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Friday, June 15, 2018

The Leftovers

A few nights ago I had to say something very difficult to Tortilla. It was so difficult that I knew that there was a chance that she may not be my friend after I said it. It was also so difficult that I knew that I wouldn't be being a good friend to her unless I told her.
We were having a conversation about how busy she is with her new job and how hard it is to be going back to school while trying to date when I said, "Tortilla, you are a Leftover."
There was silence on the line. I could feel her heart palpitating.
"It's okay, I am one too." You like that? See, here I am connecting to Tortilla as to help her better digest the bad news, but there was still a cold silence on the other line.
"The good thing is that I have realized from Instagram that there are a lot of man Leftovers in your graduating class."
"Really?" she asked, hurt but interested.
Oh, let me explain: Leftovers is the fun, happy-go-lucky name that I have given women that went to college with us that are not married.
You see, the college I attended was pretty cliquey. Sometimes, the cliques intermingled, and it was hard to tell who belonged to what group. However, social media since then has very exactly and harshly divided us into the marrieds and the not marrieds. It's pretty obvious: the marrieds are taking pro photos of themselves with their families in the park, dressed in their Easter bests, while the Leftovers are taking pro photos of themselves at the gym, breaking in their new Fabletics leggings.
"Ricky Ticky is a Leftover. I see him on Instagram all the time. He looks like a lot of fun."
"Do you think that Ricky Ticky would date me?" she asked.
"Of course! What else is he doing?"
By the end of the call, we had identified three other man Leftovers that may be viable options. I hung up the phone, feeling all good friendish. I think that I will be able to eliminate the Leftover problem, one single girlfriend at a time.

P and the Second Wife

As many of you know, my friend P has been a consistent part of my life and this blog for a while. He's my mildly douchey Muslim bff from college. For those of you who don't know, I used to like him, he didn't like me, we somehow forged a friendship despite his personality and my emotions, he went to Africa to get married and moved his wife and son here shortly after. Yes, there have been a lot of changes in the past ten years, but I think that biggest change is yet to come.
"What would you say if I told you that I was going to get a second wife?" he asked me out of the blue during one of our latest conversations.
"Would it be me?" I asked.
"No."
"Then I don't care," I quipped. That was my way of ending the conversation. Needlesstosay, I am not really down with the multiple wives deal, and we have discussed it over and over again over the years. You see, him having up to four wives is part of his rights as a Muslim man. Now, let's get to the good part: how P's personal life and decisions affect me.
For one, it is a miracle that we are still friends now that he is married. As you all know well, when my male friends have gotten a wife or even so much as a steady girlfriend they have dropped me like a bad habit. By the grace of God, his wife likes me, or at least tolerates me enough to let me stick around. Who knows what the second wife will think of me. I imagine that she will be looking at me with the same side eye that I will be looking at her with.
I'm old and I have taken a Drake outlook on life: no new friends. P is a big part of my friend circle, and if he flies the coupe, that will be a big hole to fill. Not wanting him to do something that would make him happy because of what the outcome would be for me is selfish, but it's where I'm at. My life is a house of cards. One freak move, like P taking on a second family, could cause my whole house to crumble. And quite frankly, I don't think I have enough juice life in me to try to impress another one of my guy friends' ladies. It just takes too much.
You have to be able to provide the same household for your second wife as you did the first, which takes a lot of money. So it may be a minute before P jumps the broom again. I guess this gives me time to prepare to be friend dumped AGAIN. Sigh.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Dog Lady

I went to a pizza parlor last night for a fundraiser event and ran into an old woman that I used to see in my neighborhood when I was a kid. She was known for having an unusual amount of greyhound dogs. Oddly enough though, my fondest memory concerning her was when my favorite public transit bus driver told me that he had seen her take the dogs for a walk to go to the bathroom and she'd wiped their butts with some baby wipes she'd taken out of her purse.
I asked her how she was doing and how her dogs were. I knew she wasn't doing too well before she answered because she was eating dinner alone at a very lively pizza restaurant, overly involved with her lasagna. She said that she was fine but that most of her dogs had died. She opened an old black flip phone that she was wearing tied to her neck by a string and showed me the pictured of her youngest greyhound, Jingles, that has now died as well. It became clear that if I didn't make my exit at that moment, I would be stuck at her sad table, hearing stories about the lives of her deceased pets. So I politely excused myself and went to join my friends, only to look up and see that she was right beside me.
"You know what I liked most about Jingles?" she asked. "He could smell eggs through the shell. He was the only dog I knew that could do that."
"Really?" I asked.
"Yeah I would put the eggs in my hands and he would sniff them."
She told a few more tales about her dogs before abruptly saying, "Thank you for listening to stories about my dogs," and racing back to her table.
This is what loneliness looks like, and it scares me, because I hate dogs! What would I show the nice young woman who approached me at dinner, pictures off an old iPhone of friends that have moved on? Or maybe paperback books? I love books.
"See this picture of my first edition print of The Coldest Winter Ever? See how strong the spine of the book is? They don't make books like this anymore, not even in hardback."
I'm not sure when I became super aware of time and age in regards to other women and what that means for me, but I am assuming that it happened around the times when all my friends made a mass exodus to the altar. I don't want to be a lonely dog lady and I'm sure my friend, The Lonely Dog Lady didn't want to be either, but things happen, or better yet, don't happen. Before you know it, you are eating Lasagna alone at a pizzeria.
I wanted to ask her where she went wrong to avoid that mistake, but even someone like me knows that that is rude. She did tell me that she is considering getting an Italian Greyhound. At least she won't be alone much longer.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Unintentional Side Piece

