"Abrams Family Values" and Other False Story Starts
Kelsey stood over a hot stove; a boiling skillet of catfish nuggets frying in vegetablae oil. In the oven were seasoned curly fries. This would be dinner. Primarily for her and her husband. But in the Abrams house there was always a growling stomach waiting in the wings with hungry eyes and salivating mouth attached.
That was the kind of house that Kelsey lived in. The kind of house where the mother refused to cook during the week for her grown children. Yet still allowed them to live in the family home, rent free with no obligations to clean up after themselves, pay for utilities or put grocery in the fridge. And for better or worse, Kelsey had fallen into the regular order of service.
The regular order of service was that -- as an Abrams child -- you eat, sleep, use up the electricity, water and gas and give very little back in return. An easy thing to do when the father is frequently missing in action and the mother overcompensates by enabling their childish ways.
Before getting up to fix something to eat, Kelsey had spent half of the day fast asleep and the other half making love to Bailey Jr.
It was his day off from the job she'd encouraged him to try out for. A truck driving job where he worked no more than 7 hours, Monday through Friday. No weekends.
He'd left at 4am on this particular day and was back by 1pm, waking her up from her slumber by sliding under the covers and easing his tongue ... She loved for him to wake her up like that.
If not hungover from a late night of hanging out with her sister in laws, Kelsey would have been on the computer, surfing while waiting for General Hospital -- ABC's lone soap opera -- to come on. This was her life. But not just hers. None of her husband's siblings worked -- well, two out of five. And the remaining three, who were all over 21, lived at the family compound as well. None paying rent or contributing to household cleanliness or filling the cupboard. Just mooching off their parents until death do they part ... That was Abrams family values.
Diary of A Frustrated Husband
What was I expecting when I decided to get married? I'm not sure. But it wasn't this exactly. But I guess its my fault for loving all of those wholesome television shows where the father was the patriarch ruling the house with a loving firmness ... Yeah right. Sometimes I think that my video game obsessed teens wouldn't notice if I was missing for two or three days.
They won't keep their rooms cleaned, they look insulted when I ask them to wash the dishes or mow the lawn. And Father's Day usually goes by with out much of a whimper. Though my newly working 19 year old totally surprised me this year by taking me out for a combined Father's Day/birthday dinner a pricey steak house ... So maybe there's hope. But what about the wife?
The Huxtables fooled me with all of that romance and playing footsie on the couch while dancing to 1960s Jazz. They were definitely making love at least once a week, but I can't say the same unfortunately ... Ugh!! Just thinking about it makes me want to cry.
I can't stand watching talk shows where someone is whining because they used to have sex four days a week, but now only "get down" once a month ... I'd steal the high school mascot for once a month. Must be nice.
The topper is the finances though ... The way most of us were raised was, you get a good, steady job to support your family and all is well that ends well. Not necessarily the news true believers. No one took into account being paid on a low scale; scared to leave for fear of being downsized somewhere else -- senoirity means something on occasion. Or for that matter, near foreclosures, a repossession, rising food costs at the discount grocery store ... Are we all depressed yet?
$40 A Day
I'd head about it a few years ago. I'd been tempted to try it, but it took something like not being able to afford Christmas to make me go through with it.
First, let it be known that I do not like needles. And the thought of someone sticking one into my arm -- especially in my vein ... But i ignored my fears to pull off my own little Christmas miracle ... Must be all of that Charlie Brown and The Fat Albert Christmas Special that I watched growing up ... Brought to you by Dolly Madison and Wonder Bread.
Nervous doesn't begin to describe how I felt. Especially when I realized that I couldn't just get in and out and be done with the whole situation. No, that would be too easy.
First they have to check my arms up to my shoulders to see if I have any -- and I'm guessing -- track marks, tattoos or piercings. Which I don't, by the way. Plus, they take your blood pressure, prick your finger for a blood test and ask you all manners of questions on a checklist. Greatest hits like: Have you been exposed to any strange diseases? Have you taken any drugs for the last several days? Or ... Have you tested positive for HIV? And this is for every single visit.
The first time also involves a physical. In my case, a sexy Latina encouraged me to take off my shirt and asked for permission to look down my pants .... This non sexual examination was the most "sex" I'd had in months. So I rather enjoyed this bit of attention suffice it to say. Did I mention how fine the doctor was?
