Sunday, March 25, 2007

I'M BACK...SORT OF...



I hate being sick. And whatever this bug is knocked me down and has been kicking me on the ground ever since. Whatever it is has swept through the schools and businesses here. My son had it first. I caught it from him and we passed it on to the hubby for good measure. Heaven forbid one of us be spared the misery. Otherwise, all is well on this end. I could complain, but why bother. It doesn't do a soul any good.

The weather has finally turned and I am happy, happy, happy! I love summer. I love everything about it. Most especially the heat. Give me hot any day of the year and I'm one happy, happy camper.

And, I'm in love. Just giddy, gushing, can't get enough, in love. It's got me so wide open that I can't stand my own damn self I've been so bubbly. It's been so good it has me doing things I know I've got no business doing but love will do that to you. Turn you stupid when you least expect that it will. I would tell you who and/or what I'm in love with but a girl has to have a secret or two of her own. And I am enjoying this one like there is no tomorrow. I'm enjoying it because I know it won't last but so long. Life's like that. Can't maintain this kind of combustion but for so long before it will fizzle out and just be whatever it's going to be. Until then though, I plan to enjoy every minute of the ride.

DEAR DEBBY - 3/25/07

Dear Debby,

I have the responsibility of caring for my elderly father. He suffers from lung cancer, congestive heart failure and poor circulation because of diabetes. His prognosis is not good and recently I had to arrange for hospice. My problem is my brother and sister. Both are giving me grief that I am trying to rush daddy to his grave. Neither has stepped up to help me but they both question every decision I have had to make. Currently, daddy is kept medicated to keep him comfortable. My sister has called everyone in the family to tell them I am keeping him drugged to destroy the last few months he may have. I'm emotionally exhausted and tired of fighting with my family. I love my father and I don't know what to do. Can you give me some words of wisdom or help?

First, my hats off to your for stepping up to the plate as you have. I know from personal experience that caring for an elderly family member with no support takes a lot out of you so I applaud all your efforts.

Your father is in a hospice program because his doctor has assessed that his condition is terminal. Hospice assures that the time he has left will be spent as comfortably as possible which is what you and his care providers are doing. If you talk with the hospice staff they will advise you and your family during this difficult time. Please tell them the pressure you are under so that you and your siblings can receive some much-needed counseling and support. Hospice can help all of you through this transition. You have my sympathy.


Dear Debby,

Joe and I have been married for six years now. We have two daughters, ages three and five. I am a stay-at-home mom and Joe works hard to support us. For the most part he has been a good husband and father. My problem is that he takes his frustrations out on me. He has never hit me but he calls me foul names and sometimes talks to me like I'm trash. It hurts my feelings but Joe says this is normal in a relationship and I should just get over it. But I can't and when it happens I don't want to have anything to do with him. What should I do?

Tell Joe to get a clue. There is nothing normal about any man calling you foul names and disrespecting you. NOTHING. Joe needs to understand that not only is his behavior unacceptable, but that it will not be tolerated. Then you need to stand your ground. Joe may very well work hard to support you, but your job is twice what his is any day of the week. If you can't do it for yourself, then darn well do it for your daughters. The first man a little girl falls in love with is her father. She will measure every man who comes into her life by the standards he set. Make sure he's setting some good standards for them to compare. If they are witnessing daddy's bad behavior and you allow them to believe that it's okay, then they will think that any man can treat them badly and get away with it.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

OUT OF COMMISSION

I have the flu and I feel like crap. So Dear Debby will return next week in its usual time and place.

Friday, March 16, 2007

WELL, I'LL BE DAMNED!


There are things my mama didn’t tell me growing up and I’m fairly certain your mamas didn’t tell you either, ‘cause none of these things have ever come up on the Girlfriends, honey, hush yo’ mouth! Network. Imagine my surprise to learn that we might experience thinning and loss of our pubic hair. Certainly not the topic of discussion at any dinner table I’ve been at, but you would think someone could have prepared a girl for the morning after her milestone birthday when she wakes up looking like her vajayjay done been waxed and peeled, and it wasn’t.

