other stuff

My soon to be ex spouse was not trained how to be “on”. I was sadly.  Everything from posture, poise, hair, make up, dress, was coached from an early age. It started, when I was about five. My mom was an accountant at a department store. The store worked was segregated . Because for her to hired there, and be a person of color was a big deal. She had decided that to be a person of color in the world.  You had to always put your best foot forward. She worked very hard at creating an image for herself. She felt that her parents did not invest enough in her.

They were from the country, in the middle of nowhere, in Louisiana. My Momo could play five instruments and sang. She had her own fields of cotton and vegetables in Momou, La.  She lived in a big house that had been built by hand by some long dead relative. My Momo, could read, write, and speak English. She went to school till she was in the fourth grade. She was pulled out  of school because at that time, school became segregated after a certain age, in that area. The educator of black children that area then abuse their students. A lot, of people thought it was better for their children to educate themselves at home instead of subjugate their children to abuse. So, my Momo, read the encyclopedia, newspapers, and listened to her father. She had her own income. She bought things from catalogs  and waited to be married off.

My mother’s father Papa (pronounced Pau Pau). Was the oldest, out of fourteen children. His father was the illegitimate son of a Sicilian landowner and a Creole mother. That made him spoiled because he was unable to care for his large family. So, Papa got a job a general store sometime in his teens. He helped raise his brother and sisters and took care of his parents until they died. I met them. I do not remember, I was a small child, then. he saved up after his sibling were older and he was able to buy a car. The car, must have been, impressive. Because, she drove it a wedding in Mamou. He met  my Momo. She saw the car. They had a chat, at the reception.  He told her he was rich, making good money, and had a good paying job.  She married him, two weeks, later.

She found that was not the case. She was a bit more worldly. She went to his job, asked the boss directly about his pay. He told her  he only made a dollar, a day. The boss thought that was good pay for a person of color, at the time. Momo disagreed. They moved to Houston, shortly.

My mother was embarrassed by her parents, a  most of her life. She found them unsophisticated. I know it would shame her. If they came to see her, and she was unprepared.  They had country ways, even to me. My grandfather used to drink his coffee out of a saucer. They had very simple tastes. Cane syrup from a can. Kool Aide heavily sugared, cheap, store bought cookies, with icing that tasted like shortening. My mother, longed for better things.

My father is obsessed with my mother. He saw her at a church dance.  The thing that he was most attracted to was her long straight hair. It fell to her waist, and her hair is absolutely straight. He had a girlfriend with the same sort of hair. She was killed in a car crash. She was decapitated. I do not know if, he just stalked her. Or, if they actually dated. My dad’s side of the family, are always a bit vague, about my father. So, my father was taken with my mother. He sent flower to my mother. Food to her parents. He always showed with gifts. My mother was not keen on him. My father is very fair, with gray-green eyes. He has brown golden curly hair.   He is also very fat. He loves to eat. He is a diabetic. He love Chinese buffets. He fell into a coma while I home. It was touch and go for a few days. I always thought he would die, fairly young. He has epilepsy. I have watched him have seizures, countless times. He has had seizures while driving.  But, somehow he pulls through. He always is back at his local Chinese Buffet in a short time after the scare. He wooed my mother, through her parents. She married him, at the age of 22. I was born when she was 23.

It is very strange, to grow up in a household, where neither parent could be trusted.  They were not pathological, or anything. My father just did not ever become an adult, mentally. My mother was sick  all the time and was too ill to keep promises. So, I never used them as examples of how to live. I only asked them for advice, when I was really stuck in a bind. My parents have always made it quite clear, that they could not be bothered, with me. So, I kept to myself.

I had always had a good relationship with my grandparents. They actually knew me better than parents did. I spent more time with them as a child than I did with my parents. I loved them a bit harder, than my parents. But, we did not have any long conversations about feelings.  If, you wanted to talk about your feelings, you could talk to god.

My ex was not like that. His family always talked about feelings.  He was always talking about how felt. He was always getting drunk and telling strangers, the most intimate details of his life. When that did not captivate the stranger he would start to tell them, the most intimate details of my life. I found it really tedious to deal with. I would end up mortally wounded and embarrassed.

