Monday, June 30, 2008


This past Saturday we threw my father a surprise 70th birthday party. Months of preparation, tiny white lies, and a lot of creative energy paid off in a big, big way.

Getting him there was a challenge since he wasn’t keen on the idea of dining out and definitely not at some restaurant that he couldn’t wear jeans and a tee shirt to. I was actually surprised that he didn’t get an inkling of it before hand but lo and behold the “secret” didn’t get exposed until mere seconds before he walked into the restaurant when he recognized an uncle’s car parked in the lot. He still wasn’t sure what was going on other than uncle had said he was going out of town and wasn’t supposed to have been there where he was.

Making his way into the Club Room at the Parizade Restaurant in Durham, he was wary, sensing that something was definitely up but still not quite sure what that something was. As he made his way through the door, we started singing Happy Birthday and the man came to a fast stop. His expression was absolutely priceless and then he welled up with tears, fighting not to cry.

The event was well attended, family and friends coming from near and far to celebrate. My favorite moment was when his best friend from grade school stepped up to shake his hand. Despite having kept contact via telephone and a holiday card here and there, the two men hadn’t actually seen each other for 57 years.

My second favorite moment was when a family friend stood up to say a few words, introducing himself as my father’s son from his first marriage. My 87-year-old grandmother damn near fell out of her seat! A son? What first wife? I laughed until my sides hurt.

The event was themed as we paid homage to the “superhero” we consider the man to be in our lives. Both my sister and my son gave these great video presentations about my father’s life and his successes and accomplishments. I was given the responsibility of sharing just what the man has meant to us and I nearly lost it when my daddy began to cry. Being able to honor my father and his love was truly an awesome experience.

The party lasted for two whole days moving from the restaurant to my parent’s home. Laughter flowed like water and thanks to some swift maneuvering, the next day we feasted on my mother’s homemade biscuits and jams for breakfast and my father’s infamous BBQ ribs.

So, for just one last time, Happy 70th Birthday, Walter L. Fletcher! We love you very much!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I can’t seem to keep still lately. I feel like I’ve got some serious adult ADD thing going on. Sitting still and staying focused for more than ten minutes has proven to be quite a challenge for me. I just have to be moving and doing something and being home, alone, sitting still, isn’t it. I wish I could say I have an abundance of excess energy, but that’s not my problem. Truth be told I’m exhausted but I can’t seem to rest and I don’t have a clue why or what brought it on.

I’ve spent much money decorating my new townhouse and making it a home. I fancy myself to be quite the interior designer and between HGTV, Ethan Allen furniture, and every interior design book on the market my once bare space could now grace the pages of any decorating magazine. After all the time and work I’ve invested in the place you would think I’d want to hang around and stay awhile. Instead, every chance I get to go I’m gone and I’m not in much hurry to come back. Go figure.

Between now and Sunday I will be moving non-stop. I'm up to no good (well, maybe some good!) and would share the details with you but since the people I'm up to no good for read my blog I won't put it out here just yet. Monday morning however is a whole other animal and what's secret now will surely be fair game.

So, until then, my home still won't be seeing very much of me. At this rate, between mortgage and utilities, it would be much less expense to just buy myself a tent and pack my clothes into the trunk of my car!


Some things lovers say to each other should serve as relationship red flags that things aren’t quite what they should be. I spend a lot of time eavesdropping on other people’s conversations and I can’t help but wonder sometimes what folks are thinking.

“Really, she slept at the foot of the bed and absolutely nothing happened! She was naked, not me!”

“I did not call your mother a witch. What I called her was a bitch!”

“Seriously, you couldn’t find anything else to wear? You look like a beached whale in heat!”

“I felt something but it certainly wasn’t earth-shattering.”

“I bought you a tank of gas. Twice! If that doesn’t say we’re in a relationship I don’t know what does."

“I mean really, how much more attention do you really need?”

“I know the number is in my cell phone but I don’t know that girl!”

“His thighs are much bigger than yours, honey. Do you think his thing might be too?”

“Oh, sorry, Tanya. Did I really call you Amber? That's so funny 'cause I don't know any Ambers.”

“The doctor said a week of penicillin will cure it right up so I don’t know why you keep bitchin’."

“Son-of-a-bitch! Did you really have to tell me you did him in the backseat of my father’s car?”

