Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Random Thoughts: If I Don't Make Eye Contact, Then My Elbow Was Unintentional

1. Why the hell is it so hard for restaurants to understand that I don't want cheese on my orders? I ate at 3 straight restaurants with burgers and asked all 3 to give me NO cheese and ALL 3 gave me cheese. Hell, one gave me EXTRA cheese and the other two gave me a different kind of cheese than the one that went with the order. I DONT EAT THE ISH, OK?! Judge me all you want, but make my order correctly!

2. At almost 30 years old, the “M-bomb” no longer refers to telling a fly young lady that I went to that school on the hills in Atlanta, GA. Now? It refers to the exchanging of vows, jewelry, and a handing over of one’s testicles.

Yeah… THAT word.

I had two close homies get engaged, including Big Cuz; one of my ace boon coons get married; and three ex's (and probably around 6-10 women that I just used to smash) go down that path. I finally reached that age where I felt like "Everyone is getting married!"

No pressure though.

3. I was recently shopping in Target, looking for Twister when a particular scene in the toys section caught my eye. There was a young white boy, maybe 8-9 years old, and his mother who were looking at a variety of toys. The mom was calmly taking them off the shelves, asking him if he liked each one, then adding the ones he liked into the cart.

Did you catch that? “Ones” As in MORE than one.

That ish NEVER happened to me. Even if I wanted Q-Tips as toys, I NEVER had the luxury of being a big baller in the toy section unless I brought my own money.

Just another perk of…

4. What do YOU call the non drummette, non tip part of a chicken wing? I've only heard them called "flats" in ATL

5. There is great humor in noting how women pick up on men’s habits. Once they’ve been around you long enough, they have a pretty good idea of how you function, and ANY deviation from the “norm” is looked at as atypical – even if it’s something you SHOULD be doing! I remember cleaning up my room one day when my roommate stopped me.

“Ay, homie. You got some new poon coming through or something? Don’t clean up TOO much or your girl may suspect something!”

Damn… Good idea. Lemme put these clothes back on the floor…but in a neat pile like I’m going to wash them.

6. Do NOT tell a woman that she's unclean during her period because the Bible said so. Trust me.

7. I’d completely forgotten about my anatomical discovery!

Do you remember the piece on “The Domestic Zone”? It’s that well known but little talked about erogenous zone within the vagina that, when properly stimulated, causes women to have strong urges to cook, clean, and handle other domestic duties at odd hours of the night.

Her: Hey! Do you want some breakfast?

Him: (looks around) Now? At 5am?

Her: Oh… No, not necessarily now, but maybe later?

Him: Yeah… Breakfast would be awesome… later.

Seek and ye shall find!

8. If you have female friends, your woman will want to meet them. Somehow that makes them feel safer about the friendship. Men, on the other hand, don’t give a damn about his lady’s male friends. He doesn’t trust any of them niggas.

9. Speaking of reflections on life and how things change, one very polarizing topic for men across the ages is the menstrual cycle. My boys and I were laughing recently in thinking about how texts between us would differ about that infamous red dot depending on our age.

(
Boy 1: Wassup man? How’d it go?
Boy 2: Man, it was some BS! She’s on her period!
Boy 1: Damn… Sorry bro. That ish is GROSS

(21+ year old exchange)
Man 1: Wassup man? How’d it go?
Man 2: Dawg, she got her period!
Man 1: YES!!! Hi five!

10. I hate every single one of you people who fight to park close to the gym -  you're going to workout!

11. Black people are VERY serious about playing dominoes and playing Taboo. Stuff can get real intense.

12. If you don’t hang around many of them, you may be very surprised to hear the frequency with which professional Black women discuss kegels. It’s… (sigh)

13. You shouldn’t really be worried, but I’ve lately had really funny experiences when I’d take a nap while mildly inebriated….

Story #1: After a nap, before which I don’t remember much, I woke up to find a half bottle of Bacardi rum, a speculum (yes the ones used for pelvic exams... It was clean/unused), and two one dollar bills. …I have no good explanations for this one.

Story #2: I laid down to rest my weary, big head before going out. Before dozing off, I noted how fresh my sheets smelled. I. Was. Infatuated! I rubbed my sheets and inhaled deeply, like “OMG! These smell amazing! Did I wash these recently?” I can’t say the smell didn’t help me sleep better. I woke up 45 minutes later, and the first thing I saw was the box of Bounce fabric softener 6” from my nose.

Alcohol is a helluva drug…

14. Dallas BBQ, I will miss thee. Not just for the food or the drinks but mainly because of the discussions that the atmosphere really facilitated. The most recent example involved a discussion on open marriage. The general consensus was interesting.

