Thursday, December 31, 2009

Raise up your Goodnight Kiss: Buh-Bye to 2009

Yes, a Goodnight Kiss is a champagne cocktail. It's for our last Bougie Cocktail moment of the year… New Year's Eve. 2009 had it's ups and down but for some reason, in my mind it will always be a roller coaster year for me. Obama's Inauguration: Yippee! Michael Jackson's death: Booo! Sold my book: Woo-hoo! My HR Consulting company went on the rocks and I had to learn to survive on writer's salary: Booo! Started a blog, discovered Twitter: Hurray! People I never wanted to hear from again found me on Facebook: Booo! And so went the year.

At any rate, I'm back from vacation and recuperating from a little sinus flare-up (not digging the 6.5 hour wait in frigid Miami airport). But we'll get back to full-time blogging on Monday. Sunday night (8:00pm est), come through Blog Talk radio and listen in while me, Max Reddick, RiPPa and some special guests talk about this B*tch is the New Black bullshiggity and how to get it in for 2010. Two great posts I read on New Year's and resolutions:

BougieMom is downstairs rattling pots with her annual black eyed pea contribution (at which point she announces that she is done cooking for the new year… yes, the entire year. She means it). I have something sparkly chilling in the fridge. In case you're feeling festive, here's the recipe for A Goodnight Kiss:

  • 4 oz Champagne
  • 1 splash Campari® bitters
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1 drop Angostura® bitters

Those of you heading out for New Year's Eve – be careful out there! To all of you, I wish you all the best and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Greetings from the islands, mon!

Hey there, BougieLand! Miss me yet? BougieSis and I are still chilling on the island. Let me say for the record that there is nothing wrong with taking off in 28 degree weather and landing in 82 degree weather. Tain't nuthin' bad about that at all. Even if you are delayed an hour and a half in the Dallas airport (C'mon American, just once with an on-time take-off?).

One of the joys of an all-inclusive package is that the drinks are ever-flowing, I can't be mad at the constant Jamaican rum infusion… no I cannot. Though with an all-inclusive, the service isn't always all it could be. But more on that later… Jamaica has plenty of flirty eye-candy strolling about saying "Hello, my lady." Yes, yes – hello to you too Winston, Dexter, whatever. Plenty of chocolate goodness about.

However, (strong side-eye to SuperClubs, inc) when you bill yourself as a newly renovated 4-star resort and spa… you should come somewhere remotely close to that. BougieSis and I ordered up the Luxury Verandah Suite with private plunge pool and ocean view. We do have a private plunge pool (love it) and a sofa in an area of the room that I guess can be called a sitting area… does a plaid sofa four steps inside the door equate to Luxury Suite? We thinks not. There is no singular chance in hell that this place has seen fresh paint (let alone a full renovation) in well over 10 (20?) years. And continuing our own private tropical holiday tradition, BougieSis and I have managed to get bitten by all manner of flying, dive-bombing critters. Gift shop hydrocortisone cream FTW! Currently sitting outside on my verandah while they de-bug the room. Yes, it's that crucial.

We decided our first night in when we were told no ocean view was available and got our first look at the Holiday-Inn-esque décor that we were going to rise above. It's Jamaica, for goodness sake. Yes, yes – we rose above the no room service (even though it was touted in the brochure – the Hell?!), we rose above the phone in the room not working (took 3 hours for a fix), we rose above having to share a bed for the first time in at least 20 years (though they rolled in a twin cot in case we got to tousling in the king during the night – no. thank. you.) We're rising above… we're in Jamaica.

We rose above the "interesting" experience the first night when we had to eat at a Mongolian stir-fry joint here because we arrived too late to make reservations at any of the real restaurants on property. And last's night service at the pasta spot (cleverly named Pastafari) was acceptable. Really, at this point if they keep the rum and red wine flowing, I'm forgiving all… sort of. I am writing this snarky blogpost. Oh, ya'll- I gotta go. It's jerk chicken sandwich time by the beach and old girl hooks up the sauce round here.

So all in all, C+ for Breezes, B+ for Jamaica. We have sun, beach, ocean, eye-candy, rum and a sense of humor. It's all (pretty much) good.

Signing off from Jam-land, cool runnings and all dat… OneChele.

Friday, December 25, 2009

I know it’s Christmas when…

It's Christmas, ya'll. And (serious side-eye to Mother Nature) it's complete with snow (in Dallas!?). Be that as it may, it's Family Holiday Time and I've already beaten the hell out of BougieFam in Wii Bowling and Scrabble. We're about to kick off some movie trivia.

Last night we had a little 90's music dance party and yes, pear martinis at 1:00 a.m. seemed like a great idea at the time. Really you haven't lived until you see BougieMom head bopping to Montell Jordan's This Is How We Do it. The roast is done, presents open and football on tap for later on… all is bright. Every year around this time, I can always count a few things happening. In the spirit of sharing, here's a list for your reading pleasure:

I know it's Christmas when…

  • The West Indian traditional black cake arrives. For those of you not in the know, black cake is fruit cake to the next power. It is made with carmelized sugar and doused with rum. To keep its moistness, the cake is re-doused with rum (usually 151 proof Demerara Rums from the islands) on a regular basis. There comes a point and time in the festivities when we can tell who has been hitting the black cake a little too hard.
  • The phone starts ringing at an ungodly hour. For some reason, BougieExtendedFam and Friends find it necessary to start with the Christmas salutations right around crack of dawnish. I don't care how Christmas-y you are – 7:00 a.m is too early to call with your Yuletide greetings.
  • I find myself walking around with candy canes attached to my person somehow.
  • There are little people running around calling me Auntie and blinking with the big eyes for cookies.
  • The Jackson 5 sing "Merry Christmas to You" (still can't believe Mike is gone!)
  • White Christmas and A Christmas Story are on marathon-style on TBS, TMC or some Turner-owned station.
  • I can't find any scotch tape anywhere in the house
  • Relatives I have forgotten for 11 ½ months call to say "What's been up?"
  • The UPS man calls me by name
  • The freakin' Lakers are on primetime television
  • At least one potential S.O. and a girlfriend I never speak to send me the obligatory "Merry Christmas" text

Ah, the holidays… good times, good times. From BougieFam to yours, a very Merry Christmas to all. And please be of good cheer, remember the reason for the Season!

Feel free to chime in… you know it's Christmas when…

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Bougie Flashback – Black Santa

My childhood Christmas memories are chock full of BougieDad cuttin' up. I mean for a professional man who was about business, he was in so many ways a pure D fool (and I loved it!).

Our house was smack in the middle of lily-white Suburbia. We were the first Black family to move into the area. Actually, BougieDad had to sue the City of Dallas to "allow" us to live there. Nothing says bougenificence like a court order J. So it was into this atmosphere that he launched his annual Christmas Decoration Fest. BougieDad was not going to be outdone by the neighbors. We had glittery lights, we had lights that looked like candles, we had statuettes, music, figurines and the piece de resistance: A life-sized poster of Santa on the front door.

Unfortunately, this was before the "culturally diverse" Santas were popular. Do you think BougieDad was going to let something like that get in his way? Oh no. BougieDad took the chocolate brown shoe polish and gave jolly white Santa a melanin infusion for the ages. Yeah he did. And then he taped the poster up over the front door for all the world to see. And no, it wasn't classy looking. He only shoe polished the face and neck, Santa's wrists were still white and his eyes still light blue. Truthfully, Black Santa looked like a possessed and costumed Al Jolson in blackface in need of a Jenny Craig Solution.

