A Girl Needs Her Options

I’ve been reading all my life.  Literally since I was 3 1/2.  My love affair with words and reading ultimately transferred to a love of writing.  But what if life was different?  What if I didn’t have to consider phobias, limitations or lack of training?  What would I be?

1. Assassin

I have a very healthy respect for life and the living, but sometimes, people get outta pocket and they gotta go.  I’d be totally high end and have my own code of ethics.  No kids under any circumstances.  I’d also want to handle my business up close and personal as often as possible. None of that sniping from a rooftop jazz.  And my assassins kit would make Batman envious.  My most prized possession would be a grappling hook.  The two drawbacks to being an assassin: 1. Thanks to pesky advancements in DNA matching, I’d probably have to get rid of the fro; and 2. I’d never be able to tell anyone about all the dope stuff I did.  “Son…SON…they were in the middle of dinner, and I dropped from the ceiling!”

2. Surfer Girl

Few activities put the raw power of nature on display like surfing does.  To be fair, I can’t think of anything that displays nature’s force and man’s insignificance at that magnitude.  When I see someone shoot the curl, I’m awestruck.  They’re being embraced by a miracle.  Mr. Fowler, my 7th grade Life Science teacher and crush, was a surfer and told this amazing story about a giant sea turtle coming up for air next to him.  He explained how awe-inspiring the experience was and how he realized how small he was in the grand scheme of things.  I would love to surrender to such a powerful element on a regular basis. I can’t imagine you’d view life the same afterward.

3. Hype Man

I can’t tell you how much I want to run in a room screaming “WHERE BROOKLYN AT? WHERE BROOKLYN AT? WHERE BROOKLYN AT? WHERE BROOKLYN AT?”  How does a job get better than that?  You run in, make people happy, get them amped and encourage your people performing.  Hype men don’t even have to have bars.  Just energy.  You get to dance and make ill scrunch faces and go mostly everywhere your far more popular cohort does.  Win-win.

4. Chef

Feeding people is one of my favorite hobbies.  That’s not what I mean.  I’m referring to people who take food and create art; something that appeals to the palate, as well as aesthetically.  It would be dope to create dishes which look more like organic sculpture than something you eat.  Being delicious would be what sends my creations over the top. I tweet a lot, and we joke about what people call “struggle plates.”  I would have a picture gallery that looked like the Edible Louvre.

5. ^

Sometimes, you need to go in the cage and get it all off your chest.  A well placed punch is a thing of beauty.  The same thing can be said for a punch that is well received.  Weird?  Watch a person take a punch and remain standing.  It’s a testament of will.  I’d be totally scrappy.  I’m pretty sure my cage name would be something simian…Spider Monkey?  Just wiry, flexible and in your face.  Kicking your ass.

6. Skater

When I was about 12, long before it was a cool thing for girls in the hood to do, I had a board.  I also had no coordination.  Needless to say, I wasn’t an avid skater.  But on the rare occasions that I got it right…magic.  Wind in my hair, swerving ever so slightly, my whole body working in harmony to keep me balanced, the pit bull that barked at me causing me to miss the rock in the path of my wheel…pure magic before that, though.  However cliche it may be that kids have adopted being skaters, it’s an awesome hobby.

 

7. Harley Quinn

Harley is my favorite character in the Gotham Universe, outside of The Bat himself.  Of course Harley is a fictitious creature, but this is my blog, homie.  I have a little mayhem buried deep in my soul (or…maybe not so deep, depending on your point of view).  Though Harley seems like the Joker’s pawn, beneath the surface, she’s bright, capable and a willing partner in his schemes.  Do you know how awesome my life would be if I could solve 30% of my problems with a giant mallett? On top of that, I’d be able to knock out another 30% with gas.  I could dispatch with 20% using my superior intellect and grappling hook (yes…I would have a grappling hook here too).  The other 20%, I could easily maneuver around.  Who couldn’t be happy when 80% of their problems are gone? Every girl has a little hell raiser in her soul.  I’d just let mine out of the box more often.  Practically always, really.