To me, my family suffered under racism and segregation. They always felt the sting. To end up not dead, on drugs, insane, addicted, to anything and without  a string of children, was a blessing.  You are supposed to feel content to go to work everyday to have the respect of your peers able to have nice things. That is not possible for a scary group of the Black community. To cry in public, to a bunch of drunks about some trivial thing. Seemed weak. It scared me to be with a weak man. a man who would not get a new suit to wear to work. A man who would not buy nice shoes to wear to the office.  A man who would not get a haircut, to take his wife on a date.

I talk about, my cats….Actually, mostly, Leela.

I have two cats. One male, and quite grouchy. One female, and quite sweet. The grouchy cat is named, Molokko. The sweet cat is named, Leela. They are both from, Hong Kong. They sleep with me in my bed. When I am not working, they follow me about all day. They get quite attached.

They used to freak out every time I would take a shower. thinking that after I would shower I would get dressed and leave the house. Then they got used to the fact that I shower two to three times a day, no matter what. So, now they know the key is, cosmetics.

I do not personally think, I am a pretty woman. It isn’t that I think, I am ugly. I just think.  I am, who am. It is not remarkable, or wonderful, it is me. But, I am very feminine. I like to have make up on if I set foot out of the house. One, to combat pollution. Two, to feel like I am braving the world with a good face forward. And, three to be nice. It is easier for a person shy about speaking English to do so. With a person who has taken the care, to face them.

So, when I start to put on the special moisturizer to prepare my skin to face pollution, UV rays, and make up. The cats start to yowl. By the time I start to mix the primer to allow my moisturizer and foundation not to run in the heat. They are crying. I usually have to pause and explain, I am just popping out to go on an interview, or run an errand, or to see friends.

By then, I am mixing the different shades of powder that makes up my face powder. It varies the mix by time of day, year, and purpose. If I have a date, it may have a touch of shimmer. If I have an interview, it may be slightly lighter. If It is to go to the store, or something, it may just be a flat color that matches my skin, nothing more.  By then, the cats have decided, if it is of interest to cry some more. Or, go back to what they were doing.

Leela, likes to hang out two places during the day. Her favorite spot is on top of a shelf, close to the ceiling. No one can get her down from there. She comes dow, if I show any movement at leaving, or making food. Other than that she’s either there. Or, she is hanging on the couch. She follows the sun from the shelf, to the couch downstairs. She makes her move at about three in the afternoon. She hops down from the shelf makes a little squeak and pads downstairs to nap.  She naps on the couch until sunset.

She waits for the front door to open after dark. I live in a building with a neon on sign on it. The sign lights up, after sunset. Leela, throws a kitty fit to be allowed, to eat bugs on the roof. If you let her, and it is not raining. She will hunt bugs till the light goes off, at 12:30 am.  It is a bitch to get her to come back inside. I have to call, cajole, beg, bribe to get her to come inside. Sometimes, I leap out of the narrow window on to the roof and chase her back inside. That does not work always and then things get a bit dangerous. I refuse to go out there, now. If I fell people would say I was sad about my break up. I refuse to give anyone the satisfaction of saying that. He is not worth, it.

Leela is tiny at 4 pounds. She is almost two years old. She will not get any bigger. She is a hearty eater, for being so little. She is a messy cat.  She knocks food all over her area. She is destructive. She knocks knick knacks down,when I am sleeping. She has a way of banging around at night and opening doors. She meows like she is singing to herself, at night. She is cheerful, her meow is plaintive and low. “Woammmm.”

Leela came from the SPCA. She replaced another cat that passed away from a slow illness. I had to have the other cat put to sleep. She died in my arms. I was inconsolable. An acquaintance, was sympathetic, to my sadness.  He insisted that I go to the cat homing section and meet the cats up for adoption. I was reluctant to do this. But, my birthday was approaching, everyone was afraid, I would be depressed on my birthday. I went with my friend, Charliah.

The SPCA was really a joyful place. I went resolved that no cat, was going to replace the cat that died.  The cats up for adoption were in these cute little apartments. Each cat had little glass room. with a little primary colored polygon sleeping area. A bowl of crunchy food,  a water bowl, and a toy of some sort.

Leela’s apartment was the third one on the second level. There were twenty cats in apartments in the room. They were all ages all colors. There was a shortage of names. Every third cat, was named Choco.

Leela, was one of these. She was small. Maybe, two pounds. She was about, three months old. She lived in a park, in a cat colony in the New Territories. She had just gotten there and had a bath,  not vaccinated. She was so cheerful.