I vividly recall asking him, "Is Santa really black?" He said, "Yes he is and Jesus too." I went to school and repeated this, I was sent to the principal's office. They called both BougieMom and BougieDad in to talk about my "radical inclinations". Not sure (though I have a good idea) what went on in that meeting but I was allowed to address my class on possibility of a racially diverse Santa Claus. It was received with mixed reviews. Anyway, my house was the only one for miles around rocking Black Santa.

To say the Black Santa poster was a showstopper is an understatement. We could hear people come up the driveway and pause at the bottom of the stairs like – Am I really seeing this? By the time they rang the doorbell they were astonished, annoyed or admiring. That poster got ripped in the middle of the night so many times; BougieDad switched to industrial strength packing tape and put up a sign warning of 24-hour surveillance. That kept the poster up until it literally fell apart on its own and we couldn't find a new one in stores anymore. Yes, we had to hold BougieDad back from painting all the angels in the outdoor statues black.

As much as I used to roll my eyes at his shenanigans trying to "blacken up" Christmas, do you know that now I go out of my way to find the cocoa-hued figurines, cards with people of color and decorations that reveal a bit more culture than Frosty and Rudolph (not that I don't love them too). I've added the Boondocks "A Huey Freeman Christmas" episode right along with Charlie Brown. I give my nieces and nephews toys representing all races and make sure they understand why. I guess I paid attention a little more than I thought.

Any Black Santa (or Holiday) recollections to share?

Do you know what today is? It’s our anniversary: 6 months of BnB, a giveaway and what's up next

Cue up the Tony! Toni! Toné! Today marks the official six month anniversary of Black 'n Bougie… Woo-Hoo!

Time flies when you're having fun, or ranting, or sharing bad dates or calling bullshiggity. 236 posts, over 9000 comments, 17 Bougie Cocktail Moments, countless side-eyes and 2 Relationship Weeks. I was recently asked which post has been my favorite... hmm - I don't have a favorite but a definite soft spot for the Defending Our Blackness post. It was the first post I did that truly reflected what I wanted the blog to be about.

When I started the blog, I needed a place to put a few writing samples so I could talk magazine and webzine editors into buying my work. Somewhere along the way, it turned into something else altogether. Black 'n Bougie became my own little personal therapy session, sounding board and stand-up mic. And lo and behold, folks started joining in. Ya'lls comments are the best part of my day… yes, even the crazy ones. I must admit to enjoying every single day in BougieLand. And really, we've only just begun. There's SO much more to say.

So what's next, you may wonder? Well, this week I'll no doubt share a Holiday BougieTale or two but next week I'm off to Jamaica. Yes, it's time for the BougieVacay. I might post from the pool but only to make ya'll hate a little bit J. When I return, it will be New Year's Eve and I definitely have things to say about that. And January 1st, my lovely little book will be in stores. January 3rd is the next Freedom through Speech Radio show, come on through and take a listen. I had such great reactions to Music Week, Trying Not to Hate Week and I Love Black Men Week that surely another theme week is right around the corner. What might it be? I have a few ideas but I'm always open to suggestions.

So yes, BougieLand – we are six months into the good times here, I look forward to many, many more. And just for something fun, how about a giveaway? The next five people to register on Michele Grant's "Talk to Me" page and mention BnB will receive a gift including a signed copy of my book and some love from Amazon and iTunes. Get on over there and say hi. Again, thanks for coming along for the ride, glad to have you. Come again and bring a bougie friend.

Thoughts? Questions? Comment as you will…

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My favorite Snowpocalypse 2009 Story: One Night Stands Turns into 26-hour Nightmare

So, one of my readers shared on Saturday that he was snowed in up in Virginia. I said as long as he had food, water, electricity and an internet connection he was all good. One problem, he also had Friday night's one night stand snowed in with him. Ruh-roh. Monday afternoon, I got the full story and I felt it worthy to be called a BougieTale:

Our reader codenamed "U Don't Know Me" (we'll call him UDK) headed out into DMV nightlife and met an attractive female. Now either she fell for his lines or he fell for hers, maybe they both recognized what the other wanted, who knows. Either way, these two returned to UDK's home in a new subdivision in the VA for some adult aerobic activity. After repeated aerobic exertions, the duo fell asleep. UDK awoke to a disturbing sight. A pillowful of hair… no head attached. Her semi-bald head was somewhere near his feet. Not knowing what to make of this, he started to rise. She stirred and smiled at him, "Hey Derek, breakfast?" He noticed that her lengthy lashes from the night before were now stuck to her forehead and cheek. Again - disturbing.

His name was not Derek but if breakfast was what it took to get her moving on down the road, he was down. "Sure, eggs okay?" He hopped up, pulled on some sweats and headed downstairs. As he hit the bottom step he heard her say, "Oh, my hair came off!" Yeah it sure did. No harm, no foul. When you pick up someone at a dimly lit club after midnight, these are the chances you take. It wasn't until he stood in the kitchen whisking eggs that he noticed. It was deadly quiet outside. Granted, brand new condo complex, not a lot of folks yet but he could usually hear people on the main road beginning those Saturday errands. He flipped on the TV and saw the words "Winter Blizzard" flashing across the bottom of the screen. Before the weatherman would finish saying "Many roads simply impassable…" he looked out the window. And saw nothing but white for as far as his eyes could see.

Pulling on a coat and shoes he opened his condo door, the concrete landing and stairs were caked over and as he quickly found out as he landed on his ass, under that snow was ice. "John, are we snowed in?" He heard a voice behind him ask. His name wasn't John either but at this point he knew it didn't matter. "Just until the sand trucks come through, let's get some breakfast." To say that the pick-up chick did not look as delectable in the harsh light of day was unfair. After all, her club makeup was smudgy, her wig was crooked and the outfit that was sexy at 2:00a.m. suffered in sobriety tilting towards skanky. No matter, breakfast, rock salt, sand, a 30 minute drive and he'd never see her again. At least that was UDK's prayer.

His prayer was not answered. In condensed format, for the next 26 hours he made 17 frantic calls to city, county, property manager workers begging (pleading) for someone (anyone) to assist him in forklifting his one night stand (who swore her name was Sugar) out of his domicile. At one point, he attempted to purchase a snow-plow from a construction company. They were happy to sell it to him but it wouldn't be delivered until 3-days later.

He attempted to get to his car and get it going. His cute sportscar (which he referred to as a "ho-getter) was not built to climb ice-covered slopes. His new complex was built in a valley-type location (master plan FAIL) so NO one without a serious four-wheel drive, snow chains and a ton of de-icer was making it out.

During their time together, UDK discovered that Sugar was a weeper (cried at the drop of a hat) with a tiny bladder and the inability to recall anything close to his name. She was also a talker, did not appreciate football and felt comfortable enough to help herself to his food and drink at regular intervals. At first light, UDK placed Sugar on a homemade sled fashioned by himself and his neighbor. They drug Sugar through 75 yards of frosty snowbanks to the main road where her step-dad's work friend scooped her up in a Hummer and took her away... never to be heard from again (he hopes.)

So I asked UDK if he understood the moral to this story? He said yes. "Always check the next day's weather forecast before you bring someone home with you." Umm - no. I offered up this instead, "Never bring anyone home at night if you're not sure you want to see them in the morning." What do you think BougieLand? Got a moral for UDK? Any snowy horror stories to share?