Have you overheard any snippits lately that could kill the romance in a romantic relationship? If so, please feel free to share.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Teenagers have more drama than a four-act Shakespearian stage production. I cannot fathom how they maneuver through each and every day like the world is coming to a complete end because boyfriends aren’t acting right, girlfriends are witches, and life just isn’t being fair to them.

Since the baby boy came home from school there have been too many teenagers streaming in and out of my home. Streaming in and out with drama like you wouldn’t believe. I had gotten use to the peace and quiet so it’s been a bit disconcerting to say the least.

Kids today aren’t like they were back in my day. I’m not sure if their issues are just indicative of our small town environment or not but these kids baffle me. I’m appalled at the lack of work ethic, the sense of entitlement and privilege, and this me-me-me attitude they all seem to possess. Even my own kid is racking my nerves thinking that his rise to adulthood should be about his good time being at mommy’s expense.

This is a generation that thinks gratification must come now or they’re going to miss out on it all together. Life is supposed to be all fun and games and to hell with hard work. Where they get off thinking that what they want should just be handed to them on a silver platter, wrapped up all pretty with a satin bow is beyond my comprehension.

My father made me work. I was eight-years old working weekends and summers in his appliance store cleaning used refrigerators. To this day I still detest the smell of a fridge that’s been turned off for any length of time. By the time I was twelve I could manage an office and staff without blinking an eye. At the age of fifteen I was bidding on government contracts for my godfather’s tool business. We won’t even mention my mother making me learn how to sew, cook, and clean on the side so I could be a good wife someday.

My very special new friend picked cotton in Southern heat as a little boy. By the time he was fifteen he was helping his mother support his younger siblings. We both shake our heads each time our own balk at simple chores but always have a hand out expecting it to be filled.

Most adults know drama. Work, family, and just the basic art of survival would make for an interesting late night movie. These kids today don’t have a clue.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I saw it on her face. Had I not been watching her so closely I would have missed it, but there was something in her voice, an energy and joy that caught my attention. And so I eavesdropped on her cell phone conversation, catching one side of a discussion she was having with her man. There was a hushed whisper of sweet words bantered back and forth between them and the requisite giggles and laughter that a couple occasionally shares and then she wished him a good day, told him she’d definitely see him later and before disconnecting the call, she told him she loved him. I love you.

Then the expression on her face changed and in that quick instant I saw sadness wash over her. In that moment I knew that for whatever reason he hadn’t said those three words back, and for whatever reason she desperately needed to hear them. She recovered quickly, light and laughter replacing that rising cloud but in that brief moment it brought back memories of a man who didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t say he loved me.

It was disconcerting to be in a relationship with a man I absolutely adored and not be sure he felt the same way. To share every ounce of one’s self with a person and be completely vulnerable to unfathomable hurt and then have doubts about that person’s love is not easy.

I’m a woman who wears her emotions on her sleeves. If I love you I have no problems saying it plus it’s usually written all over my face. I’ll proudly shout it to the heavens if I could because I’m not ashamed to love the people I do. And, like most women I want and need to hear it back.

This man felt it necessary to hide me from family and friends, making me feel like some dirty little secret he was afraid would get out. Then no matter what he said I found myself questioning if he really loved me at all. That doubt was crippling. It fed into fear and confusion and then simple issues easily got blown out of proportion. He rationalized his reasons. I tried to understand his discomfort. But I knew he was hiding our relationship and more importantly, not being forthcoming about what it was he was feeling. And what he was feeling didn’t feel much like love.

If someone was in the room behind him, and I told him I loved him, he wasn’t going to say it back. He wasn’t going to risk people he was close to hearing him say he loved me. And then I had to accept that maybe there was nothing for any of them to discover. I was the only one saying I love you. I was the only one willing to voice how I felt about the man who’d stolen my heart. I was the only one feeling foolish every time I hung up a phone after hearing him respond with “me, too” or a “yeah, sure,” or "okay", or even worse, silence. After awhile I just stopped saying it. Eventually I stopped feeling it as well.

She loved him. She told him so and all she’d wanted was to hear him say it back. Whether he just didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t, the final result was still the same. It was sadness that washed over her. Sadness, and doubt.


Yesterday was Father's Day and I spent the entire day with mine. It was the longest span of time my father and I have spent together, in one room, totally focused on each other since I was a little girl.

When I first started blogging back in 2006 I wrote the following tribute to my daddy, just because. Rather than come up with something new to acknowledge Father's Day it felt appropriate to revisit where I'd gone before. So this is a rerun. My first. And only for my daddy. And just because.