She was inside of the sleeping area.  I could only see her nose which charmed as it is so small and is three colors. She came out. As soon,  I was directly, in front of her apartment. She came out. I  looked at how sleek her coat, was. Her shiny, caliconess, was art deco ,and charming. Her ears are, and were, ridiculously, huge.

She and I made eye contact as though weighing each other. She crinkled her eyes, at me. Like she was smiling. Then, grabbed a little cloth ball in her apartment. Tossed it in the air. Caught it with one paw.  She fell into dance fighting the ball.  She seemed to be doing this for my entertainment only.  I would move away, she would eat ravenously. I would come back and she wold start doing these crazy acrobatics with this ball. She charmed me more than, any animal, I had ever seen in a shelter. I eyed her for an hour. She kept coming out just for me. She kept dancing, just for, me.

I took her out and she immediately started cuddling me and purring.  She wanted to perch on my shoulder like a bird. I told them that this had to be my cat. She got vaccinated and had surgery. She came home with a clear cone collar like, a space helmet.

We decided to name her after the character, Toranga Leela from Futurama. In that animated series, Leela, is a very competent captain  of a spaceship. Her parents are freaks that are outcasts of society. They gave her up so she would have a better life.  I related to this character. My parents always were at the fringes. They were always eager to dump me off on anyone who had a smudge more respectability than them. They knew that were inadequate parents.  They gave me speeches about I how when I got up enough, nerve. I should flee them. I was three, at the time. I feel as though I am competent. I know, I grew up at the fringes. I did not mind giving a fellow orphan. Who also seemed competent the same name.

When do I, get to be”The Girl”?

So, my soon to be ex spouse ‘s complaint was “You never were sexy for me.”

I find that statement a bit, bullshit. Our first date I wore a tight shirt, no bra, tight jeans, pink stilettos.  My hair was mussed but, cute. I took him out for Mexican food. I drank ice-cold, almost frozen Corona, straight from the bottle. (Which is umm, hello! Very sexy.)

I had been hatching plans to have my way, with, him.  I had no sex, in six months, at that time. I was saving myself for only people who wanted a relationship.

I was kind of sick of being texted at 2 AM during the weekend with the phrase “Whachudoin’?”

In  Houston, Texas, that code meant .

“Come to my house, mess up,  your hair. Then leave my house soundlessly.”

Which was nice for a time.  But, you now it makes you feel, a bit cheap. When, people ask you if you have a boyfriend?You say

“Well there is, So n so.”

Your homegirls lean in for you to give more details about So n so .

You give them the most succinct recitation of So n so’s basic details.

You barely know, Sonso.  Except, for some basic stuff, about him. You can possibly answer the same questions about, any man.  You have seen him in the daylight. Only, a handful of times.  Sonso is very cheap, he does not want to see you in the day.  Or, even on a date, he can use you, for free. Most likely, you have gone dancing with your girls, at Ladies’ Night. He texted you “Whachudoin?” And, you’re off to his bed.

You go over high, on booty music and Bellinis.  You fall into bed with him because, it is easy.  Then,  you realise, So n so, is an ass.

My ex, compared to the ham handed, sex fiends, in town. Seemed boyish, innocent, awkward and kind. I liked that. I didn’t know he was not attracted to me. I still have not figured out what I was, to him. I suspect  a cross between a fashion doll,  maid, and mother figure.

(Poor sod.)

But who wants to be the maid/mother figure/bitch type person. I hate bitching men out. I hate shopping for them. I do not understand why all of sudden you get married and you have to dress a man with socks with out holes in them. Can’t you buy your own damn socks? And, shirts with buttons? If the button pops off they do not do shit about. Who the fuck was your mother ?  Who sews buttons on your clothes?  You have hands, and can thread a needle.  So, got to work, home boy. Buying underwear for men. I do not have time, for such bullshit.  Just buy  your own clothes. Why do I  have involved? I buy my own fucking clothes. So, learn to do so yourself.

I think the last thing, that got me upset  about me and this man. He has decided that I have caused him to watch gay porn with men in it.  That  is my influence that he gets off to gay porn to make me unhappy . He has random sex with gay men to make me unhappy. No, that means you are gay.

So, what I am asking is.  When do I, get to be the girl, in the summer dress, who gets flowers, she likes them? When do I get to be the girl, who goes to concerts,  she likes them? When do I get my hair,  sweated out from dancing too much with a man? When, does a man take me on a picnic? When do I feel like a man, is trying to have fun with me.  To have fun?