Monday, December 21, 2009

A funny thing happened on my way to the keyboard

Actually, not so funny. I woke up Sunday morning feeling as though someone had slapped me repeatedly, dipped me in icewater, sewed my nose shut and put sandpaper where my throat used to be. We are not amused. In typical OneChele fashion, I decided to hop up and power on. On my way from the bedroom to the office, I felt compelled to lay down on the sofa and rest. Yes, resting after 10 steps is a sign. Long story short, the bouge is at half-mast ya'll. Some sort of cold/flu/crud snatched me and wrestled me down.

I grabbed Nyquil and Theraflu (don't judge me) and crawled under the covers with my laptop. I made it through about three tweets before the letters started doing the conga across the screen. My newly-engaged friend, @TiffanyinHouston politely told me to lay my bougie behind down. And so I did. Missed my own radio show, missed a friend's baby shower, missed football all day. All of this to say... no humor-filled holiday post today. My pleasing personality starts to slip when I'm unwell. So no need to inflict testy OneChele on BougieLand. But feel free to send me your get well wishes in the comments section. Hope to be back soon. Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blog Talk Radio Show tonight

Have you checked out Freedom through Speech Radio? RiPPa, Max Reddick and I debate the issues of the day. Our next show is scheduled for 7:00 pm central/8:00 pm eastern by tuning in at the FTSR radio page. You can also join us by Tweeting @FreedomTSR, join our Facebook page, or send an email to Tonight's discussion – Healthcare, Holidays and Black Santa. Chat room opens five minutes before the show or you can call in on (914) 803-4881. Come on by and join the discussion on Freedom through Speech Radio.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Floor is Yours – Saturday Open Mic

Thanks to everybody who joined me for I Love Black Men week, it's was a great time and I really enjoyed all the comments. Welcome to any BougieLand newbies and for my regulars, thanks for coming back!

Well, now that everyone is used to me not posting on the weekends – let's try this. Not everyone joins in the conversation during the week. Maybe I didn't touch on a topic that moved you to speak out. Well, here's your shot. Feel free to speak your peace or just say "hi!"

Go to it!

Friday, December 18, 2009

I love Black Men but there’s always a He Said/She Said…

It's been a great of week of love for the brethren, I appreciate everybody who stopped by. I did notice that every day (no matter what the topic) there was always something debate-worthy in the comments sections. Even among the love-fest, there were plenty of shots fired between the sexes. Based on that, I'm going to switch it up a little bit with a "Men or Women" conversation between myself and RiPPa from The Intersection of Madness of Reality. Enjoy:

Who gets more jealous? Women or Men?

She says: I'm going to say men. Men get situationally jealous but women are more suspicious overall… in my humble opinion. I think a woman gets jealous once she suspects something, a man can be jealous out of the blue.

He says: Oh it's definitely women! I say that for the simple fact that women are pursued by men more than it occurs the other way around - this is the traditional cat and mouse game. That said, there is more competition among women for attention. Add to the fact that there are more women than men, then one can see how easier it would be for women to be more jealous than men. Jealous men are just insecure about themselves and probably got picked on in grade school.

Who tells more lies? Women or Men?

She says: I'm going to say this is a tie. Men make up little stories (for apparent reason) but women make up entire scenarios. Both tell little white lies, "yes, those jeans still fit" or "It wasn't my turn to do the dishes."

He says: This is a tough one, and I can't really say. They both lie and that's the truth about it. But I guess since I have to choose I'd say men lie more. I say that because they're the "salesmen" in the "game" of courtship. Plus, with society being as male dominated as it is, men generally have an image to uphold and let's just say sometimes it's not so easy.

Who thinks about sex more often? Women or Men?

She says: I'm going to say men. Not that women don't think about it, just not every waking minute. I don't see sexual innuendo in, "Hey do you want a soda?" Men think soda is a euphemism for a li'l sumthin' sumthin'. < - - men made up that phrase, before Maxwell it just meant an appetizer tray.

He says: Women do because for the most part they're looking for love and they equate sex with love. That said, women have "love" on their minds moreso than men.

Who gossips more? Women or Men?

She says: Hands down it's men but they will NEVER admit it. They consider it an informed discussion. Newsflash: half of what you listen to on ESPN, Jamie Foxx and Howard Stern is gossip. Ya'll just ain't sitting on a couch wearing four-inch heels and drinking mojitos while you do it.

He says: Oh this is easy...W-O-M-E-N! Men do their fair share of it, but the ladies have this one on lock hands down. That's why they always have problems with their girlfriends - they talk and gossip too damn much.

Who bounces back from hurt feelings quicker? Women or men?

She says: I have to say women. Men act like they are over it when they really, really (really) aren't. Women stay wounded and let everyone know but then when they're through – it's done. Women remember the details (what was said, what was worn, who ate what); men remember the feelings.

He says: Women have a tendency to carry baggage with them from relationship to relationship and they don't heal as quickly as men do. But then again maybe men are better at hiding their pain as a defense mechanism. All in all, given that defense mechanism often used by men I'll have to say that men bounce back quicker.

Her commentary: Overall, I just think men are programmed to act like things are okay when they aren't, hence the phrase "man up." Women are conditioned to express themselves. But with the evolution of gender roles, I believe the lines of behavior are blurring. Some women like to "date like men," some men like to be "expressive like females." More and more women can change their own oil, hang a ceiling fan and wire electronics. More and more men can coordinate throw pillows in their living room and set a table for six with candles and all. And isn't a perpetuation of stereotypes to think that black men are all strong and silent while black women are dramatic and quick to do a neckroll? Probably, so in the end, I think my real answer to these questions could be: Depends on the man and depends on the woman.

His commentary: Society has clear gender roles defined for men and women. This is not to say that men and women should confine or define themselves by said roles. That said, life would be a helluva lot easier if as men and women we did not have expectations of one another as defined by societal gender roles. I think we can have a better understanding of each other as "people" or "human beings" both with emotional needs and instabilities. Because I'm a man do not expect me to "act" a certain way because that's just the way men are supposed to act and vice versa. Ultimately a think much of the "war of the sexes" can and should be resolved through communication or the ability to communicate thought at the appropriate times. Anything communicated from a place that is emotionally charged is not good in my opinion. Even if it comes from some source of welcomed euphoria it is often confused for something other than what is meant.

BougieLand… the floor is yours, weigh in with your choices and let us know why!

I Love Black Men and we lost one yesterday… RIP Chris Henry

Let me preface this post by saying, I didn't know Chris Henry or his fiancée Tonga personally. And I don't make generalizations that start with "all black athletes" I've known too many to disrespect them like that. I don't know (nor care to know) the details that led to his tragic death nor do I need to recount the struggles Mr. Henry went through in his life.

So what I will do is mourn the loss of a 26-year old man who was not allowed to reach his full potential. A young black man, who like so many others, is gone far too early. Cincinnati Bengals owner said, "He had worked through the troubles in his life and had finally seemingly reached the point where everything was going to blossom. And he was going to have the future we all wanted for him. It's painful to us. We feel it in our hearts, and we will miss him."

From the National Sports Review:

"I kind of felt like I dug myself out of the hole and started doing the right things," Henry said in an interview with The Associated Press as training camp opened. "People say, 'How you feeling now Chris? You doing all right?' I just tell them I'm blessed. That's why I got it."