My father named me. My mother wanted to name me Penny. Daddy wasn’t having it so my birth certificate declares my name to be Deborah Denice Fletcher. As a little girl no one was allowed to call me Debby. My father went absolutely ballistic if they did. I still cringe every time I remember him announcing quite loudly and in a tone that left people quaking in their shoes that “her name is Deborah, NOT Debby. Deb-or-ah!”. It was particularly embarrassing in grade school at those parent-teacher conferences when he would quickly correct a teacher or another parent, or even worse, one of my peers. Back then I absolutely detested it. I wanted to be called Debby. Debby was cute, and fun, and popular, and when you’re the only little black girl in a sea of white children, you desperately want to be popular. Deborah was stuffy, stuck-up, not liked, and different. She didn’t mesh with the Cindy’s and Kathy's or the Laurie’s and Vivian's. Debby was included in the cliques and clubs. Deborah wasn’t included in much of anything.

My father was not an easy man. He was demanding, and controlling, and I remember that to a little girl he could be quite mean and scary. But he was very much a hands-on father, dictating every aspect of my childhood. His presence was undeniable and unwavering. Today, I realize that although I am very much a “daddy’s girl”, my father and I are still like oil and water. We’ve been butting heads since the day I was born. Him saying don’t and me doing it anyway was more the norm for us than not. I didn’t have a desperate need to be daddy’s “good” little girl. I believe he actually LIKED me because I wasn’t. I wasn’t afraid to take risks and I believe my father found that to be an admirable trait. We last clashed shortly after my seventeenth birthday, and over the man who would later become my husband. My father had issued an ultimatum, pushing me into a corner. I pushed back and we went almost two years without seeing or speaking one word to each other. During that time I got married and my father was not there to walk me down the aisle. The marriage endured for a good length of time. Thankfully, the silence between my father and I did not.

When my first book was published my editor asked what name I wanted to be published under. Over the years I’ve frequently drifted between Deborah and Debby. I remember the moment clearly, when the name, Deborah Fletcher Mello, came rolling off my tongue. I knew, in that instant, that my name would honor not only who I was, but also the person whose influence had helped me get there. And I really wanted to honor my father and his love.

A few years ago my father suffered a massive stroke. It has left him partially incapacitated but it has surely not stopped him. He insists on doing some things he probably shouldn’t. That insistence can be overly frustrating but I understand and respect it. Although he struggles to be the same man he was before the stroke, he isn’t. But where his body fails him, his determination more than makes up for it. He can still be mean, still be demanding, is still controlling, and sometimes, even a little scary. But he is still my father, being my father, his love undeniable and unwavering. And, he is still one of the few persons who calls me Deborah, absolutely refusing to call me anything else.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Ross Oscar Knight has the most enlightening post up on his site, complete with pictures. Have I mentioned before that the man is truly a gifted photographer?

Unlock The Gift

I unlocked my door ages ago and for whatever reasons I feel like I'm just hovering in the doorway, one foot in, one foot out, my body shaking with something akin to fear. Failure doesn't scare me. Success, however, keeps me shaking in my alligator boots.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


You know when a relationship is working. It feels right even when things might be going wrong. My very special new friend and I have been building an extraordinary relationship. The friendship was incredible from the beginning. He was someone I talked with, laughed with, and even cried with and it was easy to do. We enjoyed each other’s company and every time together was a great time. Although we’d planned to take it very slow, to simply linger in the newness of being with each other, we seem instead to be spiraling quickly, the experience exhilarating.

Recently we hit a speed bump or two or three. Typical new relationship stuff as we continue to discover each other and maneuver our way down this path we seem to be traveling together. There were misunderstandings and some confusion. Once or twice there was nothing pretty about it or us.

He’s a man who believes in talking everything out. Once the emotions are on the table, aired and resolved, then it’s forgotten so you can move on. I’m a person who tends to hold things in, allowing them to fester, then blowing a gasket when the pressure builds. My very special new friend won’t allow me to do that and quickly puts me in check when I try. Nothing festers anymore. I’m learning to let it out and then let it go. With him, I can actually see myself growing in the relationship. With him, I’ve discovered things about myself I never would have believed.

When he walks into a room I get excited to see him. When we’re apart I miss him immensely and we burn up our cell phone minutes talking about absolutely nothing for hours at a time. Just thinking about the man makes me smile like I’m hopelessly foolish! The other day he told me that sometimes when I’m not looking he just stares at me. He says I’m beautiful. Beautiful doesn’t begin to express how incredible the man makes me feel.