Storm Winds May Blow
Living in the Greater Chicagoland/Indiana area, we've been pretty blessed with mild Winters in the last few years. So I guess God was saving up and rationing out the Jack Frost. Because on this January of 2014, we got it bad and that ain't good.
Well it depends on how you look at it, I supposed. Because if you're the claustrophobic type who has to be out and about, it can probably be nerve wrecking. But for my mostly introverted brood, ti worked out just fine.
The wife had taken off 8 days for the holiday season; due to return to her job of medical billing on the day after New Year's. The rest of us were scheduled to return on the Monday after due to school holidays. Gotta love those school holidays.
While my wife had to go to work on the two last days of New Year's week, the weekend brought the blizzard, which messed up the highways and byways so much that her work was canceled for the following Monday. I was pre-empted from working for two days ... Secretly hoping that I would get a third day; jealous because my kids actually did get an extra day. But that's what you would expect with -11 to -40 degree weather. Right?
In the meantime, I spent the days that I had binge watching my DVD bargains discovered at Black Friday and after Christmas sales. Degrassi Next Generation Season 6 anyone? Or maybe you'd prefer Wanted Dead or Alive with the imcomparable STEVE MCQUEEN?
I've gotten semi addicted to tv shows on dvd -- if you don't know that from reading some of my other articles. A perfect habit for someone being quarantined from the general public. Yeah. As long as I have good movies ...Let it snow, let it snow ... Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Jakima Trainer : The Party's Over
Jakima Trainer knew that it was either now or never. She had to get a job in order to support herself right now. Not only was the little bit of grocery she'd stolen form her parents' about to fade away, the landlord was sniffing around for his past due rent money ... Three months past due to be exact.
The $2,000 a month stipend that she'd received from the reality show had run its course -- courtesy of shoe and purse sales mostly. Now she need to come with a plan that would keep from being kicked out of her beloved rent-to-own house.
Renfroe Daniels was her landlord. Which was the only reason why she'd gotten away with being so behind. Though he was married now, once upon a time she and Mr. Daniels had been lovers and now he was her landlord.
In the past she'd always dealt with his wife, Marisa. But when her first month went past due, he was sent around to intimidate her, only to be reunited with someone he had been quite fond of in the past. Needless to say, the two ended up in bed together.
Jakima: I'd forgotten how good it felt to be intimate with Renfroe. It was like being transported in time ... Wow ...
I hadn't planned to seduce him. However when he came to my door, I was already in my pajamas. And ... I don't know ... We started to catch up and then reminisce ... Next thing I knew, we were kissing ...
Renfroe's wife -- the former Marisa Minter --had started out at Mo Hits Records at the age of 16. Coming in right off of the street to apply for an A&R job that she was not in the least qualified for.
"Marisa ... Sometimes ... We might need employees to participate in music videos as extras ... Or even to star in the video if they have the right look," the interviewer had tol her back in August of 1996. "Would you be okay with doing that?"
"Uh, yes!" she'd said excitedly.
"Okay, act like you're in a video that takes place on the beach ... Imagine that you're sitting on the rocks ... Take off your heels like you're walking on the beach. Can you do that?"
Marisa had on her favorite yellow dress. A matching Cardigan sweater was tied fashionably around her neck. Her white sunglasses were perched atop her head. White purse and heels complimented her outfit. She knew that she looked good. And her interviewer certainly agreed.
Marisa undid the straps on her heels, slid them off her feet and walked around slowly as if she were on the beach, per instructions. And as she did, the assistant manager of Human Resources stared at her perfect feet, becoming aroused.
The door was closed. It was ten after six in the evening, which meant that the rest of the department was gone, leaving only workaholic supervisory types. In any case, he wasn't expecting to be interrupted by any means.
Jason Bean loves his job. Usually he and the director of HR split interviewing duties, but most of the time the bulk of the process fell upon his shoulders.
Wannabe models ... Wannabe singers ... Whether they were fresh out of high school, fresh ouf of college, single moms, married ... They were all looking for an entrance ramp to fame; hoping that if they started out at ground level, they could work their way up to being a featured performer on the label. Which was a rare possibility, but still a possibility in their minds.