We had the sex talk. Mama said don’t do it. I did it anyway. She prepared me for my first period, proclaiming it my admission into womanhood. More like my admission into hell but hey, at least she told me. When I was pregnant she had all kinds of expert advice to offer but of course she conveniently forgot to mention the constipation, hemorrhoids, and other assorted ills that would attack my body. And let’s not even mention what happens to your nipples when you breast feed. Mama failed me there as well.

Mother glossed over menopause as she sat fanning herself in the middle of a January snowstorm like it was normal to be sweating in sub-zero weather. I can just imagine the surprises that are bound to hit me when the moment arrives. If nothing else I’m thankful that black don’t crack ‘cause I couldn’t take it if my face and neck was starting to look like a raisin too. With my breasts heading South like their going on a vacation, and my hair having more white highlights than even Miss Clairol should allow, I can only imagine my hot flashes are going to feel like I’m communing on a tropical isle.

But let’s be for real here. Aging is already a bitch without a gal getting hit with one too many surprises. This isn’t like when Mama forget to mention that you’re supposed to take that little bag out of the Thanksgiving turkey before you roast it. The girlfriends had my back on that one. But what the hell! Why didn’t someone say something about your vajajay going bald?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

FIRST KISS

I’m in this weird place right now. I’ve spent the day consumed by first kisses. Remember them? That first moment of connection that leaves you with that giddy high in the pit of your stomach. Those moments just before when you’re worried about your breath and your teeth and if your nose will go where it’s supposed to go. That moment after when you’ve replayed every second of it frame by frame, over and over again in your mind. When you’re enchanted by the sheer beauty of it or grossly disappointed by the excess slobber and bruising your mouth may have just taken.

I’ve had some great first kisses and some really bad first kisses. I remember a high school honey who had the mouth of a God. Kissing him was like flying on something so good you knew it had to be illegal. He actually wrote me a note in math class the day after our first kiss to ask where I’d learned to kiss so well. Unfortunately the math teacher intercepted the passing of that note, read it to the class, and our moment of sheer beauty turned into a moment of sheer hell.

Then there was the boy who thought he was a Hoover vacuum. That first kiss was also a last kiss ‘cause the fool damn near sucked my face off. You would have swore my lips were two dust bunnies he’d found clinging to my face and was intent on ridding my body of. Swore up and down that he had technique though!

I met a couple today who were arm in arm selecting a video to watch after their evening meal. They were high on life and love and at one point he leaned in to give his wife a kiss. You would have sworn from the expression on her face that she was being kissed for the very first time. I felt like I had been witness to a moment of sheer beauty. Jean and Wally are well in their seventies. We should all be so blessed.

CAT FIGHT

I did not like the first book that I wrote. In fact, I disliked it so much that my affection for it bordered on that thin line between love and hate. And I should clarify that I had liked my original manuscript, but the edited, published version of the book took the story in a direction that I hadn’t been prepared to go. Sure, it was a story about love, but it wasn’t a love story. Deleting eighty pages and manipulating select text made it a love story and Deborah the Romance Author was born. Interestingly enough, diehard romance fans hated it. It didn’t fit the mold of a romance book and I had to learn how to give them what they were looking for.

I’m feeling much the same way about a book I just finished and it hasn’t hit that editing, publishing stage yet. I’m fairly confident that there will be few changes when it does because it fits the pattern of romance that is expected of romance authors with just a hint of my true flavor to identify it as one of mine. And therein lies my frustration with my writing.

My flavor. The essence of who I am which spills out in my words. I’m not feeling it and I’m not quite sure why. I’m writing a series about four brothers. Two of them I like a lot. I’m struggling with brothers three and four and they may well not get a book if I don’t get some warm and fuzzy from them soon. I like the first brother. He’s like a fine drink of wine on a summer’s night when Marvin Gaye done got you hot, buck naked, and thirsty for something you didn’t even know you needed. The second brother is more Wyclef Jean guiding your shimmy, rum punch in the desert heat, and a hard body grinding you at your best friend’s blue light basement party. Oh yeah, I like both them boys! Trying to find some motivation for the others and hoping it comes soon ‘cause I’ve got deadlines to meet. Right now both of them feel like Doublemint twins in matching plaid vests and high water chinos singing me a Barry Manilow ballad. Not pretty at all.

