As you know, OSF is full of variety as, we do our best to offer variety via our channels 1-8, sales, games and other stuff that might tickle our readers fancy (to suit their reading, playing, or shopping palette on any particular day or in any moment).
In honor of Father’s Day, we’re going to pull the curtains back and roll out the red carpet by dropping some excerpts out of OSF’s WriteHead (AnG)’s novel called “Angie Situation” (please don’t read too far into that, I’ve never been good with title’s and synopsis’-ever).
Since “Angie’s ” dad played a big part of her life, we thought (today-Father’s Day), ‘ how about we pull some excerpts from her book with all things written around dad/father!’
Well here goes that (just excerpts-some longer than others…but I did post them in order for yous).
Hope you enjoy 🙂
Outside of those typical kinds of things-I had no problems or issues.
Any freedoms or liberties I took-I earned.
I pretty much deserved most everything I asked for-and mom and dad made sure of it.
I deserved anything I wanted to do, and anyplace I wanted to go.
I was an easy child to raise. My mom and dad never worried about me or had to constantly discipline me. I received lots of attention and praise for my talents and academics. My dad made it a tradition to make sure he spent at least twice a week with me: full daddy-daughter days-taking me to dinner, shopping, to the movies or riding around in his car for hours of conversation, yet I never felt compelled to tell him what was going on in my secret life. It was private life. My mom and dad had no idea that something like this, for all those years, could have ever happened under her nose, care and watchful eye.
I was a very happy child. Precocious little me can remember being entrusted with a lot of “little responsibility” at seven years old. I was busy: school and church on Sundays and Wednesdays. I fought tooth and nail making sure my mom and dad bought my pink, yellow and mint green night-gown for me to get baptized in at age six. I attended Vacation Bible-School and camp every summer. I had friend, family, dad outings and constant neighborhood fun with friends. You name it-I was doing it. My schedule was full.
Like any other normal well adjusted kid where I lived-I kicked ass and got my ass kicked by other kids on occasion. Third graders, we were. The little mean bitch made her way around the corner to me and up on my porch and wailed on my ass so quick and fast that she had me in total shock and awe. All I could do was cover my face with one hand and grab onto her t-shirt with the other hand then scream with the force of a thousand punches: “If you stop punching me-I’ll let go of your collar!” I never lived that beat-down, down, in a household filled with brothers who for years, used that as leverage against me. I had just got done living in the shadows of the notorious “Landon Harris Ghost of Classroom Past” smack-down, and no thanks to Collar Girl, I was right back into an “If-You-Stop-Punching-Me-I’ll-Let-Go-Of-Your-Collar!” notch under all my brother’s belts. They loved to re-enact those two ass-whippings I received whenever I would behave like the spoiled little brat of a sister that I was to them at times.
Landon Harris was a cute boy and classmate of mine.
One day, when our teacher gave us all a demonstration on how things that sank or swam.
After some time, she felt like we should know which objects would sink or swim.
She began dropping objects into the water then asking each of us which objects sank and which objects swam. Everyone in the circle did well until we got to Landon; he missed practically every object. All the kids laughed at him after each time he failed, and on the only one-that I (almost) joined the laughter on, I barely got a chance to crack a smile before he reached over and knocked starch out of me. All I remembered was my little tortoise shell glasses flying one way and my face flying the other. For nearly two school years I was branded with a new name at school: “Landon-Smacked-Her So-Hard-That-Her-Glasses-Went-Flying-To-The Left-And-Her Face-Went-Flying-To-The-Right!”
That was okay though, Landon merely had a raging crush on me. It merely killed him to see that I (almost) laughed at him. But I bet you by the time I got off that floor from searching for my glasses, I looked up and put two of those four eyes on him-it was on and poppin’ from there! All hell in his heart broke loose and from that point on, life as he knew it was never the same. I swear that boy followed me around ever since that day; clinging to me like laundry static.
So outside of being beat-branded by Collar Girl, smacked by Landon, and in later years; bum rushed and nearly ganged-raped at Leroy’s store by “Cable-Boy” and his boys; that was about as traumatic as childhood got for me.
My secret life was merely a pleasure to me-it didn’t cause me any pain or problems.
I wasn’t exposed to porn or sex of any kind on television. I wasn’t exposed to drugs, a drug lifestyle, or a dysfunctional household with absent parents and bad examples of the same. I can very well warn and proclaim: “Daddy’s guard your daughters! Watch their every move! Keep up constant dialogue with them! Know where they are at all times!”
…but that would merely be a public service announcement and something that was true for even-me, yet and still-under their nose, care and watchful eyes, they saw and knew nothing.
I kept conversation going with my mom and dad-at all times. My mom and dad did guard me, nurture me, protect me and watch my every move. I was where I was supposed to be at all times. It’s just that sometimes I slipped away next door, upstairs, in the attic, around the corner, across the street, in the closet, or behind the couch. But I was never too far from hearing my mom call out to me: “Angie!”
Yet and still…
In between the talks about “life,” with my dad, observing my mom (who lived life and whose thought process was the total antithesis of my dad), life at the school I was attending, the secrets, and the way I was living my life up through this point; I was slowly learning about secrecy, compartmentalization, cliques and elitism. My queen bee wings were growing by the day.
At home, everything was right, comfortable and going my way.
I was a growing little lady and knew all too well that I was a growing little lady, without fully understanding (at the time) just how I got like that-my body, my ways and my mind.