Still there were others who were smart enough to know that the folks behind the scenes could make more money than the performers. And even if they didn't hit that mark, having access to celebrity events or just working at an organization where a famous person walked in and out every 5 minutes or so ... At the very least, one could land a date with someone who had fame and money. Someone who didn't mind sharing, even if only for just one night.
Kelsey's Got A Man
It was one of the hottest days of the year ... and the happiest. I must have cried from the time I woke up that morning, until I lay me down to sleep. And why shouldn't I cry? After all I was marrying the man of my dreams. Which meant that despite the way it may sound, there was joy inside of my tears.
The road to becoming Mrs. to his Mister. wasn't exactly an easy one. It was like driving on an icy, long and winding road in the Winter. Or it was like being in a car race and then your opponet pushes a secret button that disperses an oil gun that creates a slick in your pathway. My icy oil slick had a name -- which I won't speak.
However... She was a wretched excuse for a woman. I won't even call her a woman. Because any woman that would use her kids to exact revenge on their father was not a woman to me. She was just a spoiled little girl who needed her behind spanked. And believe me, I was just the one to give her that spanking if she didn't straighten up and fly right. Which of course she wasn't willing to do. But despite her character failures, once I found himI was not about to let him go. Not for anything in this world.
When we met, I was at my lowest. I'd decided that love was played out like a laser disc. I wasn't thinking about a man ... To prove it, I went to the Summerfest in a plain white t shirt, some acid washed jeans and some "old lady" thong sandals ... But he managed to find me anyway.
He spotted me sitting off to myself on a picnic bench, reading an old comic book that some had won for a prize and tossed on the ground in anger. Which was so unacceptable to me. The only time you toss a comic book is if the a page is ripped or the cover is damaged ... Kelsey's rule.
Not that I was some kind of serious collector. I mean, I had a collection, but I didn't obsess over plastic bags and backing boards and first printings and what not. I just loved to read them. And if I just so happened to hold on to a few that ended up being worth loads of money, then so be it.
Anyway, he saw me pick up the book. Then he sort of casually watched me sit and read half of it before he began to saunter over. And I sort of casually noticed him watching me and anxiously hoped that if he spoke to me, I wouldn't come off like Samantha Micelii on the first season of Who's The Boss.
"Uh ... Hi ... Excuse me ..."
I looked up over the top of my book, hiding the rest of my blushing face from view. "Yes?" I responded.
"Sorry to disturb you ..."
Okay, he had good manners ...
"Are you going to keep that book? Or are you going to toss it when you're done reading it?"
"I don't know ... Why?"
He looked embarrassed.
"Because if you don't want it, I'd like to take it off of your hands."
"Oh ...," I said softly, casting my eyes back downward; pretending as though I was returning to my reading.
Inwardly I smiled. A good looking guy who didn't look like a nerd, but really liked comic books ... I could tell based on the fact that the book I was holding was a special edition, made specifically to be given out at carnivals. A Batman book that held no special significance in storyline, artwork or cultural relevance in general. In fact, all it meant to me was a quick pick me up from a disastrous day of letdowns. Still, I was not going to hand it out so easily.
"Is that a yes or a no?" he asked cautiously, looking kind of fly in a Superman t-shirt.
I lowered the book and looked him straight in the eye. "How much is it worth to you Smallville?"
He cracked a smile. He had a nice smile. An honest smile. A smiel that I could get used to seeing a regular basis. Not too white. Not too yellow.
"I was kind of hoping that you would give it to me for free, out of the goodness of your heart. You kow, being that you picked it up off of the ground and everything."
I poked my bottom lip out, pouting. "Yes, but since then, I've become so emotionally attached. And you can't just rip Linus' blanket from his hand without filling the void with some adaquate substance of some sort."
He smirked. "How's about I get you a hot dog and a cold drink. Would that suffice?"
"So you liked the show better in the beginning."
"No doubt. The whole set up of Clark living in the loft over the barn and his parents standing watch over him, guiding him in his developing powers ... That whole father/son dynamic -- like Opie and Andy, Ben Cartwright and his sons, The Rifleman ..."
"Do you have that kind of relationship with your father?"
He got silent. I was afraid that I had crossed a line that shouldn't have been crossed.
"No, not really ... But I guess that's what attacts me to such ... Then, i've always had a thing for tv shows about small towns as well, but radically different from my experiences."
