Monthly Archives: May 2012
I think there’s something along the lines of a social contract that comes with being a decent person in a relationship. You’re obligated to wield your love responsibly. Dogs, skeezers, gold diggers and your run of the mill heartless bastards don’t have such responsibilities. Anyone who knowingly falls in love with them is pretty much playing russian roulette. But when it comes to a decent “great find” kinda person (guy or gal) I think you have to be careful who you allow to fall in love with you.
Where’s this coming from? Is there trouble on the homefront? Nope. At least, not that I know of. I’ve been checking my closet and, so far, no R. Kellys trapped in there so I’m guessing we’re good. Actually, we just celebrated our ninth “boyfriend-girlfriend” anniversary this week and when you get to nine years it’s kind of like an award show. On the one hand you feel all warm and fuzzy as the audience of your peers gives you a standing ovation. You feign a humble smile as you say “It’s just an honor to be nominated” while on the inside you’re like “Hell yeah I deserve this!” On the other hand, you find yourself playing that depressing “Remembering those we lost” video in your head and you start taking note of all the relationships that began and ended around you over the last ____ years.
This year is particularly peculiar because in the past month I’ve watched about three couples collapse under the weight of their own love. It’s different than before. You don’t stay married from 21 years old through 30 without having your share of people giving you unsolicited advice–people whom you would NEVER trade places with in a million years. There are about 10 of them in my rearview mirror standing alone looking stupid wondering how their relationships failed when they were “experts” on relationships. I don’t shed too many tears for them, but this year is different. These couples were made up of decent people who loved each other. For whatever reason, it just didn’t work. And that LONNNNG introduction brings me to my point.
As town therapist I know everyone’s business. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is nothing worse than two people who love each other breaking up. They have so much in common but for some reason they’re just not happy. There’s a difference between loving someone and being “in love” with someone. You can dump a person and still be willing to take a bullet for them. In the movies it’s so black and white. One person is leeching the others love without the slightest hint of reciprocity. Breaking up is a no brainer.
But what do you do when you love the person but they just don’t do it for you anymore? The worst mistake is to fall victim to what economists call the “sunk cost fallacy.” Everyone does it at some point. It’s when you keep throwing money at something with the sole justification of “I’ve already spent ____ dollars.” Slot machines, broken down cars and money pit houses…everyone does it. In relationships, it’s when you say “but we’ve been together for ____years.” You realize you’re not happy but you try to throw more love (insincere love) at it. You buy more gifts, go on more trips and hug em even more with the hope that all these sparks will reignite the damps logs. It rarely succeeds.
Instead you make the person think that things are better than ever while you’re realizing that it’s true what they say, the flame burns brightest near the end. They get blindsided and then they’re crushed. You hate yourself for hurting them and everyone’s miserable. That’s why I say there’s a social contract involved. A decent person should slow the vehicle down to a stop the minute they realize there’s a brick wall up ahead. Don’t speed up. And yes, some of this comes from past relationship experience. Like I said, everyone’s been there.
Now that I think about it…that can be my acceptance speech for the “Y’all giving me hope for Black love” Award.
A friend of mine posted a question on Facebook asking if you’d jump in if your friend started a fight and then began losing. It reminded me of a story…
I was about ten years old when my cousin spent the weekend at my house. We went to the playground one day and we were probably there about a half hour before “they” showed up. There was a group of kids in the neighborhood that everyone just assumed would be in jail soon. They used to go around throwing rocks at cars, stealing bikes and kicking down newly planted trees. They were like the anti-planeteers.
I made a living as a kid knowing how to get along with all personality types. I could dumb down for the slow ones and use big words with the sesquipedalians. Most important, however, was knowing how to deal with the future life-in-prison’ers. My cousin was a suburbanite. He didn’t have those skills.
There were six of them. Normally when I was alone and they would show up at the playground I knew not to show fear because they were like dogs. They’d pounce and beat the hell outta you. Instead, I always pretended to be nonchalant. I laughed at their stupid jokes, asked questions as if they were the most interesting people I’d ever met and always kept scanning the environment for something large and hard that I could hit the big one with if it came down to it. Then I’d conveniently say I had to go home after about three or four minutes of pointless banter. That’s how you deal with idiots and thuglettes. That skill works to this day.
My cousin didn’t get the memo. They showed up and right off the bat he went into “After School Special” mode. Rather than follow my lead, he gets the crazy idea that all he has to do is stand up for himself and the bullies will leave him alone. Survey says…..X (buzzer noise)!
