(chapter 2 random excerpt)
THE PRECOCIOUS RIPENING
I was just: “different.”
All my life I’ve been “different,” I felt “different.”
If it wasn’t for the fact that I have a picture of me at age seven holding a baby doll in my hand, I would swear that I never even played with toys because I didn’t. Of all the things I can remember, playing with that doll was not one of them-that’s for sure. The girls my age would have Barbie Doll parties, where they would bring all their Barbie’s different outfits and such. I never once went to any of their Barbie parties-because it just did not interest me. For me, it was such a lame and childish waste of time. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t see the fun in it. I would rather read a book, watch a movie, practice singing, dancing or close the door to my bedroom and entertain myself doing those things-if no one else was around or available to do them with.
I was sweet and talkative. I liked talking to people-constantly. I was a people watcher: adults-mainly.
I was very curious about how they lived, and things they would say in conversation with one another as compared to how they would talk to us kids. The funny thing about me is that I wasn’t a mouthy, cursing, smart-mouthed lil’ girl. I spoke when asked to speak and conversed when the invitation was extended. I could hold a conversation with an adult then come down to conversing with kids my own age.
That earned me “power” when I was a little girl. I was always the delegated one by my friends and as well; my friends’ mother’s-they all loved me. They much preferred their kids to be around me over most any of our other friends, because all their parents knew that I was smart, talented and wanted to be somebody when I grew up. It was as if they felt like some of “me”-my personality-would rub off on their kids in some way that would eventually make them proud parents of “Little Miss Personality.”
I lived a double-life at a very young age. As compared to the average child that experienced such things from ages seven to thirteen, with the goings on in my lil’ life, I showed no signs of what the typical child would probably show. The kids I hung out with probably would have folded in two-to have lived the life I had lived up to that very point. My friend’s parents, like my mother, had no idea the things I had already experienced. My curiosity about adults and ability to hold their attention and interest was because of far more than they could never imagine. I would often hear adults whisper to my mother: “girl that child’s been here before.” That was all they could say from observing me.
I was just: “different.”
Rather than feeling terrorized, wetting the bed at night, having nightmares, feeling withdrawn and acting out; I thought I was living a normal life, but that I had “secrets” nothing more.
Secrets like mine don’t always manifest themselves in ways that you most commonly hear about. I was never threatened with threats like: “you’d better not tell anyone or else!” I was never threatened with any bodily harm or claims they would hurt me or my mom if I told someone. I wasn’t manipulated with candy and toys or led like a lamb being led to slaughter so, to me, all was well-as-was. I wasn’t mal-adjusted with any personality disorders or having behavioral problems at school.
I was involved.
I was active.
I was eager.
I was always interested and insistent on learning to do things on my own.
I insisted on being trusted to wash every dish in the house-demanding that my mother remove all the knives and sharp objects to let me stand in that chair and have at that dishpan with the bubbles in it!
I insisted that my mother’s friends bringing their red buckets of funky chitterlings and allowing me to stand at the kitchen sink from sun up to sun down every Thanksgiving through New years; cleaning the skin off until you could almost see through each wrinkled grey piece. I loved hearing grown-ups praise me for doing things for myself and around the house that grown-ups could do, and that I could do better than the average kid (my age). I loved to feel dutiful, useful, worthy and good for something.
I was quite spoiled-a very free-spirited child who rarely was told “no” to anything.
At age six, outside of getting my ass whipped in the middle of a department store for screaming, kicking, and insisting on getting the pair of black patent leather shoes I wanted, I was never told “no” or got spankings and such. Even to observe such a scene outside of it being me, seemed immature and childish to me-like that kid was “acting like a child” and probably deserved that spanking.
I was independent-and trusted.
By age six, I was able to comb and style my own hair.
It was picture day and I was insistent on wearing my hair like Chaka Khan, but my mom had other plans for my hair. I began kicking and screaming; fighting her off and away from me with the hair sheen in one hand, and the hairbrush in the other-refusing to let go of either. Outside of that-I was never a problem child.
At age five, outside of getting caught with one leg out of the window of our third-floor bedroom (pillow case in hand) thinking that my clothes stuffed in it would fly me away to: freedom, the sky, and the great outdoors, I never did anything bizarre or crass. My middle brother could manipulate me into doing anything (or his dirty work). After our being punished and made to sit in the back room for the day, he had to come up with the remedy for us to escape, so he sent me to test the elements first. After that spanking, I never put myself in positions that would cause me to get spankings-ever again. That didn’t feel good to me.
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!”
(chapter 3 random excerpt)
RIPE & READY. GANGS, BANGS & PANGS.
Ah man. I had my day all planned out until Aunt Dot and Mother Nature started gossiping.
Ten years-old on a hot summer day and I got my period. Typically, I would wear cut off jean shorts-but this particular day, I searched high and low for a full pair of jeans.
Every summer, I would cut every pair of jeans that I wore in the fall, winter and spring, so that I could have tons of jean short choices in the summertime. My mother hated that. By the time school came back around for the fall, she would be screaming at me for having no jeans for school.
This particular day-I know how she felt, because I was out of my head from trying to find a pair; knowing that I most probably had none.
