Imani and Braxton:A Compton Love Story

By: Keisha Simpson-Baker

“Mom, you are taking things way too far. I’m just dating him for now. Who knows, we may hate each other a month from now. We’re not planning a wedding, just having fun.”

She took a deep breath. “I just don’t want you to turn out like your cousin. No boy is worth messing up your entire life like how Tiana messed up hers.”

Poor Tiana had been an example in our household for the past three years when, in her senior year, she turned up pregnant. Her mother and mine are sisters and both and the same parenting ideology. It was a huge surprise when sweet, shy Tiana announced that she had a boyfriend at the beginning of senior year and an even bigger surprise when she revealed her pregnancy shortly after Christmas. It was all so sad because she had just accepted a partial scholarship to UC Berkley and had a promising future. Tiana was able to wobble across the stage for graduation with a huge belly and gave birth about a week afterwards, but leaving to go north as a single mom was out of the question.

She and the baby’s father broke up that summer and he actually went away for school to Grambling State University in Louisiana. He came around to see baby Michael during his breaks but he really had nothing to contribute to the child financially. I had no desire to end up like Tiana and even though I was still a virgin, I considered myself well-versed in the practices of safe sex. Though Tiana was extremely book smart, she had been a complete idiot in the ways of life. I knew about pregnancy prevention and where to get condoms and birth control if I needed it. I was terrified of getting pregnant, and even more scared of catching some horrible STD that I couldn’t get rid of.

After our talk, Mom finally let up on me and went to prepare for bed and I finally had some alone time with just me, HBO and my computer. I noticed Braxton had left me a message.

Hey Imani, what’s up with you, lady? I was thinking that maybe we could catch a movie or something tomorrow night? Let me know so I can get the car keys!

I responded: I would love to go to the movies with you. How about we meet at the Galleria at 6? I’m going shopping with Tasha tomorrow so I’ll already be there.

He responded: Perfect, I can’t wait to see you there; it’ll be great to have some alone time outside of school.

October 2, 2014

The smell of bacon and coffee awakened me that next morning. I had to run it past Mom about Braxton and me going on an official date. Breakfast meant she was in a good mood, so things were on my side.

“Good morning.”

“Good morning, baby girl. I made breakfast.” She placed a plate full of bacon, grits and toast in front of me.

“Thanks, this looks really good.” Flattery could only help me. I continued, “You know me and Tasha are going to the mall today?”

“Yeah, I think you told me that yesterday.”

“Well afterwards, I was going to hang out with Brax and see a movie. He can bring me home and it won’t be too late.”

“Oh, so this is a date, huh? I guess going to a movie is not a problem. If you’re going to be home late then make sure you call me.”

“I will.”

I knew that despite all her worries, my mother still trusted me because I had never violated the trust formed between us. After breakfast, I went to get ready for our mall excursion. I didn’t put much effort into my choice of clothes and makeup because I would be purchasing everything I needed. I decided to wear my hair loosely curled with a plain headband. Tasha came to pick me up around noon and we couldn’t get out of the house before Mom berated her with questions about Braxton.

“So Tasha, do you know this Braxton character?”

“Oh yeah, Ms. Chauncey. Braxton is a cool guy.”

“I don’t want Imani to get too serious or get into any trouble, if you know what I’m saying.”

“Oh, Ms. C, Imani isn’t doing anything wrong. They’re just having fun…puppy love, you know?”

“Yeah, that’s all it should be. Both of you girls have a lot of life ahead of you and you don’t need some boy knocking you up and killing your future. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. Anyways, have a good time at the mall, girls. I’ll see you when you get back, Imani. I’ll wait up for you.”

“Okay, Mom, see you later.”

Tasha had known my mother for years, so she was unfazed by the interrogation and her slight paranoia of teen pregnancy. We got in the car and drove the twenty minutes to the mall. We scoured racks of clothing to find deals that looked good and then went to the makeup counter to get new faces. By the time 5:30 rolled around, Tasha and I looked completely different from when we walked into the mall. My makeup was flawless and I had purchased a jumpsuit that looked like it was tailored for me. I looked good and I knew it. Tasha always knew how to take me from looking “cute” to “hot,” which was exactly what I needed. After we had our fun, she walked me to the theatre and gave me a few words of advice.

“Okay, Imani, don’t act thirsty. I know you really like Braxton but be cool about it.”

“I know that. I do have some knowledge about dating.”

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