I tell a better story when I just let it come to me and be whatever it intends to be. To write romance I’ve got to go to the story and work it the way it needs to be. Sometimes that feels like I’ve been trapped in a burlap bag with a mean ass alley cat. We be fightin’ and the cat be kickin’ my butt. Right now that cat is kickin’ me good and I can’t seem to find me a big ass dog to kick back.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

DEAR DEBBY - 3/11/2007

Dear Debby,

I really like your blog. I have a quick question since you write a lot about relationships and romance. What does love feel like? I don’t think I’ve ever been in love. Thanks.

First, thank you. I appreciate the support. Now, I don’t know that I can tell you what love feels like, but I can certainly tell you what it shouldn’t feel like. Love should not hurt. And I don’t care what anyone else says, there should be no pain associated with love. I personally think to believe otherwise is a load of crap. Love should make you giddy with joy. It should make you feel that anything is possible. When you know true love you want to be more than you have ever imagined yourself being. You work to be a better person overall. Love should make you feel valued. It should never leave you questioning your choices or feeling that you are less than the extraordinary creature that you are. Love should be about everything that is right and good. When you find that special person, you’ll know it’s love when you feel as good about yourself and him/her when you’re apart as you do when you’re together. That’s just my opinion. But trust me when I tell you, when it happens, you’ll know.

Dear Debby,

I want to have a baby but my boyfriend says he will leave me if that happens. What should I do?

Don’t get pregnant.

Since I don’t know how old you are I can only imagine that you haven’t been around the block enough to understand that when a man tells you he’s not interested in being the father of your children, he usually means it. If you are seriously considering bringing another life into this world, be in a position to care for all of that child’s needs, including being two parents if your male friend bails on you. Babies are expensive and they don’t get any cheaper as they get older. They also require a significant sacrifice of your time and energy if you are going to be a good parent. It's hard enough when you're in a relationship that's working. It can be pure hell when you're not. So don’t be in a rush. Make sure you have your stuff together before you travel that road. Own your own home, your own car. Finish school if that’s in the cards for you. Just don’t make a rash decision to get pregnant because you think it’s going to help you keep your man. As for your boyfriend, he’s made his position known. Respect it. And think about getting a new boyfriend. A man who not only comes to the table with as much or more than you, but who wants the same things for your life, and his, as you do. Personally, the boyfriend you have doesn’t sound like he’s much of a winner.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

THE BEGINNING OF A STORY

Thought I would share the beginnings of a new story with you. I've been told by the powers that be that this beginning is not strong enough. I'd like to know what you think.

He called my mother a whore, appearing to spit the venomous word past his thin lips as easily as Reverend blew the gospel every Sunday morning. My mother’s heart had grown cold, the stare she gave him even colder, and it was at that very moment, that my understanding of adults, of women, and all their issues, spun into an embodiment of chaos.

I stood there in the hallway, the chill of the moment pervading the air, and though the temperature outside was well over eighty degrees, there in that foyer, I stood frigid, my limbs frozen in place from the cold. My body shivered as I felt the look my mother passed over his face, meeting his eyes with her own intense gaze. Her response was reserved, the comments directed at his manhood, piercing his ego like the sharp blade of a machete. Then, just as quickly as the litany of anger spilled out of her mouth, she stopped, in mid-sentence, the moment interrupted with my mother calling my name.

“Mavis? Mavis, what are you doing in this hallway?” Strolling to my side, she leaned to kiss my forehead, pressing her lips warmly against my skin. The cold expression that had crossed her face moments earlier had dissipated into thin air, rising to some unknown space to sit beside the hateful word my father had just called her.

“Nothing.”

“Mavis, it’s impossible to do nothing. Even if you’re inactive, you are doing something.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

My father appeared from the hallway behind us, ignoring both my mother, and me, as he brushed past on his way up the stairs. There were tears in his eyes.