I didn't push. We were just meeting and I wanted to keep the conversation light adn flowing. Besides, if he opened up, I might be compelled to open up about my own life -- being homeless and unemployed. And none of that was good conversation for an endless Summer's night.
Instead, we talked about everything else, from Superman The Animated Series to admitting how cool it was whenever we recognized ADAM WEST's voice on a cartoon.
Once security kicked us off of the grounds, we moved the conversation to my minivan, which doubled as my living quarters. Where we sat and continued to talk until the sun came up.
We didn't kiss or anything, but he did take me to breakfast. And all of the energy in the room gave me the impression that neither one of us was quite down with the other.
You Bring Me Joy
Joy Aames lost the potential love of her life through a case of big-mouth-ism. Now she has a second chance with a fellow comic book geek. Will she blow it? Or will she blow his mind this time?
We went to church ... Joy invited me to go to church with her out of the blue. Not that I was opposed to the idea. It just caught me off guard .... Crystal Thompson Walker never asked me to go to church with her ... My ex wife was a Christian radio personality and she for darn sure never asked me to go to church ...
We went to Calumet Community Church. A nice, homey church with about 350 members. And besides the fact that the current pastor was also a private investigator, the church was also the home of several local celebrities. But none of that really mattered to me.
I was sitting next to one of the prettiest sisters I'd ever laid eyes on. Pretty. Sweet. Intelligent ... And a comic book fiend. What were the odds?
The outfit itself was kind of conservative. Some kind of sweater top with silver jewelry around her neck. A pleated skirt that stopped just below her knees.
She wore no pantyhose. But her well toned legs were accentuated by ankle strap, closed toe heels ... And I couldn't help wanting to see how her feet looked bare. Which meant that the whole time I should have been concentrating on the service, I was fighting off a very bold erection.
After church we went downstairs for a meal. Sitting across from each other even though she'd motioned as if she was pulling the chair out for me. But I knew that I did and our legs touched ... I wouldn't be able to handle it. Though looking across the table at her and our eyes locking.
She smiled and looked away. I think she knew that I was scared to sit next to her. But she didn't say anything. Instead she posed a question.
"What if DC Comics had never created the whole Earth 2 concept."
"Then the world would be a better place."
"Everything new that they do ... It just seems like a cleanup of things they shold have never done in the first place."
"They shot Barbara Gordon, so she can't be Batgirl anymore. But then they create a new one. They kill off The Huntress, but then bring her back. They kill off Supergirl, but bring her back years later. Its sickening."
"Then the whole concept of Batman and Superman being, like, the first superheroes ever. But everyone around them continues to age while they remain 29 years old. Yet everyone else still looks to them as the "true" heroes, as the examples that all heroes should follow."
"Yeah, it's a trip."
"So then, back to my original question. What if?"
"You mean specifically?"
"Unless you don't think you're man enough for the job."
"Believe me ... I am man enough."
"Then go for it. I'm all ears."
"First of all ... Bats and Supes would still have the respect, but they would be much older. As well, they would be known as former members of the Justice Society of America as well as founding members of the Justice League of America."
"Clark and Lois would be married. They would have twins -- a boy and a girl. Maybe one would be powerful and the other would be more intellectual."
"And how about the caped crusader?"
"Maybe not married ... But definitely a father -- of multiple kids even."
"Bats ... A player ... Okay ... I can see that. Him and Green Arrow for that matter."
"Don't turn the page yet."
I smirked. "Okay. So he's a player. Probably not married to Selina Kyle. Probably single. But if he is married, he might be married to the original Batwoman. She was a socialite. More acceptable for his Bruce Wayne image than a former thief. Prostitute? I forget what her past is this week."
"Then the original Flash and Green Lantern, etc., etc., etc., would still be prominent. Their predecessors would actually be their offspring -- children and grandchildren, instead of brand new heroes. And, you know, just let your mind wander from there."
"Are you ... um ... dating anybody?" she asked so sweetly that it touched my heart in a special way.
"I go out on dates ... But I don't have a girlfriend."
Well, I didn't get to see her feet that day. When I dropped her off, Joy shook my hand and thanked me for attending church with her. Which really freaked me out. Since I wasn't used to shaking hands with women. Especially not at the end of a date.