Isabella is one of those adorable friends that you just want to see do well in life. She is smart, she is adorable, and she is funny. She has an electric, carefree attitude about life, and she likes to go to fun events out on the town, wearing her smile and a sports jersey. She is one of the few friends that I have whose life has not been hindered and weighed down by emotional baggage. She will be a prize for some lucky man some day, which is why my eyebrows were raised when she told me that she had reconnected with a friend we went to school with; a married basketball player turned collegiate coach named Ron. Immediately, my f*!k boy radar went off.
"What did he want?" I asked, skeptically.
"He wanted to let me know that he was in town coaching. He wanted to know if we could meet up."
I didn't say anything, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"We talked on the phone for a long time. He is having issues with his wife."
I began to shake my hair vigorously, like a White girl in a shampoo commercial.
"What?"
"Isabella, don't be a stooge. If he wants to talk to someone, tell him to talk to his wife. Because I bet you dollars to donuts, when she tries to get him to open up, he just sits there like an idiot like he doesn't have anything to say." Maybe P is right. Maybe I do personalize everything. But I can't help it. This situation smelled like a similar one that I'd gotten myself into back in 2011. The situation ended in me refusing to date for a year and dodging calls from a very angry wife.
"It's not like that," she assured me. "We are just friends. He was telling me that she-"
I raised my hands, silently requesting silence. "If you continue to talk to him, you are going to become an unintentional side piece."
What is an unintentional side piece? They are usually the female villain in the takes-two-to-tango combo that has become known as the emotional affair. Married Man calls girl. Married Man spills all his marital issues. Girl gives advice and becomes a sympathetic ear. Girl becomes invested in Married Man. Pretty soon, he's not talking to his wife at all, running to Girl for advice and support. Bing bang boom, an emotional affair is formed.
Girl always loses in this scenario, because Married Man always either uses his free shrink sessions to work things out with his wife and drops Girl like a bad habit, or he his browbeaten by the wife to discontinue the "friendship" with Girl because it makes her uncomfortable.
"It's not like that with us," Isabella insisted, spoken like a woman on her way to unintentional side pieceness.
"Be careful," I warned before we changed the subject, knowing good in well that there is no way to be careful in situations like this.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Beef and Broccoli and the Need to Not Care

Last Saturday a mentor of mine took me out to lunch at Panda Express. I don't know if you have a Panda Express where you live, but it is simply delish! Whenever I go, I get the chicken and string beans, beef and broccoli, and lo mein. I mean really, it's magical!
The Panda Express near my house is always busy. Any given day at any given time, the line can go back as far as the front door. Of course, this is usually because of the morons that have eleven orders, or the idiots who don't know what they want and have to sample everything on the food line. Just so you know, grilled chicken with teriyaki sauce tastes exactly like what it is advertised to be: grilled chicken with teriyaki sauce!
Last Saturday was particularly brutal. Add on crying babies, kids who want to give their own orders, and lovers that are too busy loving each other to pay for their meals in a timely manner and you have a snapshot of the lunch rush. Yet, even after all those people were gone, I was still standing there 20 minutes later like a lost soul, waiting for my beef with broccoli. I watched the young woman making my order call back a need for beef with broccoli about five times to the cook, who was a young, sexy dude with a strong back that I could see through his cotton uniform shirt. As fit as he looked, he was moving at a snail's pace, stopping occasionally to wipe sweat from his brow or pop a nibble in his mouth. The other customers were getting a little antsy, but I recognized is attitude and felt a mix of nostalgia and pride. This young man simply did not care if we got our food or not.
There is something quite beautiful and admirable about not caring, especially when you are a fine 20-something that could get it, licking your lips as you casually nearly let a pan of fried rice burn. The last time I didn't care I was a teen. I hated my job at a very ghetto KFC/Pizza Hut. I made side items and biscuits. I was also tasked with cleaning the lobby which was a complete nightmare, wiping up the soda spills and chicken crumbs of GROWN customers. My boss liked to play this game called Let's Not Schedule Anyone To Relieve Holly where he would try to keep me on the schedule for 12 hours at 15-years-old. One day I was told that if I left, I was quitting. And with no problem, I grabbed a personal pan pizza and left. I just didn't care.
Now I care about everything. My debt, my health, my life in general. And all this caring just equals to worry. Not caring equals bravery. When you don't care, the sky is the limit because you can't see how far you can fall. I'm scared to fall in the shower. Scared to fall going down steps. And I most certainly am scared to fall in life...AGAIN. I don't think I'd have the wherewithal to get up. They say it's hard out here for a pimp. Imagine how hard it is for a fat girl with no health insurance that got canned from a daycare.
Me, much like my beef with broccoli, am a little salty. And I am trying to get over this hump as to finally make it in life, to finally get a job. If I wasn't so scared of open flames and standing for 8 hours, I would try to get on at Panda Express.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Boy Poem

