Wednesday, May 25, 2011


My cousin, whom we refer to as Auntie Bailey, is the family matriarch. She has a very elderly 100+ pound dying dog named Chestnut that has been dying for the last year. Because she loves Chestnut so much, Auntie Bailey has committed her retired life to making Chestnut “comfortable” instead of traveling the world, playing Bingo, and going to Mohegan Sun like most of her friends. The issue now is that there is a family trip coming up and everyone wants her to attend. Her reply? Tentative. She doesn’t want to leave Chestnut alone, and putting him in a dog kennel in not an option. And apparently, Cousin Maria is out of the picture as well; she used to be Chestnut’s babysitter.

“Jesus! Lawd have mercy! Ooh, not ah’tall. Not me. Not this time,” Cousin Maria started.

“What are you talking about?” I asked. Her outburst seemed odd since we were talking about buying food in bulk from a local wholesaler.

“Auntie Baily middi buy food di oddah day fuh Chestnut.”

“Okay,” I said, trying to follow the exchange. Cousin Maria was a mid-conversation topic switcher.

“You know di dog soon dead. Talking about food reminded me di dog sick bad. Ah nuh wahn watch him!"

“Did Auntie Bailey ask you to watch Chestnut? I mean, if you did, you would miss the family trip,” I reminded her.

“Yuh nuh di listen? Me juss sey no. I middi clarify dat fuh yuh.”

Did she forget I didn’t inquire?
I wondered. “Who are you, the Canine Reaper?”

“What? Ah who dat?”

“Never mind.”

“All ah di sey is this: Di minute Auntie Bailey travel an' me come ova, dat dog wahn dead. Just like dat. Blam, blam! Chestnut juss di wait fuh she go whey and leave him. He nuh wahn die in frontah she. So me minding ah dying dog? I wouldn’t know what to do, who fuh cyall. I might just run outta di house an’ leff him dey dead!”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


My friend and Melanie and shared the same birthday. One year, she was gung-ho about a dual dinner; I wasn’t. A few days passed, and as we talked about it more, I slowly warmed up to the idea and started looking forward to a festive night with friends until she called with the worst idea ever. She had recently experienced another dating disaster and was subsequently ready to swear off men. Frustrated, she said that she didn’t want men to be a part of her life then added that our birthday evening would be better spent with only our respective nearest and dearest girlfriends.

Immediately, I was incensed, mentally hurling every epithet I could think of at her. What were we doing every other time we went to dinner, brunch, hosted holiday parties or slumber parties to console another girlfriend after a breakup? I thought. Wasn’t that enough girlfriend time? She was bugging! We had gone from a potentially pleasant dinner with the usual male and female friends to an estrogen-atrocity. As she rambled on about restaurants and more reasons to despise men, my mind wandered to the dependency some women felt on each other, whining about their lack of dates, hypothesizing on what men were doing or thinking, and simply wasting good ‘flirt-with-man’ time on conversations with each other. Charlie Brown syndrome took over as she continued and mentally, I compiled snippets of previous discussions which wound up sounding something like this:

“How long has it been since he called?”

“Over a week. Things were going well between us and he just seemed to disappear.”

“Well, I’ll tell you what’s going on. He’s seeing someone else. Probably some broad that he just met that’s willing to give up the booty just because the brother has a nice house, a good job, a few dollars, and a Range Rover. See, women like that? Uh, don’t get me started. They make things so easy…opening and closing their legs like a refrigerator! Then, when someone good comes along like me, dude is so jaded and jacked up in his thoughts he don’t even recognize a real self-respecting, saved and sanctified woman like myself. I mean, I’ll engage in a little petting on the side you know, but a man can’t just run up in me after three dates. Brotha, please. I don’t even know your middle name.”

“I know you’re trying to be helpful but this conversation is taking a different direction. I don’t want to male-bash and you’re starting to relive some stuff with your ex so…”

Interrupting and undeterred my friend would continue, not acknowledging my statements.

“Yup, that’s exactly it! Should have known! He has someone else. Probably some project biddie with a slew of kids waiting to be rescued and there he is–accepting a sub-par woman because he’s too afraid to step to an educated, intelligent, career-minded, independent, fine sister. So what does he do? Call that ghetto bunny his girlfriend because he can buy her some Similac, sneakers, and a used Subaru and she’ll do anything he wants. You know what I call those men? Suckas! Suckas, I say! What’s the name of the guy you went out with again? Oh it doesn’t matter. In the happenstance that he’s not seeing the ghetto girl, he definitely chasing one of those high faultin’ glamour girls who’s looking for a man to impregnate her so she can sit her Louis Vuitton ass at home, practically tethering him to her because she has his baby. You know what, you don’t even need a man! You should just be grateful that you have good girlfriends like me to school you.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


My first dance partner was my mother. I was a chunky rhythm-less child and my mother had missed her calling on Solid Gold, left to practice her fancy footwork in the living room, and oftentimes dropping to the floor in a bounce then coming up back up for a quick spin and snap her slender fingers while saying, “Whoo!” She was hot. My mother was also patient, holding my hand in an attempt to spin me around, which to her demise, only made me dizzy. I couldn’t keep up, barely able to snap my short, pudgy fingers to the beat.


Right before I turned ten years old, my classmates and I were scheduled to perform on-stage in the school auditorium. It was supposed to be a talent show at our parochial school, a showcase of entertainment skill for our peers, parents, teachers. Somehow at my predominately White school, the only other Black girls in the third grade—Brenda, the fat one and Alisha, the scrawny one—and I became a lip-synching dance team. Our song of choice was a throwback sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks. Brenda said she had the record, and since we all lived nearby, we practiced our two step until it was flawless. For once, the prospect of dancing didn’t terrify me.

On the day of the talent show, Brenda announced that she couldn’t find the record. I wanted to slap the Jheri curl juice dripping from her short Afro, but instead, pleaded with my mother to lend us a record from her collection, which was also the only one we sort of knew all the words to. After much trepidation, she allowed me to borrow it.

We went on stage, wearing seventies-styled pink-with-a-black poodle skirt my mother had made for us, which would have been apropos to our original song. Looking out, I saw mostly White faces starting back, waiting for us to entertain. I nodded to the DJ, our third grade teacher, who scratched to record before playing it. For fifteen seconds, only the beat of our new song blared, then Rick James started singing, “She’s a very kinky girl…the kind you don’t take home to motha!” At the end of our “Super Freak” performance, my mother was the only person who clapped, then yelled, “Encore!”