By some stroke of luck, I found a long pair and wore them with a pink and mint green polo t-shirt and a pair of sneakers. I did not want any part of my skin exposed at all. If I could have-I would have covered up to my neck that day.
I had gotten up early that morning-my mom was gone to work. I went to the bathroom and there “she” was when I wiped. I sat on the toilet seat and smiled; ready-and in complete preparation for what I was supposed to do next. Obviously, since I had been reading any and everything I could about sex, what to do when I became a woman, was too, something of interest to me. I had no recollection of having my mom tell me exactly what to do when that day was to happen-I only read about it.
There were no sanitary napkins in the linen closet, medicine cabinet, under the bathroom sink or in my mom’s room-just tampons. I called her at work to tell her the news. She giggled and whispered through the phone: “Oh my baby’s a woman now-bless her heart.”
With a half-frown and a smile on my face I said to her:
“But mom, there are no pads here-only tampons. I don’t want to be sticking nothing in me like that,” I said to her-reminiscing how (during my reading) I skimmed past “how to use tampons.” The cartoon-like picture of this woman with her head back, mouth open and one foot up on the toilet did not appeal to me. The whole page and picture played in my head while I was talking to mom. “Pads would suffice-thank you,” I said-cutting her off-not hearing a word she was saying while I reminisced about the corny tampon lady.
“I’m going to have [your friend Dana’s mother] bring over a few pads for you until I can bring you some-home when I get off from work,” she explained.
“Hold on,” she paused, putting me on hold to place the call six doors up from me.
She returned back to the line: “Ms. Andrea should be ringing the bell any minute to bring you a few pads over, and I’ll see you when I get home.”
“Okay,” I replied-while I sat on the chair of my third-floor bedroom: pigeon toed and eager; waiting for my doorbell to ring.
Dana’s mother finally made it to deliver my essentials.
The doorbell rang: she held onto it as if she was singing and giggling my name before removing her finger to release it.
“Here I come!” I yelled, repeatedly out of the third floor window-down to her.
I ran down to the second floor and peeked in to one of my brother’s rooms and he wasn’t in there.
I continued to run down the steps to the first floor, and there my twin brother lay; watching television on the couch.
“Here I come!” I yelled down the steps leading to the front door.
I heard my brother yell while throwing a pillow at me:
“Uhd! You’re nasty!”
I figured I had blood on my light-blue night gown and it grossed him out. I didn’t care, I kept running down the steps to get to the bottom to open the door for Mrs. Andrea who stood there with a big smile on her face-she too was “so proud of me.”
She looked me up and down, rolled her neck back-giggled-then gave me a hug so tightly; echoing the same thing my mom said: “Oh Angie’s a woman now. Bless your heart baby,” she said.
I gave her a side smile-not knowing whether I was supposed to say “thanks,” throw my thumb up and say: “yeah-check me out,” or what.
“Now do you know what to do with these?” she hurriedly asked me; ready to educate me.
I replied, “Yes, I do. I know what to do.” I laughed assuredly; finding it so funny that these two old battle axes acted like I was supposed to be asking them a ton of questions when little did they both know [I thought] I was damned near ready for the world and all that was to come with it by age ten.
My period, like anything else was something I had been planning for and read about-ready for the moment it was to happen. I just wasn’t ready for was what happened in Old Man Leroy’s candy store some nine hours later.
From the moment I got those sanitary napkins, I had done everything right.
I took my time as if the world had to wait on me that day. Aunt Dot and Mother Nature was the boss of me, but I was the boss of Father Time that day. I took my bath different and slowly that day. I combed my hair intently and differently that day. I prepared and handled myself like a complete “woman” that day, but I had been preparing for that day to arrive like a wife prepares for her wedding day to arrive.
I was so dramatic. When I went to visit my friend Dana and other friends, I was quiet and reserved, feeling like I was now on some different level than all of my friends, because they hadn’t got their periods yet. That day, I felt very secretive and protective of myself, as if-beginning this day, I had to do things a little different than the day before because I was now a “woman.”
By the time I got dressed to begin my day; I noticed that my brothers talked to me slowly and intently. We hadn’t fought all day like we used to do while my mom would be at work. In awe, they stared me all up in my face as if they were going to see something different in it that they didn’t see the day before. I could tell that my mother told them over the phone not to piss me off, because they were on their best behavior, and anything I said-went (that day). So for about nine hours into my womanhood, I was able to have it all my way until running into “Cable Boy” and his buddies in the middle of Leroy’s candy store. Well, something like that…it was the other way around.
Totally fucked up my big day.
All I did was go to the candy store to grab a bag of Crunchy Cheese Doodles, A Little Hug fruit punch and a pack of watermelon Now & Laters hard candy. That short trip turned into a situation at a distance unforeseen. When I walked in, no one was in there but me. Behind me was a Galaga arcade game to the left, and a Pac-Man arcade game-to the right. I was leaning to the right side with my elbows on the counter. My knuckles were dug into my right cheek as Leroy (the store’s owner) began to brown bag my goodies. The front door of the store swung open to one of the six boys who smiled at me as I turned around with my right hand above my brow; squinting from the glare of the bright outdoors-shining in my face and through the dimly lit hole in the wall neighborhood store.