He did get it. He did understand the consequences of his poor decisions. He dug himself out of a deep hole, a hole deeper than anyone could imagine. And then, just like that, he's gone. Just like that, a comeback was ended. Just like that, another athlete died far too young.

When the Bengals brought him back, he was determined to live up to his potential. He spent more time working out. He spent more time with his fiancee and with his kids. He was a changed man. The Bengals noticed.

"He's a great kid with a great heart," (Bengals QB Carson)Palmer said as training camp started. "He's changed his life around. He ran into some trouble, made some bad decisions, and realized that. He's sorry for them, apologized for them, and has done everything he can to make himself a better person. I'm just proud of him."

Chris is survived by three children, a mother and father, a fiancée and countless friends and fans who will miss him. I personally hate when it appears that someone has a chance at redemption and never gets the opportunity. One of the haunting things about those that die young is the hovering specter of "What if…" that lingers. I especially hate to see young Black men leave us too soon. What's left to say? Death sucks. RIP Chris.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I love Black Men when… they love me back

There is nothing like growing up secure in the love and adoration of your father. I mourn for those that grow up without it. That unbiased and unconditional love allows you to face the world with a little bit of hands-on-hip, eyebrow-raised, bring-it-on attitude. It's a strong foundation to stand on as you wade into the male-female relationship pool. As those of you who have read this blog for a while know, I was and remain a daddy's girl. My father adored his two sons (ragamuffins though they are) but he thought the sun rose and set on his two girls.
The slightest tear would form in BougieOlderSis' eye and he would appear the next evening with a ridiculously extravagant gift. There was something they got into a beef about when I was in undergrad and she was in grad school and we shared an apartment. The next day a new VCR with cassette tapes arrived via FedEx. It was the BougieDad equivalent of "my bad." There wasn't a day that he didn't encourage us and let us know that even when we irritated the hell out of him ("Mich, pour me two fingers!) he still loved us. So let me take a minute to salute all of the fathers out there doing right by their children, especially their baby girls. You are appreciated.
Even with the gift of a father's love, I never took it for granted that every man I met and liked would fall head over heels in love with me. How can I put this? I'm kind of like rack of lamb – great to look at, really enjoyable but a lot of prep work needed. Some guys just want a Ramen Noodle relationship, add water, bring to boil, reheat as necessary. Definitely their prerogative. So it's always a little surprising and completely flattering when someone determines I am the best thing since sliced bread. Moving on from the food metaphors.
Again with the disclaimer – I'm not saying that any other race does not know how to adore and revere their women, but for the purposes of this week's theme – I'm saying that when a good black man decides he loves you (really, really loves you like reaches the point where he knows life is painful without you in it), he's all in. Ms. Anita said it best in You Give Good Love. And since I don't have kids yet, there's been no greater joy than loving someone and having them love you back.
Okay, it's that time of the day again… time for a BougieTale (or two) illustrating my point:
My brothers are required (by BougieFam law) to love me no matter what. We test the reciprocal bond of that love a little often but anyway… BougieYoungerBro is tall, goofy and more likely to talk someone to death than swing a fist. Yet one summer day, he was going to do just that on my behalf. I had moved back home after college and he was home on a summer break for some reason (that I cannot recall), instead of going to one of the dentists I grew up around, I opted to go to a strip-mall dentists' megacenter about my upper wisdom teeth which were killing me. Three days of Orajel and Rum wasn't cutting it. The store-front dentists decided they needed to come out right then. As you may suspect, these places are a trifle stingy with the meds. So after hitting me with two injections (that didn't take), this butcher starts sawing away at my gums. I started screaming and when he kept going, I screamed louder. I was literally fighting to get out of the chair.
I hear all this commotion in the hallway and my brother's voice saying, "That's MY SISTER! What are you DOING to her?" He was banging on the door with his fist until they let him in. He stormed in, fists balled up like he's really gonna whip somebody's hindparts. He pointed at the nurse and said, "Give her the drugs right now!" They said, "Sir, the injections didn't take, she needs the gas but that's extra." He snarled his face up and next thing I know, they placed a mask full of the good stuff over my face. The rest of the day was kind of a blur and I only remember my Dad coming into my room with an injection full of nirvana that knocked me out for 12 hours. Found out my poor younger bro had to pay those fools and was rewarded by spending the next day and a half swapping out the gauze in my mouth and handing me substances with a straw sticking out of them… now that's love ya'll. BougieYoungerBro FTW!
And one more for the road…
I was travelling almost 100% of the time for a contract assignment I worked a few years back. It was a crazy recruiting assignment where we literally lived, worked, ate, slept out of the same hotel 24/7 for about 4 – 6 weeks straight before moving to the next city. Once a month, you got a break to go home for three days. If the money and expense account hadn't been so over-the-top excellent, I would have bailed after the first month or so. By about month five, I was burned out. I missed my stuff, I was tired of living out of suitcases, I wasn't getting enough time with the SO, and I was tired of hotel food. My whining and bitchiness went to a whole new level but the SO would listen and make sympathetic noises even though he was cranky seeing me once every two months because of our crazy scheduling conflicts. We finally got a weekend when we would both be in the same city for 36 hours straight. Right before I boarded the plane, he called to say he was going to have to head out for a business trip but he left the keys to his apartment at the front desk and was sending a driver to pick me up.
Needless to say, I was tart for the entire flight and got off the plane with the same scowl. I climbed in the back of the car and there were purple roses and a bottle of wine waiting for me. My mood perked up. The driver put on some music and I noticed all the songs were tunes that I absolutely loved. If not gleeful, I was at least happy. I retrieved the keys, went up to the apartment and opened the door. The hallway was dark until I neared the living room and then there were candles everywhere. In the middle of the room was the SO holding out a chair. "Come have a seat, I fixed dinner." Now I'm not a watery-eyed girl but I teared up. It was only the second time in a lengthy relationship that he cooked for me. Steak, baked potatoes, green salad, my favorite vinaigrette, more wine. It was a great evening. Grand gesture? Yes but one that he intuitively knew I needed and appreciated. That's love, ya'll.
Tomorrow, we'll be wrapping up I Love Black Men Week, might have a guest post… we'll have to see. In the meantime, any thoughts on the Good Love the fellas be giving?

I Love Black Men but sometimes you can be a Heartbreaker

I love Black Men but sometimes you're like that Pat Benatar Song: Heartbreaker. A woman's heart is a fragile, fragile thing. Even when she acts like it isn't. You just never know what thing you do while bruise it, nick an artery or cause life-threatening damage.

This week on BnB we are celebrating our brothers. Giving them some love and trying to understand what makes him do what he do. Yes let the record reflect that I love black men in all their colors, moods, moments and mystery. However, that does not absolve my brothers from a salty side-eye when they step out of line. So then, there are a few things I would like to know. And instead of continuing to guess at the answers (that hasn't worked out); I'm going straight to the source. I've asked Citizen Ojo from The Desultory Life & Times of a Public Citizen to help out.

Some things that a man does (wittingly or unwittingly) just break a girl's heart. Some of them are big, some small but either way; inquiring minds would like to know why.

1. Why get a girl's phone number and never call? Why wait three (five) days to call? Why say the words "I'll call you right back" when you know you mean "I'll get back to you at some point, maybe?"