So I kind of figured that I wouldn't see her again. But as she opened the door, she suddenly turned around.
"Um ... You coming to the store this week?"
She wanted to see me again.
"I didn't put anything on my calender just yet."
"Well ... Group meets every Friday in case you wanted to stop by."
"You want me to stop by?"
She blushed. "Well, actually ... I was kind'a hoping that I could see you sooner than Friday ..."
The next day, Joy Aames came up to the job to pick me up. We kind of silently agreed that I would leave my car at the magazine and she would whisk me away to parts unknown.
I walked towards the enclosed waiting room and peeked through a sliding -- fast food drive in type -- window. She had such a classic type of beauty. The kind that lingers with you. The kind that would break a brother's heart and lead him to cry over the loss.
With a simple sleeveless top and slacks, Joy looked excruciatingly sexy. But then it might have had something to do with the above mentioned beauty, highlighted by bangle bracelets and heels ... That girl was definitely born to wear heels. Though I was pretty sure that leather gym shoes were begging for her time as well.
She felt me looking at her. When she turned towards me, it was literally in slow motion. And just like in a movie, she gave me this cover girl like smile, making my heart swell.
"You always stare at people when they're not looking?" she asked as I turned the knob to the double doors and entered.
Joy grinned. "Good answer Mr. Hensley."
This time, Joy took me out to dinner -- at my place. Interesting choice. It would mean that she'd have to drive me back to work, to retrieve my car. Then drive herself back to the city ... Or she could stay the night ... I wasn't going to get my hopes up.
"You don't watch Heroes or Lost? Oh my gosh."
I couldn't concentrate on anything that she was saying. She'd taken off her heels and I couldn't keep my eyes from drifting back and forth to her feet.
"Are you looking at my feet?" she asked suddenly and softly.
I was embarrassed. She'd caught me in mid glance. All I could do was look up and meet her eyes sheepishly.
"Cute feet ... Sexy feet ... What can I say?"
Joy stared at me with a smirk. Then she stared down at her feet. "What makes my feet ... sexy?"
I inhaled through my nose, unable to believe this sudden turn in the conversation.
"They just ... are."
"Uh uh Mr. Man. If you want to continue looking at my feet ... Give up the info ... Now!"
"Well ... They are long ... slender ... pedicured nails ... clear polish ... The right shape ... "
"You got a thing for clear polish?"
"Doesn't every guy?"
"No ... Not really."
"'Splain," she said like a fake Ricky Ricardo.
"Not big on ... extra ... I like natural ... Clear polish highlights what's already there to me. More so than crazy colors and what not. Like your fingernails."
She looked at her fingers. "What about my fingernails?"
"They're natural. No press ons. Now that's sexy."
Still looking at her fingers, Joy asked, "So ... Just my fingers and feet? Do you think that any other pats of me are sexy?"
I reached out and touched her chin ... Lifted it. "You ... are so sexy to me Joy Aames ... Unbelievingly sexy."
Now common sense told me to slow down. But Joy put her hands on my neck and warm feeling crept up my body.
She stared into my eyes. Her eyes telling me that she wanted me to love her. And I wanted to be loved back. So I eased her into a very passionate kiss.
Marla Bertinelli and I had very little in common back in the day, when we were a part of the Pop/Rap group, Hardcore Divas. But now, over a decade later, we both had kids by the same dude -- radio personality, Alonzo Ford.
I'd known of Alonzo Ford's reputation years before I met him on the reality show that was sort of like The Bachelor. Though his radio station -- KLTK -- was mostly a talk radio format, he was pretty much a local celebrity who'd managed to do a little more than the average talk radio host.
Yeah, at first he did a lot of non hip hop hurray kind of moves -- parades, fashion shows, alcoholic promo events, cameos on ghetto sitcoms that were destined to last only one season and straight to video flicks. But after the reality show exposure, he began to build himself a brand, though he didn't figure it out right away.
Marla and I sat on a bench in the park as my 6 year old son and her five year old daughter played like the brother and sister that they actually were; chasing each other over and through the monkey bars, up and across the sliding board, wood chips flying everywhere.