First off, these weren’t bullies. Bullies are people who may have some insecurity about themselves so they feign a superiority complex that’s easily shattered when confronted by someone with actual confidence. They didn’t fit that description. No, these little bastards were crazy. Their parents were on drugs, in and out of jail and hardly ever paid attention to them. They grew up doing whatever they wanted whenever they felt like it. They were the people that Alfred was talking about when he said, “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
You don’t get in the way of crazy people. You use their insanity to your advantage to make them think you’re on their side and then you back away slowly. Over the course of the next five minutes I watched my cousin say such silly things as, “I’ll get off the swing when I feel like it.” “Unless your mother’s name is ___ and she bought you that jacket, I suggest you put it down.” “You guys don’t scare me.”
(Why so serious?)
The kicker for me came when one of them said, “The only reason we aint beat ya ass yet is because you Ordale cousin” to which my cousin said, “I’m not afraid of you, me and Ordale can take all of yall.”
At that, I picked up my jacket. I put it on, and walked nonchalantly out of the gate and towards my house. I didn’t say a word. I looked like one of those people walking out of church early. I rounded the corner and when I was out of sight, I hauled ass full speed to the house. As I was going up the steps I looked back and saw my cousin doing his best Haley’s Comet impression…running full speed with a fire trail of kids following him.
Anyone who thinks that two people can fight six deserves to get jumped alone. Fortunately, they just scared him. He got off with the “Cousin of Ordale” discount…but he never went back to the playground.
Some people would consider me a loner. I started walking around the fair alone when I was nine. I went to my first movie alone when I was ten. Six flags when I was 13. Hell, I even did four days in Disney World alone when I was 18. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the company of others, I just don’t put my life on hold while I wait for others to decide to do something. I wasn’t always like this though…
It was 1990. I was eight years old and my school was hosting a ski trip. At the last minute something came up and my mother couldn’t go. I asked my grandmother to take her place because I didn’t want to go alone. I’d never been before and you never know when you’ll need a relative to donate an organ or blood…or something. Back then I wasn’t the independent fellow that I am now. No, back then I suffered from what my grandmother called, “sticking up under your mother too much.”
Typically independence is taught to children over a lifetime of confidence building experiences. Ever the high achiever, my grandmother aimed to do it in a day. I’d like to say that we had a TGIF moment in the kitchen that day. She knelt down in front of me and. with her hands placed in a reassuring manner on my shoulders, she looked me in the eye and gave me a speech on how I was stronger than I knew while the 80s sitcom music played in the background. I’d like to say that I got a speech like that and emerged from my corner ready to battle all that life could throw at me. But we’re not the Tanners, and my house was far from anything you’d see on a Friday night lineup on ABC.
With a Parliament cigarette in her hand she looked at me and said, “I don’t know why you so damned fool! You can’t keep sticking up under your mother all the damned time. She can’t breathe without you asking where she going and when she coming back. You keep waiting around for people to do something and you gonna miss out on everything. The best way to be is by your self. People aint worth a damned and the sooner you figure that out and stop waiting for people to do stuff the better your life is gonna be. You going on that trip and NO, I ain’t going with you!”
A few days later I was at Ski Liberty taking ski lessons with a bunch of other kids whose parents didn’t love them. Bored out of my mind I asked the woman when we were gonna stop learning to “wedge” and actually learn to ski. She told me that we had about another hour to go and that’s when my grandmother’s words replayed in my head: “Don’t wait for people.” It’s great how easily a kid can misconstrue what a parent says. I waited for her to turn her back, then pretended that I forgot how to wedge. “Wedge, Ordale! Wedge!” I knew she wouldn’t leave 10 other kids to save me. I read something like that in church about a shepherd with 99 sheep and one kid on skis pretending he doesn’t hear the instructor.
Suffice to say, I spent the rest of the day skiing on my own without a chaperone, ski instructor or friend. It was the best time I’d ever had in my life up to that point and it began a trend that persists to this day.
I am officially an ungrateful bastard. (hip hip hooray!)
I was in Best Buy the other day looking at Kindles. I’m a recovering tech junkie and every now and then I relapse and find myself buying stuff I don’t need. I read a lot and always see “Buy the kindle e-book for X% cheaper, so I figured “why not.” So anyway, I’m in there looking at them and I’m trying to figure out how to turn the thing on. I saw this grayish looking screen and assumed it was the fake plastic screen overlays that they put on electronic devices to simulate the screen. I didn’t know that’s how the original Kindle screens actually look (It’s called e-ink by the way).