Single Men prioritize all the women they meet. So if you receive a call the week after that means you are low on the depth chart. Think of it as being a Running Back on a Professional Football team. If you are the 3rd or 4th best back then you won't get a lot of playing time. Unless you play for the Detroit Lions...ha ha ha! I crack myself up sometimes…

2. Why don't you just break up with a woman when you meet somebody else you are attracted to? (prior to marriage)

It's a game of odds. If you give up what you currently have, for what you think you have, you might end up with nothing. No man is willing to risk that.

3. Is there any justifiable reason for a man to tell a woman that he loves her when he really doesn't?

No it is not!! But Men do it anyway. Most men who say that are attempting to get something from a woman. Women who have this problem usually give signals that saying "I love you" will open a door to something else. Since the man has picked that up, he will go there just to get what he wants. When a woman meets a man she should even bring up the "L" word until she knows that the relationship is ready to go to the next step.

4. Is it ever a good idea to marry a woman because they've been together so long the man feels like "she's earned it"?

Hell No! That sounds horrible. What kind of man does that? Did the man put the woman through an obstacle course and she won by beating out the other contestants??

5. If a man get into a "purely" physical relationship with a woman, can it ever go beyond that for the man or will he only see her as the booty call?

Sure it can. This is what happens in a lot of relationships. It starts out with sex and then someone catches feelings. The problem starts when the other person just wants to keep it sexual. Then you can't go to sleep at night and you end up standing outside the girls apartment…and…oh…at least that is what I have heard…but I digress. If a woman puts it down in the bedroom and has an A+ grade in all other categories, then a man could want more. People give the "Friends with Benefits" tagline a bad *side eye* when they shouldn't. What might not work or have worked for you could be perfect for someone else. When I was in the military a good "booty call" could get a girl a wedding ring. I was always amazed when everyone's favorite "club chick" would end up being some dudes "Mrs. Right". Love is a funny thing!!

Definite points for brutal honesty on this one. What say you, BougieLand? Agree? Disagree? The floor is yours.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Love Black Men when… they bring the sexy swagger

Let me begin with the disclaimer, I'm not saying that Black Men are any more or less sexy than any other XY-chromosome carrier out there. I'm stating, for the purposes of I Love Black Men week, that the confident brothers bring a considerable amount of sizzle to the table. Can we all agree? Okay, thank you. Moving on…

I happen to have a particular weakness for the tall chocolate brothers (especially dressed all in black), but the beauty of the brotherhood is – I can definitely find something to visually appreciate in the whole pale to baked spectrum. I know we all hate the word swagger but until someone comes up with a substitute… I can't think of anything sexier than a well put together brother striding along with that swagger. The key to the swagger is walking as if you have on a custom-made Armani tux, even when you're rocking sweats. This works. Seriously, you can sit there and watch the women's eyes follow THAT guy as he passes by.

And now of course, a BougieTale to illustrate my point:

Years ago (in other words, I was young and don't judge me), I was at a club on a second date with a fella that I was decidedly wishy-washy about. He looked great but the conversation game wasn't up to par and he had the tendency to say things in the form of a question instead of a statement (confidence fail). At any rate, I was a little confused and irritated because he brought me to a club but did not want to dance. Due to the decibel level in there, we really couldn't talk. So we basically sat perched at a table sipping drinks… awkward. About thirty minutes in, he got up to get more drinks. The minute he left the table, a tall piece of chocolatey goodness appeared at the table. "Since he's clearly not the one for you, I figure I still have a shot. I'm Khari, you are my next girlfriend." And he sat down with a flash of truly pearly white teeth. (another weakness) Maybe it was his confidence, maybe it was his definitive fineness or maybe I just wanted a viable out… either way, his line worked.

I sat chatting with him until old boy came back from the bar and gave us both the sour side-eye. Khari said, "Hey, I was just keeping your date company. My bad." He got up and slid his business card into my purse before hitting me with the direct unblinking eye-contact, smiling and walking away. My eyes followed him as he went. Pure sizzle. When I reluctantly swung my eyes back to my date he said, "Come on, I know I look better than that guy." In looks and physique yes, in confidence and attitude no. But I didn't articulate all that, I just shrugged. Need I say Khari and I dated for six months before he left to go to Georgetown Law School. Hmm, wonder where HE is now?

One more BougieTale then I'll wrap it up:

When I worked in Los Angeles the second time (long story), I worked at a small minority-owned defense contractor. My life there was a large slice of misery pie. The guy I was seeing lived clear on the other side of the country, I had only a few friends (some of which were off the chains needy) in LA and no family there. My commute was hell, I wasn't making enough money and the people I worked with were certifiable. My bright spots were every other week when the SO flew out to spend time with me. One week, he came in on a Thursday and I was supposed to have Friday off. Knowing this, we cut a little loose Thursday night and drank all manner of colored liquors that should never be mixed together. (Warning – never mix Alize and Mango Rum with Pear Vodka – just don't do it). At seven a.m. Friday morning (after 2 hours of sleep) my home phone then my cell phone rang in rapid succession. The third time, I answered and it was my crazy VP. Emergency yada yada, have to come in for an hour; we need you right now, yada yada. As the SO pulled on clothes he said, "I'll drop you off but I'll be back exactly in one hour." I nodded and off we went.

As I hopped out of the car, he grabbed my wrist and pulled me back in. He gave me a kiss that was wildly inappropriate for my office parking lot and said, "We have things to do today, one hour or I'm coming in there." Ooo-kay, I got the not-so-subtle hint. An hour and a half later, I was still in a meeting with these folks and nervously looking at my watch. Ten minutes later, the door swung open. The SO had cleaned up, had the Italian suit on, fresh shave, blingy watch and all. In short, he looked good. He announced, "Michele has to go." Now I was in a room with my CEO, VP, and three former 4-star generals who were all sitting with mouth agape. He walked around the table introducing himself and shaking hands with everybody. They were too charmed and dazzled to do anything but greet him back. When he got around to me, he took my hand and lifted me out of the chair resting his hand on the back of my neck, "Ready babe?" Well, I was kinda frozen what with the entire executive leadership council staring in rapt fascination. He whispered in my ear, "Or we could just do what I want to do right here, up to you." Okay, then – the room took on a very bom-chicka-bom-bom vibe. I (bright red now) said to the room at large, "I'm so sorry, I did have a personal day planned and I need to get back to it." My CEO (a black female) grinned and said, "Apparently so." I grabbed up my stuff and we headed out. That's really all of the story you all need to hear. J

My point… swagger works. Especially when you can back it up. Thoughts?

I love Black Men but sometimes you Drive Me Crazy

I love Black Men but sometimes you're like a Britney Spears Song: Drive Me Crazy.

Brothers, I love ya. Strong brothers, right and wrong brothers, (cue the Angie Stone song please)… you're all (for the most part) okay by me. I harbor no deep seated issues and believe that one of ya'll (somewhere, possibly swimming over from the MotherLand) is meant for me. But in the meantime (whilst I await his arrival); it's imperative that I get to understanding you better. To assist me in my quest for knowledge, I've invited along an excellent specimen of black maleness: Damon from This May Concern You.

There are some things that men do that drive women crazy. Just send us straight into that whole Mars vs Venus planetary swirl that frustrates everyone and solves nothing. So before we go there, let me just ask you this:

  • What's up with your relationship with the remote control? Okay, all electronics. I'm a techie girl myself but I don't freak if the "MENU" button falls into hands other than my own. I don't spend hours reviewing speaker voltage to determine the best configuration for surround sound… what gives?