Ultimately the answer was somewhere between "no" and "yes... with a small caveat." Basically all men would be ok with being with other women. Half of us would NOT be ok with our woman being with another man. A quarter of that remainder would be ok with her being with someone else. And the rest would allow her to be with other men so long as she understood we would desire her much, much less. As in not at all.

15. What happened over the last 10-15 years that made "the sag" so much more dramatic? When it first became popular, it was simply a good portion of underwear showing, but the topic was still above the mid-ass point. Niggas now sag to just above the knees now, with the nerve to wear shorts to cover up the draws - Nigga WHY?!

16. I had an Indian cab driver the other day (as in from India but who still refers to Native Americans as such?) who was on the phone (yes, despite that big black sign that says they shouldn't be) ordering chicken tika. I should've asked him which restaurant he ordered from. When people of a particular ethnicity go to a restaurant that sells their native foods, you can usually gauge that it's legit. That's for sure how I pick my Asian food (and not just by how many Southeast Asians work there). You'll never see Mexicans ordering Taco Bell and you'll damn sure never see me eating fried chicken from Sylvia's...again.

17. I feel sorry for women sometimes, especially the single ones. Men can often put you in a catch 22 situation from jump. We may come at you with some hard game with the intent of getting the panties, only to turn around and not take you seriously and question your decision making abilities because you fucked with us.

18. Why do men in tight shirts or skinny jeans roll in crews? Seriously, you rarely see one by himself. They're like ants.

19. Tracey Edmonds must have that good-good... What old celebrity hasn't been with her? Hopefully not Magic Johnson... :-/

20. There is a strain of marijuana in Cali called "Whitney Houston OG Kush" because "it's that KILLER!"

Way, way, way too soon, fellas. Way too soon.

I Can't Wait to Talk to My Son...

First of all, let me make it clear that I have no children, and I’m in no hurry to make any!


Now that I’ve said that, let’s get to my point.


I can’t wait to have children (read: sons… cause I do NOT want daughters). I think seeing what a little version of me would look like, act like, take interest in – all those things. I can definitely foresee many ass whippings and chewing outs for doing something stupid, but I also foresee many instances to teach, to play, and for sure to love. While I can only imagine how different his generation will be, with regards to technology, social issues, and other important matters, I’m CERTAIN that he will encounter one issue every man in my family before him encountered: The futile attempt to understand women.


(sighs) I can see it so clearly.


I can imagine him finally breaking the ice and divulging his interest in some cutie in his English class with really nice hair (not necessarily “good” hair, for the self hating out there), a pretty face, a nice tail – I’m certain my son will be an ass-man between my influence and that of his many “uncles” – and a sparkling personality. I can imagine hearing his thoughts on ways to impress her or catch her eye, of course in some respectable boy-in-love fashion, hopeful and certain that it will surely work. And because I’m a huge proponent of learning by doing (and because Schadenfreude is AWESOME), I’m gonna push him to do all those things and try them out and GUARANTEE that they’ll work.


And yes, I’m going to laugh my ass off when it doesn’t.


I can totally see him coming home, dropping his backpack to the ground like his life force had been sucked from him, his eyes unable to look upwards toward the heavens or his father, red and bulging from the tears fighting to escape his eyes, unable to talk.


“Daddy…” he’d say in a frail, defeated tone.


I’d probably have to punch myself in the chest to remind myself that he’s actually hurting and wouldn’t appreciate my being humorous at the moment.


“Yes, son?” I’d say as calmly and lovingly as possible.


“She… She didn’t like it. She doesn’t like ME. She said I was ‘too nice.’ That she sees me as ‘husband material.’ She only likes me as a ‘friend.’”


He’d flop down beside me on the couch, head still hanging, a solo tear running down his chin like a slave toward freedom.


“Dad… I don’t understand women.”


I’d lean over and put one arm around his shoulder to pull him closer and punch him in the shoulder with the other free hand, smiling at my son’s coming of age.


“Son… I don’t either. But your realizing that is the first step to becoming a man.”


He’d sniffle and wipe his eyes, probably ashamed to let his father see his weakest moment.


“What should I do, Dad? What do you know about women?”


Dammit. The worst possible question to ask an older man… but a great opportunity to spread personal beliefs.


“I don’t know much, son, but I do know these things…”


1. Accept that you are always in the wrong. Always. Will your arguments be sound? Probably – you’re my son. Will her arguments be very emotional and not sound? Not always, but more often than not, yes. But you’ll still be wrong. And at some point you won’t even care about being right. You’ll just want peace, which usually amounts to getting her to shut up.

2. When you need your woman to be somewhere at a certain time, lie to her. Tell her an earlier time because she’s going to be late. If she needs to be somewhere at 730, tell her you have to be there by 630 so she’ll be ready by 7. Why can’t she be on time? I don’t know. But much like #1, that won’t matter.


