Monthly Archives: February 2012
I was watching Worst Cooks In America on Food Network and, man, did it take me back. They say that a successful businessman is the one who, when he sees a need, finds a way to fill that need. Well back in college the food on campus sucked and my “aha” moment came when I was standing in the commons area kitchen when two super-duper fine girls walked by and said, “See if you were back there cooking, we’d be in here eating with you instead of going to the cafe.”
Ten minutes later I was standing at the bus stop waiting to go to Kmart to buy some pots and pans. Every single decision a man makes is rooted in his desire to bait and catch a woman. Cars, jewelry and a fancy apartment work best, but when you’re a poor college student you have to get creative and you gotta have heart. I wasn’t gonna let a little thing like not knowing how to cook stop me.
It would’ve helped to have known that they sell cookware sets. I spent $70 buying individual pots, pans, forks, spatulas, plates, etc. Half of it broke on the way home when the bag ripped but I wasn’t deterred. I got back to the dorm and decided to make something simple, fried chicken. I figured that every Black person knows how to make fried chicken even if no one’s ever taught them before. Maybe I’d just touch the pan and the wisdom of my ancestors would come rushing into my mind and like some kind culinary savant I’d just know how to do it.
I was stuck at step one. I called the best cook I knew and left an urgent message on her voicemail. “Hey Ms Johnson, it’s Ordale. I’m making fried chicken for the first time and I know that I need to wash it first. What kind of soap do you use? Is Palmolive okay?” While I’m standing there scanning the back of the Palmolive bottle to see if it’s non-toxic, three girls walk by. “You gonna make enough for us?” one of them asked. I managed to work myself into a dinner date with two of them. This plan was working better than I thought.
After washing the chicken, I seasoned, floured and breaded it. I made some Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and a can of Glory Greens. I even baked some Pillsbury Rolls. Yeah, I was going all out. Then came time to fry the chicken. I hated how some people’s chicken in my family always tasted burnt, so I was careful not to overcook it. And man, would that be the least of my concerns. I cooked the chicken legs for two minutes on each side. As soon as it had that golden brown “Popeyes-ish” color all around, I took it off and sat it on some paper towels. I kept thinking, “These girls are in for a treat tonight.”
So true, so true.
So anyway, just as I finished up the last batch of chicken the girls came back looking finer than they did before. I made us all a plate and we sat down to eat. They liked the macaroni and thought the rolls came out great. One of them didn’t really like collard greens but she said they still tasted good. “How long you been cooking, because you got skills” “Girl I been cooking my whole life.” Things were going great. Then one of them took a bite of the chicken.
They say you can judge a person by how they react when they’re upset. The girl who freaked out because the chicken bled when she bit into wasn’t the one for me. Running to the sink to rinse her mouth out and then trying to force herself to throw up in the trash can was just rude. No, I wasn’t “trying to fucking kill” you. And it just goes to show that you didn’t know everything either because you thought washing your mouth out with ginger ale would somehow kill salmonella. I looked it up later…it wont!
The second girl was a little bit cooler about it. I thought she might be the one. I tried to be smooth and said something along the lines of, “This meal represents my life. I can make the sides, but I need a woman to complement the meal and be the main course.” I knew it was corny as it was coming out of my mouth, but I was thinking on the fly and considering that I was facing possible manslaughter charges if the other girl really did die of salmonella poisoning, I think it was a good line. It didn’t work, at least not as I had hoped. She finished her macaroni and left. I never saw them again and I really hope that the chicken had nothing to do with that.
I’ve written about this before but someone out there missed the message, so let me say this again. STOP ROBBING BANKS!
I wrote about stupid criminals, but this week’s criminal of the month goes to the guy in PG County who is robbing banks by slipping a note to the teller saying that he has a…wait for it…
That’s right. This dude is robbing banks saying that he will detonate a nuke if they don’t empty the drawer. So many thoughts on this one. Where do I begin? I’m gonna have to use some strong and offensive language, so shield your children.
Nigga have you lost your damned mind?
Let’s think this one through, okay. There’s a country in the Middle East called Iran. They make hundreds of billions of dollars a year selling their oil to the rest of the world. With all that money, they JUST developed nuclear technology and they STILL don’t have a nuclear weapon. You’re telling me that your broke ass, and I assume you’re broke because you’re robbing a Capital One in a strip mall, has not only discovered nuclear technology but also managed to harness the power of enriched uranium to create a nuclear weapon. Bravo nigga! Bravo!