On the miniature slide was my three year old son and her one year old son. Both also had Alonzo's DNA floating all throughout their bodies ... That Joker could make some pretty babies. I'll say that for him. But I didn't realize that I'd voiced that opinion aloud until Marla co-signed with me.
"He sure can," she said thoughtfully.
Her tone said more. It said that she wished that she could make him love her the way that he loved his kids. I knew that because I felt exactly the same way. No doubt all of his "baby mamas" felt that way, whether they were willing to admit it or not.
It was a weird, exclusive club that we belonged to -- the ladies who loved Alonzo Ford. Well, that was a larger organization. We were the secret society subsidiary of that organization -- the ladies that loved Alonzo Ford and continued to allow him to impregnate them.
I was educated, had my own business even. But I couldn't get this unobtainable man out of my system. Hard as I tried.
I knew that he was no good for me. That he was dangerous to my heart. Yet I still stood by him as much as he would let me. Cooking for him, washing his clothes, helping him with his business aspirations ... But most of all, making love to him anytime, anyplace, anywhere, at the drop of a hat, at a moment's notice.
When he was running low on money, due to spending too much at the casino boat or making bad business investments, I was there to pick up the pieces. I was there to make sure he had his haircut or the perfect suit or a new part for his car, in order for his celebrity persona to stay intact.
In exchange, he stood me up, left me alone on major holidays, forgot my birthday, screwed around on me; continually making babies with other women. Yet I still remained a speed dial away; standing in the gap for him, waiting to be needed.
I knew better. My mom -- my grandma even -- had taught me better. I had enough book sense to know better. I'd read hundreds of magazine articles/watch plenty of talk shows dealing with this very subject ... But I was still fight in the middle of it all. Here in the most dysfunctional of dysfunctional relationships. And like a 40 year old veteran couch potato who found out her favorite soap was being canceled ... I continued to show up ; loyal to the end. Unfortunately, once he figured out how to exploit his brand and his fortunes changed, so did his need for me.
O'Shay Escovedo: The People In My Neighborhood
I could hear them out on their porch. Despite myself, I couldn't help easing up to the curtains and watching them through the teeniest of tiniest cracks. Hugging and kissing. The kind of PDA that looks like too much when you're not the one participating.
I must have zoned out. Because suddenly she was ringing my doorbell as if it was going out of style. She didn't have on a bra. I could tell. Trust me. I could tell. And her legs seemed to go on for forever and a day.
It was six in the morning and he wouldn't be back until late that night. That's how he was; a raging workaholic. Reminded me of J.R. Ewing from Dallas. And that wasn't just from me imagining. That was from me listening to him belittling her through thin walls when they got into an argument. That was from listening from my bedroom window as they entertained friends on the patio and he got jealous whenever she was engaging in a lively conversation topic; jumping in to interrupt her every time. And it was also from giving a night janitor twenty bucks to confirm that not only was he humping his secretary, but several other secretaries and business clients as well. Of course, it wasn't my place to tell her. Just like it wasn't my place to have played Barnaby Jones, investigating her husband like that.
First we were strangers. Then we were neighbors who waved at each other during our comings and goings. Then one day when her tire blew out and she was stranded on the side of the road that I was passing down, we became friends.
She was warm where my woman was cold. She had a smile that brightened up a room. My lady was forever scowling, suspicious at the world. With the one who wasn't mine, I felt safe, secure, out of harm's way. But with the one who supposedly belonged to me, I felt neglected, taken for granted and totally unappreciated for the uniqueness that I brought into this world.
Her name was Justice. Like JANET JACKSON'S character in a certain movie from a decade or so ago. Though as much as I'd been crushing on Miss Jackson since I was a kid, I had to admit that Justice had her beat in any and every possible contest. Beauty, sex appeal ... I heard her singing as she cleaned the house on one Saturday morning. I'd seen her dance outside at one of their dinner parties with Old School Funk blasting out of the garage.
We went to garage sales. We hung out at the library. We went to the comic book store. We ate lunch together. But most of all we talked. We talked a whole lot. More than I ever wanted to talk with my lady. But then my lady never had anything interesting to say outside of the gossip from her job and issues with her mother. None of which I was ever interested in.
When he was at work and my lady wasn't around, we talked on the phone. Even when she was around, I would sneak and text Justice if the mood hit me. Or if there was something interesting on television that I knew that she would be fascinated about.