The one boy looked at me and smirked then ran back outside as the door shut quickly behind him. By the time I reached for my brown bag from Leroy, the door swung back open, and like a swarm of bees, all six guys came running in and around me while one of them pressed upon me with his hands grabbing my waist; humping and thrusting into me like animals in the wild.
I reached my hands into the eleven by fourteen serving window’s ledge for support. I tried bucking back and kicking like a wild horse because I was so afraid that he was going to try to wrestle me to the dirty floor of the store. I held onto that window for dear life, I must have looked like Carol Ann hanging on while getting pulled by the Poltergeist.
I started screaming bloody murder when each boy took turns grabbing me from behind while holding on to my waist and humping me like wild animals. I was so angry and disgusted. I let go of the window while trying to turn around and keep my balance, but they had me pinned and bent over. All of them were taking turns hunching on me while grabbing my one fully developed breast-the other stuffed with toilet paper. (I was one of those girls-who for almost a year-had one fully developed A-cup left breast while the right one remained swollen and looking like a little bud that, at any moment was going to pop out and catch up with the other one).
I tried hard to keep my balance and not fall to that filth because I knew that it would be a bad situation if they got me down on that floor, but before I knew it-my back was flat to that filthy floor-I couldn’t over power them at all.
They all hovered over me, as I screamed for Leroy’s help. I could hear him faintly from beneath the chest of one of the musty boys lying on top of me hunching and pumping me wildly while I screamed and cried my heart out. This three-minute catastrophe was so barbaric and painful that it seemed like I lay there for hours. I was so tired and worn out that it felt to me, what it must feel like for football players running into one another on the football field.
Old Man Leroy had the door to his store and counter’s entry and exit wall so booby-trapped (from being afraid that this kind of thing would happen to his cash register rather than a person) that it took him forever to get from behind that damned counter. Knowing Leroy, he probably was struggling to decide how he was going to watch his cash register while trying to help me fight off the pack of wolves.
I never recalled Leroy’s candy store ever getting robbed, so all of that self-made booby trapped wiring he did to lock himself in (while servicing the neighborhood through that stingy eleven by fourteen window), ended up backfiring on poor little me-laying there getting treated like a piece of meat that had been tossed into that lion’s den.
By the time Leroy made his way out to them (with his rolled up newspaper in one hand and a full forty ounce bottle of beer in the other-as weapons) they had all scattered about; busting their way out of the beat up wired self-made front door.
Leroy kneeled down to me as I lay there in fetal position, crying my heart out. He began apologizing to me while running all their names off to me. I held my hand up to quiet him as I shook my head and said: “No, no need for that. I already knew who they are.”
They all hung out together-every single day. None of them lived on our street. Each one lived a couple of streets over and the ringleader lived in a different neighborhood altogether. They had friends on my street that they would visit, so everybody knew who they were from being known as big-time troublemakers. Each one of them had double names like: Tom-Tom, Bay-Bay, Day-Day, Ray-Ray and Kay-Kay. The ringleader was the only one with a single syllable acronym name (one that he earned, courtesy of a cable tv channel-because it was rumored that he was the original inventor of stealing cable television). That earned him massive street-cred and the moniker of an entire cable channel’s acronym in place of his own (real) name.
“Go get your brother’s baby, go on and get your brother’s!” Leroy said to me as I began to peel my tired little body off of his filthy sticky floor. I felt so icky.
“Say no more,” I gestured and said to Leroy. I was so agitated and disgusted.
I then peeled myself off of his filthy floor-still holding on to my brown bag full of goodies.
The first day I got my period, and feeling ever so violated; I stood up and placed my hands to my knees, bowed my head and cried and little puddle of tears that fell straight from my eyes down to the sticky floor without even rolling down my cheeks. “Does anybody have any reason why these two should not be joined together in holy matrimony? Speak now or forever hold your peace.”
…In an instant; my big day was squashed; squashed like a woman’s wedding getting interrupted by an objection unforeseen. I felt so robbed of my special day-all lost to these saps who had no idea what they were in for, when I made my way out past Leroy’s beat up store door that he was standing there holding open while yelling at Cable Boy and his boys outside:
“Stupid little twerps down there humping on that lil’ girl! You lil’ nasty fuckers! Get ‘way off from in front of my store! Get ‘way from here! Don’t come back ‘round here no more! I’m getting my gun! I’ma get it! I’ll get’cha’s!” he threatened; still swinging that forty ounce of beer and rolled up newspaper as if he was going to do some serious damage with them both. Those weapons of choice he had in his hands did not convince these thugs that he had anything remotely close to a real gun near or on him. They proceeded to curse and laugh at Leroy as if he was merely cracking jokes with them.
My walk home from Leroy’s was all but two minutes away. From my porch, I could step right down and peek around the corner to see if Leroy was open-on any given day.
When I got to the corner of my building and in front of my porch, I turned to make sure those heathens were all still standing there arguing with Leroy. They had no care or concern that I was gasping and crying hysterically. They had no idea that I had just became a “woman” some nine hours earlier that day, and in an instant-they made me and it feel icky like Leroy’s sticky floor that they plastered me to.