So there I was trying to peel off what I thought was a fake screen when I accidentally hit the button on the side and the screen changed. “Oh, that’s just how it looks,” I thought to myself. It wasn’t a deal breaker. After all it’s just for reading books, right? You know what was the deal breaker and the thing that made me realize just how ungrateful of a bastard I am? I kept tapping the screen trying to advance to the next page and nothing happened. I thought it was defective so I went to the next display model. I did this for two minutes before it occurred to me…This thing isn’t a touch screen. What is this the 1900s?
That’s when I realized it. I’ve forgotten where I came from. I’m snooty. For $80 I can carry around all the free library e-books I rent and all the e-books I care to buy and the thing weighs less than a pound. The battery lasts about a month on just one charge and it’s a rechargeable battery. When I was nine I was ecstatic to just get 25 minutes out of the six AA batteries my Game Gear took and yet here I am living in the future where I can carry an entire library around in the palm of my hand and I’m too lazy to push a button.
I disgust me. Hopefully my touch screen iPad has a self-help app.
Someone said that if I couldn’t post then I should at least explain why. (It’s nice having at least one fan who isn’t married to me)
There is no post today because everytime I start typing, a small hand comes out of nowhere and hits the keys. Attempts to distract this hand with images of Dora the Explorer or The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse have been unsuccessful. Even that last sentence took a minute to write and I type about 90 words a minute. Now there’s a foot on my laptop and giggling in the distance. This is a Macbook Pro and these things are expensive so someone is about to be put up for adoption. (I kid, I kid.)
I can talk and type about my life all day, but there are forces beyond my comprehension that will not allow me to do so. The force is about three feet tall and expresses itself in loud noises and tears. Perhaps the force feels ignored when I pull out the computer, or maybe it’s just influenced by Loki and wants to cause mischief. I don’t know. What I do know is that I want my child to live and her health and safety depends on her not putting her foot on my laptop or trying to pour her sippy cup onto the keyboard which she seems to be trying to do at this moment.
I know that some of you are thinking, “Just type when she’s asleep.” Mischief never sleeps. Now she’s bringing the tub of shea butter to me and banging it against my foot. No sooner than I grabbed the shea butter, I hear her in the kitchen opening the cabinet doors. She is so fast that she is both in the kitchen and in the living room AT THE SAME TIME.
Maybe it’s a built in safety feature. This baby is neglect-proof. I know people who sit around playing video games while their kids just stare sadly at the floor in the background like, “Daddy, love me.” Not this one. She cannot be neglected because she’s willed it to not happen. She WILL have my complete attention or she’ll tear this entire house apart. Right now she’s standing in front of my PS3 with her sippy cup singing Jennifer Holliday…
“And you, and you and you…you’re gonna love meeeeeee!”
I’m so sore right now that my fingernails hurt. Last night I decided that I needed to take my workout to the next level, so after going to the gym and pushing the stroller around town–a distance so far that it would be pointless to measure in miles, so instead we’ll measure it in 1960s civil rights marches–I then went on a 20 mile bike ride around town. So that’s weight lifting, Montgomery Bus Boycotting and then riding 20 miles on my bike. I’m tired. But you know, I’m kinda proud. This bike riding thing went easily compared to my childhood (cue the flashback music and dissolving screen)
The year was 1990. The place: The since-demolished George Washington Carver Apartments (built solely out of red brick peanuts) near the Shrimp Boat. Me and my friends were riding our bikes around the apartment complex when the new kid decided to go off script and show how cool he was. The complex was about twenty buildings on a big hill connected by a lot of grass and stairs. This guy decided that riding down the sidewalk was too 1989 so he walked his bike up one of those grassy hills, rode down full speed and then when he got to a flight of stairs he used the momentum to jump the stairs.
Like the followers that they were, everybody else did the same thing. “That was bumpin!” the little heathens shouted. “C’mon Ordale. Don’t be scared.” Normally, peer pressure meant nothing to me, but this particular day she was there. Her name was Tatiana. She was the younger sister of one of my friends and this girl was baaaad. Her “days of the week” barrettes always matched what day it was, she always smelled like “Just For Me” and on this particular day she shared her Now & Laters with me. These were the new red, white and blue Now & Laters–the softer chewier ones–so I knew she was feeling me. I couldn’t punk out. I went to the top of the hill, pedaled down really fast and things were looking good.
Now let’s have a quick conversation about Physics. An object in motion tends to stay in motion unless it comes into contact with an equal or greater force. In the mind of an eight year old this means that all you have to do is just be going really fast when you get to the top of the stairs. In his undeveloped mind, he believes that inertia will cause you to just glide over the remaining stairs until you reach the ground. He is a fool because he fails to understand that the minute the front wheel leaves the safety of the ground, you immediately come into contact with a greater force…called GRAVITY. Gravity pulls that front wheel downward and…well, I’m getting ahead of myself.