3. Accept that Yes/No questions are NOT acceptable. They won’t understand that the answer should be one of those things.

Man: Baby, are you hungry? Do you want some pizza?
Woman: Why? What are you going to eat?
Man: … I’m going to eat pizza. Do you want some?
Woman: I don’t know. Didn’t we have pizza two months ago?
Man: Baby, just tell me if you want the damn pizza or not.
Woman: Why are you cursing at me?
Man: Nevermind. Get your own damn food.


4. Which leads me to my next point: Women have an essential, maddening need to argue. About everything. Often. You have to argue or be upset to show her you care. Sure, you could just be happy, but that wouldn’t do it for her. You’ve gotta raise your voice, throw shit around, slam doors, and curse to make her feel loved. I personally understand this the least of all these things on the list.

5. And if you listen to none of these previous things, you must take heed to this next one: Never, ever, ever talk about other women around your woman of interest. Women are super competitive creatures and she will ultimately lead you into a comparison conversation that you will absolutely lose. Unless you lie to her.


6. Avoid lying to women...unless you're lying to make sure she's on time for something. You’ll have to at some point to save your ass, but try to avoid lying to them.

I know he won’t take it all in at that moment. I’m sure that when I look down to see if he’s listening, he’ll have already left to his room long ago. I’ll just laugh to myself, look over to my wife on the other side of the couch, who’ll likely be mean-mugging the hell out of me, and continue watching tv.

But in my heart, I’ll hope he learned something.

Trayvon Martin: An All (African) American Experience

In the age of  “Trending Topics” on Twitter and the infinite “shared items” on Facebook, it’s easy for a potentially big story to pass you by, especially if you’re one of those people who has the misfortune to be friends with or to follow someone who posts long streams of nonsense or celebrity gossip. I was among those ranks when I passed over the story of Trayvon Martin days ago. The fact that I hadn’t heard of him prior to then didn’t necessarily alert me to the possibility that maybe this story was something atypical and worthwhile. I instead erred on the side of assuming it was another rapper or rap group – do you know how long it took me to figure out Travis Porter was a group? – that I hadn’t heard of and didn’t want anything to do with this new movement. Unlike most other pop culture trends, Trayvon’s name didn’t go away. If anything, I began seeing it on CNN, Yahoo News, and the New York Times, and it made me pause, click, and read.

About 30-60 seconds into reading his story, I kinda laughed to myself and shook my head.

Back in the summer of 2005 while roaming the rugged streets of New Haven, Connecticut, I was struggling to come up with a topic or angle to take for my upcoming personal statement to medical school. I’d already written a typical, autobiographic piece that talked about who I was, where I was from, and why I wanted to pursue medicine, one that made the writing instructor who was helping me with this endeavor shake his head and tell me “Go deeper, more personal. Tell them something important about YOU.” After about two more weeks of thinking and throwing around ideas, I had an argument with a close friend that led my very tangential and circumspect mind to crank out the rough and final draft of my personal statement, which addressed who I was at the very core of ways to define me, both for myself and for others:  I wrote about how I was the “big Black man” to most people who saw me and the ramifications of that in my life.

Not surprisingly, when I let other people read it, it made them uncomfortable. They used words like “very strong” and “very personal” but many who edited it, all of whom were college professors, felt that it would leave people feeling bad or guilty for being able to relate to the stories I told in my statement. The writing instructor, a large, elderly Polish man, said himself, “I LOVE this piece and want to share it with my class, but you’ve really got to ask yourself if you want to send out something SO personal that it makes people uncomfortable.” I respected his honesty as well as the honesty of the others who gave me input prior to my uploading and submitting my piece, but I felt that this story told who I was best while also selling how dedicated I would be as a clinician.

I was a 21 year old biology student with a 3.87 GPA, >95th percentile MCAT score, wearing a Yale School of Medicine sweatshirt the first time I was deemed “suspicious looking.” The next time was at age 27 when I was looking for a doctor’s office and an office worker, who couldn’t see my Columbia University student badge, called security to ask me what I was doing and where I was going since I seemed to be looking around for something and looked “suspicious.” Imagine their shock when they realized I was a student. Chances are, if you talk to any Black man, be he highly educated at an Ivy League institution or a 17 year old boy simply walking from a convenience store with Skittles for a sibling, you’re likely to find that he has at least ONE story about being labeled “intimidating” or “suspicious” for no reason other than he is Black. If you spoke to a Black woman, she may tell you about being asked if she were a prostitute or described in a whorish fashion just because she is shapely and Black – it’s not always correlated to how she’s dressed either. My Hispanic, Asian, and Middle Eastern friends would all have similar stories about some stereotyped harassment that they’ve endured simply by being in a particular place at a particular time, which is to say a large part of the population in the US has experienced some type of racial discrimination in their lifetime. Having accepted this as fact, why is it that we STILL have not as of March 20, 2012 had an HONEST discourse about the role of race in American society? We’ve been ok with avoiding being “uncomfortable” for far too long. Trayvon is just one of numerous instances we all can name in the past 10 years alone where race was clearly (or at least likely) the sole motivating factor behind something heinous, be it a judgment, a charge, or an assault. We are burying people and imprisoning people for life, many times unjustly so, because of their race…but we’re too afraid to talk about it. This has to stop, people.