By the time I placed my right foot onto the first step of my porch, it was like an alarm had gone off in the neighborhood: my mom was just getting out of the car from work. People were running up to her trying to tell her what Old Man Leroy had told them. All the while, you could still hear Cable Boy and his boys laying into Leroy with laughter, watching him fight with words and a forty ounce.
“Are you okay Angie! Are you okay baby?” my mother kept asking me over and over-while in between her care and concern; calling upstairs to Twin so that he could get downstairs to kill the muthafuckas and save her the trouble…
“What’s wrong with Angie!” Twin yelled from the first floor window-repeatedly-all the way down the steps while slipping on his sneakers at the same time. He busted through the front door:
“What’s wrong with Angie? What’s wrong with Angie?” he continued asking. All the while getting prepared to kick somebody’s ass for every teardrop he was watching fall down my face-that’s all he knew.
All I had to do was stand back away from the porch, get close to the curb, and point down to the sight of Leroy still trying to swat Cable Boy and his boys ‘way off from in front of his store. Twin could sum up what happened from there. Say no more, because he commenced to saving my mother the muthafuckin’ trouble by charging across the street like a lightning bolt; going in on all six of those fools with the speed and force of a rolling bowling ball knocking down a full set of pins. He was knocking and socking three of the boys at one time, while they were falling into Leroy’s wooden and wired barely there door. They were so caught off-guard; yelling and screaming for dear life-while catching quick, swift savage beat downs from one fiercely angry boy who loved his twin sister despite how much he picked on her.
The other three sat from across the street watching in horror, still knowing they did not stand a chance even if they tried to do a six-on-one. My brother was a madman that day-like a bull in a China shop. Those boys had no idea how hard my brothers worked to treat me like a little princess and refrain from taunting me with the daily: “stop-punching-me-I’ll-let-go-of-your-collar” jokes for the day, and now this? Oh hell no.
In what seemed like the blink of an eye, and a scene out of a movie; my now crazed twin brother made his way across the street to the other three boys. Cable Boy was the first to shoot off running up the back way of our street. The two remaining boys got smashed together like a set of bowling ball pins entrapped in my brother’s hands. One fell to the ground, as my brother held on to the other one. With the one under his foot, and the other in a full-nelson; Twin was hungry for that ringleader. He yelled out to the onlookers: “Where did [Cable Boy] go? Where did he go? Where did he go? Where did he go? Where did he go?”
We all knew (if you weren’t from the neighborhood) the uphill direction that Cable Boy ran-was the only way off of the street. And from the very bottom (where we were); getting to the top of it was quite a long ways to go-even if you ran rather than walked. The unfortunate part about not actually living on our street was that, like snitching, we had a “code” of our personal street. Nobody was to ever know or go through the quick secret back way to get off of the street if you didn’t live on the street. Cable Boy and his boys didn’t know that if you did not make that dash to the right, and through the wooded back alley down past Old Man Leroy’s store; your only way off our street was that long haul up hill. No matter how cool you were with the boys on our street, that secret back exit to get off the street was privileged information that only the boys in the neighborhood shared amongst one another-just in case they ever needed to use it for a quick getaway. Cable Boy and his boys weren’t privy to that information, so Cable Boy had no choice but to run the wrong and long way.
The APB was put out on him, and all my brother’s friends headed up the back side and front sides of the street to make sure he would be cornered from wherever they met him on the hill, which ended up being about mid-ways before he was off the street. When they cornered him; they backed him down towards the front side of the street where my brother walked slowly up on him like the grim reaper. You could practically hear theme music playing. I don’t know if Cable-Boy was opening his mouth to apologize, plead his case, talk shit or all three, but before he could utter a full sentence, my brother had his hands around his throat; lifting him off the ground as if he was a killer in a horror movie. Cable-Boy tried his best to fight back but he could not, he was in complete shock. Twin then released him so that he could allow Cable-Boy to go toe-to-toe with him, but instead, Cable Boy threw what looked like a terribly rehearsed drop-kick that he had rehearsed one too many times with his lil’ brother and cousin’s. That puny little leg got caught up in my brother’s hands like a fly trap-it seemed to annoy Twin even further.
He then lifted Cable-Boy up and tossed his body on top of the banister railing that hang six-feet high over the cement-walled basement apartment where my third-grade girlfriend lived with her dad, brother and sister. In what was looking like a murder about to be committed; my third-grade girlfriend and her dad stepped outside their door only to see poor Cable-Boy hanging from their basement apartment railing looking like a piglet being roasted while trying hard to catch his breath.
Twin was merciless as he pushed, punched, bent and bitch-slapped Cable-Boy like a slab of lard while hanging him over the railing as if he wanted his body to break in two. My third-grade girlfriend walked up the steps to me and began to rub my hair and forehead, then asked:
“Are you okay Boo? Are you okay?”
“Yes,” I nodded back to her.
As a nickname of endearment, she always called me “Boo,” way before it was a popular term of endearment.
