I was reading a book yesterday as I waited for the bus. The main character, a blonde Georgia peach, had just broken up with her fiancé.
"I later learned that behind the facade of a perfectly made up face, a sassy mouth, an incredible sense of style, and a quick brain (she was a junior in High School at 15) lay the broken remains of little girl who wanted to be a doctor when she grew up, but was being molested by her much older brother, with whom she lived..."
While she was out fundraising, he had been cheating on her with a newly hired co-worker.
Someone Ms. Georgia Peach considered to be loud, scandalously dressed and improperly made up. Someone who although she hadn't all the advantages in the world, still spoke her mind and was comfortable with her sexuality. In fact, this woman was someone she, herself, had never dared to be.
That's the point where Ms. Georgia got me. That's the point where we connected. I flashed back to my best friend in high school, Danielle. She didn't have much ... but darn if she didn't have some smarts, some great dimples and some sex appeal. Whoooooa!
In fact that's how we met...
Picture it, Maryland, 1982:
It was my junior year in high school. About to pass the ladies' room, I decided to use it then instead of later. As I swung the door open and entered, I saw four African-American girls, of average height, surrounding a petite girl, who who appeared to be listening defiantly as the tallest and prettiest girl took centerstage; neck circulating and finger pointing as she spewed her venom,
“I don’t know what he sees in you any way, with your ugly, ball-headed, fast self!” I paused, as I debated whether to continue any further, cause these folks looked kinda busy, but then Ms. Pretty said, “When we get through with you, you’re gonna think twice before messing with anybody’s boyfriend," then to her "crew" she instructed, "Hold her!”
Now you’d think with the odds at four to one, Dani would use those smarts of hers to talk the situation down? Nah...that made waaaay too much sense. Ms. Thing was reading them left, right and center, setting the record straight with a pithy,
“Girl please, I ain’t want your ugly wannabe-a-player-but-he-can’t-hang, boyfriend, he’s the one panting behind me like a dog! Ask my gurl here.”
All six of us (including me) looked behind me, I’d probably have kept on looking for her gurl, but the silence kinda clued me in that I might just be the “gurl” to which she referred. So summoning all my “down” speak, I put on my “cool” face and turned around saying,
“Yeah, his simple behind always in our way, talking bout can I buy you and your gurl lunch?” By that time, I’d walked over to stand beside Dani. How was I to know that this boy that I’d never seen, mind you, had never offered to buy Ms. Pretty lunch or either of her crew, at that? It was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. En masse, the crew began closing in on us, but their main focus was Dani.
Then I, with courage I’ve never exhibited before or thereafter, stood firm and said in my most disparagingly adult voice,
“Four to one, that’s hardly fair odds, and though I hate fighting, if y’all wanna do this, y’all gonna have to go through me first.” At five-six and solid, I guess I must have presented a convincingly scary picture, because the crew backed down and backed out of the bathroom vowing to catch Dani when her bodyguard wasn’t around.
Do you think Dani’s mouth was quiet? Noooooo, she was on her tiptoes peeking over my shou lder shouting, “Bring it on!” That is, until I leveled a look at her that brought a half sheepish look to her face.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to get you involved, but that’s all I could think of at the moment.”
“It’s alright,” I said, as I wondered to myself, Did she know the guy had a girlfriend? Did things really go down the way she said? She does have a reputation. But heck, even if she was dead wrong, Ms. thing shoulda handled it herself, instead of tryna pull a black-mama-beatdown!
Out loud I said, “Look, I’ve seen you around my area. If you want you can take my bus and I’ll meet you between classes to make sure there’s no trouble?” although she shrugged her shoulders and said, “It’s up to you.” I could sense her relief.
She became the first inductee into my “Save a friend from Themselves Caribbean Club”. I later learned that behind the facade of a perfectly made up face, a sassy mouth, an incredible sense of style, and a quick brain (she was a junior in High School at 15), lay the broken remains of little girl who wanted to be a doctor when she grew up, but was being molested by her much older brother, with whom she lived.
My older brother and mother warned me about my association with her, her reputation of being fast. They couldn't understand, how she was able to come and go as she pleased. Nor could they understand why I invited her to so many sleepovers. They thought her behavior was of her own choosing, they didn't realize it was just the symptom of a deeper problem, a cry for help if you will. But it was not my story to tell, so I listened, I cried, I ranted, I urged her to speak out, but her fear and distrust held more sway.
Suddenly, her popularity with the opposite sex and her earthy sex appeal, were no longer sources of envy for me. But I will confess, that I still did envy her outspokenness and the fact that she didn't lose sight of her dreams.
When I encountered a similar situation a year later, after moving to New York and moving in with my dad, (against the advice of my older sister), I better understood, her urge not to tell. But I still don't know how she managed her sunny disposition or held on to her dreams, unless she resorted to prescription drugs, like I eventually did.
When what we're taught as little girls is our most prized possesion is taken away by force by not a stranger, but a blood relative, what have we to lose? What boundaries are left to be broken? Who do we trust?
Darn, what essentially began as a happy and upbeat story, has once again turned into a downer, for which I apologize, but maybe, just maybe, someone needed to hear this?
If you're out there and you need someone to listen, pray with you and just love you. I'm here.
Oh and about the envy/comparison thingy? This might just help:
Someone will always be smarter. Their house will be bigger. They will drive a better car. Their children will do better in school. And their partners will fix more things around the house. So let it go and love you and your circumstances. Think about it. The prettiest woman in the world can have hell in her heart. And the most highly favored woman on your job may be unable to have children. The richest woman you know - she's got the car, the house, the clothes - might be heartbreakingly lonely. So, love you. Love who you are right now...