When do I, get to be the Girl?

I felt like “The girl”.  You know, those charming creatures, that people actually take to meet their families. They hold hands with men. Men, know their favorite colors.  Men, care about their birthdays. Men, do not go to their parties, waiting. For that moment, when the slow song comes on. You know, when they decide to show off how “Hot” they are for, you. Some women call it, flattering. I ,at the time, was bored with it. I wanted someone to dance me with, for real.  Not, some prelude for sexual relations. Although, I like that, too.

I wonder about love.

On Tuesday, I could not bear my solitude any longer. I called the friend that lives the closest to me. He lives in an apartment I found for him. I decided when they were looking for an apartment, that they needed to live, close to me. So, when I got frustrated at home. I could run away. I had been wanting to run away for years. Not from my home. I quite like my apartment. It was the apartment that spared me disappointment for a while. It was the apartment and the cats.

So, I threw on some jeans, a Sesame Street T-shirt, and my iPod. I plunged down my building in the wood-paneled elevator. I walked through my building’s lobby. Threw quick, nod, wave to my doorman. I was out the door on the street walking through the tree-lined vista of, Victoria Park. The park at night, is very pleasant. There are people playing games. Old people doing Tai Chi, Kung Fu, and getting food reflexology. Old men in wife beaters drinking Blue Girl, or Pabst Blue Ribbon. Lovers canoodling, on benches. Stray cats being fed by volunteers from the animal rescue programs. I like the park at night. It is very weird after being in America for most of my life, that I can walk across the park at night and not end up dead.

I get to my friend’s house. I need a drink. I am allergic to wine. So, I take out a bottle of Japanese Liquor and plead for a glass of ice. My friend and I discuss my current situation. I explain, while sipping the sweet liquor.  The newest ways, I am screwed, getting screwed, and not getting screwed. I vent my frustrations, while clinking the ice in the glass.

The liquor is not strong, and is welcome. It is orange in color, derived from quinces. I do not know, what a quince is when, not distilled. I decided as long, as I am not allergic to it. It really, does not matter. I drink. We have a cheeky cigarette on the balcony. We debate on where we are going to dinner.  We decide that we are not feeling, too fussy. So, we proceed to Causeway Bay’s finest establishment, Burger King.

My friend is also from, Texas. He’s from a tiny town, next to a small town, that is next to, Houston. He is going there next month with his long-term boyfriend. The boyfriend has never been to the tiny town. My friend is worried. The boyfriend, is a fussy spouse. He needs constant reinforcement. He is overwhelmingly, ambitious. He has a high-profile job. Because of HK, he is burning himself, at both ends. To feed his, ego.  The trip to Texas, is being marketed, to him as a holiday.

My friend and I both know, that going to a tiny town in Texas. With your same-sex Taiwanese partner is no, holiday. We discuss the tiny town. It is very conservative. It has segregated churches. It’s biggest claim to fame, is a huge Wal-Mart. The tiny town offers no future, for my friend. He wonders what will become of them, in the week that they are there. I shrug.

So, then the line of questioning turns, back, to me. What am I going to do? I go over the current situation very, casually. I am in Hong Kong, there are jobs. There are lots of exciting things going on, economically. For right now, this is the center of the world. Of course, to live in the center of the world, costs something. Right now, I am paying for it. I am paying very cruel and usual currencies. I am giving up the any shot at true love (If, that in fact, exists.)

My friend pointed out, I had never voiced concern about it, before. I explain that being married, has nothing to do with that. I married for a number of reasons. None of them, involved true love.  I had not really thought much of love.  I was just looking for  a HIV negative, non-asshole, without any addictions, and a good education. Who was immune to my family. Sane enough, to raise children.  It did not, factor in to me. So, I got the not advertised shit.

With legal documents in place, the repeated destruction the gulf coast, and death of my Grandma. I realized far too late, I was trapped.  I attempted to make the best of things.  Grown women suck up disappointment, on a regular basis. It is a well known fact of life.