Twin was busy handling his functions for his sister-torturing that poor boy. My TGGF’s father was finally able to convince him to unwrap Cable-Boy from hanging six-feet over and above the cement floor of his basement apartment:
“Come on my man, let him go, he ‘got your point-he don’t want no more. Let him live young-blood, calm down. Your sister’s alright now my man. This lil’ knucklehead punk’s not worth it-let him go. Look at him crying. Let him down man, he’s not worth it,” pleaded my TGGF’s father.
My brother then unwrapped Cable from the railing and lifted him back safely over and onto the ground.
He was so weak and crying at this point that he had no more energy to try that cornball ass drop-kick he pulled at first. Unlike the loudmouth he was earlier; he limped back toward the top of the hill to freedom as if he was just released from a cage. It was he-who know had his hand over his brow, looking to the light for God to lead his ass up and away from Twin, and out of my neighborhood-where he had no business carrying on like they way he did in territory uncharted by knowledge he was not privy to…
Life eventually returned back to normal, and I was back to having fun with my friends again.
We liked to get together and take turns singing our favorite songs to each other and using one another for each other’s audience. The fun in it (for a few) was giggling at my TGGF-she sang the worse out of everyone and couldn’t hold a note if her life depended on it-lord knows she tried. For about two years already, she and I had been secret kissing buddies, so I secretly had her back-no matter her shortcomings, awkward ways or in spite of the fact that she did not fit in with my other friends; just me-outside of them…
In addition to taking turns singing, a life that was good and normal also included whipping out the tetherball and rope, then heading to the bottom of the street to wrap it around the pole and go at it for hours at a time. All who wanted to play, knew the rules: just take a seat at the end of the wall and wait your turn to step up to (me) the tetherball champ; whose forearms stayed red, swollen and welted so much that the pain eventually turned numb.
The only time I would get a break and some sit down time at the end of that line on the cement wall, was when big-corn fed Jasmine would bring her bodacious presence to the set. Her apartment was way up the street towards the top of the hill, all she had to do was step outside and look down the hill for a crowd, screams, laughter and commotion. She knew that we were huddled there and it was game-on.
It was like she could sense the excitement in her body, so she would head down that hill to prepare us for her reign of terror. We would know when she was coming because we could practically feel the earth move under her feet. When she would arrive down to the bottom of that hill, she would change the energy of the whole game. It was one thing to be beating my friends in the game-it was challenging, but fun.
We spent a lot of time laughing at everybody stepping up with their “A” game having told themselves that this time, they were going to sit me down. But when Jasmine would sit at the end of the wall, I would get annoyed from having to use up all my endurance; knocking that ball back and forth from playing with my mediocre-skilled friends, knowing full-well that I was going to need all the endurance I could muster up in order play Jasmine’s big corn-fed ass. Because of the tension, our laughter and fun of the sport would turn serious and quiet. All our brows would be frowned up, and we seemed to be fighting one another with the ball in between us-instigating the fight.
It was one thing for me to be kicking butt in tetherball, but she gave kicking butt in tetherball a whole new meaning. It was like, when she would hit the ball, if you weren’t quick and careful; she could wrap you around the pole with the rope and the ball. The tetherball had its own sound when she would hit that bitch. It sounded as though she would bust a whole in the ball each time she hit it. If you played her too hard, and she was forced to use both hands, we would pray that the rope was tied to the pole and the ball tight enough, because we remembered all too well, both flying off the pole and headed uphill a time or two or three.
Part of me hated Jasmine’s presence on the set because she didn’t have that kind of “respect-fear:” that fear of being defeated-not even possibly. It was almost like she knew she was going to beat everyone twice over but wanted to come down and interrupt the game just to stroke her own ego. I would sometimes hold the ball and rope in my hand, then glance over and scowl at her. I would fantasize about the rope being long enough to toss the ball out to swing toward her face, so I could say: “oops, ‘scuse me,” just so she could look me in my face before giving me a run for my money and sitting me down. The way she would sit there eating her barbeque potato chips and orange Jungle Juice, smacking all loud and paying no attention to other people’s game-totally annoyed me. She wouldn’t turn her head away out of fear or shyness, but rather, sheer disregard-as if in her mind, she was saying: “I can beat you with my eyes closed.” She even disregarded her champion opponent at the pole-always. She didn’t give a damn who won, because she knew her big heavy handed ass was going to clear the set real quick after a round or maybe two, because nobody wanted to play against her with the exception of me and “If-You-Stop-Punching-Me-I’ll-Let-Go-Of-Your-Collar” [girl].
Watching big Jasmine and Collar Girl go at that tetherball would be like letting two beasts in the wild go at it in a game of survival of the fittest. It was always a treat and a long entertaining match to watch. Sometimes it would go so long that you would either forget which one won or you would be so tired from vertigo, and your head bouncing from left to right: Jasmine (then Collar Girl). Jasmine (then Collar Girl). Jasmine (then Collar Girl). Jasmine (then Collar Girl)…by the time the game was over, we really didn’t care who won.