    A remote is to a man what a make-up bag is to a woman, or something like that. But more than anything else, a remote is what its last name says it is: control. And without control of the remote, there's a chance that you might have me watching Golden Girls reruns or Project Runway, and as Luvvie might say, iCant. Control of the remote is assurance that I won't want to bang my head against a wall once I'm out of your presence.

  • Is your car really an extension of your male appendage? Just asking cause you get real lover-like with your vehicles. Please explain.

    For some, it is. For me, I've never cared that much. Some guys have been able to distinguish every single car by make and model since they were six. I've never got it. Do I understand it? Sure, it's like a woman and her closet (Although a man should have a good closet full of clothes and nice kicks, too). But to some women, their wear tends to be part of their definition. For a man, his ride can be that.

  • Any genetic coding that makes it difficult for you to consistently put a toilet seat down?

    Men are predisposed to the idea that you should look where you sit, kinda of like you look both ways before you cross the street. Thus, we don't worry about dropping the toilet seat for those without said disposition. But I have a question for the women that I ask anytime someone asks me about the toilet seat: How long should a roll of toilet paper last and why y'all as a sex always seem to slash the life expectancy of a roll in half? Lol.

  • Why is it so hard for a man to admit that he's wrong? Or lost? Or sick? Or just flat out doesn't know what he's doing?

    You know, I find this one to be a matter of ego that's not restrictive to just the male sex. The woman to accept a man's opinion that her car battery is dead and needs to consult her father who's 2,000 miles away is no different from the man who drives in circles and won't consult his GPS or stop at a gas station. You just have to learn to set aside pride and ask for/accept help. People think pride is a hard pill. No, it's a chewable. Humility is the pill most people can't get down.

  • Why will you not erase ex-girlfriends' numbers from your phone without us bugging you to hell and back about it? Why are you keeping the number of some chick you kissed once in the Cancun airport 9 years ago? Is it just wishful thinking? Nostalgia? Help me out.

    I don't delete numbers. Ever. I have the number of a South Beach tattoo artist who did some intriguing art. I have no tattoos and will never get one. Ever. The number's just there I guess. I'm sure there are at least 100 numbers in my phone book I haven't dialed in three years. Some of them are exes or girls I've talked to and it's no big deal. But to the question, a woman shouldn't know whose number is in her boyfriend's phone or care because it's *his* phone. If a guy needs to delete them to move on, so be it. Some guys don't need that "delete everything" attitude to move on.

Hmm, I'm going to give a respectful side-eye to some of these answers but turn it over to you, BougieLand... whatcha think about these questions and these answers?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I love Black Men because… they are all about the hustle

One of the unfortunate truths about the Black experience in America is that the playing field isn't always level. No doubt the moment Kunte Kinte realized folks of a different color were being handed things that he had work 22 hours a day for, the hustle was born. For those not in the know, the hustle is not about criminal enterprise (though some people have taken it there). The hustle is about doing what needs to be done to keep it pushing. I don't know a single black man who doesn't smile when K.R.E.A.M. (Kash Rules Everything Around Me) comes on. Dollar, dollar bills, ya'll. To illustrate my point, a few BougieTales:

BougieDad was a doctor, so it's not as if he didn't have socially revered means of earning income. But BougieDad loved to cut a corner or get in on a bargain. He was ALL about the hustle. From as early as I remember, BougieDad had friends who could provide any number of goods of services not necessarily advertised in the yellow pages. We learned not to ask any questions. He had a friend named Frenchy who ran a restaurant food delivery service. Some days he would come home with a trunk full of t-bones, sausage, shrimp and pre-cut burgers. He had a friend named Snake who could fix any car manufactured. Way before anyone else I knew owned a VCR; we had a huge wood grained Panasonic sitting on top the TV in the den. When Sam's Club first opened, he was in there weekly buying things in ridiculous bulk and snickering on his way out the door like he stole something. Example: My father passed away in 2000, the aluminum foil he bought that year from Sam's ran out in 2008- no lie. We had a commemorative ceremony when we took the container to recycling. God bless the hustle.

A friend of mine from my college days was always coming and going at odd hours. We never saw him dressed to go to a job but he always seemed to have money from somewhere. I finally broke down and asked him exactly what he did. One night when he was at a club, a couple of drunk college kids stumbled up to his vehicle (he drove an old van) and asked for rides home and offered to pay him. He took them home, got paid and arranged to have their vehicles brought to their houses by the next morning for an additional fee. Word spread, he handed out cards with his pager number on it, the side gig grew into a full time business. He added food delivery and hangover remedies and expanded to four other college towns. As it grew beyond his control, he sold The Tipsy Taxi to some bus company for nine figures and is working on his next thing. Gotta respect the hustle.

When I moved back from Austin to Dallas, I was strapped for cash and asked my then boyfriend to help out (he was as broke if not more than I was). I assumed he was going to load up my stuff onto his truck and haul it up I-35 himself. The day of the move I answered the door to five big old Southern boys with boxes, tape and dollies. Before I could even figure out what was happened, they had my apartment dismantled, on a big truck and headed to North Texas. Later I found out he bartered with the other guys, they would do this for him and each of the next five weekends, he would be working on their projects. Reciprocal hustle – love it!

Now wait, yes – I do realize that sisters are getting their hustle on and folks of other races are out on that grind too. But this week ain't about them. It's about my brothers out there trying to make it do what it do. I don't know what it is but in my experience even the laziest, least motivated brother in the world turns into Hu$tleMan when his back is against the wall or a loved one is counting on him. Now granted, his hustle may not be anything we like or approve of but the spirit behind the hustle is usually admirable.

And the floor is yours BougieLand, got a favorite hustle story to share? Agree, disagree?

I Love Black Men but… I need you to just Tell Me Something Good (h/t to Rufus & Chaka)

I love Black Men but can you fellas please be like Rufus and Chaka and just Tell Me Something Good. Yes, it's time for some Black Man Fact or Fiction. But first, a dance break:

We continue to celebrate our mocha, caramel and bittersweet brothers this week. I, for one, am a fan. I think they are some of the most innovative, resilient, misunderstood beings on the planet. In fact, I so enjoy my Nubian Brethren that I've invited a few blog cousins over to BougieLand to help me understand what's what. Today, I need them to tell me something good. There is a lot of misinformation out there. I plucked some random questions out of the blogosphere and presented them to the fellas. To that end, today we have Citizen Ojo from The Desultory Life & Times of a Public Citizen and Max Reddick from SoulBrother v.2.

  1. True or false: There is a surefire way to keep your man from cheating. And if this is true, what in the world might it be?

    Max: Sisters, don't be fooled. If it is in your man's character to cheat, ain't nothing you can do short of maybe voodoo to keep him from cheating. You can lessen the chances he will cheat, but when the rubber meets the road, if given the motive and opportunity to cheat, he will. And what do you do to lessen the chances? Actively cultivate the friendship between you and your significant other. Most relationships start out as friendships, but when the bills and the children and the other vicissitudes of relationships come into play, friendship is the first thing that goes out of the window.

    And perhaps this is the most important. Try to quell all disagreements in a timely manner, and be willing to compromise. The win the argument at all costs attitude only further aggravates the situation and doesn't help in arriving at a workable solution. Don't go to bed angry, and don't let that disagreement cross the threshold of your dwelling because if you value your relationship and are trying to keep it intact, you don't need your angry, dismayed man, who just may have the cheating gene, out in the world.