So let me follow you down this train of implausibility. You are the first dude from the hood to build a weapon of mass destruction. It’s easily worth billions of dollars on the black market, yet you’ve decided to keep it for yourself and do what exactly? Use it as leverage to rob a bank? Not just any bank, a Capital One which is the McDonald’s of banks. You’d be lucky to get a drawer full of coupons outta there. So you’ve now robbed a Capital One. What is your next move?
You see, you just fucked up. You managed, with your vast Mensa-worthy intelligence, to recreate the Manhattan Project in your living room without raising any suspicion from the FBI, CIA, NSA, Homeland Security, DC Police, Metro police, or any other government agency. It’s not like you can just buy uranium from Home Depot. The government tends to know where that shit is at all times. Maybe you had a cousin on the inside. Hell, maybe you mined it out of the ground yourself. Who knows? What I do know is that you just killed the element of surprise by not only revealing your marvel of technological might, but by also giving the FBI pictures of your dumb ass when you walked into the bank.
You sir are an idiot. Too many elements of stupidity and intelligence have to converge for your threat to seem plausible to even the dumbest bank teller. The only reason the tellers gave you the money, and trust me I know because I used to be a bank teller, is because you asked for it. I’m not endorsing bank robberies, but having worked at a bank where one of the tellers was killed, I find it a better option to share this secret so that more people don’t have to die: You don’t need a gun to rob a bank. You just have to ask for the money. All tellers are trained to comply whether they see a direct threat or not. You could simply just walk in with a note and they’ll give you the money. That’s why you got the money.
Unfortunately for you, you just threatened to blow up a whole city. I’m certain when the FBI finds you (and they will find you because you are obviously not that bright) your charges are gonna be a lot higher.
Here’s how the post-Oscars discussion usually goes down in my inner circle:
Me: “The Oscars came on yesterday.”
Person: “For real? Anybody I know win?”
Me: “That black lady from The Help won.”
Person: “Antwone Fisher’s mother?”
Me: “No, the other one. The bigger lady. You know the one. She’s in a lot of commercials and tv shows. She always looks like someone you’d see in church.”
Person: “Oh, her! Anybody else?”
Me: “Nobody Black.”
Person: “Did Brad Pitt or George Clooney win?”
Me: “No, some other dude.”
Person: “What was the Best Picture?”
Me: “The Artist.”
Person: “Who’s in that?”
Me: “No clue.”
Person: “What’s it about?”
Me: “No clue. It’s the one in black and white. I wanna see it, but Imma wait for it to go to Redbox.”
Person: “That’s why I don’t watch the Oscars.”
Me: “I didn’t watch it either. I read about it this morning.”
Person: “The only time I watched it was when Three six mafia won.”
Me: “Oh that was the day I cut up my Black card.”
Me: “I was more offended that they even nominated that damned song. It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp??? So I quit the race. I needed a sabbatical. If that was the image of our music streaming into White American homes then I needed to distance myself from that shit.”
Person: “You stupid.”
Me: “Unlike when Denzel and Halle won in the same year.”
Person: “That shit will never happen again.”
Me: “I know, right! Still though, that was a proud moment. None of us expected either one of them to win, and when she got it first we were like, ‘Better luck next time, Denzel. They’ll never let both of yall win.”
Person: “Then he won too.”
Me: “Right and my whole dorm went crazy. It was like the Superbowl. People were yelling in the hall. ‘THEY WON, THEY BOTH WON!”
Person: “I remember that.”
Me: “That was the pre-Obama Obamiracle! Not only did I take out my Black card, I had that joint framed and wore it around my neck.”
Person: “You stupid!!!”
Me: “I signed up for the Platinum Black Card…called that joint the Midnight Super Slave Blue-Black Card.”
Person: “You going to hell.”
Me: Probably. But yeah, the Oscars are kinda boring now that you know that it’s possible for us to win.
So one night me and my friend Kory were leaving the corner store headed for home when we hear what sounded like a gun cock and hear some dude say, “Where the money at?” Now I’m no criminal, but this had to be the world’s dumbest criminal. I would think that the first thing you say to someone, especially if you’re not wearing a mask, is “don’t turn around.” Since he didn’t say that, we turned around.
Turning around allowed us to see that he was by himself, about 5’3″ and very skinny. Kory looked at me giving me the “let’s jump him” look. There was still the matter of the gun, so I gave him the “I aint tryin to get shot” look. That brings me to my next point: Where is your gun? He had on a long green army coat and had his hands inside the sleeve so we couldn’t see if he had a gun or not. Typically, I think you should always lead with showing the gun. I would make the argument that a career criminal knows that if you don’t show a gun then technically it isn’t armed robbery and you get a lesser charge if you get caught, but he was an idiot and I doubt he knew that. In all likelihood he probably didn’t have a gun, but rule #1 of the city is “Don’t take any chances.” So I tried to be hospitable and make our new thief feel welcomed.