So, I took my five years, as a lady. I dealt with problems. I was forgiving. I was honest. I was wise. I was compassionate. I was a real woman. Not a girl playacting at being, a wife. But, a very real wife.The catch was, I was not married, to a husband. I was married to a frat boy, a john, a man-child, and a tourist. My experiences  have trained me to hate those people. Frat boys, are to be sent off, to their disgusting fraternities. Johns should be, stolen from. Man-children, should be left to cry, alone. Tourists, people, who want to pay something. To see you, in your ethnic setting. Watching you do, ethnic things can go fuck themselves.

At night, when he would roll home drunk. High on the admiration of men, like a frat boy. Proclaiming, that he owned me like, a john. Crying, about mean people, hurting him, like a child.  Whining, about the injustices, done upon him, by local people of foreign lands. Because, he was a tourist.  Informed me that I, was a black bitch, and had to fuck him.

I went to bed.

I wondered, every time. Should I have factored in, true love?

A slightly, spellbound, encounter.

I miss the one thing, about the United States.  Is occasionally, running into someone, that leaves you, a bit spellbound. I remember the first time, it happened. I went to  the House of Blues New Orleans. I was in the bar. I had my hair done. I was wearing a cute black dress. The dress  was a vintage night-gown. My hair was in a kind of sixties hair do. It was loose big curls. I had it was secured with a clip made of feathers that looked like a butterfly. My eye make-up had been executed with a lot care. I was heavy-lidded. I wore lip stick, high heels, and cute underwear. Not for show, but for confidence. I wore platform shoes that were sexy. They were sandals made of lavender glitter. I wore thigh high stockings and my dress was really short. Over the dress, I wore a lavender cashmere sweater. It was fall. I could catch a draft. I felt nippy. But, I was drinking White Russians without ice.

I had gone there to pick up these tickets. A guy told me, he would give me, two. But, it was not a date. I get to the venue with my girl. She was also dressed in a lace blue top that was really lingerie it was, light blue. She had on no sweater. Her skirt was made of Black Chinese silk brocade. She wore a pair of high-heeled sandals, that were made of silk brocade.

We still lived in the dorms. I had to go over to her dorm, to get ready. We did facials. We washed and moisturized. We did our make up with skill. And, we curled each others hair. While we did that, we generally listened to music  and smoked. That year, it was Biggie, Tupac, maybe a bit of Al Green, for that touch of romance. We smelled to us like a night of sophistication. I that time, wore only Poison, or Opium, I was a dark girl, in spirit. My girlfriend was into a floaty, flowery, scent.  We dressed with great care, starting to get ready, as soon as classes were out.We drank a bit at the, dorm. So by the time, we tumbled in to the taxi. We were giggly, silly, and nerved up.

I was nervous about this encounter. Men, who tell  you, that you are not, about to go on a date. Generally, lie. I had to go because I had to go to a Jazz concert for my class Jazz, in American culture. I had to do my homework, and I was on limited funds from my family.  So this creepy guy, was helping me with, my education. A , very, weird position. I did not want to fail, a class that allowed you, to go out, every weekend. So, short on funds and trying to get an A. I had to seek this guy out. He left the ticket at will call under my name, something that only happened, once before to me. I was nervous. I was nineteen. Newly single, from a nasty break up, with a guy. I had moved to that city, for him.

He had fucked up, then. Closing my heart, forever.  he got fat, and joined a frat. A fat man frat, at that. He is now married, to a nice woman. She is a bit older than him. They have a son. They go to church, twice a week. He talks to and about his pastor a lot. He still harbors something about me. He emails me randomly, small talk, mostly. Although, my 18-year-old heart broke completely, when we broke up.

I was good. I never searched out or called him. We met at a party, once. I was, twenty. I was a touch plastered. He escorted me to his apartment. We had the most mundane sex, ever. I shamefully collected, myself.  I promptly left at dawn, alone via a cab.

So, my friend, and I were a bit, nervous. We had dressed up, like girls going out. And, had landed in a nightclub full of men, of forty and up. Then the guy with the ticket showed up.  He bought us drinks, the house of blue glowed with blue neon. It was dark. You had to stand very close to talk to people just to see. He then invited us to go to the back to the VIP.