“Hi, Daddy,” I called after him, waving a hand in his direction.

Looking back over his shoulder, he gave me a weak smile, nodded in greeting, then spun back up the stairs to his bedroom. The door slamming behind him was as harsh as the bitter expression he’d called my mother just minutes before. My mother ignored him, feigning disinterest as she brushed the hair from my eyes.

“I have a book signing tonight in New Jersey. If you would like to come, you need to eat something now so that we can leave,” she finished, stopping to adjust a wisp of hair that had fallen into her own face.”

“Is Zeke coming?”

My mother chuckled. “Your brother has a date. I don’t think he and his young lady want to join us at the bookstore.”

“No, we don’t,” Zeke said, bounding down the flight of stairs toward us. “But thanks for thinking of us. What’s up, buttercup?” he asked me, tousling the braids atop my head. “Where have you been?”

I beamed at my brother, reveling in the light of his pale eyes. No one loved Ezekial Perry more than I did, not even my parents. I had proclaimed this when I’d been three and Zeke had rescued me from Pucci, Miss Benchy’s bull terrier. From that moment, my big brother had been the next best thing to fresh air as far as I’d been concerned.

“I was outside,” I answered, pushing my hand into his as we all headed into the kitchen.

“Playing with the other beauty queens, were you?”

I nodded. “Miss Connecticut had an attitude though. She stomped home,” I said.

Zeke laughed. “Well, then she sure doesn’t deserve to be Miss Congeniality, does she?”

“Heaven’s, no!” I exclaimed with a quick shake of my head. “And old Miss Mac yelled at me.”

My mother raised her eyebrows in my direction. “What were you doing wrong?”

“Nothing,” I said, dismayed. “I was only jumping rope.”

“In that dress?” my mother asked, a frown creasing the lines of her face. “Mavis, you should know better.”

I shook my head in disbelief, amazed that my mother, like Miss Mac and Miss Benchy, would find the same faults to complain about. The moment was baffling. At the age of twelve, and although very much female, I usually had no understanding of the two old women, and even less of my mother. They just were, each of them sitting in anticipation of some transgression that they could leap upon, and dole out punishment for. Despite neither of the old women having any children of their own, it was as if they worshipped from the parental handbook of do’s, and don’t do’s, having memorized it from cover to cover. My mother, of course, ruled by her own set of laws. But no matter what I did or didn’t know, at the age of twelve, I could find no wisdom in the antics of old women like Miss Benchy and Miss Mac. And my mother, was a story unto herself.

The two old women sat on their respective porches daily, the two lanes of Abernathy Boulevard their dividing line. It was an unspoken boundary that neither crossed, Miss Benchy having been born and raised on one side of the tracks, and Miss Mac, on the other. We played dead center. Usually, it was me, the blue-eyed, white girl named Rosetta Taylor, and Ella Porter, the preacher’s daughter with skin the color of burnt toast. We’d jump rope, play Twister, lip synch to Destiny’s Child on the radio, toss jacks, and dodge the one or two passing cars that might intrude upon our summer playground. We had our routines and the old women had theirs.

“Mavis Antoinette Perry, pull your dress down,” Miss Mac had called from where she stood on the top step of her old home, uttering my full name with vague annoyance.

“I can’t help it, Miss Mac,” I’d responded, pulling at my yellow gingham sundress, the hem falling into place at knee level. “It just comes up when I jump rope.”

“Then don’t jump,” the old woman pronounced firmly, each word falling from her mouth like lead weight against a concrete floor.

Miss Benchy had risen from her own seat to get a closer look. She nodded her gray head, then pushed open the door to her screened porch. The two women eyed each other briefly, then turned on their heels to sit back down, barely acknowledging the other’s presence. Ella and Rosetta simply shrugged their shoulders, dropping the frayed clothesline to the ground.

“Wanna play hide and seek?” Ella asked.

Rosetta shook her head. “No, that’s a baby game.”

“What do you think them two do on their porches all day?” I asked, looking first to Miss Mac’s door, and then around to Miss Benchy’s.