I asked him some open ended questions. “What money?” El Stupido says, “Nigga don’t play, gimme that wallet.” So I take my wallet out, hand it to him and, rather run away, he decides to go through it right there on the spot. In my mind I’m thinking, “Sir, we no longer have your full attention. You aren’t even looking at us and holding my wallet while holding your imaginary gun would probably put you at a disadvantage.” I didn’t say that though. You never want to be rude to your attacker. Meanwhile Kory is really giving me the “Let’s jump this nigga” look. Not right now.
So he goes through my wallet, throwing my license, school lunch card and metro farecard on the ground. Finally he gets frustrated and throws the whole wallet down. I keep thinking to myself, those are metro checks. There’s like $80 worth right there. You could sell em for half value and get at least $40. What’s wrong with you? He then gets angry and his voice starts to sound like Pinky from Next Friday. “Ooooh you niggas think I’m stupid.” (Yes, sir we do.) “I saw you come out the store and put a wad of cash in your pocket. If I have to go in your pockets and get it myself, Imma kill both of you.”
At “wad of cash” I started laughing inside. I said to him, “We don’t have any money, that’s why we went to the store. We didn’t have enough money to buy a soda, so we bought some Kool-Aid!” I slowly reach in my pocket and pull out five packs of Kool-Aid. It’s rare that you get to stand witness to the moment that someone’s dreams come crashing down all at once. The look on his face said that he was now starting to doubt his future in crime. Maybe he thought he was the next Rayful Edmond or Frank Lucas, but in that moment he was just a dumb ass.
“Man fuck you niggas!” and he ran away down the street never to be seen again. I picked up my wallet, my $80 in metro checks and we went home and made some Kool-Aid.
They always say that when the economy is bad then crime (mainly robberies) goes up. That kind of makes sense but looking at what half of these people are out here stealing…it doesn’t. Back in the day people would jack you for your coat, your shoes or your chain. They could either wear it themselves or sell it to someone else. It was wrong, but it made sense. I don’t get stealing smartphones.
My phone bill is $200 a month. To be perfectly honest with you, if you could get me out of my contract with Verizon then I’d happily give you my phone. No gun needed. But if you can’t do that, then what in the hell makes you think I’m just gonna let you walk around using my phone? This aint a beeper from back in the day. You can’t just take it to a shop and turn it on in your name. The minute you walk away I’m going online and “bricking” it. That means activating the app on my phone that not only pulls up the GPS showing me where exactly you are with my phone on a map, but also wipes all the data off the phone and makes it unusable ever again.
And going back to the tennis shoe thefts: I always wondered if the criminals work at Foot Locker. You have to work at some shoe store to be able to gauge what size shoe another man has on from a distance. It’s gotta lower your criminal self esteem to shoot a dude over some shoes, add assault with a deadly weapon to your list of charges only to get home and realize the damn things don’t even fit. There isn’t really a market for used shoes. You can’t even take em back to the store if the sole is scuffed.
I remember getting robbed once by the world’s dumbest criminal. I think I’ll write about that tomorrow. Maybe it can be a cautionary tale to up and coming thieves out there.
There’s been a spike in robberies across the DC area but the ones catching the most attention occurred in my neighborhood. I live in Ward 3 which is one of the more affluent parts of the city. There’s a house two blocks from me that’s going for $5 million. I’m not bragging. The neighborhood is rich, I’m not. Think of it as a foreign exchange program: For every well-to-do White person who acts as a scout for gentrification in a shitty neighborhood in Southeast, there’s a poor Black guy like myself who takes his place in Chevy Chase.
Anyway, the rich folk don’t take kindly to people coming over here and stealing their stuff so they “asked” the police chief to hold a meeting to explain what they’re doing to rectify the problem. I went for two reasons. One, I’m a concerned resident. Two, I’m Black. That last one will make sense later.
For about an hour four different cops took turns saying the exact same thing four different ways: “We’re doing the best we can. Don’t leave valuables in plain sight in your car. Look around when you’re walking at night and don’t stare into your smartphone.” What they wanted to say (but couldn’t for obvious reasons) is that robberies are the chief issue in this part of the city. The rest of the city on the other hand is dealing with shootings, homicides and rapes in addition to robberies. The only reason they’re even having the meeting is because the tax dollars coming out of this side of town buys their attention. But back to why I went to the meeting.