For the first time I feel like I know what it might truly mean to have a partner. He and I dream together. We plan together. We share and even in sharing neither of us has lost our unique identities. He allows me my space, my moods, my moments and in turn I whole-heartedly give him his. My initial new relationship giddiness has been replaced with a something more. There is now a true sense of contentment and elation like I have never experienced before.

My son referred to him recently as “mom’s boyfriend”. The moment threw me because we haven’t felt it necessary to officially define what we are to each other. Neither have we wanted or been willing to define it for other people. Personally, I don't like the term "boyfriend". "Boyfriend" hardly encompasses what he is to me. He’s a true man through and through, nothing boyish about him. And he is so much more to me than just a friend.

Clearly, our relationship is working beautifully.

Friday, June 06, 2008


Mr. Jim Dandy gleefully confessed to being a toe-sucking aficionado. In fact, he proclaimed himself the elite master of toe-sucking this side of the Mason-Dixon Line. He shared this tidbit of information because for some reason the group of women standing in conversation looked like they needed to know Jim had a predilection for newly manicured feet. But we really didn’t. It’s difficult to look at a man the same way once you discover he's got some twisted sexual fetishes.

Once Joe Neighbor-Next-Door rented the movie, Naked Midgets on Parade, from the adult room at the video store I just didn’t hold him in the same regard as I did before discovering that he gets off watching little people engaging in oral gratification atop a high-wire trapeze.

Salesman Slim really through me for a loop when I discovered that he’d rented She-males in Dresses some nineteen times! That’s right, clean-cut Slim! Slim who's slicing bologna at the deli counter, Slim! Slim Jim from the Wally World, Slim! Yes, him did and now I have to go across town to the Winn Dixie for my bologna because I can’t look Salesman Slim in the eye without wondering why?

I’m discovering that folks are freaks and I didn’t know so many of them were checking me out in the grocery line, sitting beside me in church and teaching little Junior in the classroom every day. Just this morning the manager of the local pizza pen stood next to me in line at the post office chatting away on her cell phone. Me and the other three people standing in line could hear the party on the other end ask her how soon she was planning on getting back home. When she asked the man why, we all nearly fell out from embarrassment at his response. Apparently it was time for breakfast and cat was on his menu. The kitty he was interested in eating however, was standing in line with us. That’s what we got for eavesdropping!

Then Mr. Dandy felt it necessary to add his two cents and tell us about sucking toes and my impression of small town America suddenly headed in a whole other direction away from wholesome.


Melody is not happy. In fact, Melody’s doing this serious relationship dance where she’s smiling on the outside while crying on the inside. It’s got the girl feeling completely out of sorts. Melody’s been here before and it actually surprises her to find herself here again.

Melody left a relationship with a man who clearly did not love or respect her. After months of refueling her self esteem and finally coming to terms with what she did and didn’t want from a relationship, Melody suddenly finds herself wading knee deep in the same crap she thought she’d gotten away from. This time the man is new and Melody can’t begin to fathom how she managed to let the same mess happen to her again.

Melody spent years starved for affection and attention. Melody anticipated the new man in her life would actually want to spend time with her. Would want them to hold hands and share time together. Instead her new guy seems content with the one hour per week he might manage to squeeze into his busy schedule for them to spend together. Melody clearly isn’t on his priority list and she’s the only one would seem to be having a problem with this.

For Melody, there were too many years wondering why the man who professed to love her, never wanted to make love to her. There had been too many years wondering if her breasts were too small or her ass too big because clearly there had to be something wrong with her that the man she loved didn’t see her as desirable. The new guy and Melody are setting a record for the number of days they can go without being intimate. Days have actually shifted into weeks. Any day now those weeks are going to shift into months and Melody finds herself questioning which of her body parts has offended him most.

Melody’s first relationship ended because there was no communication between them. Now, the list of things her and the new guy need to be talking about is getting lengthier and lengthier, every attempt at conversation interrupted by someone or something. Conversation is waning badly into a pit of polite small talk while the big issues go ignored and unresolved.

Clearly her new relationship has stalled miserably. And for whatever reasons, much like her last relationship, Melody is holding onto hope that somehow, something will change and the man she loves will love her back. Until then, Melody is keeping a smile on her face while the tears are flooding on the inside.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Eric Jerome Dickey is an author I’ve put on that “want to emulate” pedestal beside my guy, Walter Mosley. Dickey completely engages me with each and every story of his that I’ve ever read. His latest book, PLEASURE, had me reading for twelve hours straight, yellow highlighter in hand, absorbing each and every word.