But after all is said and done, I couldn’t imagine doing any of this awesomeness without penning a memoir near the end of it.  I guess writing is my destiny after all.

 

Chocolate Television Sevens

Dear Post Racial America: Your TV programming sucks for black people.  I don’t want to watch The Game, I thought Girlfriends was boring, and Single Ladies? BOOOOO.  Coming of age during a time where black entertainment was at its finest, leaves current programming wanting.  So for those of you unfamiliar with Sherry Carter, and have only seen The Fresh Prince and The Cosby Show in syndication, these Sevens are for you.  Seven Glimpses at Black TV History:

7.  “A Different World” – The Wedding Episode

A good friend of mine has a strong argument about why Dwayne Cleophus Wayne was one of the single most selfish and undesirable characters in black television.  Logically, I have to concede a bit.  However, the nerdy girl who loves nerdy boys will always have a soft spot for the Brooklyn kid who got an 800 on his math SATs.  Therefore, I loved the Whitley and Dwayne love story.  In real life, what Dwayne did was selfish and disruptive.  In TV Land though, hearing him plead “BABY…BABY PLEASE!”  Honey…loved it.  Really, that was the show reaching the mountain top, because it didn’t lost very long after they were married.

6.  “Martin” – Guard Your Grill

Deciding on my favorite Martin Episode was hard.  But I think the episode when he challenged Tommy “The Hit Man” Hearns to a fight was the most hilarious.  To this day, I can’t envision Martin and Gina praying “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep,” without laughing until I cry. I honestly can’t describe how funny this is, so I’ll let you watch.

And then, there’s this:

"My baby luuuhhhhh me..."

5.  “Living Single” Regine Plans An Ex’s Wedding

It’s hard to find one moment in this very hilarious episode of one of my most favorite shows.  Heavy D and Viveca A. Fox guest starred in this episode as Regine’s ex and his cheating betrothed.  My two favorite parts of this episode was when they all met up at the church (where Regine discovered Viveca’s character making out with the best man, Freddie*), Kadijah began to sing “Shout,” and Maxine whooped, hollered and danced through the pews. The second moment was, after Regine revealed Viveca’s cheating ways, and was reminded they were in the house of the Lord, Regine snatched off her wig and said “FAHN! let’s take it outside.”  When people engage the Girlfriends v. Living Single debate, to me, there’s no comparison.

Blurry, but still hilarious.

4.  “Family Matters”  The Urkel Dance

Listen, Family Matters had some of the worst acting I’d ever seen in my life, but it was light and fun.  In the strangest way, it was a very unique show depicting a black family.  I happened to like the black, nerdy anti-hero who was Steve Urkel.  The kids were at a rooftop party, and no one was dancing.  So Steve rallied the troops, and performed a very awkward dance accompanied by a nasally rap.  His joy so angered the other guys at the party, they spiked his drink and he almost fell off a building.  Did I mention that Family Matters was a bad show?  Yeah.  But it was ours, and for the season, that damn Urkel dance was EVERYWHERE.  They played it to DEATH.

Yes. That is a very young Larenz Tate.

3.  “Good Times” The Punchbowl

I know most of the shows come from my tween and teen years, but this is one of the most epic moments in black history, because every black child knows it.  The Evans family spent every episode almost getting out of the projects, only to be stomped out by the man within the last five minutes of the show.  The Evanses were about to head for the promised land of Mississippi (what?), when James was tragically killed in a car accident.  Florida held it together, to the point that she angered her kids with her calm.  But then, shit gets real

2.  “The Cosby Show” Grandparents’ Anniversary

I’m certain I don’t have to explain why The Cosby Show was ground breaking for how the African-American family was viewed.  Whether you could relate to the lifestyle of the Huxtables or not, it was incredible that a upper middle-class black family was so wholly embraced, not only amongst black programming, but dominated its time slot for YEARS.  And when the family celebrated Cliff’s parents’ anniversary by lip synching Ray Charles’ “Night Time is the Right Time,” that was all we talked about at school the next day.  I still get excited when I see it.