Next to the election of President Barack Obama, the most inspiring thing I’ve seen in my adult life was the movement that took place when banks wanted to start charging clients a fee for using their debit cards. The airwaves and Facebook and Twitter came to life with people outraged about this BS the banks were trying to pull on people, and people ACTED on it. They threatened to leave, to do something that would directly harm the cause of something ridiculous being forced upon them. They mobilized and took a stand and WON. Think about it:  How long after introducing the idea of charging for debit use did people effectively get it eradicated? But we won’t talk about and address race, something that’s affected many more for much longer with bigger ramifications than a monthly charge? This is ridiculous. We’ve gotta take action. We’ve gotta talk. We’ve got to protest. We’ve got to do more than put up a poignant Facebook status or support an ailing family with a hashtag. We’ve got to do more than sign a petition with no power or watch the news and voice our anger to those we know feel the same we do. We’ve gotta do MORE and SOON before this country erupts in a very violent way like it does in all other great civilizations, just before their downfall.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Unaccepting of Change


In a fit of extreme boredom (which, honestly, most people in medicine should NEVER experience), I decided to browse my list of Facebook “friends” to see what the other people I publicly claimed to know were up to. I stumbled upon one young lady’s page, a woman with whom I went to high school, and found that she had fallen victim to the epidemic raging through all of my social circle as of late:  She was engaged! Usually when you see someone is engaged, your first thought is something along the lines of “Oh! That’s nice,” or “Well congrats to her/him.” I, on the other hand, am unashamedly a bit more effed up in my assessments. In this particular case, my first thought was, “Damn… Even the hoes are gettin’ engaged before I am.”

It was out of place and rude, I know. I don’t care either. It’s what I honestly felt. While I didn’t smash personally, I could name at LEAST 8 other guys with whom I played football that have put the sauce in or near her body. And who knows how many more penises she was exposed to by the time she graduated from college?

Ok, so I know I’m making an unfair assessment, (1) because I’m calling her a whore (like my number is suggestive of sanctity and purity) and (2) because I was judging her based off a past stigma/rumor that I cannot prove was true or held true through any period beyond high school.

What’s to say she hasn’t changed?

I think it safe to assume that ol’ boy probably wouldn’t have wifed her up if she was still settin it owt to the crew, so there likely had to be SOME changes in her life, but there was just something about accepting that possibility, that in this fairy tale world a ho actually did become a housewife (or at least a wife) just seemed psychologically displeasing.  I just could not wrap my brain around the idea. 

A damned shame, really.

What about you? How often do you encounter a scenario, in particular as relates to another person that you know, where your brain has done so much work to define a person by one thing they used to have or be that was in great need of change that by the time they actually did change you just could not believe they became anything other than what you knew them as? It happens quite often with children, be they our own or just younger siblings. Take me, for example. The little girl who used to ride on my back and fight me to get in her car seat and whose favorite breakfast item was “OAT-mee-OH” (oatmeal) is 18 years old, applying to college, and is having thoughts of nappy headed niggas. And sure, the memories I spoke of came almost 14 years or so ago and were inevitably going to change given the fact that she’s not actually mentally retarded (we’re all just really sill), but my mind just won’t let me get the image of that cute little girl out of my head. Alas, the very things that are in great need of change are the things we are slowest to accept changing.

Why is that though? Why do we gripe and complain or talk shit about how xyz or so and so needs to change, yet when it or he/she finally does, we spend so much time talking about how it used to be and these memories we have of it from the past at a time when we were often much more displeased? Is our need to categorize and define something SO great and concrete that we physically wish for something that we cannot psychologically accept? I too am obviously guilty of this very human flaw, of being unable to embrace that most Buddhist principle of reflecting what’s in front of me and letting it go once no longer there. I hope that we all, myself included, can become better able to adjust to our steadily changing environment and circumstances that we might also be able to evolve and avoid irrelevance. In doing so I hope that I am showed the same consideration and allowed the same space for growth and improvement/change that others ask for as well.

Yes, that includes even the other former whores of the world.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

NBA Action! It's FANTASTIC!!!

In honor of the NBA playoffs starting today, here's a look back at some of the top plays of the regular season.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

The Rich Keep Getting . . . Well, You Know the Rest.