There was one passage though in particular that grabbed me and held on, the words resonating through my writing spirit with a vengeance.

"Notes from Mr. Overworked and Underpaid New York Editor said to keep the language from being too deep, keep my vocabulary unchallenging, and do whatever I could to replace sensuality with vulgarity and crassness. I had issues with dumbing down work, for it was through the dumbing down that the writer disrespected herself, disrespected her craft.

I did not want to cater to those who were afraid of words, those who embraced ignorance as if it was their favorite religion, as if they had forgotten about those who marched for their physical and intellectual freedoms. All of that was on my mind, but not voiced, in the name of professionalism."

All I could think was, “Preach, my brother!”

Read the book. Its heroine, Nia Simone Bijou is a woman embarking on a sexual adventure with identical twins to discover whether or not one person can satisfy her yearnings for pleasure. The characters are complex and engaging. The writing is rich and full. It was twelve hours of an erotic journey that I would do over and over again in a heartbeat. Look out, Mr. Mosley! You just may have some competition for my writer’s heart!

Sunday, June 01, 2008


Lisa had a list of complaints about her relationship with James. She says dating James is like dating two different men at the same time. It seems that James has this gnarly Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde thing going on.

Lisa feels like James has a public side and a private side and he’s mindful not to let the two sides of himself come into contact with each other. In private, James is affectionate and loving making Lisa feel like she is his one and only. In public, James is cold and aloof, Lisa feeling like more of a casual acquaintance than the woman James professes to love and adore.

In private, James will hold Lisa’s hand and steal kisses that make her feel like she’s a teenager all over again. In public, James holds Lisa at an arm’s length away. In private, James whispers a lot of sweet nothing into Lisa’s ear. In public, James barely talks to her let alone bother to whisper anything at all.

James is overly cautious about keeping his relationship with Lisa out of the public eye. In private, James claims not to mind who knows about him loving Lisa. But Lisa has lost count of the awkward public moments when she wanted to reach for James and he wasn’t there to hold. Lisa has begun to question why James would only seem to love her behind closed doors.

Clearly, what Lisa and James might have had once before is hardly what the two seem to be sharing now. So Lisa is asking herself some hard questions and not liking any of the answers.

There isn’t a woman around who doesn’t know when a relationship isn’t working. Most women also know when something needs to change. Many choose to ignore the signals telling them to run far and run fast. I think James is sending my girl some pretty clear signals. I can only wonder why Lisa hasn’t at least begun her slow jog toward far and fast.


I was hoping to spend some time with an old friend today since my very special new friend was unavailable. In fact, after a brief discussion about doing just that I adjusted my schedule accordingly, looking forward to the old friend and I catching up over a quiet afternoon of doing absolutely nothing but enjoying the companionship. It’s been some serious time since the two of us have been able to spend quality time together.

In anticipation of spending time with my old friend I turned down an invitation to spend the afternoon with someone else. The man who’d asked me out was a man I would have probably had a great time with. I would have enjoyed being in his company but I said no because truth be told he wasn’t a man I wanted to spend any serious time with. I really wanted to spend time with my other friend much, much more.

As can happen with even the best laid plans my tentative ones went completely awry. So now I’m spending my Sunday afternoon alone, seriously pondering some of my choices. Unfortunately my friend stood me up for a better invitation. Someone or something else was more important to him. Doing something with me was easy to dismiss because our plans were only tentative anyway. In fact, it wasn’t like we really had any plans at all, just me being wishful about something I had wanted.

By the time I realized what I’d hoped for wasn’t going to happen it was too late to reconnect with my first invite and disappointment had put me in such a funky mood I know I wouldn’t have been good company anyway. And now I’m sitting here alone, catching up on my writing, trying to decipher which of my granny’s life lessons I’m going to take away from this experience. I can almost hear her now, chanting in granny –language about a man in the hand being worth more than no man at all.

If today taught me nothing else, it taught me this. I will never again pass up an opportunity to enjoy the company of a friend who is truly enthusiastic about spending time with me for the possibility of spending time with a friend who doesn’t seem interested in spending time with me at all. And, I can only hope the guy I turned down isn’t sitting home alone, feeling as bad about my choice as I am because I’m feeling really bad right now.