And then one day I invited her into my space. Despite what the neighbors might say. And though we said little, we communicated loads through just being with one another on the couch, watching scary ROBERT MITCHUM in Night of The Hunter. Despite the fact that we were promised to others, she had sneaked up and become my best friend ... I couldn't remember the last time I called someone my best friend. But she was definitely that.
We were about an inch apart and I could feel heat emanating from her. It was driving me crazy if I may be honest. So I just got bold and brave like Batman, scooping her feet into my lap and giving her a long, gentle foot massage.
Maybe it sounds corny, but she was getting into it. And the more she liked it, the more I loved it; slipping my fingers between her toes ... Next thing I knew, I was lifting up her legs and sliding over. Kissing her forehead. Her lips pouty and parting as she silently dared me to kiss her. Which I did.
I dared to enter her warmth, cautiously in case I was reading the wrong signals like I did when I tried to switch my license from Illinois to Indiana. Had to take that test three times. But this time I was right on the first count.
Her body relaxed. She leaned into me.
It was like sneaking over to my girlfriend's house when we were in high school. When her mother was at work. About the same difference I suppose. And as the rhythm of our hearts took us away, I knew that I would never be able to settle for mediocre ever again.
I didn't know that I wanted to be a radio personality until the opportunity arose. I love music. And I often felt as though I could make better music selections than some of our DJs. But I didn't have that option. Though I did my best to make the commercials I created for our various radio shows, pop with uniqueness.
Anyway, one night one of our personalities got drunk and was on the air slurring his words. I mean, I got that he'd just experienced deaths in his circle of family and friends all in one week; three funerals back to back on the previous Saturday. But business is business. If you need some time off, arrangements can be made.
So I pulled him off of the air and I was supposed to take over until the GM could contact a personality to finish out the show. But I was pretty sure that the other personalities either had their ringers off or were totally ignoring their caller IDs. And that's how I got my shot. Though I must admit, I got through it by relying on conversations remembered with my girl, Fabiola.
Fabiola: When you're a radio jock, anything goes. I don't worry about my image the way I would if I were a news anchor. I mean, I can wear sleep pants to the grocery store with house shoes on and nobody cares.
I've been demonized because I specialize in gossip. If it wasn't for crazy entertainers and stupid athletes, I wouldn't have anything to talk about. In fact, the music we play is insignificant compared to what goes on before, between and after.
I feel that female personalities can be more than the "slow jam girl" at midnight or the "afternoon girl" or the morning show sidekick. She can run things and increase the listenership at the radio station.
People know that my show is popular and beg, cheat and steal to get on. Even though I'm infamous for bashing celebrities and exposing secrets. Still they come. And I don't have to jump through hoops to fill my guest spots.
So I did my best Fabiola Martini impersonation. Which was easy to do because I hardly ever miss her radio show.
I talked about the death of MICHAEL JACKSON and the trial of the man that LATOYA felt murdered him -- or was in cahoots with anyway. Talked about the deaths of COREY HAIM, JEFF CONAWAY, GARY COLEMAN ...
I meant to pepper my talk with as much music as I could, but then phone calls started to come in. Like my girl, Jordan, who turned past the show and called up as many of our friends as she could ... And so on and so on ... Next thing I knew, I had an honest to goodness audience with call ins and responses to points I raised from complete strangers. It was such an exhilarating experience. My head was literally spinning.
When I was able to put people on hold long enough to play a tune or two, I played my unique card. I played Northern Soul gems that I discovered on my downloading program like THE SOUL SURVIVORS' Expressway To Your Heart and forgotten ditties like JUSTINE BATEMAN's version of THE ROLLING STONES classic, Satisfaction. That's from the movie of the same name that -- I believe -- introduced the world to JULIA ROBERTS.
Thinking about that made me wax poetic about how the lead actress was a popular television actress embarking on a film career. But what happens? Her supporting actress -- in a bit role -- ends up being one our most enduring film actresses and the former fades gently out of the spotlight.
Fabiola: But that's the way it goes sometimes though Girl. Like a hit show will do some great things for you, but you have to really make an impression on folks in your side projects. Like we were talking abou the other day.
I smiled, realizing that Fabiola was cueing me to bring up an earlier conversation we'd recently had while sitting in the backyard sipping on lemonade. It would make pretty cool radio chatter.