Remember this clip the next time you are having your review at work and your boss states there is no money for your raise because the company isn't doing well financially.  I'm not saying that you directly impugn their veracity; but if you silently think, "Bullsh*t!", I'll totally understand. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dr. Laura Schlessinger and The Dreaded N-word

I'm sure you've heard all about it, but just in case you haven't, here's a quick recap.

Recently, radio personality Dr. Laura Schlessinger addressed a call from a faithful listener that led to a heated, rather one sided dicussion of race, hypersensitivity among African Americans as relates to race, and the dreaded N-word and its derivations.

(If you want to hear the dialogue for yourself, this blog has both audio clips and a transcript of the conversation: http://mediamatters.org/blog/201008120045 )

The caller was a Black woman who was married to a White man. She called in to discuss how displeased she was with how her spouse would handle some of the racially charged questioning she would endure when near her White family members and how she felt she was being attacked. Dr. Laura then goes on to minimize the caller's feelings, to call her and many other Black Americans "hypersensitive" and "lacking a sense of humor" as relates to certain comments and stereotypes about Blacks. And really at this point, she was fine with most listeners though approaching the point where many Blacks are thinking "I... I kinda wanna fight this wench."

Then came the N-word.

CALLER: How about the N-word? So, the N-word's been thrown around --

SCHLESSINGER: Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO, listen to a black comic, and all you hear is "nigger, nigger,nigger." ...I don't get it. If anybody without enough melanin says it, it's a horrible thing; but when black people say it, it's affectionate. It's very confusing.

Shortly thereafter, the caller, who is clearly in "HEY! THAT'S RACIST!" mode is now clearly offended and Dr. Laura, as so many whites with airtime do when in a racial situation, digs herself in a bigger hole by repeating the word nigger enough times to be considered Kramer's comedic assistant.

As you can imagine, it didn't go over well.

In the fallout following this particular call, Dr. Laura Schlessinger apologized for her use of nigger and, subsequently, resignated from her post as radio talk show host and her contract was cancelled (or some stuff like that). In this time, numerous people - mostly Blacks - have had to revisit the age old topic of the use of the term nigger and its derivations, who should use it (if anyone), and why it pisses people off so much when Whites use the term.

...I mean, if there were ever a great topic for discussion, this is it!

1) Should we still be using the N-word?

This is the most pressing question that needs to be addressed, so I made it first. Obviously.

And the short answer to this question? No, we shouldn't.

Do you remember when you were young and limited by what things you could and couldn't say to or around your parents? Do you remember what would happen if some obscenity or some otherwise deemed inappropriate word was said in their presence? Some parents went as far as to wash their children's mouths out with soap (which is a little...special, in my opinion) with the point being that what was said was bad and inappropriate should not be said, right? Fast forward to now, where many of us and our peers have children that we're trying to raise to be decent, contributing, functional members of society. With our understanding that the parents are often the most influential people in a child's life (at least until the time they start watching BET), we make the very conscious effort to watch our language in the company of young children, hoping not to create in their minds the idea that using such otherwise forbidden words is ok, namely because you don't want to be embarrassed when you're out with company and your frustrated child says "FUCK!" at the top of his lungs.

...aaaaaaawkwaaaaaaaaard!

So, of course, when this does happpen, you reprimand your child (also known as "beat that ass") and educate them that there are certain words that are inappropriate to say, such as curse words.

Would you want your child to say the N-word in front of company? Most of you would answer "no." The natural follow-up question then is: Why would you use the word if you didn't want your children to? Anyone with children or younger siblings will tell you that children are masterful imitators of what they see and hear and not always what they are told. The point inherent in your avoidance in using the term in their presence is, obviously, that the term is bad and shouldn't be used. If you wouldn't want your offspring, your physical, living legacies to use a word that has such a connotation that they could be punished for merely uttering such in your presence, why on earth would you use it yourself? Would you smoke in front of your children and tell them not to? Get drunk in front of them and say don't drink? I can't speak for you all, but I duckin HATED it when my parents would tell me not to do something and then do it right in front of me. It made me wonder what the hell was so special about them that I couldn't use the word if I wanted to.

Speaking of being jealous that you can't use a word...

2) Should we be mad when White - or any other - people use the word?

Now, there's sooooo much that can be said in response to this question, so I won't be able to touch on it all. But it's yet another damned good question that should be answered. Should you be upset with Randolph lets the word "nigger" slip from his lips in regards to the dancing buffoon with sagging jeans and a Lebron James jersey on who bumps into him while dancing on the subway? I mean, were YOU thinking "That n____ over there dancing on the subway with a jersey on is a n____"? So why be upset when they use it, especially if you're inclined to agree?