    If your man is only halfway desirable, there is always some woman out there who is only too willing and eager to listen to his side of the story and agree with him, and the next thing you know he is sitting somewhere on somebody's bed butt naked, smoking a cigarette, and saying, "What have I done? What have I done?" But if you decide to go the voodoo route, there is this lady named Lucretia Lebeaux out of New Orleans who has a little spot right off Beale Street in Memphis who specializes in relationship roots.

    Ojo: You can't keep a man from cheating no more than you can fly to the moon without a rocket ship. Next Question Please!!

  2. True or false: Men love it when women fight over them or openly jockey for their affection.

    Max: cannot speak for other men; I can only speak for myself. And fighting over me or openly jockeying for my affection ain't classy. Most men I know want ladies who represent themselves as such, and scuffling in the streets or throwing yourself all over someone in hopes of gaining their affection does not fit that description. I know that sometimes you have to handle your business because there are a lot of unscrupulous women out there who would like to try your man's commitment to the relationship but be ladylike in doing so. Scuffling in the street over your man with your unmentionables all showing might be flattering in the short term, but believe me, your man is making mental notes that will come back to haunt you later.

    And if you hope to gain his attention by throwing yourself all over him, you might be setting yourself up. He might get the idea that you are offering yourself up as a jump off, and if this not what you want, you may have given him the wrong idea, and once a man has given you the jump off label, it is hard to overcome.

    Ojo: It's only cool when liquids are involved. Mud, Jelly, the Marsh mellow stuff they use at Baskin Robbins. High School guys like to see girls fight because of the ego boost it gives them. Grown Men don't want to have any part of it because of the property casualties it causes. Broken Windows, Scratched Car Doors and Torn Clothes are not a good look at 30 plus years of age. Women fight messy and they usually break other things in the process. Imagine a dude trying to explain why his car looks like it was hit by a baby deer. Only High School kids like drama…..

  3. True or false: A man that has a terrible relationship with his mother will have issues with women well into adulthood.

    Max: Well, from my observations, this is often true. If I might get all philosophical for a brief second, the family is the very first socializing institution and it is within the family that people learn to conduct themselves in relation to the world. So, if this relationship is dysfunctional, it makes all other relationships difficult. But check this out ladies. Observe how your man interacts with his mother. If he is a grown behind man and his mother still treats him like he is going off kindergarten for the very first time, run! He is perhaps a momma's boy and will expect you to treat him the same way.

    And conversely, if he treats his mother like dirt under his feet, beware because if he treats his own mother this way, you must ask yourself how will he treat you? However, if the relationship between him and his mother is healthy and one of mutual love and respect, if his mother is able to see you as a complement to her son's life and not an adversary, then give him a try.

    Ojo: This is one of the biggest falsehoods in America that has been promoted by Michael Baisden and Company. Sometimes guys have terrible mothers. Maybe their mother beat them with extension cords or told them they would be a failure. The real sign that you should look out for is when mothers' baby their sons. That is when you know you will have a terrible relationship.

  4. True or false: Men are relieved when a woman makes the first move, asks them out or initiates sex.

    Max: This is one of those questions which I must answer sometimes and depending on the man. Some men are intimidated by women who take the initiative while on the flipside; some men are turned on by such a forward woman. Some men take a negative view of women who take the reins while others are too shy to initiate contact, much less sex, themselves and are relieved when the woman makes the first move; there would be no relationship or sex if the woman did not initiate it.

    Given this information, this is what I would tell sisters. Take a moment to evaluate the situation and evaluate the person before making your move. And in making your move, do it in such a way that you do not put yourself out there. That is, do it in such a way that you are not left looking desperate. But as a married man, I love it when my wife initiates sex. Spontaneity always makes for better sex. And her initiation of sex tells me one of two things. Either she has overspent or she still has that fire burning inside for me. I love it when after one of those long days, I get home late and tired and the children have been put to bed, and the dog has been shut up in the laundry room, and she has a tumbler of scotch waiting and is dressed in some old fly lawn-gar-ree with the behind all out.

    Ojo: Yes! Yes! Yes! It negates the possible hurt feelings of being turned down. It relieves the guilt that comes with asking a woman for sex. Most guys with a conscious don't want to look like all they want is sex. This is especially if they are really interested in the woman. So when a woman initiates sex, it lets a guy know the sexual attraction isn't all in his head. In most similar situations, both people are feeling it but they don't know what to say or do.

  5. True or false: Men hate to talk about stuff. Just give them some sex and a sandwich and they are happy for the evening.

    Max: Now, I wouldn't go so far as to say all that; that's pretty extreme language. And, again, I can only speak for myself. But I love to talk to my wife; her intelligence is unparalleled, and she is excellent at making conversation. Additionally, I love to have those long, deep conversations, and I absolutely love to laugh with her and joke with her. In fact, these interactions usually are the high point of my day, and I look forward to them.

    But if I were to tender a complaint, I would have to say that she needs to learn my moods. There are those times in which I don't want to talk. I just want to listen to music, or read, or write, or just sit and sip on something and get all lost inside my mental mind, but here she comes wanting to have some deep philosophical conversation. And I have tried telling her politely that I need some me time, some time for the Max-ster. However, this only hurt her feelings or either she thought that something was wrong and thought that things would be better if only we took the time to talk about it. So, I usually give in, but I am cranky in doing so which only makes things worse.

    Ojo: This is just for the first 30 minutes of the man entering his place of residence. Remember the television show "Cheers" where they would always get a drink after work before they went home? Most men need something to calm their nerves before they come home to a lot of excess talking. When you ask a man about his day the conversation is always a brief "It was fine." He could have been at work fighting killer monkeys on crack but when you ask him it's "It was fine." Ask a woman the same question and it's a 45 minute conversation about how the girl in accounting is trying to ruin her career. Men need to come home and relax before they can listen to a lengthy diatribe. But don't get it twisted; there is nothing wrong with throwing in some sex after a hard day of work.

Okay BougieLand, weigh in with your thoughts. Here were the five questions again, what do you think?

  • Is there a sure-fire way to keep your man from cheating?
  • Do men love it when women fight over them?
  • Do men who have terrible relationships with their mothers have issues with women in their adult relationships?
  • Do men love for women to take the initiative?
  • Would men rather have sex and a sandwich over a conversation?

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Love Black Men because… they rise up from the struggle – daily!

The African race is a rubber ball. The harder you dash it to the ground, the higher it will rise. ~African Proverb

Life as a woman of color isn't easy; it's not for the faint of heart. But as trying as it can be, I would never (ever) trade places with a black man. Ya'll can have that with my prayers, blessings and admiration. Even as we are staring 2010 in the face, the ideology of a true "post-racial" society where all are treated and greeted equally remains beyond our reach. Almost beyond our imaginations. With the ascent of Barack Obama to the Presidency, the whispers of true unfettered possibility danced hopefully in our hearts. The belief that "anything was possible" hovered wistfully in the cold January air as the 44th President took his oath. Yet in the back of our minds, every person of color knew that while his success knocked some bricks from the wall, the wall remained.