However, now was the time to make everybody take notice, and to be treated like the queen bee that I had blossomed into.
So save the narrative.
Anybody got a problem with that had to speak (now) or forever hold their peace…
got past this issue. I smiled back and gracefully asked (in a curtsy kind of way):
“So…Would you like to go to Wilson’s Pool with us?”
“Yeah!” she replied-happily.
She then ran up the steps to catch up to Rita, grabbing her towel and swim bag.
To Wilson’s Pool, I liked to wear my yellow swimsuit and to Ginwood Pool, I liked to wear the silk, one-shouldered white swimsuit with the big purple and pink flower covering the front and back of it. My dad bought it for me and my mom had a rip-roaring fit when he brought me back from shopping the day she pulled it out of the bag. Outside of wearing makeup before age sixteen, my dad was one of those fathers who had no concept whatsoever about what was and was not appropriate for an underage girl. I can’t recall how the conversation between my mom and dad ended-regarding the sexy white swimsuit, but all I know is that it was up in my room, in my drawer then on my body when I would go to Ginwood Pool.
(an entire chapter “Divorcing Dad” -Chapter 8)
I’m back in high-school now, feeling a little more mature, ready and focused.
I enjoyed my summer, because along with all the fun and experiences that came with it-it was the summer that I seemed to have grown up overnight.
Life was great and everything seemed right, in line, and as planned and mapped out.
The only eye sore, well, no…more like a heart scar, was the Saturday afternoon big blow up that my dad and I had shortly before school started back up.
Kenya and I had been playing around on her mom’s vanity and makeup case while Kenya sat there imitating each and every move I made. I was looking all too experienced in how to apply the makeup and she loved it; having no idea about how sometimes at school during the day, my friends and I would be in the restroom applying makeup only to be worn around school because we had to wash it off before we got home.
Everything that I had learned in art class about the color wheel, primary, secondary, tertiary colors and how to blend from dark to light; I wanted to try on mine and Kenya’s face.
I was so happy with my finished product on Kenya’s and my own face that I couldn’t wait to go home and show my mom, despite the fact that she insisted I not wear makeup.
As far as her eye-lined eyes and mascara lashes could see, I wasn’t high-school enough to wear makeup just yet, but I just wanted her to see it (and in the back of my mind) hoped that she would like it enough to allow me to wear it this upcoming school year (so that I wouldn’t have to sneak and apply it during school and have the daunting task of washing it off before I got home).
I knew that she would not have been angry at me when I walked in with it on, but whether she liked it or not (most probably by way of some idiom of hers) she would sarcastically ask me to wash it off.
Before I could even make it down to my house from Kenya’s, my dad beat her to it-no, he beat me for it. He completely blew his lid in an instant. He practically chased me like a crazy man back up that hill. When he caught me, he tossed me around like a ragdoll so badly, that all I knew was that when I opened my eyes, I ended up against the banister at the same exact spot where my twin brother had Cable Boy wrapped around the rail across-right above where my TGGF’s dad’s dungeon of a basement apartment was.
Remembering the distance I had observed that day, I panicked.
Like déjà vu and I guess from hearing me scream like a banshee; my TGGF’s father swung his door open-preparing to talk someone else into unwrapping another human being from over the top of his humble abode (that was starting to look more like a coincidental attraction for the scene of the next homicide).
Only this time, my TGGF’s dad was met by an extremely good-looking, long-legged, talk, slim, grown man; man-handling his tiny, baby-faced daughter-whose face was painted with electric blue mascara, dark blue eyeliner and bright red lipstick-looking as if she had been playing in her mommy’s makeup case.
With a John Witherspoon-like demeanor mixed with a George Jefferson walk, after my TGGF’s dad took one look at my colorful face and obviously put himself in my daddy’s place [and obviously] understood-unlike the way he saved Cable-Boy’s life (the day that Twin had him wrapped around that same railing that I was now being bent backwards on with his hands mashed into my tiny face); John-George walked right back down the steps to his basement apartment’s cement floor and stood under the railing and watched my dad hover over my badly shaken and near lifeless body while I cried out like a stray cat.
My daddy may as well had killed me right then and there, because as far as I was concerned, from the moment he would remove his hands from me; I was officially dead to him as he was to me the moment he began chasing me up the street like some crazy man-in front of all of my peers. He could never imagine how much he blew it with me after that performance. It was a bright sunny Saturday and a sad surprise right in front of everyone’s watchful eyes-they all witnessed it: My TGGF, Big Jasmine, T-Rubble and Collar Girl, Big Basketball Lena, Nina and all my umbrella friends, Rita and Charlene, the boy from swimming who had a crush on me, the older teenage girls who I would sing for, my friend’s parents-even Leroy stepped out of the store and stood at the bottom of the hill to see what was going on. They were all there-startled; probably wondering what happened that caused my mature persona to be handled like some bitch in the street, slash, abused child. Confusion was on everybody’s face.
If Male Model was near, I did not see him. Oh-wait a minute…
I was hearing birds chirp and seeing stars. I believe his mirage was twirling in the circles of the vertigo I was experiencing at that moment, for he had to have been there. No one missed this sideshow because it went on for a long while.
I was worn out and all too confused.