Thank Christ, it was a jazz concert. It, was a Smooth Jazz, concert. I hate Smooth Jazz. My father really killed that, for me. He blew out the speakers of my Nissan Pulsar blasting Najee, of all things. I was pissed. I had to go to Mobile One, and cry a lot to get my car’s system. I forgot what I spent, from my long hours, at the Gap. But, let’s just say a small cluster of hard-won bills. So, I was slightly resentful of Najee, for this. Back stage the guy was chuffed. Here he was with two, overly sophisticated, 19-year-old girls. We had no idea what concert we were about to see. Then the guy was introduced, by a sheer force of cosmic irony it was Najee. He was polite and old. We looked at each other and helped ourselves to more free drink. While Najee interrogated me about my jazz class. Which was just listening to Jazz. Thinking about American Culture, then writing about it. He then asked me, if I was a fan of his music?

I blushed. My face felt hot, the cashmere had gone itchy. I did not know what to say. So, I admitted that was in fact a fan of jazz. I listened to it all the time. I liked Cassandra Wilson, Joshua Redman, Grover Washington Jr. and Incognito.

Then, he look at me and asked me “What about me?”

“Oh, Mr. Najee, My father, is a huge fan of, yours. So, big. He listens, to you, all the time.” I said rather wide-eyed, and innocently.

This statements, brought guffaws of laughter, from two young dudes, sitting on a couch. The lanky dude was a bit twitchy, had on glasses, and a had very deep voice. The guy next to him was shorter. He was wearing a printed silk shirt. He had a very boyish face. The face of a very clever boy. But, he was definitely, of age to be in the nightclub.They were similar in color. A kind of light brown. So my girl and I, inspected the young dudes. They were the same age as, us.

Najee was god knows how old. and the guy with the tickets seemed ancient to me at the time.  So, we asked them, why were they there? They piped up that they were in fact Jazz musicians. I was slightly shocked. I remember being really impressed.  A touch, spellbound, wondering.  If, I was going to, see that guy, again?  And, that guy gave his number to my girl.

cassandra wilson

Because, she told me.

I am dusky. With very dark hair. Hair that has the nerve, to be curly. Hair that is fine, coarse, and thick, all at the same time. Hair that makes people say swear words while they do it. So, of course my straight-haired mother refused to have any parts of combing. She would make me go to the beauty shop  once a week from the age of three. My grandma refused to comb such stuff. My momo applauded me when cut off a braid at the age of three. She did get pissed every time I attempted to cut my own bangs.

The experience of having such tedious locks made me loathe the beauty shop. I would have anxiety attacks before going. I hate the smell of chemicals, burning hair, and having anyone run a comb through my hair. I  have had many bad haircuts. I suffered many hours of my life underneath, bonnet hair dryers. I have been paraded around with a head so full of rollers, it felt cumbersome.

I remember vividly, my family trying to get me ready, for my first communion. They were so excited. My mother bought me a tiara made of tiny freshwater pearls. My aunt bought, me a silk chiffon white dress. My godmother, bought me tights of intricate lace. I had a satin slip. White patent leather Mary Janes with a slight heel were purchased. The lace for my veil, was selected, with more deliberation. Than any life choice, those people, have ever made for me.

I was keep sweet throughout the CCE classes with candy. Lemon drops, that were covered with powdered sugar. “If you are good, you will wear these beautiful clothes.” They told me.

So, for months my mother would make us go to mass on Saturday night. She would also make me go to confession every week. Did, I take confession seriously? Well, at first I did. I would cry and think that the penance doled out was saving me from, hell. I would sob for hitting my cousin, eating cake, before dinner. And, the forging of signatures on spelling tests, I am, dyslexic. You should not be spanked for bad spelling tests, if you are dyslexic.

Until, the day my mom played, herself.  You know, when realize that your parents are mere humans. Not, beautiful, infallible, god like beings that should command your will. But, people who can be dumbasses. It is a sorry thing, to know. My mom did something to me, I will never forget. It made me doubt religion, forever.

My mother, is a vain woman. In the 80’s, was a buyer at very exclusive department store. She drove a huge Cadillac that was  black and silver with a red custom pinstripe. She dressed in red, black, and white to work most days. Unless, she was selling, Mary Kay. Then, she would wear pink, or fuchsia. She also would dress me in corresponding colors to match her palette. My mother was fanatical about Mary Kay.  She pointed a loaded gun, at my father over it, once.

My mom loved dressing up and going to church. She loved to have me next to her on the hard pew.  She timed my beauty shop appointment that I got out in time for mass. For, forty-five minutes, my mother basked in the glow of being a part of a gorgeous family.