I once had a friend tell me that being a black male in America is like being a soldier tap-dancing through a loaded minefield. You know the mines are out there, but you never know where or when the next explosion is coming. Sometimes they are small and survivable, sometimes they blow you off the field and you have to start over again. Some don't survive the blast. The hits that hurt the most, he said, were the unexpected ones from soldiers that are supposed to be on your team. He used this analogy to describe his irritation at all the "man-bashing" he felt from sisters in the media, in the blogosphere and in his own life. "How can I walk a path with you if you keep cutting me off at the knees as I approach?" Ouch, I thought. Just ouch. This is a man that I considered to be very confident and virtually impervious to whatever slights the world hurled at him. Turned out he had just learned to cope by acting as though nothing could touch him. [Author's note: A black female should never be the thing that brings a black man to his knees.]

Beyond that struggle, there is the daily perception issue that black men are faced with. Langston Hughes once stated (I'm paraphrasing) that there would always be people who are unable to perceive the difference between him (a slightly built non-threatening writer) and a Zulu Warrior, large of build, spear in hand ready to defeat all enemies by any means necessary. In other words, there are some people who just see whatever they perceive a black man to be whether they are looking at Colin Powell or Stokely Carmichael. A BougieTale to illustrate my point:

On one family vacation, the entire BougieFam (in-laws and friends included) was enjoying a meal at a lovely dining establishment. Service was not all that it could be but we were enjoying the camaraderie and paid it little attention until my sister-in-law needed a new napkin. BougieOlderBro decided to get up and get one for her. Now God bless BougieOlderBro but this dude has elevated the preppy look to a whole new level. There is not a khaki pant, a buttoned down shirt or a tortoise-rimmed eyeglass that he hasn't admired or owned or planned on owning. He is tall, kind caramel colored and almost always smiling (goofy!). Point is, you and I would look at him, stamp the Buppie label on him and be absolutely correct. However, as he got up and walked towards the serving station, a Caucasian gentleman snapped at him and asked for more water and some silverware, and could he hurry it up. Our table froze. BougieOlderBro just laughed, grabbed a waiter and relayed the person's request. His wife went off, "Do you KNOW who he is? He is a SURGEON! He trained for FOURTEEN years not to be bringing you water!" BougieOlderBro's wife is not of African-American descent and we had to calm her down. "It happens," we told her. "Well it SHOULDN'T!" She still gets mad thinking back on it now. The point is, how many times a day does someone assume a white guy walking across a restaurant is the server?

Another BougieTale: Me and my ex, Gene were travelling. As we approached the ticket counter, I switched over to the Platinum line to check on getting us upgraded, he was standing behind me. A woman walked up beside us and said to him, "Are you in the right line?" He smiled and said, "Yes." She pressed on, "Are you sure, because this is the upgrade line." He smiled again, "Yes, that is what the sign says." She continued, "Are one of you Platinum status?" I, of course wanted to break off a little rant but he cut me the "don't start nuthin'" side-eye. He leaned into her, pointed at me and said, "That's why I'm travelling with her, she's big time." Then he and I laughed, between the two of us – he definitely had the higher profile. She still looked a bit nonplussed. We were next up to the counter and were placed on the upgrade list. Ten minutes later, as we sat in the Admirals Lounge, the same woman came in with her husband and cut eyes again. Gene smiled, waved and said in a loud friendly voice, "Hi, are you heading to Phoenix too?" By the time we got on the plane (and were seated in first class right next to these two), Gene had them eating out of his hands. Later he said, "When you kill them with kindness, it shifts the balance of power."

One last BougieTale: I was driving in a ritzy section of Dallas and was pulled over by some police officers. I'm not embarrassed to say that I pulled every (PG-13) feminine wile out of the book to smile and beguile my way out of that ticket. It worked. Two weeks later, I was the passenger in the same car now driven by a male friend. Pulled over again, same officers but they asked my friend to step out of the car. One officer had his hand resting on his weapon while the other checked his ID and eyed the car with suspicion. I climbed out of the car and started talking to the officers, calling them by name. At this point they eased off but still wrote him a ticket. He was going exactly seven miles over the speed limit; I had been driving close to fifteen miles over. Le Sigh.

Beyond the folks flipping their door locks, clutching purses or sending nervous glances and dealing with DWB (driving while black); our men have to tap dance that minefield in the workplace as well. I have heard countless stories from my friends and brothers about how they have to modulate their tones, present their ideas in a certain way, address conflict with the diplomacy of a State Department veteran and basically make themselves as non-threatening and as team-playing as possible. No wonder they are sometimes exhausted at the end of the day from just being.

Ladies, I'm not saying you have to let a man walk all over you. I'm just saying before you snap, walk a half-mile in their wingtips and go head let them hold the remote for a minute. When a man is wrong for something, feel free to call him out. But every now and again, cut them some slack; give them the benefit of the doubt (plus beer and a sandwich). They will appreciate it more than you know. Gentlemen, I salute you for continuing to walk that field. I salute you.

Comment as you will.

The first BnB “I Love Black Men” week

Well, I just finished watching the Oprah special at the White House with the Obamas. It did my heart good to see a Black man and a Black woman, educated, intelligent, attractive and in love. Now that's true bougenificence. I did notice a lot of my Twitter-Sisters just a-swooning over Barack for his devotion to his wife, his sense of humor, his overall classiness. On the flip side, I also watched some of The Jacksons on A&E. Not quite as positive an experience but still, my Twitter-Sisters were able to find something swoon-worthy in the AARP brothers (except Jermaine, he came across kinda b*tchy). This just further cemented my belief that we (as women of color – any color) can find something to love about just about any black man on the planet.

Let's face it, we hear enough about how black men do wrong. In life, in love, in living. I get all that. To err is human. I still love the brothers. Tall, short, light, dark, round, big, small, whatever. The Nubians have a li'l sumthin' sumthin' about them that just makes me pause, smile and take inventory. No offense to all the other men of the rainbow out there, but this week I'm talking about the African-American male specimens. (God Bless them). Can't show love without a mixtape! Here's my virtual musical salute to the brethren.

Here is my Why I love Black Men story of the day: I was at a friend's bachelor party at a club in lovely Downtown Fort Worth. Another friend was the DJ there so we had the club mostly to ourselves. Thankfully it was more of a hang out, drink and tell stories kind of bachelor party than a stripper-jumping-out-of-the-cake, bom-chicka-bom-bom party. At any rate, there were about six women and twelve men there. I had known mostly of the guys from my college days. We got to loud talking about some exploits and my overdramatic self hopped up to illustrate my point with hand gestures waving a drink around in the process. Out of nowhere, some unwise Caucasian gentleman came over and told me to "learn my place, sit down, and shut up." The entire club went silent. My tipsy behind swirled and said, "Excuse me? Do I know you?" This guy says, "You probably need to," and slaps the drink out of my hands. [Yeah he did] Before I could finish saying, "Someone get this fool," eight guys got up, showed him and two of his friends outside. I don't know what was said or done but the guy came in, apologized to me and handed me a bottle of champagne "with his deepest regrets." Moral to the story: Good brothers protect their own (and get a little something extra tossed in).

So we'll kick off the week with a little music and a poll or two. Then we have my Blog Brothers Dame from This May Concern You, Citizen Ojo from The Desultory Life & Times of a Public Citizen and Max Reddick from SoulBrother v.2 here to answer a few questions about why men do what they do and I'll explain why I love them anyway. We'll take a look at stereotypes, what drives me crazy, and romance. So here's a poll to get it started:

What music would you add to the Black Man Salute Virtual Mixtape? Any questions about "I Love Black Men" Week? Comments? Poll suggestions? Anecdotes?


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