In all my life, I had never seen him like that-ever. It was almost like some stranger had run up on me-not my dad. He had never even raised his voice at me yet, yet he went from 0 to 60. No, not 0 to 60; 0 to 120 in a matter of some long unforgivable minutes that day.
Regardless how close we had always been all my life, and no matter the: Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica’s, Superman sequels, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus,’ shopping together, long drives and conversation, short rides on the back of his motorcycle, dinners, movies, and surprise bags of clothes from him being my personal shopper that he gave to me-none of that mattered anymore to me. That Super Saturday that he embarrassed me in front of my entire street of friends was the day that he exchanged everything we ever had. We no longer fit.
Because of that one Super Saturday, any closeness that we ever shared (as far as I could register) had now been exchanged for a permanent marquee emanating from my throbbing head that read:
“ALL SALES FINAL. SORRY, NO RETURNS…”
I made my way down the hill-tired and winded-with red lipstick, electric blue mascara and dark blue eyeliner outlining my tears. Standing on the top step, I pointed to my mother sitting there looking startled at the sight of my face. She didn’t pay any attention to the makeup on it, but rather, the look on it. She had the same look on her face the day that Cable Boy, Tom-Tom, Bay-Bay, Day-Day, Ray-Ray and Kay-Kay attacked me. And just like that day, I placed both my hands to my knees as if I was in the middle of playing a rough game of football. I was wheezing, huffing and puffing like a toddler while trying to catch my breath. I was feeling a type of frustration that I had never felt, mixed with a sudden onset of an asthma attack and some conditions that I never even had. That was the feeling.
I closed my eyes tightly and clutched my rapidly pounding broken heart; fighting to assist my lungs in pulling any amount of air through that it could. While wheezing, some air came through and I said to my mother: “Daddy. Do not open that door for him if he rings the bell and from this day forward-I never want to see him in life again-ever…”
In that instant, I could see her face turn from empathy and concern for me, to some longing damsel in distress: sitting there waiting on that prince charming (who was once hers) to bring her some fucking glass slippers so that she could stand on her two feet to walk and breathe again-herself. Well after her heart was shattered like glass after him leaving her and given someone else a ring that once upon a time was hers, as well. I was livid from watching the expression on her face:
“Bull crap! Don’t look at me like that. I never want to see him again and he’d better not ever come near me again-for nothing. And it’s your duty to make sure of it!” I yelled at her as if she was the child.
“He doesn’t have any babies in this house! I’ve got two brothers almost twenty-one and Twin is my age! So there are no babies here! What do we need him for anyway? We are all almost grown! You don’t need him! How much longer is this fantasy going to keep going on in your head? The “babies” y’all had together are grown! The only reason he comes around you is because of me-and I don’t ever want to see him again! Can’t you see that he’s moved on and started his life and started a business with somebody else anyway. You’re sitting over here crossing your fingers and toes, waiting for the day that he comes back to you! He’s coming over here dangling you like a puppet on a string-just in case…and you’ve got the nerve to be looking at me like you are caught between a rock and a hard place!” I asserted-sounding like I got my mouth from her.
She paused and folded her lips-wanting to curse me out and spew a bad mamma jamma of an idiom from that mouth of hers to put me in my place. But she knew I was hurting, while at the same time-everything I said to her made the kind of sense that she needed to hear-a long time ago.
It was perfect timing because we were already about to start packing to move to a new apartment.
I made my mother promise me that she would not let my dad know where we were living-until I felt ready; when or if ever that day would ever come back around. I saw that happening next to never.
She digressed and agreed, but that mouth of hers was filling up with the kind sputum to moisten her lips that resembled mine-in preparation for forming an idiom to smack me with for talking to her sideways in my moment of my temporary insanity.
The expression on my face was like that of Larry Fishburne-frowning up at Ms. Sophia and begging her not to, before punching the mayor: (“Ah no, Ms. Sophia, Ms. Sophia No!”). My mother just couldn’t hold it back: “You let me tell you something LITTLE GIRL! You are not grown! And if you ever talk to me like that in your life-again, I will turn your grown ass upside down and spit in your butt!”
Though my mom was upset about what she found out, she always knew I was mature and could handle many things on my own without probe or prompt.
As a kid-unusually responsible; I was always busy, had a full schedule and trusted-why stop now?
She knew that come morning, I would begin the same responsible routine as every morning, five days a week: using her movement through the house, in the kitchen or the bang of her knuckles to my bedroom door to wake me up right before she left out to go to work-all with the surety that I was responsible enough not to lay back down the moment she closed the door to go on about her day.
She knew she trusted me.
She knew she could trust that from behind those double-doors, no feet for socks were going to be made opposite where she lay.
She trusted me, despite her angry feelings about it all. I never knew them all-we still never talked about it-remember? I could only assume and speculate.
The fact that she was the last one to know probably pissed her off more than anything.
Who knows, it could have been the fact that I gave her, what I felt, was a reasonable exit away from her love: my [dead] dad. Yet, there I was, all booed with up my love: Santana-sitting there smiling and looking all scrumptious-moving closer to me and acting silly.
The television watched us while the radio played one of our favorite classic love songs: “Crazy for You” by Madonna. All the while, my lonely mom lay beyond doors opposite us, probably listening in on us until she fell asleep.
Still, without us ever having a conversation about Santana and me, I could tell she was never going to be more comfortable with it at sixteen than she was at fourteen and fifteen. Because from this day going forward, she showed me better that she could tell me that she never did and never will forgive me for it…
Meanwhile, in other safe pastures, what a sigh of relief this was for the both of us.