Well, it was good that we went to church on, Saturdays. So, long as I thought most people went on, Saturday. But, that did not last very, long. My mom allowed me to go to friend’s house for a weekend. She had a skating party. My mom let me pick out my skating outfit. I must have ingested a great deal of Soul Train, Flashdance, Purple Rain, and Dance Fever. I wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer. I wore a hot pink leotard with black stripes with matching skirt. Pink and purple leg warmers, black tights, a pink jelly shoe and purple one. Yes, that meant I owned a pair of pink jellies, and a pair of purple ones, too. I would wear one of each pair. My skates, quads, with fat laces, were pink and purple and had glitter wheels.

I think this is why, I like clubbing. Because, I adored getting in the rink and skating to my favorite jams. I would request songs from the DJ.  I would not leave the rink until I could not walk. I was quite sure that this was what the people at Studio 54 were up to, also. Getting high on sugar, pizza, and skate dancing, all afternoon.

So, this whole skating thing occurred on, Saturday afternoons. So, my routine on Saturdays was: wake up at six in the morning to watch “The Smurfs” then “The Snorks”, then my absolute favorite, “The Chipmunks”.  I would make my breakfast. Pacman, Count Chocula, or Nintendo cereal with half and half. Maybe, some bacon cooked in the microwave, and over easy egg cooked in the grease. ( I could make my own breakfast, at the age of 5.)  Eat, until Soul Train, came on.  Then I would take notes on what song was the jam, to request at the skating rink. Clean the house like a fiend while Kung Fu theater was on.  Then, scheme on the telephone with my cousins. So, we could go skating.

So, here I am, an eight year old, party girl. With now, a collection of Flashdance type pink and purple, clothing. Because, the kids department at my mom’s workplace had decided that children, should have clothing inspired by that, new thing, music videos. I suspect my mom thought it was cute. When the fashion show. occurred. My cousin Nick, and I worked the runway in matching Micheal Jackson jumpsuits.

So, there I was. With my fisher price tape deck. And my 45 in portable record player. Using my books on record to scratch with. I ruined “The Little Red Hen” so badly my mom proclaimed RUN DMC to be the most offensive music, ever.

She would go on about how could music be about ruining records. Meanwhile, I am blasting New Edition, singing “Mr Telephone Man”  and dancing around the living room. I was now refusing to go to church. So, my mother had to use all the cunning  in her being, to keep me from running off to be a dancing girl.

Her plan was hatched at first by the nuns, at school. The nuns decided to introduce, the concept of hell. So, they started using examples of what sins would land you there. So, we went over the ten commandments. The whole coveting thing took forever and a day, to explain. Then, they brought up lying, stealing, blah, blah.

The discussion in our little dull classroom turned to church attendance. The nun who was only four feet eight,  stood up really tall. And, explained to us that any feelings you had to not attend church. Was the devil talking to you. Because, god would really like it if you went to church daily. I personally felt because we went church every Wednesday  at school. I was set. I asked the nun about what if  your parents do not take you to church. Were you going to go to hell? What if your daddy, does not go to church at all?

Well that nun, was listening. She called my folks. My mother was mortified that everybody in the parish knew my father was a C&E Catholic.(He ducked before communion on Christmas Eve, so not even that.) She had planned this huge party for my first communion. And, I was the sassiest child in the second grade.

So, one Saturday, she got up early. She made me pancakes. I lamented that they were not, Hot Cakes and Sausage from Mc Donalds. I refused to eat her slightly burnt pancakes. I had cereal.  So, then she asked me if I wanted to do anything with her for the day? I asked to go to my grandma’s. (My grandma hated my mother. So, she would feed me cake all day. And, let me dance around the house to MTV.)  She pressed harder, anything special?  I then requested to go skating. She said okay.

We dressed, got tortured at the salon. I pondered what you had to do to become a Jet Beauty of the Week. I made small talk with hairdresser while he tortured me for three hours. My mother disparaged my curly hair texture. The darkness of my skin. Informed me, that I looked like my illerate, grandma. Whereas, she was beautiful, like a Mexican.(My mom, was very proud she did not look black.) That I could surely come to some bad end being so dark. Skating in the sun all day, singing all that music.

The attendees at shop knew my mother was a bit color struck. And she was paying money have fourteen carat gold fake nails on her fingers. So they agreed with her. As, most people do with those addled in the head. My mother also, carried a loaded gun her so purse.