1.  “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” C’mon man…you know which one

Rapper turned actor was still a relatively new phenomenon when The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air came out.  It was funny, super light, and Will Smith was downright goofy.  He was supposed to be my husband (life’s a funny thing).  Then came the episode when Ben Vereen came into my baby Will’s world as his father, turned it upside down and broke his heart by abandoning him again.  There is not one child of the 90s that doesn’t get broken up and sheds thug tears when they hear, “How come he don’t want me man?”

MAMA NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

What would you add to the list?

*We won’t discuss WHY I can remember Best Man Freddie, but NOT Heavy D’s or Viveca’s names.

Seven Things I Can’t Do Without

This isn’t your food, clothing shelter meme.  I’m not even talking “If you could only bring seven things on a deserted island for the rest of eternity, what would they be?”  I’ve always thought that was a crazy question.  First of all, who PACKS to live forever on a deserted island? I like going to the movies and ogling men at the grocery store, so clearly this deserted island jazz is going down against my will.  I don’t even know what I’m wearing to work the next day, so I can assure you that an “in case I’m kidnapped” preparation knapsack doesn’t exist.  Plus, if for some reason I DID know in advance, then I’d only bring one thing:  a magical chest that could carry ALL my loved ones, belongings and Chiwetel Ejiofor, so there.  These are seven pieces of me:

1. People

I love engaging.  Flashing a big smile and a lively “good morning” to strangers makes me happy.  What’s more, give me 15 good minutes, and we won’t be strangers.  My mama taught me well.  As rough and tumble as I am, I’m blessed enough that people are drawn to me as much as I am drawn to them.  Family and friends are important to me.  I wasn’t raised to be clannish and exclusive.  I was taught that family can be found everywhere, and embracing people in that way is important.  I am instilling the same values in my kids.  They were in Richmond, VA for 5 weeks, and people who were strangers when they arrived were in tears when they left.  Gangsta.

2.  A Crush

I relate to Alannis when she sang, “Like any hot blooded woman, I have simply wanted an object to crave.”  There’s something sweet about the potential in longing.  Certain crushes, I don’t even act on.  It’s not about pursuing a relationship.  Daydream fodder is what I desire.  Not having a crush to inspire random tummy flutters, is just the pits.  One could put this in the category of people, but it’s altogether different.  My crushes hold court in their own section of my mindspace, even if they also happen to be a friend.  Confusing? Yeah. Well…so.

3.  Pasta

Regardless of my weight class, I have always loved a good meal.  Those meals were never completely without carbs.  My favorite has always been pasta.  This may be due in part to the fact that you can take such a simple ingredient and create a meal full of wow.  Get pasta, olive oil, a few brightly colored herbs of your choice and a grilled meat of your choosing and BAM! Perfection.  And sauces we put on pasta can be nothing short of decadent.  My spaghetti and meatball marinara is both comfort food and an ultimate man-trap.  Pasta always has seemed so amazingly decadent; like a treat.  Gimme more.

4.  Colors

This seems like a weird thing to say, but the blue of the sky, the brown in my children’s eyes and the purple on my fingernails make life worth living.  I love losing myself in the depth of color and the stories color can tell.  When I have a handful of cherries on the verge of over-ripeness, it takes so much to not squish them to see the deep red between my fingers.  I used to love being barefoot in my mom’s garden and watching the dark soil contrast against my toes.  Even brown river water captures my attention from time to time.  I think the ability to see color is just one of those blessings we take for granted.  Everything could be on some ridiculous grayscale.  Instead, I’m one month away from burgundy leaves.