I look in his eyes and I swear
I think I may hate him for real
He ate all my chips
He's relentlessly rude
And he never asks me how I feel.
I be like, "Hey, didn't you say
that you had somewhere to be?"
He be like, "No." But he did.
He'd just rather stay home and annoy me.
Oh yes he lies.
And he thinks I don't know.
He thinks I'm too dumb to tell.
When really I don't want to be alone
So I'm willing to ride his lies straight
to hell.
A hell where the bills are late,
but he don't care.
He doesn't know how to provide.
I get stressed and I sink into my feelings.
He pulls me out.
He doesn't allow me to hide.
Because misery loves a friend,
someone cute to starve with and such.
But hungry and struggling are two different things
and balancing both is becoming too much.
I NEED MY SPACE
That's what I think as he watches cable splashed from next door.
I NEED MY SPACE
I repeat to myself as I pick up his clothes off the floor.
I NEED MY SPACE
I whisper as I watch him nap in my bed.
I NEED MY SPACE
I scream out loud as he lies to mess with my head.
Silence is golden.
Our future is black.
Honest to God, I think he likes it like that.
And I must too
This is a truth that hards to receive
Because if I didn't
I'd stop complaining
ad simply get up and leave.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Positively Negative

I find myself desperately trying to hide how negative I am at church so that I can make friends. It has become clear to me that my sweet, pure, and dare I say beautiful form of pessimism clashes with clean, innocent, dare I say naive Christian optimism.
My friend Kyndra, who invited me to this church in the first place, did something that I would never do which is invite someone that I sort of know into a personal space. People know that she invited me, so I have tasked myself with trying to be on my best behavior. For me, I am seeing that this includes not being too honest. My honestly comes from a negative place and as you probably well know, negativity is a virus that spreads through the garden and murders all the roses. I don't want to kill her super sweet, warm, welcoming, and unrealistically encouraging and hopeful friends. I don't want to be the weed in an otherwise healthy flower bed.
Talking to the women in the church is the hardest. They are so nice, yet it is hard not to scream, "What a load!" whenever they speak. A couple of Sundays ago I stood with a tight, manufactured smile as a young woman with a cool, funky haircut named Paula spoke excitedly about how her ex finally deciding to get into church. For her, this was a milestone met on their way to getting back together, becoming "equally yoked" and jumping the broom. I smiled hard as her other friend, we will call her Peggy, listened along excitedly, praising God for the miracle of getting a young Black man into church. That is a miracle, I won't disagree with that.
When Paula finally took a breath, I asked, "What if none of this sticks with him? Are you prepared for that?"
I instantly regretted it. The power drained out of her eyes as if I had unintentionally turned off the lamp in her brain. "What?" she asked confused.
"Holly wants to know if you'd be okay if you two don't get married," Peggy chimed in. That is not what I wanted to know at all.
Paula inhaled, her power coming back on. "That is okay. I am more concerned with him getting saved."
I nodded, smiling so hard at this point that my cheeks were burning. I wanted to tell her that the whole thing smelled like a boy lie. I wanted to tell her that I could see this young man going as far as he felt he needed to before she agreed to sleep with him again. Then he would vanish from the church so fast it would be like he was never there. But that, good friends, would have been the type of honest negativity that makes it so no one wants to talk to you after service. I like after service talks.
As I have said before, I am trying to build a relationship with God and get better with changing my way of thinking. My current thinking is a hard skin to shed, seeing that I credit it with saving me from some decisions that could have been devastating. But being negative can be exhausting and preventative. Maybe one day I too can experience the joy of just knowing without a doubt that things are going to work out. Faith, it's what's for dinner.
Until I get to that point, it is all tight smiles and nods from the peanut gallery, secretly taking solace in being positive that negativity is the way for me, at least for now.