School the next day felt different for us. We met up at our usual spot. When he first saw me, his whole face smiled. He hugged and kissed me and twisted me all around; lifting me off my feet-happy-like Richard Gere and Debra Winger in the “Officer and a Gentleman.” It felt like our relationship had started all over again. I was very happy too. I felt so normal, so loved and so adored.
He reached in his pocket to give me my letter:
“What’s up Boo!
Man you ate my KitKat and Doublemint. I was looking forward to that. You should have made the Kool-Aid to wash down the KitKat. But I love you. I like your mother, she’s real nice. I enjoyed being there with you. I felt so good. Let’s go outside at lunch somewhere to be alone if you want to, but you probably want to be with your friends and I understand but it was worth a true try.
…Hold on man. I sound like a sap talking like that,
She treated me like everything we had was a fable. My being serious about Santana definitely was not a part of the design and she proved to me that where she was concerned; my life would definitely be lived by default-all by my choosing…
I was still hopeful. Hopeful that there was still a little bit of a chance that she cared. I needed her attention-just one more time; something to pick her momtor-brain.
I wore a pair three-inch burgundy boots into her class. My [dead dad] had bought them for me some time ago. I refused to wear them ever. They remained in my closet, new and with a $200 price tag hanging from them. They sat there, annoying me-representative of the total oxy-moron he was; how he could kirk out at me from trying out a face full of makeup, yet buy me sexy swimsuits and boots with three-inch heels-despite the fact that the heel was chunky. He was now a moron who had been dead to me for quite some time now, but at least he was good for something that I didn’t want to let go: Ms. You Know Who. So I pulled the boots out of the closet.
I knew that she would have a problem with me wearing some boots like that to school or around her-period, but I was desperate. I was pulling out any stop I could-to try and get some attention and a rise out of her-in hopes that she would try us again.
When I walked into her classroom with my boots on, she frowned at me and began to scold me:
“Angie…what are you doing with those boots on?” she asked.
“Wearing them. You like?” I stuck my right foot out and looked down at them-so that we both could admired them.
“They’re too grown for you-you look ridiculous,” she insulted.
“I like ‘em, my dad bought them for me a long while ago,” I offered.
“Your mom know you walked out of the house like that today?” she asked.
“My mom leaves the house before me,” I replied.
There was a long pause.
“Don’t come in my classroom with those boots on-ever again,” she warned me.
I didn’t reply. I didn’t care-that was the plan. I had that glimmer of hope that we were on our way to fighting like we used to and all would be well again. Instead, this fight was more of an annoyance to her. And those three-inch burgundy boots seemed to remind her that I was just trying to be grown. Whereas many months ago-before the light-bulb head boy; she would have merely saw it as me going through growing pangs and trying something out that was too much before my time. But the fact that I was now sexually active and with-boyfriend, in her eyes, it was no longer the innocence of a girl who had a lot to learn. It was merely me wearing a pair of boots that were too grown for me-trying to impress my light-bulb head boyfriend when I should have been focusing on keeping up with the formula of the dainty sweet little girl that she was grooming for success as a woman.
Considering the fact that Santana had her class the last part of the day, I could only imagine how she was treating him-but I never asked him. I figured if anything significant were to occur, he would tell me anyways. Although Santana was two years older than me, Ms. You Know Who felt that he was way too young and immature for me. She had no problem warning me that in time, I would see.
All she wanted for me was to graduate high school and concentrate my efforts on college and a career by my design and her direction. I wanted that too, but I guess I didn’t want it bad enough to resist my chance with the light-bulb head boy who chose me to stay with, and be his official and steady girlfriend over all the other girls-many school years. I was just happy. I felt normal and what we had, felt “right.” She didn’t understand that, and Santana and me we were much too tight and serious at this time. It wasn’t open for discussion as far as I was concerned any more than she cared about or understood it. I started to accept the fact that she absolutely positively refused to contend with or even work around it, with what she had in mind was best for me.
So eventually, my study halls would be substituted by my being hugged up in some corner kissing and making out with Santana. My lunches would be spent in its entirety; eating, walking, talking and or cuddled up in some corner with Santana. Every now and then, I would drop by to see if she would be in her classroom-sometimes she would, be most times she would not. The times she would be there, she would let me hear the radio playing from the other side of the door. I would knock a few times, then walking away feeling sad until I’d see Santana. The times when she would not be there, I would expect a note on the door explaining her departure and projected return times, but that never happened either.
She gave up on me so quick and swift that if I didn’t know any better, I would have sworn ours was a mirage or dream of some sort. She closed down shop with me as if it never was open, so, I let go, too.
As my teacher (during class lesson demonstrations) she would practically set me up. She would purposely forget to bring an item to the demonstration circle so that I could volunteer mine-my desk was always closest to the circle. One day she needed scissors. I hurriedly reached over to get mine (trying to ingratiate myself to her). I handed the scissors over to her like an orphan begging for porridge and acceptance. She sucked her bottom lip and smirked at me as if to say: “Got’cha!” then underneath her breath (but loud enough so that the class could hear) she said to me: “these aren’t the best scissors in the world.” The class laughed. She then slid them back to me and went to her desk to get her own-as if my scissors were nowhere near worthy. I was so upset with her-she had her payback coming, I tell you. I was steaming mad.