5.  Laughter

Joy is just amazing.  Few things are more wonderful than seeing a person wearing joy like a coat.  They just seem to shine.  The audible manifestation of joy is no different.  I love seeing people just completely lose themselves in joy.  Some of my favorite moments involve me clutching my stomach, with tears rolling down my face, begging for the jokester to stop.  Laughter interests me so.  The heaving, shouting and shaking seems like an odd way to express any emotion, much less a happy one.  Yet, when you’re laughing, it just feels so right.

6.  Music

Good music walks up behind you, wraps its arms around your waist and talks that good stuff in your ear.  You hear people say they don’t like certain types of music.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say “I don’t like music.”  While working on this post, I came across this video from one of my Twitter loves (@CorporateBarbie), summing up precisely why I love music the way I do:

There’s also this:

No further explanation necessary.

7.  My Voice

Thank you God, for the ability to shout, cry, whisper, laugh, and inspire with my words.  My ability to express myself until I am understood has been the thing that has kept me sane.  I like being able to look at the object of my affection, tell him precisely how I feel, then move on to cartoons or some other random thing, because speaking my heart isn’t a frightening thing to me.  Being able to speak at least a few of my secrets on this blog is cathartic.  When those secrets are relatable, and can help others, it’s a blessing to me, and encourages me to continue writing.

So don’t be shy. What are your seven?  No rules.  No judgement.  You can give seven surface things, or go as deeply as you feel comfortable. I really want to hear from you.

B

 

So…about that boyfriend…

Fellas,

Women lie.  I know this isn’t a secret.  Most people are untruthful at one time or another, even if only to themselves.  That’s not what I’m here to discuss, so stop queuing up Maury clips to prove your point.  I’m talking this one simple lie almost every woman tells to one strange man or another:  “I’m sorry, but I have a boyfriend.”

You may ask yourself, “Well, what’s so difficult about telling the truth?”  Nothing about it is difficult, except…everything is.  Telling a person that you’re basically not interested in them isn’t the easiest thing to do.  It’s not that women believe your world will end by letting you down; it just seems a little harsh.  Especially if the guy seems like a nice dude.  If the chance is slim that we’ll see you again, “I have a boyfriend” is often viewed as a means to bypass an unpleasant situation with a cool person.

But not ALL of yall are cool.  There are seven types of fellas that warrant an unabashed lie:

1.  He’s old enough to be our Dad

…’s dad.  It’s unfortunate that you squandered your youth, and woman your age are over your foolishness.  It’s even more unfortunate that you’re looking for love at Love.  I’m 34 and consider myself too old for Love.  What are you doing playa?  You’re trying to get these young ladies’ phone numbers because what?  You presume that they’re not smart enough to be up on your tired game?  Or do you need a young pair of eyes to check your blood pressure monitor?   I  need you, your corn pads, your Grecian Formula and your “shote set” to evacuate the premises.  My fake boyfriend doesn’t like it when I come home smelling like Theragesic.  Please and thanks.

2.  He has all the signs and symptoms of a Bugaboo

Some of your brethren have that wild look in their eyes.  A look that says, “I can’t wait to call this woman until her battery commits suicide.”  Virtually everything about this type of cat seems normal, but something is just off.  That’s the part of their mind that has decided it’s okay to call, hang up and hit redial for 48 straight hours, and when you finally answer, say something inane like, “Hey stranger,” or “Oh…I didn’t expect you to answer.  You busy?”  I once mistakenly gave my number to a guy with this look in his eye.  Within fifteen minutes of meeting, he’d called me three times.  Then proceeded to call 37 times that day.  Once you give him your number, you’ve told him you’re free, so do yourself a favor. Lie!  You might want to make your fake boyfriend a Navy SEAL or something.

3.  He’s this guy:

You’re not even a closet bugaboo.  You won’t give a woman the opportunity to say they’re gay, straight, single, married, terminally ill or joining the French Foreign Legion.  This type of guy doesn’t even require further explanation as to why he’s on this list.