“Them old witches probably thinking up potions to put on us kids when we go to sleep at night,” Rosetta, who was only eleven, said with a giggle.

I rolled my eyes. Ella joined in with her own high-pitched squeal. I was serious, and so I ignored the two of them, which irritated Rosetta to no end. She whipped her butter yellow hair from one side of her small head to the other, clasping her pudgy pink hands to her chubby hips.

“Do you wants to play or not?” she whined in exasperation.

Being my mother’s child, I didn’t take too kindly to Rosetta’s tone. I gave her my mother’s stare, the girl, I know you are not speaking to me like that glare, with my eyes pressed into thin slivers, and my wide nose flaring as though something in the air smelled bad. Rosetta sucked her teeth, then spun on the toes of her white sandals to head for home.

“I’ve got to go too,” Ella said, picking up the makeshift jump rope. “My daddy will be home for dinner soon and we have bible study tonight. Goodbye, Miss New York.”

“Goodbye, Miss Florida,” I responded, as we gave each other our beauty pageant wave, fingers pressed neatly together as palms floated from side to side, elbow–wrist–fingers, elbow–wrist–fingers. Taking one last glance towards the old women, I sighed, then headed up the front steps of my own home.

The door had been unlocked, and as I shut it behind me, careful not to let it slam, I could hear my parents arguing in the kitchen, the radio in the background turned up full blast. I paused, insuring there were no unsightly stains on the front of my dress for my mother to react to. It was a rare occasion that I would pause to study my reflection, but this dress was new, a Lord and Taylor’s purchase that my mother had permitted me to wear only after I’d promised to keep it clean.

There was a full-length mirror in the foyer of our old brownstone. My mother’s mirror, the gilded frame polished to a deep golden shine that radiated warmth throughout the entranceway. My mother would make note of her reflection as she entered and exited, because it was my mother’s nature to insure an appropriate appearance at all times. Being twelve, I truly had no need for the mirror. I was, after all, my mother’s child, her features imprinted in flesh upon my person, no hint of my father to be found.

My mother often boasted that we represented the beauty of all women of color, the rich burgundy of our complexions, wide noses, saucer-shaped eyes, and thick lips, a testament to everything God had ever gotten right. I rarely had want of a mirror, because all I needed to do was look at my mother to see my self. With my whisper thin figure, and legs like pencils, it was said that no one, but my mother, could have spit out the likes of me on the day I was born. Often, as I studied the reflection of the young girl staring back at me, my only envy was the spread of my mother’s hips, and the round of her bosom. Though envious, I trusted they would come soon, believing my mother when she said that my flat rear end and even flatter chest would only last but so long.

“So, who are you going out with?” I asked, turning my attention back to my brother as we both took a seat at the table.

The boy grinned. “You don’t know her.”

“I’m sure she’s no good for you. She’s probably a tramp.”

My mother slapped her palm against the table. “Mavis, you know better. You don’t speak ill of people you’ve never met and name calling is totally unacceptable, young lady.”

I cut my eyes towards Zeke, who looked at me with that stupid grin he was famous for. I apologized. “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”

“You had better not. I have no tolerance for such disrespect.” The woman dropped a plate of food in front of me, her hands coming to rest on her round hips.

The sound of my father coming down the stairs and through the hall, squelched the conversation, and I was grateful for the interruption that stopped the ensuing lecture that sat perched against my mother’s tongue.

“I’m sorry,” he said, coming to stand by my mother’s side. “I didn’t mean to be so ugly. I was just…” he stopped, searching her face for acknowledgement of his apology.

My mother nodded, then smiled at him, the bend of her lips gently stroking the side of his face. “We can talk about it later,” she said, gesturing towards an empty plate on the table. “Supper is ready.”

“Hi, Pop,” Zeke said, the words doing battle with a piece of chicken in his mouth.

“Hello, son. The food smells good,” he said, reaching to wrap his arms around my mother’s waist.

I watched as he kissed her, their mouths twirling one against the other. I marveled at the ease with which they made up, forgetting the fray of anger that had consumed them minutes before. Anger set afire by my father’s jealousy.