One morning, she was strutting up the steps on the way to her classroom when some wild boys had come running through the hall and bumped into her-causing her to drop her bag. An individually wrapped sanitary napkin came flying out, and everybody (including me) pointed and laughed. She looked around at the immature kids as she reached to pick it up. When she looked up, our eyes met. She gave me the look of death-squinting her eyes and turning her head in total disbelief that I would participate in such silliness. I froze like a popsicle and turned away from her gaze. I can’t lie though, I did feel a little vindicated for her cutting my lifeline to her.
I wasn’t done with her yet, vengeance was mine-I was still steaming mad inside. When the next opportunity arose, I was still going to be sure to take it. I needed some attention from her so badly-but she turned completely cold. I never felt so completely ignored in all my life. She kept my heart nervously beating.
It’s still on though. My long-awaited opportunity of vengeance finally back came around.
My turn, again:
While in class, we found an acrylic nail that happened to have matched her nail polish that she was wearing. We knew it was hers. Everyone dared me to walk up and give it to her. Obviously I was glad to do the honors, seeing as though it was in front of these same people-that she embarrassed me, too.
So two minutes before the bell rang for class to let out, (when it got quiet), I walked to the front of the room, nail in hand, and handed it to her. Everybody laughed so loud. She just looked at me with no expression whatsoever. I knew she was shocked at my childish behavior-but I didn’t care. I stared into her face and it didn’t move and inch, as if all that I did-had no effect on her. I knew better though. I knew she was hurt, and that it took everything inside of her body to keep from snatching me up by the collar. She couldn’t, however, because the entire immature class watched while I smiled at her as if to say: “Got’cha back, bitch!”
My timing was perfect after handing her that fingernail. When the two minutes hit, and the bell rang; I blended in with my fellow immature classmates-hoping that she would form a beak at the tip of her nose and lift me by the skin of my neck. That didn’t happen. No white flags were rolled out, and no olive branches were extended. Instead, she let me out of her classroom door on a straight and narrow path and no resistance. And that was the last time we had anything personal, or anything resembling: care, concern, contempt or scorn, ever again. All was lost-any interest in or for me: gone-as if it were never.
I had to learn to accept that…
I loved her to life, but during this time-we had underlying issues far bigger than the heel of my boots. Only about five percent of our issues had to do with the sanitary napkin, the boots, the fingernail and my disrespect. Throughout those months of my dating Santana, we fought about boys and babies and how a situation as such would ruin my life-all my dreams would go down the drain. I didn’t want to listen. Although I needed her, I wanted Santana, and I wanted her to accept Santana-but he wasn’t a part of the plan.
I had to learn to accept the consequence of that. Santana was worth it to me…
With just a short time before the school year was coming to an end, for five days per week and two hours per day, she was merely my teacher-nothing else. Outside of that, pretty much the only thing we had in common at this point was the fact that my birthday was the same date as her wedding anniversary. If it was left up to her-I’m sure she would have probably thrown that away too, if she could.
I heard that after the school year-she would be moving on to another school to become principal there.
I do know for a fact that she never said goodbye to me and neither did I, her.
Sometime later however, I felt like all that time we had been momtor and mentee, she had either been playing a cruel joke, holding on to a big surprise or both. Because one day I sat in my living room flipping through the pages of a popular magazine and turned it to a picture of Ms. You Know Who with: you’ll never guess who…
Turns out, Ms. You Know Who was a sorority sister of, and did business of some sort with my dancing idol who I loved to watch every Saturday. Tears filled my eyes as I focused in and brought the magazine closer to my face:
“Got’cha back bitch!” I imagined Ms. You Know Who saying (back at me).
There, on the glossy picture was Dr. Huxtable’s wife on the right, Ms. You Know Who in the middle and to the left-there she was: Dr. Huxtable’s real-life sister who in my mind, at that very moment, pointed her stick [at me this time] like she’d do every Saturday from the television screen; screaming her notorious line: “YOU WANT FAME? WELL FAME COSTS AND RIGHT HERE IS WHERE YOU STARRRRRT PAYIN’IN SWEAT…”
Our Madonna classic love song “Crazy for You,” eventually turned Madonna-tragic, singing: “Papa Don’t Preach.” Down to the very last lyric, it was as if that woman’s songs brooded over our relationship and every aspect of it from love and now life: the feet that were being made for socks. As irony would have it, Madonna rode with us from conception of our relationship and the theme song for it, all the way through to what was a kind of immaculate conception growing inside of me: the product of two virgins who made love and a baby from love-regardless our interruption and situations. I could not hear “Papa Don’t Preach” without crying uncontrollably and clutching my stomach. Everything about it resonated with what I was feeling about, Santana, our relationship and me being estranged from my dad-who, if he found out I was pregnant; no question about it, would have forced me to stop the music for all dancing feet involved-immediately. Thanks to me being estranged from him, along with Madonna singing all up in my relationship, with abortion omitted from the list of options; the fact still remained that my belly was going to grow bigger. Her goal was to deal with first things first: pull me out of that school. The dream was officially over, as far as she was concerned.