I raced down the hill and got to the stairs. At no point did it occur to me that I needed to pull up on the handlebars and force the bike upward to counter the impending gravitational pull. So instead of doing a mini jump right before I went off the stairs…I did nothing. At about 20 miles an hour, my front wheel glided over the top step for all of 4 nanoseconds before being pulled towards the earth, hitting the second step and thus causing the rest of my bike to flip over in cartoonish fashion for what seemed like an hour and a half while my head, hands, arms, knees, legs, feet, and back made contact (one at a time) with the ten stairs before coming to rest on the ground and then having the bike land on top of me one last time before skidding and coming to rest inches from Tatiana who shouted, “Is he dead?”
In my mind, I stood up unscathed while everyone around me clapped like the end of Cool Runnings. I carried the bike on my shoulders back to the house and returned to the stairs the next day as an equal. In reality, however, I think I started coming to when I heard my friend’s mother yell out the window, “Nathaniel, In Living Color’s on!” I heard that and “I hope you feel better Ordale” as everyone ran in the house.
“Everybody here is equally kind. What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine. And how do you feel knowing everybody was your friend from thin to thick and through thick and thin and even egotistical trips was put to an end…In living c-c-c-color.”
My daughter started walking on Tax Day 2011 when she was just nine months old. It was a glorious moment for me. Not only did she beat my record of 10 months, but it meant that I now had an entry-level slave. Sure she wouldn’t have all the bells and whistles of a teenage slave who can drive to the store to get you stuff, but she could do small tasks that I decided at that moment to become to lazy to do.
The last thirteen months have been awesome: Take this to mommy. Can you give me that off the floor? Put this in the trash. Hand me the remote. There’s a new software update available for OS X, go ahead and install that for me.
But all good things must come to an end. Skynet is becoming self aware. She has this old lady thing she does when she wants something off the counter or out of the fridge. She’ll walk up to you, grab your hand and say, “Come, come.” That means that you’re supposed to follow her and she’ll lead you to where the thing she wants is located. She’ll then hold her arms up which means, “Pick me up, stupid” and she’ll grab what she wants. So how does this play into the slaves rebelling?
Yesterday I said, “Put this in the trashcan please.” She looked at me, took the paper towel in one hand and then grabbed my hand with the other. She said, “Come, come.” I followed her to the kitchen expecting her to ask for an apple out of the fridge or something. Instead she led me to the trashcan, then she pointed at it and said “Trashcan!” I thought we were playing our usual game of “Name that thing.” I clapped and in my Gordon-from-Sesame-Street-voice said, “Yes, that’s right. That is a trash can.” She then handed me the paper towel, pointed at it again and said, “Trashcan!” She held my hand and pulled it over the top of the trash can as if to say “Drop the paper towel inside.” I dropped the paper towel and then this child had the audacity to patronize me with a fake clap like I give her and said “Yay!” Then she ran away. I can’t be sure but I think I heard her mumble under her breath, “You lazy son of a…”
War is coming.
This part of the program is called, “Know Where You’re From.” I was born at GW Hospital in Washington, DC. I went to elementary, middle and high school inside the city lines of Washington, DC. Both of my parents were born and raised here. I, ladies and gentlemen, am a pure-blood Washington Wizard. It hurts my heart when I encounter muggles who pretend to be what I am.
Now this isn’t a diss to muggles. Some of my best friends are muggles. I love them and their malls with Snickerdoodles and carnivals in the parking lot, but I don’t like when they show no self-pride. Be proud of who you are. Being a muggle means that you grew up in a suburban area like PG County or Montgomery County. It means that you had the option of taking a magic yellow chariot to school every morning while us Washingtonians walked through torrential rains, snow and brimstone.
Your roads are paved with the finest asphalt that STATE taxes can buy. You didn’t have to grow up in the city that boasted the worst school system in the nation and simultaneously the highest murder rate. I did. We were labeled geniuses if we could say, “I got shooted.” Meanwhile, you all knew that there was at least a state funded college waiting for you if you made it out of high school. The ONLY “in-state” school we have seemed to march down Connecticut Avenue every other week chanting “Save UDC” and begging for their accreditation back.