My father stopped to kiss my cheek as he took his seat at the head of the table. In that moment, as we four sat together, my parents smiling faces beaming down upon me and my brother, I was proud to be the only daughter of Nicholas and Corynne McDaniels Perry, of the East Hampton Perry’s.

As the second child, born six years after their only son, Ezekial Giovanni, I never understood the references to East Hampton that my father was so fond of dropping in conversations, most especially since our East Hampton relatives never bothered to acknowledge us.

We’d been only once that I could ever remember, setting off early one Sunday morning to visit Grandmother and Papa Perry, but the visit had been exceptionally short. Grandmother Perry had said something to my mother that she’d taken offense with, and we were swept out the door like unwanted mice discovered in the kitchen pantry. Papa Perry had given Zeke and me, each, a ten-dollar bill, and a piece of peppermint candy. Grandmother had kissed Zeke goodbye, but her lips never made it to my cheek.

As much as I was my mother’s child, my brother Zeke belonged to my father. We do not look as though we belong to one another, Zeke, and I. He has our father’s pale complexion, his skin crying out for sunlight to brighten up its stark white canvas. His eyes are the color of honey, and his hair is a wealth of amber and gold waves that curl easily if allowed to grow too long. It had been many years later, and numerous evenings of eaves-dropping on my parents conversations, where I came to understand that Zeke being more white, than black, was why Grandmother had deemed to kiss his cheek, and not mine. My mother had cursed her for that, and so we no longer blessed the East Hampton Perry’s with our presence.


“May I buy books tonight?” I asked my mother as we traveled the Hudson parkway from our Harlem brownstone towards the Tanganyike Book Store in Newark, New Jersey. The question was met with silence as my mother’s eyes flickered from her side mirror, to her rearview mirror, and back to the four-lane highway. “May I?” I asked again.

“You may buy one book tonight, Mavis,” she answered.

I fell back into the silence, pleased that one book was promised to me and perhaps another could be finagled at the cash register. I watched my mother who still studied the road intently. Corynne Perry was a classic beauty, her rich, charcoal complexion like clear, black ice, smooth and sleek. Tonight, she wore her jet-black, shoulder-length hair pulled into a tight bun. She looked elegant, as she always did when she went on tour to promote one of her novels.

A best-selling romance author, my mother was infamous for her story telling. She wove tales of lust and seduction the way others breathed: easily, without thought, and very necessary for survival. My mother’s stories were everything she was: passionate, consuming, and fanciful. As I watched her, I braved to ask the question.

“Why did Daddy call you a whore?”

My mother cut her eye at me, the lines in her face tensing ever so slightly. She pursed her lips, her grip tightening against the steering wheel.“Why he called me such a foul name isn’t important, Mavis. What is more important is that I did not accept him calling me out of the name my mother blessed me with. Remember that. If a man gets away with calling you out of your name once, you can trust that he will do it again, and he will think that such is acceptable. It isn’t.”

“What if he’s angry? Was Daddy angry with you?”

“It is never acceptable, Mavis”

“What is a whore?” I asked, searching her face for an honest answer.

My mother laughed loudly, tossing her head from side to side. “Do you remember the character Rebecca, in my third book?”

I nodded my head, thinking about the woman my mother had given life to in between the pages of her manuscript.
“Yes. She was very pretty and she liked to spend all her time in bed with men,” I said.

“Well, some people would say that Rebecca was a whore.”

Confusion was painted across my face. “But I liked Rebecca.”

“Most people liked Rebecca. She was fragile, and na├»ve, and you wanted to protect her from herself. She could be her own worst enemy and she was searching for that one man who was going to make everything right in her world. Her mistake was allowing men to take advantage of her innocence before she was able to discover herself.”

“But why would that make her a whore?”

“It was all the time she spent in so many beds that made people think such of her.”

I pondered my mother’s statement. “Does Daddy think you spend your time in other men’s beds?”