4.  He’s a Serial Thigh Rapist

It’s 2011, and thigh rape is still a rampant club activity.  If you are a man and are being told, “You know how to attract strange women?  Run up to them without introducing yourself on the dance floor, and start humping her leg like a sexy, but frustrated terrier,” punch him in the face.  He’s only telling you this so that he can collect the women that are running away from you.  If you’re dancing with a girl and yall are mutually bumping and grinding, I’ll let you cook.  But your erection should not be your calling card.  So yes, if you ask for the digits, we’re suddenly booed up.

5.  HE doesn’t even like himself

Sometimes people just present themselves wrong.  Almost every woman knows the self-proclaimed nice guy who is a chronic complainer.  If the first impression of you is someone who is irritable and ill at ease with themselves, we don’t want to be a part of that.  You’re not that nice…and you’re kind of boring.  In the spirit of sisterhood, we’ll make up a boyfriend to spare the NEXT sister from hearing your woeful tale as a nice guy that finishes last.

6.  He looks like he’d bust a cap in our ass

Some of you are flat out scary.  As a young woman, I was always taught to be cautious about how to turn men down.  In my family, there’s always been a story of some woman who was hit, stabbed or shot by being just a little too haughty in turning a dude down.  Sometimes, it was just a matter of having the gall to turn a dude down at all.  If you look like you know how to hide bodies or turn a bar of soap into a weapon, a fictitious (cop) boyfriend is a lady’s best bet.

7.  He’s some unfortunate combination of Numbers 1-6

And he looks like this

Some fellas take this alleged man shortage TOO seriously, refuse to develop any discernible social skills, and has decided that personal grooming and plummet back into the pit of hell from which it descended.  Not being interested is NEVER enough for this guy.  He demands a Motion and Order in Support of My Right to Deem You a Fuck Nugget.  Oftentimes, he’s making these demands with breath that smells like 25 pounds of GetBack.  For this guy, it is important that you not only create a boyfriend, but befriend some normal guys in the area, because you’ll need reinforcements.

If you, or someone you love fits one or more of these descriptions, take the steps to incite change.  Reach out to give or receive the help that is so desperately needed.  Friends don’t let friends remain leptons.

Random acts of factuality

Seven Things I Like

1.  My kids’ sense of humor

2.  Classic Saturday Night Live (Murphy, Radner, Chase, Belushi)

3. Purple “M’s”  – Whether it’s a book mark, post its or whatever, if I see a purple “M”, I must purchase it.

4.  Watching new mothers and babies acquaint themselves with one another (That “I know you” look is just the most precious thing ever.)

5.  Ice in my cereal

6.  Turning brown in the summer

7.  Driving with the moon

Seven Things I Sort Of Envy In People

1.  People with big eyes (I love eyeshadow, yet I have such small space in which to put it)

2.  Borderline obnoxious tech savvy

3.  Size 7.5 shoes

4.  Poker faces

5.  Frugal mind sets

6.  Perpetual optimists

7.  Serene voices

Seven Things (Not People) I Can’t Do Without

1. At least one novel

2. A notebook

3.  A pen

4.  A thesaurus

5.  Coffee

6.  My iPod

7.  Lipgloss

Seven Bad Habits I Am Working to Change

1.  Bored gnoshing

2.  Nervous nail trimming

3.  Not adhering to a sleep/wake schedule

4. Cussing

5.  Forgetting to wash my face before I go to bed at night

6.  Seeing projects through to completion

7.  Skipping the gym

Seven Celebs I Consider the Bees Knees In Style

1.  Dita Von Teese (The word “immaculate” comes to mind)

2.  Sean Combs

3.  Shawn Carter

4.  Angela Basset

5.  Rhianna

6.  Charlize Theron

7.  Gabrielle Union (does she ever have a bad anything day?)

Seven Things I Would Change About the World

1.  Socialism would not be a dirty word.  I believe that if a man works hard, he should unapologetically reap the reward of said work.  However, I also believe in a moral obligation to help those who can not help themselves.