So my mom with a recreation of Pamela Ewing’s latest hair do on her head, gold nails upon her fingers. Ushered out of the smelly beauty shop. Into the hot, black car. Drove in the general direction of the skating rink. We got to the parking lot.

“Can we get, out.” I said.

“No.”

“Why are not going to go, skating?” I said.

“Because you do not deserve to go, skating.  You told the nuns your father does not attend church. You made a fool of me, you little, negress. For that, I am going to make a fool of you. We are going to go to church. We are going to pray for your father’s everlasting soul. Then we are going to confession, because I lied, to you. And, you will never make a fool of me, again.”

As she had a funny look, in her eye. I went to church in my skating outfit. She was embarrassed too,  I could tell. My mother hated to be dressed inappropriately. But, she grinned coolly, as we got back in the car on the way home.

The eve of my first communion, I was as meek as lamb. Until, they attempted to hot comb my hair. That bind of slavery I was not having. My grandma went a bit pale. She went to the Voo Doo candle altar in the back of her house for an hour.

My father’s three sisters, remarked that it was not that, my hair was kinky. It was the savage way, I would not let them touch me. That revealed, that my mother’s side were a bunch of common, Creole trash. My mother argued that if they had any breeding at all. Any child of hers, would not have to have her hair pressed.

I would not go near the stove. Or, even the kitchen. I locked myself in the blue bathroom.  (There were two, the other, orange.) They used a bobby pin to unlock the door and tried an electric hot comb. I cried, and screamed, as though the hounds of hell, were after me.

My grandfather, finally, got them off me. He told them, to let me be. They rolled my hair in some curling papers.

My mother spanked, me at home. Informed me that tomorrow, I would be dressed completely in white. That god only accepted children, who did not dirty first communion clothing. If I acted, in any way, ill. She would make sure, that I would wish. I got my hair pressed after all.

I did what she said. Because, I knew she meant what she told me. That night, disgusted with my father’s mustache.  She naired half of it off, while he was sleeping. So, he had to shave the whole thing off. I never asked to go skating with her, again.

janet jackson and herb alpert diamonds

How I started smoking.

I am glad that most of my bad choices do not leave marks upon me. If, I had a tattoo for every bad decision.  I would be marked up like Lil’ Wayne.

I reel at my own decisions.  I am almost impervious to peer pressure. You will never get me to do your drugs, join your church, or pyramid scheme. You can, get me to smoke.

I learned to smoke cigarettes, as a matter of life, or burn.

I was at a university, on a road trip with friends. We were staying with someone’s, sister. The sister was trying to push me to give my virginity to her brother.  In hopes to prevent him from being gay.

She decided, she was to going make me, beautiful. We were watching the Miss America pageant. We were drinking. She came to the conclusion, that she was going to hot comb my hair. Hot combing is the most hazardous hair process. It is torture. Wax, metal combs on an open flame, the tender flesh of your ears, and forehead are a very bad equation. This girl was possessed she was going to make me, beautiful. To lure her brother into heterosexuality. It involved straight hair. She was very adamant in a way, only, the very drunk, are.

So, she got out the tools for my destruction. The jar of pressing wax. The glass coated, greasy, sickly pink, smelling of petroleum. The burnt up towel that you test the hot comb on. Stiff, rough, charred, and dirty.  A jar  half full of dirty water, to cool off the hot comb.  A towel, to drape upon my shoulders.  It was filthy, covered in make up. I watched this girl laying out these things and pondered my fate. She was going to singe my hair. She was going to burn the most sensitive parts of my person.

I couldn’t leave. The university town was in the middle of nowhere. The car was a stick that drove in. I could not drive a stick.

My virginal self, was fucked. Meanwhile, guys were at a concert. She had me try on outfits. She laid out make up, perfume, skin cream.  She did not stop drinking screwdrivers.  She set up her bedroom for romance.

My mother was gambling, at a reservation casino. She was consistantly unreachable.  If I called her, she would probably tell me to let the deranged girl, hot comb my hair. My mom loved me, only with straight hair.

While, the contestants were answering the every difficult evening gown question. I shifted on the rent-a-center black leather couch, praying for a pardon.

The sister looked at me from her green contact lenses. And, said “I need a cigarette.”

I told her, I had never smoked before. She then took two hours to teach me how to smoke a cigarette properly. I left the college town completely intact. The girl’s brother is supposedly heterosexual. He spends a lot of time in, Thailand.