My mother cut her eye at me again. “Your father can be very jealous. When he gets that way, he doesn’t think. That’s the problem and that’s why he thought he could call me such an awful name and get away with it. But enough. Now, why were you eavesdropping on our conversation?”

I shrugged my thin shoulders. “I wasn’t eavesdropping. You were just shouting when I came into the house. I didn’t know what to do so I stood there.”

Corynne nodded. “In the future, make your presence known. Otherwise you may hear something you might not want to hear.”

"Yes, ma’am. So why was Daddy angry with you?” I persisted.

She smiled. “Great passion will make a man do things he himself has no understanding of,” she said.

Pulling into the parking lot of the bookstore, my mother eased her vehicle into an empty parking spot and turned off the engine. She stared out into the distance, not really seeing the flow of bodies that walked excitedly towards the store’s front door, or my own bewildered expression as I sat waiting beside her.

“Mommy?”

She heaved a deep sigh, then smiled, the bend of her lips ever so faint. “I was about your age the first time someone ever called me that word. It was a boy in my homeroom class named Charles Davis. We were in the school auditorium and Charles had asked me to be his girlfriend. When I told him no, he stood up in the middle of the stage and called me a whore. I was furious but I didn’t say anything. Nothing at all. Then when I was in high school, my mother and I got into a horrible fight about a boy I was dating and she called me a whore. I didn’t say anything then either, but I promised myself that no one would ever again call me such a hateful word because that’s not who I was, nor was it how I behaved. Like I said, Mavis, never allow anyone to call you out of your name.” Her palm gently stroked the side of my face as she smiled down at me.

Corynne ended the conversation, making it clear that there was no more for us to discuss. As we walked towards the entrance door, I thought about the passion my mother always claimed she and my father had for each other. My mother often said that there was no greater gift than to be blessed with great passion, and that one day, I too, would find love just like theirs. I imagined my great passion would come on the same boat with my breasts and my hips.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

ALL MEN BE DAMNED!


I’m pissed. I am so pissed that I’m spitting pure venom at anyone and everyone who is getting in my way today. At the core of my anger are men who should know better and a little girl who should have better. A friend of mine was in conversation with an acquaintance of his. The two men were sharing family exploits as I entered the room, sitting down at a table to join them.

The acquaintance shared that he was having a personal problem with his eight-year old granddaughter. The child is caught between warring parents, a messy divorce gone completely awry. Mommy and Daddy share custody of her, shuttling her back and forth two and three times a week. Every other weekend she lives with her father, his brother, three adult male cousins, and an elderly grandmother. The other half of her life is spent with her mother and her maternal grandparents in their family home. The acquaintance told us of an experience where the granddaughter wanted to cuddle in his lap. Cuddling was just fine until the youngster started grinding against his crotch. When he questioned her behavior she told him “men like it when you do that.” He immediately sat her on the floor and told her little girls do not do that to grown men. He also asked her what man told her he liked to cuddle like that. She refused to name names, stating that she didn’t want to get anyone into trouble.

I asked if he had told his daughter. The acquaintance told me no, he didn’t want to upset her. It seems that the last time Mom was upset she slapped her ex-husband with a frying pan and spent sixty days behind bars. The ex-husband had full custody during that time and it took much legal finagling to get the child back. I told him he needed to tell someone because clearly no one is protecting this child. He said he would, eventually. He believed he needed to stay out of it for now. It seems the school has begun to ask questions of all of them. The little girl was caught this week offering sexual favors to the little boys during recess.

Neither man could understand my rage. My friend even had the audacity to say that she was still young enough to get over it. Both men felt confident that it would work itself out, whether the child had to go back to a house full of questionable men or not. Their nonchalant behavior absolutely infuriated me and I told them so. All men be damned!

It could not be my daughter. Daddy, uncle, and cousins would all get slapped with much more than a damn frying pan. And it would be time well served to know my baby girl was safe. After I ranted and raged I left both fools with much to ponder. Then I went home and called the child’s mother, knowing that she can’t battle what she does not know. If the only man who claims to be protective of her won't speak out on her behalf, I want her and her mother to know that there are strangers who surely will.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

DEAR DEBBY - 3/4/07

Dear Debby got tangled up with a love story and the question posed had me pondering a response. It was a question that required me to consider my own personal values. And I have to admit that it touched a sensitive nerve.