As far as the school itself, the dream had been over long before I even met Santana, little did she or my dad know. That was a big secret I kept from him over the years of my even attending the artsy-school. Because he had a different perception of my inclusion at that school than what actually was. Although I didn’t abort, I still had a second chance at life and a career going forward-hence why I chose adoption as an option. My father however, though estranged and out of the know of it all; the dream would never be over in his eyes-oh hell no-over his dead body. He was far too obsessively ambitious and loved playing fantasies in his head; his idea of success in the making (being cultivated vicariously through me).
Reminiscing on the time from back in third grade when his insatiably ambitious self interrupted me from my language arts classroom with a bunch of papers in his hand. He had the kind of excitement on his face as if he had hit the lottery. I was his lottery ticket: his golden-child.
He grabbed me by my tiny hands and dragged ninety-five pounds of skin and bones down that hallway so fast that dust probably followed us. He sat me in that empty lunchroom with the packet of papers telling me about this new school that was exclusive to kids with talent of a wide variety.
All my dad knew was that I could sing, I could dance, I could act, I could spell, I’d won spelling bees, I was articulate, I was theatrical, I had a lot of personality, good penmanship, nice handwriting, I was loved by my teachers (parent-teacher open houses were big to-do’s and major strokes to his paternal ego)-my hood loved me. So in my dad’s eyes, that was all the ingredients it took to make “Star Pie.” So he signed me on for the school, when little did he know, my: acting, the written test, my dancing, my creative writing, my music and my drama portion of the audition that opened the doors for me to step right in to the world of non-mediocrity (from the outside looking in) wasn’t what it took to actually make it in that “exclusive” school that he felt was built just for me.
All of that was merely behind (the entry) to door number one. That door merely squealed open to let you in the school-to separate you from the “mediocrity” of the traditional neighborhood high-school.
Door number two slammed behind you: hard. It consisted of politics of the economic, political and social kind:
The: “Nobody’s”: usually quiet, exceptionally multitalented, kept to themselves. Fashion was definitely not a priority or forte’. Most of them wore tattered and recycled clothes. Some were groomed acceptably rather than exceptionally well, other’s-not. For many of them, their circumstance was visible and on their sleeve. They were friendly, stayed out of the way, probably had one hell of an opinion about the remaining cliques:
The: “Why-The-Hell-Are-They-Here-Don’t-They- Belong-In-Some-Neighborhood-School-Rather-Than-This-Exclusive-Schooler(s)”: This was Santana’s group. Hardly anyone in the school knew what their special talents were. Amongst one another they knew (I think). But to all other groups, you kind of just wondered why in the hell were they even in school but more importantly: our school. This group consisted of those who were most probably poor to middle class but wore the latest fashions that seemed to camouflage what, if any, talent they really had. It was such a mystery. They were the typical/local/neighborhood high-school type of group that seemed like they floated into the artsy-school on some island and got stranded there. Some of them laughed at the “Nobodys” and other cliques for not having the latest clothes like them and thought people outside of their cliques were lames or just flat out weirdos. They speed dated amongst each other and would rather be caught dead than to date anyone in the “Nobodys,” but would occasionally date or speed date some in this next group:
The: “Artsy- Talented- Popular-Attractive-Part/Nerd-Part/Hood-Part/Normal’s”: This was my group. We cared nothing about the latest fashions, but rather, expressed our fashion sense through what we could do with our clothes to create our own style. Some of our friends were in the “Nobodys,” outside of that, we were friends amongst each other-that was of the utmost importance to us. Our group dated amongst each other, some would date within the “Nobodys” and the “Why the Hell’s” if they summoned (and only if they summoned).
The: “Wanna-Be’s”: Sigh. Rhetorically, I would have to ask: where do I start…
For starters, if this group of people’s fashion choice consisted of white top shirts, white bottoms, white tennis shoes and (whether guy and girl), if they wore pink sweaters tied across their shoulders and they walked around with tennis rackets; it wouldn’t be too far off from all their personas in school.
This was a pretty cool group (a very small part of them). The large part of this group would literally sicken you to your stomach if you let them (or hadn’t eaten yet). They weren’t trouble makers by any stretch of the imagination, but the large part of them would rather fight Goliath or ban together to hold open the mouth of a whale and fight tooth and nail than to digress to the clique in which many of them really belonged: “Nobody’s,” “Why the Hell’s” or the “Artsy’s.”
It was funny because in truth, this large part really did consist of a mixture of “Nobodys,” “Artsy” and “Why the Hell’s” but you better not tell nobody God, because if you brought that truth out, you probably would have been in for a knock-down, drag out whatever-you-wanna-do-about-it-off.
The “Wanna-Be’s” had one goal and one goal only: to be friends with, known by, connected to or connected with and/or besties with the “Be’s.” They lived for that. The “Wanna-Be’s” dated amongst each other-period. The black guys (and black girls) in this group would rather be caught dead than to be caught dating a “Nobody,” but would [in secret and only in secret] let it be rumored that he or she dated or kissed a black girl, or black boy, or an “Artsy”-and only if that “Artsy” was an “Artsy” that wanted to be a “Wanna-Be” or a wanted to be a “Be.”
Eventually, most “Wanna-Be’s” would get their chance in being a “Be,” but the actual “Be’s” were set in stone. “Be’s” had the social power to make a “Wanna-Be” feel like a “Be” and especially depending on that “Be’s” popularity at the time.