2.  “I would open every cell in Attica, send them to Africa.”  Maybe not EVERY cell, but the psychological impact of not knowing where you are from is mind blowing.  This little blurb would do no justice to my rationale, so I’ll bookmark this thought for a future post.

3.  Higher education would not be viewed as a luxury.

4.  Swimming pools in the hood.  Far too many of our black children don’t know how to swim and it’s partially because they have no access to pools.

5.  No more fat hairy guys in porn – except maybe for fat hairy guy fetish porn.  Everybody is liked by somebody, right?

6.  I would commission the top scientists to work on the perfect strapless bra for the busty woman

7.  Three words:  self cleaning windows.

Seven Authors I Adore

1.  James Baldwin

2.  Toni Morrison

3.  William Shakespeare

4.  J. California Cooper

5.  James Patterson

6.  Alice Walker

7.  Nikki Giovanni

Seven Favorite Past-times (That Do NOT Involve My Children, Reading or Writing)

1.  Flirting (It makes me all warm and tingly.)

2.  Playing with makeup (I don’t need it, but I love to have fun with it.)

3.  Watching cartoons (I had a well stocked Disney collection long before I had children)

4.  Cooking (I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE to cook delicious meals…the cleaning up, not so much)

5.  Starting conversations with strangers.  Nothing keeps my confabulatory shit quick like bantering with someone I’ve never met.  Sometimes, I even learn a little bit.

6.  Shopping.  Duh…I have a vagina.

7.  Cussing (Yes.  I realize the contradiction.  It’s just that I’m so muthafucking artful with the shit.)

Seven Things I Like About Myself

1.  I’m brave.

2.  I’m direct.  You don’t have to wonder with me.  If I dislike you, you know it.  If I love you, you know it.  If I’ve gotta fart, you know it.  You know these things, because, if the opportunity presents itself, I tell you.

3.  For some reason, I have athletic calves and I don’t think they look too shabby in skirts.

4.  I love to look out for people.

5.  My smile could melt the polar ice cap.

6.  I’m smart as hell.

7.  I’m ambitious and determined.

Seven Things I Changed My Mind About

1.  Money – I’ve had little and I’ve had lots.  I was still Mel on the inside.  Plus, there have been times of little where I never felt more loved, and times of plenty where I never felt more lonely.  There’s more to life, and I’ve just gotta roll with the punches.

2.  Marriage – Once I saw an old couple in the mall with matching Pistons windbreakers (is that not the most hilarious term) and Shell Toes.  They were incredibly cute, and it tugged at the part of me that really yearned for that sort of thing.  But nobody’s guaranteed that.  At least when I’m single, I know where I stand.  Once I end my celibacy, I’ll just occasionally take a lover and be done with it.

3.  Lil Wayne – It’s a New Orleans thing.  To quote Stewie Griffin, “I don’t have to fucking impress you.”

4.  Sushi – Five years ago, if you would have told me that I would be chowing on raw fish like it had “the antidote,” I would have called you a liar.  The same goes for calamari and rabbit.

5.  Pet Ownership – That’s some old bullshit.  I’m not interested in taking care of living things that do not speak in complete sentences.

6.  John McCain – I once believed that he was an admirable person with whom I only had conflicting views.  Who knew he was an ass puppet.

7.  Myself – I think I’m stronger than I know, if that makes sense.

Seven Things In Store for 2009

1. Barack Obama’s Inauguration

2.  Winning the Boston Review Short Story contest

3.  My first trip to South Africa

4.  Preparing to purchase my first home

5.  Going to my friends’ wedding (and showing much thigh on the beach) in Cancun.

6.  Becoming conversational in French.

7.  Finishing my SECOND novel.