, and he smelled really good. I judged him to be around 5’9 and there was no mistaking he had a muscular body under those nice threads.
“Nice to meet you.” I ventured while offering my hand.
“You too.” He held my hand and did not let go. I couldn’t miss that mischievous twinkle in those light brown eyes.
Max was watching and did not miss a thing….she had a sly grin on her pretty face.
“PeeCee you coming to the get-together tonight?” Jasper asked.
“I might drop by after work…..”
Jasper winked and walked back to the Camero to resume gassing up the car.
“Girl he is waaaay too old for you.” Maxine cautioned.
“Age ain’t nothing but a number. I like the way he looks.”
I was smitten.
LATER THAT NIGHT
I signed out early at work so that I could arrive at the Get-Together before midnight. I parked in front of Maxine’s house and noted there were quite a few cars parked outside….the only one I was concerned with was the Gold Camero and it was parked right in front. I could hear the music playing as I walked to the front door. Someone I didn’t know answered and let me in. The place was crowded and everyone was having a good time.
I saw Jasper over in a corner talking to an unknown female, she was all over him. I saw Max in the kitchen mixing up her famous punch which she added Ripple and Cold Duck to. There were more people I didn’t know which later I would learn were Max’s cousins from San Diego.
“There you are!” Jasper has been waiting for you. She handed me a plastic cup of her famous punch.
“It dosen’t look like it to me….there’s some heifer all over him.”
Max peeked out of the kitchen, looked around, and said, “She ain’t nobody he’s interested in but a friend of their family.”
“Could have fooled me.” I said under my breath and sipped my drink.
The Funky Chicken by Rufus Thomas came on and Jasper appeared, grabbed my hand and said, “Come on let’s dance to this one.”
Everyone jumped on the floor and I was surprised to see that Jasper had absolutely no inhibitions of jumping in and dancing with the younger folks. He was having a great time and it rubbed off on me. After the dance we walked outside with our drinks to cool off…it was a beautiful summer night.
“So tell me where is your boyfriend tonight?”
“I don’t have a boyfriend.” I answered.
“Hahaha…now I don’t believe that.”
“It’s the Truth.”
“In that case…..” He leaned over and kissed me lightly on the lips. I can still smell the fragrance he wore….Aramis named after one of The Three Musketeers. Jasper my one and only Fine Brown Musketeer.
It was a whirlwind after that, either he was driving down to Corcoran for a weekend or I was driving to L.A. He took me to the Clubs in L.A. that were popular at the time and sightseeing anywhere I wanted to go. He was the First in more ways than one and I had Deep Feelings for him.
Jasper’s Auntie was a friend of my mother’s and she couldn’t wait to tell my mother about us as she knew he was much older than me. The irony was he was only two or three years younger than my own mother and she was not having it. She told me she could not stop me from seeing him but he was not to set foot in her house because she did not approve. Oh Well….
Everywhere we went the women always noticed Jasper and he was used to it but I wasn’t. I would have to learn to deal with it.
I remember one conversation we had when he told me I was different than most of the folks in Corcoran. He went on to explain.
“I’m just a phase you’re going through, you are destined for bigger and better things and you’ll forget about little old me.” He chuckled and I denied I would ever forget him.
It turns out he was right, I outgrew my little Corcoran Clique as I began to meet interesting people and my Horizon Widened. But I never forgot him and the good times we had together.
When my Beloved Mother made her Transition in 2017 I immediately thought of Jasper because of their closeness in age. But in my mind Jasper would always be that Handsome Brown Musketeer full of Life and Love….forever the age he was when I met him.
My brother Paul called me that Monday 09/30/2019. In our family when the call begins with, “I got some bad news.” It always means someone has Passed. I steeled myself for what was next.
“Jasper passed he went to sleep and didn’t wake up.”
My world was spinning….all the beautiful memories came flooding back with a Vengeance. I had to make myself breathe….my eyes welled…..I blinked hard to bring myself back to the moment.
Both our Birthdays were in October two days apart….Jasper was nine days away from his 85th Birthday.
“PeeCee you still there?”
“Yes I’m here…do you know anything else?”
“Nothing except he had a chronic disease due to second hand smoke but I can’t tell you what it was.”
“Thanks for letting me know.” I hung up.
Even though we had not been in contact for years I always thought of him and the fact he’s no longer in this Realm is Profoundly Sad…I will never Forget him.
It seems as though I smell Aramis from time to time and I think ‘Jasper’.