The bottom line was-since the “Wanna-Be” wasn’t a set in stone “Be”-they would still have to take their place back in their “Wanna-Be” spot and remain happy that they were friends with, known by, connected to, connected with and/or besties with the “Be’s.” And in order to maintain their “Wanna-Be” slash want to be a “Be” image; it was best that they: deny that a “Nobody” existed, ignore the “Why the Hells” and act like they didn’t know any “Artsy’s” unless it was one of the “Artsy-10.”
The “Artsy-10:” They were like: “reverse-moles.” Moles of about ten guys and girls in our “Artsy” clique who if given the chance, would do anything to be a “Wanna-Be,” and would kill to be a part of the “Be’s.” You could always tell when one of the “Artsy-10” got a chance to step out and hang out with the “Wanna-Be’s” or “Be’s.” Because (for a short while) they would talk different, walk different and carry on a whole persona befitting of a “Wanna-Be” or “Be.” They would feel so accepted and grateful that they stood a chance (even if it was a mere conversation with a “Wanna-Be” or “Be”). That would be enough to send them on these highs that (like clockwork because it was all a matter of time) the “Wanna-Be” and/or “Be” would send them right back into the clique to which they belonged: “Artsy- Talented- Popular-Attractive-Part/Nerd-Part/Hood-Part/Normal.” Their little fantasies and hopes of actually being a “Wanna-Be” or “Be” (for good) never-ever came to fruition and they would steadily try: year after year. It was crazy to observe. Aya and my other friend Carren were two-tenths of one such type. It would be a mixture of pathetic and painful to watch their ups and downs as a result of it all.
The “Be’s”: They were a mixture of three types of people and it was just this simple:
1-Either their parent or relative worked at the school (and/or had some control over the school program or any particular performance art or academic).
2-They were the kids whose parents were on a committee of givers who donated significant monies to the school (on a continuous basis).
3-They were close friends/besties of both. I repeat: close friends/besties of both. Not: known by, connected to or connected with. Their real friends and besties only.
“Be’s” had their way with about 65% of the teaching staff. The teaching staff was kind of like a teaching staff at a college. In college, you have some professors who may have athletes as students, who pretty much have a “pass” in their class no matter what. Athletes’ schedules are methodically chosen by their coaches and the athletic staff on a “preferred professor” basis: the professors who would always cut the athlete some slack because they are in cahoots with the sports program (secretly).
It was like that here, at our artsy school.
Probably about 65% of the staff was in cahoots with parents or relatives who worked at the school and/or had some control over the school program or any particular performance art or academic and as well, parents who donated money to the school.
So having to take a class with a “Be” could be quite the experience. Not as a result of the “Be’s” behavior or presumptuousness (because they indeed were). The “experience” would come from the “Be’s” real friends and besties or the “Wanna-Be’s” behavior-that was the irony of it all.
The “Be’s” besties, real friends and “Wanna-Be’s” loved for it to be known that they too, were exceptions to most rules. Most all “Be’s” were very assuming and presumptuous (subtly so). But they weren’t pathetic or painful to observe. The “Wanna Be’s” and the “Be’s” real friends and besties were-at all times. “Be’s” never had to do anything but just: be. They knew their place and knew it was solidified, and knew they had the most social power in the entire school-effortlessly.
All of that was what my dad did not know about this artsy school that he was so eager for me to get in. The doors had shut behind me, and the politics of the economic, political and social kind was a well-known secret that none of us ever talked about (in either group). It just was what it was. I’m just breaking it down (to how it “was”). I never explained it or broke it down to my dad because he would have taken my inclusion into that school to a whole new level, and I wasn’t interested in that kind of fighting to get in and fighting to stay in kind of illusion that I was watching. It was really a circus act that neither one of them even understood.
When my dad had come to grab me out of my third grade class to do that school’s paperwork, got me auditioned and in; he thought he knew-but he had no idea…
He merely expected that because I was multi-talented, I would get early training at a school that would hone in on that in a big way and from there-the world would be my oyster.
Well, unbeknownst to him, getting trained for the world to be my oyster-did not happen outside of evening recitals from well-rehearsed dance performances, drama recitals or art-exhibits for required classes. I tricked him into thinking that these performances, demonstrations and exhibits were major.
The bigger training and experience took place on the stage. That gave you the feel for what it would be like gigging in New York. The closest I got to that experience and on that stage (outside of my evening dance recitals) was auditioning for the major/school box office plays.
A callback list would go up. It had gotten to the point where I never had to check the first or second callback list-I made all of them. But when that final list would be posted, it was always 77% populated with the: “Be’s” and “Wanna Be’s.” 10% Artsy’s, 10% Nobody’s and 3% “Why the Hell’s”.
Unbeknownst to my dad, by eighth grade (many years before Santana was ever a twinkle in my eye and had even started the school), when I started to take notice of the social politics and began to pay attention to the list of student’s parents who donated big monies to the school-I totally quit auditioning. I would be obsessed with strolling that first floor area near the administrative offices watching rich parents with full-length mink coats stroll in and out of the principal and artistic director’s office; either cutting checks or finding out why their child was the understudy rather than the actual lead in a major. I would run to the front of the building just to take a peek at their big expensive Jaguars, Mercedes and BMW’s parked sideways-presumptuously knowing that the meeting they came for wouldn’t last-because they knew all too well how their money talked and bullshit runs the marathon.