Listening to the sound of both of them hit the ball was an experience in and of itself. Each punch sounded as if the air was trying to escape both their abuse, or like the ball itself, wanted to take legs and run. I could only relive the pain my head was going through while Collar Girl made her way up my steps and beat the crap out of me that one day-three years earlier. I wanted out of that ass-whipping: stat! It seemed like she had so much fun at my screaming and poppin’ her collar; that ever since that day, she only felt half alive if she wasn’t teaming up and starting trouble with another shit-starter nicknamed “T-Rubble.” Her nickname was fitting, because all she did was stir up riff-raff and trouble. The both of them would be doing their best to terrorize me, but I was a defiant little something. Nobody was going to bully me comfortably and easily. I had been there-done that in my little life-time years before this and refused to allow it to blossom and manifest ever again.
No matter how many times I sat outside on my porch, from four doors up where Collar Girl and T-Rubble would be sitting, a rock would always come flying down-hitting me upside the head. Even after screaming and nearly stomping a hole in my porch’s cement steps, and yelling at them both with the force of a good tetherball beating; you best believe I was coming right back outside to sit right back on my porch. Sometimes I would get fed up enough with the rock throwing, that I would run off the porch to go and fight back. And each time, I would run into Collar Girl’s fist.
No matter how many black eyes she gave me, I refused to let her scare me away to oblivion. I was not going to be forced in to staying in the house because of these girls. I had no shame, and besides, I was lived there first! I wasn’t going anywhere! Trying to bully me was a full-time job. I insisted it be.
Bully me? Oh hell no!
At eleven years old, I had way too much eleven year old clout: The love and adoration from of every parent of my eleven year-old peers, all the way down to the love and respect from our church and Sunday school teachers. I was the lead in every church play and provided spontaneous entertainment many-a-day, for the adults and older teenage girls who would stop me from playing with my friends just to ask:
“Angie, do me an acting scene where the girl is in love with someone!”
“Angie, do me an acting scene where the girl is fed up with her cheating husband and she’s going to leave him!”
“Angie, do me an acting scene where the girl just got attacked!”
I nearly had to take orders for the requests I was given.
Innocent, kind and totally shameless without a shy bone in my body-whatever you would ask me-without any thought, or contemplation-spontaneously; I would deliver. I was happy, athletic, humorous, animated, theatric, artistic and dramatic. From age nine, I attended a school where I was being groomed for art, drama and dance; so the adults and the older teenage girls where I lived always wanted me to exhibit what it was I was learning five days a week/eight hours a day while away from home.
I would burst into character for them, and then laugh afterwards while they would all clap and hug me with words of encouragement: “You see? That baby’s going to be somebody-watch and see!” The people of the streets where I was raised, made me feel so special. They had no idea about my secrets and the life I had been living up through that very day. They were so helpful for my self-esteem and self-worth and I didn’t even know it at the time. I had no idea that I so badly needed their words of encouragement that later-ended up meaning more to me than they would have ever known…
Other times the adults and older teens would put singing requests in: “Sing something for me Angie!” they would say. I loved to pretend to be exhausted and overwhelmed by all their requests and surprising them by bursting out impromptu classics like: Natalie Cole: “Keeping a Light,” Deniece Williams’: “Gonna Take a Miracle,” “Silly,” or “Too Much Too Little Too Late.” It would be shocking to them because it was uncommon for a girl my age who (little did they know) had been studying and teaching myself just how to sing just like whomever I would be singing. I was an expert at imitating the Natalie Cole’s and the Deniece Williams’ with the emotion of heartbreak, shame and despair, as if I had experienced everything that I was singing about. Other times, I would be singing Natalie Cole’s: “Our Love” or Deniece Williams’: “Free”-gesturing and performing for them while standing on the steps in front of our brownstone-like apartments; singing about love and freedom from the type of relationship that I still had yet to experience, and was light-years away from being able to identify with-but singing and them as if somehow, I too (at eleven years old) had experienced every lyric.
While every sinister, secret and wrong thing was going on; everything else was going right. Because I didn’t see the sinister and the secrets as wrong, but rather: “right”-right along with all that going my way. From my eleven year-old point of life’s view, the only sinister and wrong worth reporting to my mom was a first-grade bully named Cindy and the pre-teen blues that Cable Boy and his boys, Collar Girl and T-Rubble all gave me. All else felt good, because I knew what felt bad: getting beat-up, black-eyes, gang-grinded, and bullied did not feel good. In my life up through this point, that is what “made me feel uncomfortable.”
So, bully me? Oh hell no!
At eleven years old, I had too much clout as well as a mentor at that time, and much earlier in my eleven year old life as well. Life could have started off badly and with me having my spirit broken had it been up to Mrs. Cavanaugh. She was a fat meanie of a teacher who spent most of my kindergarten school year disciplining, yelling and placing our noses into chalk drawn circles on the blackboard.
She would have us stand there for the entire class on most days, occasionally switching us off by placing us underneath her desk and stuffed between her fat legs and stinky feet.
She spent practically my entire kindergarten year doing this to all of us kids, putting these acts in heavy rotation as if this was part of the school curriculum. It didn’t seem to bother me once I got home any more than it did when I got free from under her desk while at school.
Life at home for me was so busy. I was always at church with the Lord and the Mormons, who set up worship down in the basement apartment at the back end of my building.
I divided the other half of my time with the Lord and Reverend Knight of the Baptist church.