Half a million people don’t commute into your city every single day. You can probably take off of work and go ride around your town with no problem. I’m lucky if I can find a parking spot that isn’t a loading zone between 8 and 6 everyday or a rush hour zone between 4 and 7. On the weekends, when normal Americans are on leisure time, you don’t have to chant the same mantra over and over again: “Don’t hit the throngs of tourists standing in the middle of the street who feel that their life is incomplete if they can’t get a picture of the giant stone stick coming out of the ground or the umpteenth statue of a person on a horse whose name they will never remember.”
I understand why you do it. Notoriety helps. It’s easier to paint a picture of where you live by just saying “I’m from DC” than specifying that you live an hour away (2 in traffic) in Centreville, VA. Maybe you reject your parents who seem bougie to you for working so hard to ensure you didn’t have to grow up with a crackhead mayor, people fighting on the bus and girls getting shot in the head for not giving guys their numbers. I’m telling you, you have a good life there. Don’t sell yourself short.
Besides I kinda earned those two red stripes on my flag.
Okay, now I don’t expect a lot of people to really dig what I’m about to say but I don’t care. I’m proud of my damned self and I’m gonna have my moment. I’m proud to announce that after 20 freaking years I FINALLY beat Super Mario Bros on the NES!
Hold your applause, I think I hear some people not being as blown away as I would like.
Yes I’m almost 30. Yes I got a Nintendo back in 89. No, I didn’t beat Mario back then because Super Mario didn’t come with my Nintendo. (But it comes with all Nintendos) No it doesn’t. When your relative barters “happy pellets” to crackheads in exchange for Nintendos you don’t get everything. You gotta make concessions. I didn’t care though. I was elated to just be getting the damned thing and when I unwrapped…okay well it didn’t exactly come in a box. BUT the cables were wrapped around it and I had to unwrap those to hook it up to my little black and white TV so technically I did unwrap it.
So where was I? Yeah, happy seven year old me got a slightly used Nintendo for his birthday. It didn’t come with Mario Bros/Duck Hunt, but that was cool because it didn’t come with a gun either…or a manual…or a second controller. But it came with some games. They all said “Property of Erol’s Video Store” on them, but, hey, no judgement. I played my five little hot games and was damned thankful for the opportunity.
Now, getting my family to actually buy me a game from the store was one of the 12 labors of Hercules. Straight A’s meant jack shit in my family. “That’s what you’re supposed to do” was the usual response to a report card so getting them to buy me the game that came with the system (or the gun) just wasn’t gonna happen. I was relegated to playing it over my stepfather’s little sister’s house, but then they got divorced and, while I was happy to see him go, I was hurt to have Mario ripped from my life.
It would be several years before I was able to just buy Mario outright and by then I had a Sega and Mario just sat on the shelf collecting dust. I know, it’s a really tragic story–a terrible way to start your Monday. But the sun also rises and my denouement involves me finally getting to the castle that the princess is actually in. I’m happy. No, I’m SUPER.
There was no post yesterday because my child was sick. I’m not sure what was wrong with her, but she seems better today. Believe it or not, the vague nature of that statement reflects my growth as a parent over the last 22 months.
After she was born, we kept her in the hospital room with us rather than sending her to the nursery. One night I noticed that she was having difficulty breathing and frantically pressed the emergency button for help. No one arrived within the 30 second window that I was willing to wait so I put her in the little plastic hospital baby cart and ran full speed down the hall to the nursery. I started banging on the door like a lunatic, “Help, help, my baby can’t breathe. Do something!” The nurse opened the door, looked at my daughter for all of three seconds and started laughing. Another one walked over to see what the commotion was and in between laughing the nurse relayed my concern, “He says the baby can’t breathe.” The second nurse looked at my daughter and started laughing too.
I went into CIA mode real quick. I was thinking, “I don’t know who these inept, heartless wenches are but I see a sink in the background and a receiving blanket. Someone is getting waterboarded until I get the help my kid needs.” The first nurse couldn’t stop laughing so the second one put her hand on my shoulder and said, “She has the hiccups, sir” before bursting into laughter again.
Keeping my paranoia under control in the beginning was a challenge to say the least. I didn’t get much sleep because I kept waking up to make sure she was still breathing. I found myself playing CSI with her diapers, trying to analyze the liquids (and solids) that came out of her. If she so much as sneezed I was checking the house for pollutants and every time she caught a cold I saw it as a personal failure on my part to protect her from life.
Over time, however, that changes. Your worrying can fire on all cylinders for only so long. Either you burn out or you find yourself earning an honorary doctorate in Pathology thanks to all the calls to the nurses line, trips to the doctor and research on the internet. I’m the latter and I’ve evolved. If it won’t result in a broken bone, lacerations or pregnancy…have fun. The other day she licked the elevator floor and I was like, “Meh, she’ll be alright.”