There was a Q&A session and the answers to all of the questions were a variation of, “If you see someone suspicious in your neighborhood or someone who looks out of place, if there is any suspicious activity at all, call 911. We’ve made calls about suspicious persons priority one and will send a unit to the area right away.” That’s why I went. I wanted to get up to raise my point but a lady beat me to it. “As one of the few African Americans in the area, I’m concerned for my sons and other black males who live in this neighborhood. I’m not worried about them being robbed, but rather them being labeled as ‘suspicious’ or ‘out of place.’”
I always said that if I ever made enough money to buy one of these million dollar homes then the first thing I’d do is donate a huge chunk of money to the policeman’s ball and staple a picture of my family to the check. I went to the meeting so that all of the “concerned” residents would see my face and hopefully remember it so that the next time I walk down the street to go to the store they won’t run to call 911. Ever since the robberies ramped up I’ve found myself followed by the cops, people cross the street or clutch their little keyring of mace.
To their defense, the cops and the councilwoman hosting the meeting reiterated that being Black doesn’t justify a call to 911 and a few people clapped but the rest just looked annoyed. I can’t really blame them. After all, they began the meeting by saying that all of the suspects involved were Black males.
That was their ONLY description of the suspects. No height, build, weight, hairstyle or clothing. Just Black.
I’m sitting on a bench sharing a slice of pizza with my daughter the other day when the guy sitting next to me decides that now is the perfect time to light up a cigarette.
Here we go again.
DC is the most non kid-friendly places on Earth. Learning to adapt gives you a set of superhuman skills. I feel like the Terminator when I go out. There’s a scene in the movie where they cut to his vision and the audience gets to see what he sees. It’s a red computer screen that’s constantly analyzing the environment. That’s me.
From a hundred feet away I notice the three people taking up the whole sidewalk and refusing to move over even though they see us coming. I’m factoring in their body shape and size to determine how much force it’ll take to mow them over with the stroller. I’m looking at the person walking up the street in La-La Land while carrying grocery bags full of jars that would hurt my daughter’s legs if they swung into her while passing. I see the woman with worn out heels walking with a cup of Starbucks. She’s a huge threat so I scan the path ahead of her to see if there’s a dip, rock or broken piece of concrete that she could possibly trip over and spill scalding hot coffee on my child.
This place is so bad, I even find myself looking up at the trees for impending doom. Even the trees will kill you in DC. We were waiting for a light to change one day when I heard this loud pop. I darted across the street and knocked some woman over trying to get out of the way. I looked back and this huge tree limb had fallen just where we were standing.
If the trees and the people don’t kill you, the cars will. To date I’ve had near death encounters with FedEx trucks, Metrobuses, distracted drivers and people with road rage. It takes a sick person to rev up their engine and speed towards a guy pushing a stroller across the street, but it happens at least once a month. This is a city where people kill each other for ugly tennis shoes. Imagine what they’ll do if they’re running late for something.
I don’t even know how to make today’s adventure funny. It was just irritating and there’s no humor in it. Me and the kid went to the playground and there was an unusual number of parents there today. The playground we go to is in a pretty expensive neighborhood so normally you only see nannies at the playground with the kids. Most of them are minorities so we get along just fine. Today, however, the parents were there and the tone was completely different.
First and foremost I don’t appreciate them treating us like lepers. From the minute we walked through the gate all eyes fell on us. My daughter went in the huge 20 ft by 20 ft sandbox and immediately all the parents called their kids to go play on the swings, the slide or any area away from us. She’s one and half so she doesn’t really have a grasp on social settings. Some little girl emerged from underneath the slide and my daughter ran up to her and smiled. She didn’t say anything, didn’t talk to the little girl, just smiled. The girl’s mom cried out, “Kaitlin, honey, come back over here.”
There’s a huge paved area with Little Tyke cars, tricycles and other toys that people donated to the playground. My daughter went over there and it was like turning on the lights;The roaches scattered. My daughter is still in that oblivious phase, so she didn’t seem to mind that all the kids she approached were called away. She just kept smiling and playing in her own little world. As far as she knows, she had the privilege of playing with whatever she wanted without having to wait her turn. I, on the other hand, know exactly what it was.
It made me wonder what I’d tell her if she were older. The jury is still out on that one. A lot of people comment that I have forgotten where I came from or that I’m trying to be White because I live on the “uppity” side of town. This type of stuff happens to me everyday over here, so trust and believe that I never forget who and what I am. How can I?
By the way, Happy Black History Month!
There was once a time when I’d go to the mall, buy two or three pairs of shoes and go home. Then a baby came out of my wife and things just got all weird. Suddenly it was 1990 again and I was a kid who couldn’t just go buy shoes whenever I felt like it. I had to wait until the old ones wore out. It’s about that time and like my 1990 counterpart, I’m having trouble finding shoes in my budget.