Oh... I see. You want to know why White people feel this need to use the word to begin with. Gotcha
I will admit. It is rather funny to hear [some] white people complain about how they aren't "allowed" to use this word. You've enslaved several races and oppressed them beyond imagination and have a hand in every profitable thing in existence and are the leaders and owners and designers of just about everything around us... but you pitch a fit about being unable to have a little "nigger" in the morning with your coffee and your New York Times, ha? Interesting.

All silliness aside, it's no wonder others want to use it. Just like every other taboo or unhealthy practice you can think of, when you've been told you shouldn't do something, human nature is just designed in a way to make you want to do it even more and get an even bigger rush from doing it. Don't act like it's a brand new phenomenon. Whether it was sneaking out your house, or talking on the phone after 11pm, or taking a sip of beer or wine or bourbon from your dad's bottle in the fridge when you were 16 or 17 without his knowing, or, hell, we can go back to GENESIS where that gotdamn woman ate off that gotdamn tree that she KNEW she wasn't supposed to and got this whole ball of Hell rolling, people LOVE doing what they're told they shouldn't. Why should White people be the exception? You want to ensure something is done? Tell someone they can't do it and follow up "Why not?" with some poorly conceived explanation about owning Blackness and whatever whatever, since we've already established it was a bad word anyway...

3) Should the N-word still have so much power?

I hear this question a lot. And I think it's kinda stupid to debate, personally, but I'm sure someone will want to so I'm including it on the list.

Debating words meanings are pointless because the significance of EVERY word is decided upon by the people and forever holds its given power. The word "love" is just that as well - a word. But what makes "love" significant isn't the four letters in said sequence but the idea that the word represents. The same applies for "nigger." And whether you want to admit it or not, you know what the word "nigger" implies. You just don't want to accept it. And that's where the failure is. Besides, if we begin to remove the meaning from one word, what's to stop us from removing the meaning from other words? Or hell, from all words? I mean, as a man, that'd be great because then we'd be justified in not paying attention to whatever women say since nothing from their mouths would have meaning.

Damn... That's a good idea!

Final Thought:

I'll leave you with a story and a quote that came to mind when I heard this debate initially.

In her conversation with Dave Chappelle regarding the use of "the n-word," Dr. Maya Angelou offered him this thought:

"I perceive that a word is a thing. It is nonvisible and audible only for the time that it's there. It hangs in the air. But I believe it goes into the upholstery and into the rugs and into my hair, into my clothes, and finally even into my body. I look at the word, the 'n-word,' which I really have no oblige to call it that, because it was created to divest people of their humanity. Now when I see a bottle come from the pharmacy, it says p-o-i-s-o-n. And then there's skull and bones. Then I know that the content of that thing - the bottle is nothing - but the content is poison. If I pour that content into Bavarian crystal... it is still poison."

Richard Pryor, while in New Orleans, explains a night in Africa where something, "a voice" he called it, got him to change his mind on the use of the N-word. I'd type out the text, but I really think it has more power if you hear him and see the seriousness in his face and in his voice:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rThK85uXFMw

Two people with two very different outlooks on life - and language, for sure - came to the same conclusion on the word's usage - that it SHOULDN'T be used by anyone. Hell, even Paul Mooney, who claimed he used to say "nigger" 50 times each morning to keep his teeth white, has stopped using the term in light of Kramer's blast a few years back. And I'm inclined to agree with them all. Fact is, the mirror is often a painful reminder of how far we all have to go as a people and as conscientious adults, and the use of the n-word by whites is a constant reminder that, basically, many of us are still messin up. I'm not mad at Dr. Laura. She's human, just like the rest of us, and she wants to fulfill that urge to tap into the taboo like anyone else would. The bottom line: No matter how it's packaged, no matter who says it, "nigger" and its dressed up derivatives is still a very ugly, dangerous word. And for good reason, given its origin. It's best left alone. Don't try to justify it. Don't try to dress it up. Just... don't. It's better in the end.

And when you see that Black person again on the subway, or in the street, or wherever they are, doing something that brings the N-word to the tip of your tongue, why not just call them what they are?

Ignorant.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Female Friends, Friends “by Default,” and Healing A [Woman’s] Broken Heart

There are two questions that women often ask men that always make me laugh whenever I’m close enough to hear it being posed:


(1) Do you have a girlfriend?

(2) Who is (insert unknown woman’s name)?

I won’t be addressing the former at this time (although the responses I’ve heard to it are HI-LARIOUS!). Instead, I will focus on the latter question and some of the underlying issues posed both directly and indirectly.

In my experience, the question of identification occurs most often when a woman who is already fairly interested in you is uncertain of some particular woman about whom I had not spoken (else she obviously wouldn’t have to ask). What I find even more particularly interesting is the set of answers that I and other men have come up with to answer this question.

“Oh, that’s my homegirl.”