Wesley and Denise have worked together for many years now. The duo became fast friends realizing quite quickly that they had much in common and shared many of the same goals. Neither ever imagined that they would share anything but friendship but as time has passed, both have discovered growing emotions that neither was prepared for. And because Denise is married both have been conscientious about not overstepping the boundaries that exist between them. It is not in her nature to be unfaithful to her husband, nor is it his to covet another man’s wife. Out of respect for each other and their respective families, neither has ever fully vocalized how they feel or what they may want to share with the other. But both have imagined what it could be like if they were able to commit to each other and both have denied themselves the possibility of fully embracing the dream.

Denise acknowledges that she married way too young and didn’t take the time to know her husband before they made a commitment to each other. Years later her husband’s infidelity, many lies and much heartache have marred the union. Denise says over the years she stayed for the sake of her children and the fear of being a single mother alone. She says she also believed that no other man would ever want her and half-a-man was better than no man at all.

The children are grown now and Denise wonders if this will be her only opportunity to ever know what true love with a man who actually loves her back could be like. Wesley wonders what may lie ahead for them, together or apart. He also wonders what others may think if Denise ends her marriage and they are able to build the successful relationship he believes they can have together. Although absolutely nothing has happened between them, he fears people will believe there was something happening before the marriage ended. He’s afraid of what her sons, and his, will think of them both. And so they asked,

Dear Debby,

Should we follow our hearts and do what feels right for both of us, or do we walk away from each other and forsake our chance for happiness? Do we accept that this should never happen and there will never be a time or place for us?

Never say never. Whatever is meant to be, will. Until Denise resolves her marital issues, one way or the other, there can truly be nothing between you, no matter what you think you may want. Adultery is a messy business and no one benefits from the transgression. Besides, that kind of lie requires far too much energy to maintain and will clearly demolish the strongest foundation of trust and respect that you claim to have for each other. Value the friendship for that and that alone. It very well may have to be enough.

As for your children, tread cautiously. I understand not wanting to lose their respect and wanting to set a good example for them. As well though, if your children are grown, when and it if becomes appropriate, then just be honest. The truth will always prevail no matter what other folks may want to believe. And though folks may question what started with you two when, the fact remains that your growing emotions have already put you in a precarious place. You may well not be sleeping together, but an emotional affair of the heart is still very much an affair.

THE BIRTHDAY GAZETTE


I’m just getting back from a weekend hiatus. My baby boy turned eighteen this Saturday and I’m still trying to get over the trauma. The husband and I took the boy and his two best friends to South Carolina for the weekend. They partied at the beach and I threw my son one heck of a Mardi Gras-style birthday celebration complete with fireworks, a band, and a large crowd of revelers.

I have been throwing the kid a themed birthday party every year since the day he was born. At one point they’d be come so outrageous that folks were actually calling to try and finagle an invite for their kids. Folks we didn’t know.

By far, the Dinosaur Safari was probably my absolute favorite and we’ve done everything from pirates to cowboys to spacemen. We did a Dinosaur Safari for birthday number seven. There was a guest list of some thirty-two children, a costumed dinosaur character, and dinosaur egg goodie bags that involved two months of balloon blowing and paper mache. The invitation was a four-page newsletter, the kids came in costume, and there was a half-hour dino-character performance by a puppeteer. It was the first birthday party where I had to rent a hall to handle the event. The previous years I had just moved all my living and dining room furniture to the garage to create the fantasy atmosphere I wanted my son and his little friends to experience.

Other parents called me crazy. When the hubby saw the bills he called me names that couldn’t be repeated in mixed company. There was only one year that I didn’t give the child an elaborate party and I swear he still won’t let me forget it.

I imagine that this will be the last birthday splash I will get to plan and host for him. He’s quite the young man now and I doubt highly that he’ll still go for the clowns and balloons when he turns twenty-one.