Both churches were on the opposite ends of the city just like they were the antithesis of one another-in the way that they fellowshipped and the way that they looked. Reverend Knight’s church was a complete hole in the wall with drapes that varied in design and color. You could tell they were hung for blocking shade rather than vanity. His pews were a few, but where the pews stopped, the metal chairs held us comfortably and safely. It was there where I learned my first black gospel song: “I’m Goin’ Up To Yonder.” I was serious business about singing that song from the bottom of my lil’ heart. At least once a month the church would sing it and allow me to start it off until the chorus part of the song would begin, and then the choir would take over from there. I loved them for that. I fell more in love with the church and the Lord, so much so that at six years-old I orchestrated my own baptism down to the night gown that I wanted my mom to buy for me, to wear for it: “Pastel Easter colors”- I insisted and made happen.
My other part-time with the Mormons was special to me too. I would be prepared-with my hair in ponytails, those black patent leather shoes (thank ya’ much), white stockings, and full length slip already on. In the basement of the apartment building that I lived in, located three windows beneath my bedroom window; the moment I would hear those Mormons crack the door open, I would hurriedly put on one of my many ruffled dresses that I had laying out-ready to wear. I was serious-business about dressing and being prepared for church and you had better disturb my groove: “Here I come! Here I come!” I would yell out my window-bright and early; bidding my mom farewell in a hurry, then dashing down to the little neat and tidy basement church with rows of wooden pews to spare, matching curtains and no metal chairs.
Over in the corner would be what I often thought about and loved so much: those pretty golden bells. I would slip my little fingers into the black handles and grab me one, and then we would be off to the neighborhood to paint it golden: me and the Mormons-ringing our church bells and collecting as many people as we could magnetically attract, to follow us back to the little basement church.
They didn’t discriminate. I didn’t discriminate. Everybody from 8 to 80, blind, young, crippled or crazy would have service with us. I welcomed them all because that was my church home, too.
Before service would begin (which consisted of quietly reading the scripture and modestly singing from hard cover hymnals); I would make sure all of our pretty golden bells were placed back in the corner of the church in their righteous place for the next time we would wake up the neighborhood for followers and fellowship. Those bells to me-were like diamonds. I polished them so good that they never had a scratch on them. I guarded those things with my life.
Both churches welcomed me with open arms. I was so inspired and happy that I cared nothing about my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Cavanaugh or my kindergarten through first grade bully: Cindy.
She knew my routine and would frequently hear me say that I had to hurry home to pee so that I could come right back outside to play. I was always in a tight and a rush to get home. Cindy took it upon herself to follow me home one day and forced me to pee in a corner by my building’s basement back door, rather than allowing me to get up to our third floor apartment to pee in the toilet. When she passed that test, she figured she could make me do other things that I did not want to do-like harass my best friend Rhonda, all because she refused to reveal to Cindy; the Halloween costume that she was wearing in the school’s Halloween parade.
Rhonda was defiant and would stand up to Cindy. Myself and everyone else gave in and showed our costumes, but Rhonda stood her ground. She insisted that hers be a surprise and indeed, it was. She was so pretty and so happy in her red tights, blue body suit, a big gold belt, her mother’s big gold bracelets and black wig; feeling like Wonder Woman for a day at our school parade.
To test Rhonda’s super powers, afterschool, Cindy made me follow behind Rhonda on her route home-forcing little ole’ me to try and intimidate Rhonda-for her. I felt so badly for my friend that in between my kicks and yells that I was told to give her, I kept apologizing. Rhonda already knew I had long been caught in the rapaciousness of Cindy’s rage and ridiculousness, and there was nothing my little self could do about it.
After watching me kick and hit Rhonda too lightly, Cindy would get up in my face like a drill sergeant and yell some more-forcing me to hit Rhonda harder. She would not let up until she saw that I put Rhonda through some kind of torment.
Growing tired of Cindy’s yells and needing to hurry home to pee, I caught Rhonda off-guard and hurriedly pushed her to the ground, then proceeded to run home, hoping I could beat Cindy there.
I did. I made it to my building, past the back basement door and up to my third floor-with my key around my neck and into safety.
While at church with the Mormons part-time, and at Reverend Knight’s church the other part-time; I would pray to my Lord that eventually my dear friend Rhonda would forgive me, and that I would never have to put up with anyone like Cindy ever again. I was defiant, serious-business and hell-bent about not being bullied. So for a whole five years since then, the Lord had been making good on his promises to me up to and through Collar Girl. And she thought she was just going to bully me easily?
Bully me? Oh hell no!
My first grade teacher Mrs. Tolliver would have just as soon as broken her box of chalk to know that years later and after all her love, encouragement and grabbing me by the cheeks; forehead-to-forehead, grunting in my face and poking into my chest: “don’t you ever let anyone tell you: Angie-that you can’t do anything, because you can! You can do anything, and I know this!” she would assure me-daily. She would probably turn over in her grave to know that her passion for teaching and my ease at learning did not pay off, but instead, some bully who beats up tetherballs and got inspired by my poppin’ her collar, was now bullying me in ways that could have easily broken my spirit. Mrs. Tolliver was so impressed with the fact that at six years old, I knew how to spell words like “giraffe,” and countless other words that were spelled unlike they sounded, that she kept me and couple other ‘special” kids at a desk close by hers away from other kids. There was no way in hell she would accept anything not right or like-seep into or get next to her golden-child.