How many of you gentlemen have said such? How many of you ladies have heard such from a gentleman? Well, if you have, then you should inquire much more about said interaction. In a past conversation, a young lady pointed out to me that men tend to use the term “home girl” to describe a woman with whom they are seemingly plutonic friends BUT have either (a) already had sex or (b) have tried to have sex but it fell through for some reason they don’t likely want to discuss readily. In analyzing the usage of the term in my own life, I’d have to say that ish was pretty damn accurate. The home girl is often the “friend” that probably could have or should have been the significant other but ultimately wasn’t for some reason that likely has a rather elaborate story that may just lead you to question the boundaries of that friendship, especially if they still talk or hangout alone.

“Oh, she’s like my little sister.”

Ok, so I have several “little sisters” but they’re all legit. One is my blood sister, whom I love muy mucho. The others are the sisters of my ace boon coons whom I have adopted as my own as well (although there is one in particular that I adopted begrudgingly because she’s pretty gotdamn fine…and I’m sure it’s not hard to figure out if you know my MC circle).  Beyond that, I don’t find too many other situations where “little sister” is someone safe from getting smashed. “Little sister” is, as the adjective suggests, often someone younger for whom they may provide “brotherly” services, such as school tips, life guidance, and the occasional trip to the liquor store if they’re underaged. The problem with this title is that most guys are extremely shallow, likely much more effed up than most ladies could ever conceive. We’re not going to adopt some Aflac-ass geezer as family. Hell naw. We’re adopting the sexy ass younger chicks as “little sisters” with hopes of either getting with their young friends or even being incestuous and getting with little sister ourselves.

This is the deal. Handle accordingly.

“Oh, we’re just friends.”

I can’t speak on this too specifically because it’s just plain too broad. You need to ask more follow-up questions to get a more detailed history. Chances are, she’ll either be a REAL friend who he hasn’t tried to smash or she’ll fit into one of the other two categories, which have already been addressed.

Since I am writing my stream of thoughts, I feel it necessary to share with you all a thought that’s really been running around in my mind pretty frequently as of late. If you’ve read any significant amount of my works, you know quite well that I’m a VERY pensive person, analyzing and dissecting every word, thought, event as though it’s a piece of evidence in a forensic lab. The notion I’ve really had trouble explaining and accepting as it stands is the notion of “friends…by default.”

Say I meet person A at revisit 2007. I make some sly remarks, pour her a few drinks, dance with her all night at the club in a very suggestive manner, take her out to eat and whatnot during the fall… basically court her for some extended period of time, after which (for whatever reason) we ultimately do NOT enter a relationship together but still choose to interact with each other socially. Seeing as how we already likely have some intimate knowledge of each other and have developed some repoire, it wouldn’t be so far-fetched for most to consider us “friends.”

…but that’s not the job I wanted. I wanted to be that guy; I wanted to be HER guy. And I’m not. I am the relationship equivalent of Hillary Clinton and am what many may consider the next best thing – the friend by default. And we move along with our lives amicably, for the most part, still interacting in some socially acceptable manner and chit chatting like we are and have always been “just cool” knowing well, in the back of one or both of our minds, that we are in a suboptimal place in this two person dynamic.

The part of this that gives me pause is a question of motive:  If we become good friends, is it truly because we both want to be good friends or is it because one of us is hoping to be that penis/vagina in a glass case that will be broken in the event of an emergency? Can she really trust me with all her deep, dark secrets if I’m covertly trying to creep my way into her heart? These questions are rhetorical to me. In this case, I’m simply playing my role, buying my time until the opportunity arises where I can get that promotion and become Head of State.

…but I’m a guy. And guys are more prone to doing that. Women? …not so much.

Having spent so much time as a single man over the past 3 years, I’ve had lots of female “friends” come in and out of my life, quite a few of whom I’d actually grown rather close to and made some connections I sincerely thought would last a lifetime. However, last year, I lost a good, oh, 6 or 7 of those friendships when I very publicly announced that I was in a relationship with someone other than any of them.

Now why would that be?

While most of you could very likely formulate several reasons for this, the one that seems most likely (and was the case upon further evaluation) was that ALL of them wanted to be the Mrs. They wanted the title that mattered.

My first instinct was to be flattered that so many really thought so highly of me that they turned down the advances of so many other men in hopes that I would “put a ring on it” (hate that duckin song, btw). My next thought wasn’t quite as happy:  How much of our interactions in the past were influenced by her desire to be with me? Was she really playing Guitar Hero because she loved to play or was it to appear cool in my eyes? Was she watching football because she loved the sport or was it to win favor with me? Sure, these things appear harmless to some, but to me they smell of insincerity and illusion. Since much of why we enter into a particular relationship is based on what we’ve experienced and gauged for ourselves as worthy of commitment, the possibility that I was interacting with and in some cases loving someone’s representative for long periods of time has the latent effect of making me very untrusting of women who seem “too perfect.” And what happens every time we try to generalize in our dealings with potential significant others? We miss out on the great ones.