I’ve never really known how to define my financial situation as a kid. Poverty is such a strong word. It usually implies going hungry or having a cardboard mattress. We weren’t that bad off. We were like Diet Poverty, you know, everything you like about poverty but with Splenda. We went shoe shopping the same time we went school clothes shopping: The weekend right before the first day of school when my mother got paid.
We’d hit up Discount Mart, Morton’s or 7th Heaven and I’d get some outfit that my mother or grandmother picked out blindfolded. One year my grandmother bought me a full length fire engine red coat with dark black fake fur going around the neck. It’s because of that kind of love that I don’t get embarrassed easily as an adult. Shoe shopping was different though. That’s where I drew the line. I had to have some say in what shoes I got. My mother let me pick out whatever shoes I liked so long as they came from Payless. I tried my best to find shoes that looked enough like brand named shoes but the velcro snaps always gave me away. (They just don’t make ProWings like they used to.)
Then someone told her that Payless shoes would mess up my feet and I got to go to Foot Locker. (Hallelujah!) For about two years I had shoes that were in style. Then came third grade and my hobbit heritage started to take over. I somehow went from a size six in second grade to a size eight in third or as my mother put it, “These shoes cost HOW MUCH!” Once you get out of a size six you have to buy adult shoes and they cost a hell of a lot more.
My mother gave me the choice of hobbling along in size sixes or following her down the green mile of Landover Mall and into Lady Foot Locker. I’ll never forget going to school the next day with what I thought were the manliest looking shoes in the place only to have a classmate point out the pink and lime green stripes that I overlooked on the bottom of the shoe. Eventually my father found out and I was rescued. He took me to the mall and bought me some real shoes, but because I only saw him a few times a year, I had to make em last.
Every year around Labor Day, I prayed that he’d make another appearance and whenever he failed to show I ended up with another pair of Reebok Princesses that needed to be kept up. And that ladies and gentlemen is why I believe that being gay is not a choice but rather determined at birth. If it were a learned behavior then my family would’ve turned me a long long time ago…walking around with a long red fur coat and a pair of AKA tennis shoes.
Whitney Houston’s funeral was today and although I initially had no intentions of watching it, I found myself glued to the screen for however many hours it lasted. Of course Facebook was all abuzz with people on both sides of the line debating the appropriateness of a televised funeral for a celebrity especially one whose life spiraled out of control due to drug abuse.
I’ll say this much, I wasn’t really a Whitney Houston fan. I know the lyrics to some of her songs because she’s Whitney Houston and her songs defined music for a while. Hell, as far as I’m concerned, the Star Spangled Banner will forever be hers. Still, I never bought one of her albums and I didn’t really enjoy her acting all that much. In general, I have very little sympathy for people who destroy their lives with drug abuse, but somehow watching the funeral gave me a greater appreciation for her as a person.
You can’t fake love, and what I saw on the faces of those people speaking today was sincere hurt that someone they loved was gone. As they shared their stories of her as a person I began to see just how much she’d grown into her faith in God. I heard stories of how generous, giving, down to earth and loving she was. It painted a picture of someone who I’d only caught glimpses of through caricatures in the media and it made me feel guilty. It made me realize that I’d written her off as just another celebrity doing drugs and fucking her life up.
This funeral celebrated her life as a person and it showed people who that person was. Someone commented on my Facebook page that it was inappropriate and insinuated that the whole thing was a spectacle or a parade for artists to get out there and perform as if it were a follow-up Grammy show. I reject that on so many levels. To say that music was a big part of her life would be an understatement. She immersed herself in her craft and when you do that in whatever field you’re in, it’s only fitting to be remembered in that medium.
If I died today, my relatives and friends would sing at my funeral. Perhaps later they’d play some of my favorite songs as a memory to me. When you’re godmother is Aretha Franklin, your cousin is Dionne Warwick and your “almost-like-family” include BeBe and CeCe Winans then naturally your funeral will look like a concert. Some of them were asked to sing her favorite songs, while others wanted to pay their respects in the best way they knew how. Their craft, like hers, is singing. It’s how all of us express ourselves at some point or another, so it’s only fitting that Stevie and Kim would alter song lyrics to honor her or Alicia Keys would play one of her songs that reminds her of Whitney. It wasn’t about fame or glory, it was about love and that’s what I took from the funeral.
I’m an even bigger fan now that I have a glimpse at the person. This was someone who could bring all these people together and moved them in such a way that nearly all of them were brought to tears. That is greatest love of all.