By eighth grade, I refused to be the bullshit running the marathon through callback list number two and higher. I started turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to it all. If you understood the social, economic and political dynamics (that at the age, I didn’t have name for); you would have understood-like I did-how that social politic game went. I had zero interest in being a “Wanna-Be.” I found too much comedy watching, listening to and hearing about the pressure and rollercoaster ride that some of them would go through to be where they were socially. It was so pathetic to me.
In hindsight it was all so pitiful; watching the five cliques outside of the “Be’s (including me). The pathetic way that those who were in control of the performance art program, would come to classrooms and stand there like big suits-folding their arms and looking down from their eye-glasses and placing their hands on their chins, looking around at everyone and squinting their eyes like they were about to pick their next superstar. We would sit up with our backs arched straight and one-hundred watt smiles (looking all stupid and shit) from being told in advance that they would be coming through scouting for local commercials. No words were ever spoken, it was a classic case of the psychological Pavlov Dog Experiment.
By eighth grade, I quit barking and jumping. It never phased me anymore. I started turning my head to the direction of the window when the suits would show up. To myself, I would crack up laughing when they would leave-from how stupid some people looked-having no idea how that social politic game went. It was sad-watching my peers do just what I would do my first five years there for those suits (that were merely looking for the kid whose parents just strolled through with the mink coat-double-checking to see if the kid had the look for the next commercial they had just promised rich mom, rich dad).
It was hard not to, but I never told my dad about the politics that existed there because secretly, he too, was classist, elitist and insatiably ambitious and so was I, to an extent. Though I hated that school because of it-I understood what was going on. He (secretly) never forgave himself for having kids by a less than ambitious mother, so he was going to make at least one of us pay for it. Between Twin and me and my other brothers; I was the best fit. So he executed his plan, set me on the mark, put me in position and threw me into doors-that once closed behind me-he knew nothing about. He just knew I belonged and would have paid top dollar to put me where he wanted to see me: on a main stage even if it was up on a harness flying across that auditorium with a diaper on and sprinkling glitter throughout-that would suit him just fine. My dad played the game-always had. He had a formula for success and life: no sleep. To be the boss, you have to pay the cost-and usually, by any and all means necessary…
The only thing that made me happy there, were my friends-I loved my friends and two other teachers [outside of Ms. You Know Who, who respected me, knew my worth and talents]. I had nothing to prove to her outside of following her rules.
When I got home to the where I lived, my experience was altogether different.
If I say to someone (who is not from my hood: “my hood held me down,”) that person would probably think I meant that my hood stifled me. But no, that school stifled me, but my hood “held me down” (up-in the highest esteem). I was fortunate because of that. And I always knew and was grateful for that.
Without my hood, I would have had no self-esteem or confidence, because that school would have broken me. When I left that school at 3:40p (many years before meeting Santana) my show began there-that was my main stage and bright lights with people cheering me on and appreciating being entertained by me at whim and request. My hood was my main stage, but while in school from 8a-3:40p; I was amongst a game of social politics that I refused to be the butt and bullshit of. That balance kept me grounded. Everything I learned and any skill I honed was the result of the ones who truly loved me, respected me and knew me-not the school I attended. My hood was merely disillusioned, bedazzled, and dazed by it all, because I was the only one from it-able to make it through those doors, that they (like my dad) knew nothing about-once they closed behind me.
In secret, I continued to let my dad (and even the people from my neighborhood) think that it was the school that was grooming me to blossom. Even Ms. You Know Who (who taught there) thought the same thing. I was learning, dreaming and inspired by way of her and my hood-not the school.
I wasn’t learning shit at the school. I wasn’t inspired there. I didn’t dream there. That school wasn’t preparing me for a life of what she and my dad thought I was attending there for. The school only taught me one thing and one thing only: the game of social politics, where by age thirteen, I was a pro at it and recognizing it. I knew my worth to people, my talents and what I was capable of. I didn’t need that school to validate that for me-all for a financial, social and emotional large fee.
As far as I was concerned with my [dead dad], my faith and disinterest in the school plus my estrangement from him all worked out. I was no longer under his pressure in more ways than he knew (and little did he ever know)…
As far as I was concerned [with my mom on pulling me out of the school], it was a favor to me. Because little did she know, after about my eighth-grade year there, it only became important for me to attend because of the school’s reputation and big name-in the eyes of other people. The school was something I could most certainly live without.
But now, I was faced with a decision to make and to decide if I could live with or without: this growing child inside of me. My mother merely felt that it would be distasteful for me to be in that type of school with a growing belly. She not only did what was best (and a favor to me), she also did what was natural for her and what she did best whenever she was faced with an important issue: run away from it, or ignore it away or send it away. So plans were made for me to be sent away to a home for pregnant girls that had a school campus but to me-was more like a pregnant jail filled with other pregnant and mean big-nosed bitches who like me, had a decision to make as to whether or not we were coming home with our brat, or give them to some happy couple waiting in the wings (which is what most did-as was my prospective decision) because I still had plans for a real life, with or without “real” love.
Couldn’t necessarily say that Santana had any serious and major plans for his life after he graduated, because although I personally knew his creative and artistic talents; they were about as obscure to other people as about as obscure as what he was going to do in life with his talents.
Although I played a part in creating the feet for socks, mending socks were not in my plans. All I could see was a hard life, and a hard-working man; working hard for a minimum-wage job, coming home stressed, over worked and pissed at and resenting me.
No thank you (to that “life”)…