Speaking of missing out on great ones, it really breaks my heart to see really good women go bad or sour because of a messed up relationship from their past. They gave their all to the wrong guy and now they’re pissed at anything with a penis. And while the part of me that’s all about self preservation is understanding of this, there’s another part of me that’s experienced enough to note that men with a good and ready heart often sense this in women and run to their aid, often offering their own love and service in not only getting this woman back onto her emotional feet but also in helping her to run faster and longer than she did before in a relationship that will help her grow and become a better woman than she was before. Instead, these men often receive the cold shoulder and are dissed as just another man “running game” or their used as shoulders on which to cry and express their anguish but are passed over for yet another guy with bad intentions.

Explain this one to me, ladies.

If you’re sitting alone at night, wondering why no one wants you or why all the men who approach you aren’t shit, take a second to pause and establish those who are in your life and their capacity. If there’s a guy who’s always been there, who’s given you that shoulder to cry on, to listen to your rants about all the ducked up things men have done to you in your past, to take you out to eat or to the movies when you don’t want to go alone, take a page out of the men’s book and be logical about that friendship and ask yourself “Why not him?” The man you’ve always wanted may have already been there, just waiting for you to give him the chance.

Yes. He was your friend “by default.”

Monday, July 05, 2010

Going, Going, Back, Back to Cali, Cali?

To the people of Minnesota, Los Angeles already took your basketball team; they’d love to have your football team too. Yes, the "L.A. Vikings" doesn’t really have the ring to it that say the “Hollywood Stars” would, but neither does the Utah Jazz. Since I know you all are involved in a little stadium imbroglio up there right now, let me offer up this cautionary tale.

There is an excellent documentary, Sonicsgate, on the last days of the Seattle Supersonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder and one of the most promising young teams in the NBA). The film begins gradually giving a history of all of the sports teams in Seattle. This part is something that is probably only interesting if you have some connection to the Pacific Northwest; however, it is necessary to set the foundation for what has become a crucial issue in sports today: the public financing of the palatial athletic cathedrals in which these teams play. The vast majority of current facilities seem to place more emphasis on the peripheral entertainment experience (shopping, restaurants, and amusement for the kids) than on the actual sporting contest. As someone who has worked in both the public and private sector and at one point specifically in the area of economic development, I can attest that it is rare that the public receives the full return (jobs, infrastructure, tax revenue) promised by the private the investors. In this current era of economic uncertainty, it just perpetuates the concept of public risk and private gain. When the story shifts to this argument with a peek at the behind the scenes machinations that ultimately led to the relocation to OKC is when the documentary really starts to shine. Some of the highlights or lowlights include the following:
  • The political leadership of the City of Seattle and the Washington State assembly was ├╝ber weak. They thought they were being tough guys, but at the end of the day got played.
  • The Sonics “vanity owner” Howard Schultz (of Starbucks fame) sold the team to OKC businessmen who “promised” to keep the team in Seattle, except for one small problem: they specifically barred anyone from Seattle from being part of the ownership group. (C’mon Son! GTFOOHWTBS! You knew them cats weren’t keeping the team in Seattle after they did that!)
  • OKC’s ownership group was a bunch of immoral individuals who would do or say whatever was necessary to position the team to move.  Also of note considering current events, they were heavily connected to the oil industry. (Need I say more?)
  • NBA commissioner David Stern is as big of a jackass as we all thought.  He may also be secretly gay (you’ll understand when you see the film), not there is anything wrong with that. More than anything, it showed that the NBA front office acted in extremely bad faith in dealing with Seattle.
  • Finally there is a gut-punching scene at the end, which I will not give away, but any former Sonics fan will want to go burn down city hall and the state assembly building in Washington or the Ford Center in OKC after the revelation. Seriously, they will.
The biggest takeaway for fans everywhere has to be “DON’T THINK IT CAN’T HAPPEN TO YOUR TEAM!” If your team is struggling financially I can guarantee you that another city is staring them up and down, as if they aren’t real, ready to snatch them from your hometown. Just like when you are dating an attractive woman and dudes are circling like sharks waiting for you to mess up so they can slide right in, it’s the exact same concept. And yes, I am speaking directly to you Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Hornets, Phoenix Coyotes, and Memphis Grizzles fans. Heck, I might have to add in Cleveland Cavaliers fans if LeBron leaves considering what the financial experts say it will do your team’s value. Other cities want to take your team(s) and do not think for a second that your current team owner is too altruistic not to sell you out. These teams are just toys to most of those guys.

You can watch the whole movie below or check it out in HD on the official site Sonicsgate.org. The website also has a hilarious trailer about a random city preparing to steal your team.

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