Bully me? Oh hell no!
My second grade teacher Mrs. Belland, would have just as soon as broken her box of number 2 pencils to know that years later and after all her love attention, and affection; some bully who beats up tetherballs and got inspired by my poppin’ her collar, was now bullying me in ways that could have ruined my self-esteem. Mrs. Belland was from Maryland; a shy, timid lily-white lil’ lady with a mushroom hair-do and bright blue eyes. You could tell that she had never been around one single non-white kid for this length of time in all her life. I was the only one with enough personality to bring her out of her shell to make her comfortable enough to run the class. I would sing-talk to her and end whatever I was sing-talking with the words: “Miss Belland from Mare-landddd.” She would spend the majority of the class teaching and squeezing me so tightly; rocking me back and forth like she never wanted to let me go. She needed me around-to give her the momentum she needed in order to do her job. She was interested in being there, but she was as scared as she was timid as she was interested, but needed me to balance it all for her. I was her diamond-child.
Bully me? Oh hell no!
My third-grade teacher Mrs. Jasper, would have just as soon as let that pretty red apple on her desk rot to know that years later and after all her attention, adoration and encouragement; some bully who beats up tetherballs and got inspired by my poppin’ her collar, was now bullying me in ways that would normally cause a child to withdraw from the world. Mrs. Jasper was the wife of one of the members in a classic singing group, so she loved to acknowledge and separate her singing talented kids from the ones who weren’t. She treated the fifteen minute talent portion of her class as if it were a part of her curriculum. Mrs. Jasper was old-school and around my mother’s age. Little did she know, my mother and older brother would play a lot of old-school classics around the house every Saturday morning that I would be cleaning up-and that’s how I learned the songs I would sing. When Mrs. Jasper learned that I knew and could sing songs she could relate to, that at my age, I should have known nothing about; that won her over. I was her star-child.
Bully me? Oh hell no!
I had too much clout as well as a mentor: Mrs. Tipton from fourth grade through seventh-grade, who spent a tremendous amount of time: loving me, tending to me, adoring me, encouraging me and wishing I was her child. All my mother had to do was say she didn’t want me and Mrs. Tipton would have been glad to hand her the walking papers. To know that some bully who beats up tetherballs, and got inspired by my poppin’ her collar, was now bullying me in ways that would normally cause a child to have massive irreconcilable behavioral problems; she would have had a conniption fit. Anything that Mrs. Tolliver, Mrs. Belland and Mrs. Jasper felt, Mrs. Tipton felt it one better. Every single thing they felt I could do-Mrs. Tipton felt I could do it better. I was her baby “everything,” let her tell it.
Bully me? Oh hell no! I had way too many people who looked after me and was growing up to be way too much of a lady for that kind of child’s play.
My right boob was making its way to catching up the fully blossomed left boob I’ll have you know. There was no way in hell Collar Girl or anyone was ever going to sit me down with a rock, a couple of threats, a black eye, and a finger in my face. I was blossoming, growing up, coming up and busting out in places that girls my age could only dream of, and I was slowing becoming more and more a little queen bee by the days. There was no way in hell, some girl was going to bully me and think she was going to have a pleasant life in my neighborhood-one that she arrived to well after I did.
I ruled with kindness, and interest in care about me. I was a happy child, with lots of personality-the queen bee of all of my peers and their parents. By the time the social dichotomy of how everything was forming, Collar Girl had to try and beat me in a major way that she could not: earn her own clout. Either that, or she had to make up her mind to put her fists and rocks down to try and join me (provided that I let her in).
I had no enemies, so I was not going to keep putting up with that bullshit. She however, was just as defiant and insistent on bullying me and my other friends as I was insistent on not being bullied. I had no idea where she came from with all this fight and fire inside of her, but I was a lover-not a fighter. I loved everyone and everyone loved me. That pushed she and T-Rubble out and away. I was untouchable, guarded and protected, and by this time, had no interest in letting either one of them in. I was running shit.
My friends and me would have “umbrella parties”
TABLE of CONTENTS
- The Roots of Picked Fruit 17
- The Precocious Ripening 33
- Ripe & Ready. Gangs, Bangs & Pangs 39
- The Queen Bee in Me 63
- Another Level. Blossoming. Beautiful. 80
- TGGF, Male Model & Me 101
- TGGF & Me 112
- Divorcing Dad 124
- You Know Who 130
- First Flings First 139
- In the Lion’s Den 170
- Cold Shoulders and Frozen Dancing Feet 195
- Pills & Frills 204
- You Know What: I Told You So 209
- Dichotomies & Dazes 228
- Situations, Decisions & Transitions 241
- Up, Out & Away 244
MEET the AUTHOR Q & A 254
READING GROUP GUIDE 257
SNEAK PEEK into book2 (“Angie Situation NAIVETE’” )’s CHAPTER ONE 260
OTHER BOOKS BY ANGELA SHERICE 269
ABOUT the AUTHOR 270
Media Maestro .
Writing Rhinoceros .