Charley: JASMINE GUY?
Charley: People can get album deals and tv movie gigs, but then your hit show gets cancelled and you seem to disappear.
Fabiola: And in her defense, she started a family and has done cable show guest spots and theater ...
Charley: But as far as being out there in the spotlight like she ws when she was Whitley Gilbert ... That's what they mean when they say "lightning in a bottle". Because sometimes folks take it for granted that their show has a predominantly African American crew behind the scenes, or that the director or producer is fond enough of them to give them a shot at writing and directing. It's the difference between the cast of any 70s sitcom versus TOM HANKS or RON HOWARD.
Fabiola: But Ron left his show because his passion was so strong to stretch his wings.
Charley: Yet someone like DAVID CARUSO left his show too soon ... Wow, we could go back and forth for days on this subject. But I need some music in my life right about now. And I just happen to have had this CD in the car that my favorited board op just ran out to get for me ... Y'all go'ne love this ... From The Kids From Fame featuring GENE ANTHONY RAY ... Here's, Come What May ... Enjoy.
I was offered my very own talk show where I could play music just like I wanted. And to sweeten the deal, they gave me a co-host.
I wasn't sure about that at first, until I found out who it was. The fine ... fine ... co-host of a local tv dance show which was prophesized to be the second coming of Soul Train and American Bandstand combined. A real phenomenon. And did I mention that baby boy was fine?
Fabiola helped me to structure my show and without telling her, I put her name in the mix as creative consultant of my show, which sent some positive press in her direction.
Our first week on the air was crazy. And by that I mean, exciting, exhilarating and everything totally cool. Not to mention that the ratings were through the roof; the highest ratings in our station's history. And I couldn't help being a little more than thrilled that we made my ex's -- Alonzo Ford -- show look like it was produced for transister radio ...
To celebrate the success of our show, we went out clubbing. And I must admit that we drank like fish. But hey, we're grown. We're adults. We're of drinking age.
I drank a little more than my co-host though. So it was kind of him to walk me to my door. And to show my gratitude, I slobbed ol' boy down like French kissing was going out of style. And once my door shut behind us, he really showed me the meaning of phenomenon.
Once Upon A Bookstore
She looked up from the newspaper that she was thumbing through. She was also glancing back and forth at a laptop computer to the left of her. But she stopped long enough to say, "Welcome to EGA Books".
I nodded and smiled silently, thanking her for her welcome. Catching the intense gaze of a burly security guard coming out of the restroom behind her station. I nodded at him too and tried my best not to look like a potential thug, taking my hands out of my pocket and looking to make sure that my pants weren't sagging.
Looking around, I saw a small group of people in the cafe area towards the back of the store. They looked as if they were handling some serious business.
"You a first timer?" The security guard asked, not changing his suspicious facial expression.
"Um ... Yeah. I've been hearing good things about his place from my buddy on this message board I belong to ..."
"FacePage?" he asked.
"Yes Sir. They have this section about retro things and new places with an old school vibe ... So I thought I'd check y'all out."
"Well, I'm glad you did," she said before turning to wink at the guard. Which must have been some kind of secret signal, because he smiled at her before walking away. Though he did turn around after a couple of steps and shot me a menacing grimace. As if to say that he wasn't letting his guard down ... And I definitely got the message.
I looked around at the racks of graphic novels and current comic books. As well, they also sold none Science Fiction themed magazines.
On the opposite side of the store, next to the cafe, there were arcade games. Classic games that would attract 30 year olds and older who probably spent all of their allowance on those very same games when they were younger.
The cashier station was four sided glass counters with slide doors on the cashier's side. Inside there were CDs. Lined up in a way that you had to look down to point our preferences for purchase.
Comics. Magazines. Arcade games. Cafe. CDs ... Oh wait, there were also DVDs on one of the other sides of the cashier's station. They were really covering all of the angles.
I was introduced to the group meeting in the cafe. It was a watercooler/ cocktail party/ front porch stoop/ church picnic kind of vibe.
There was someone that acted as the conversation starter. Basically they figured out what they wanted to talk about that was weighing on their minds; something that they welcomed opposing viewpoints on. Once the ball was tossed up in the air, everybody went for themselves. Today's topic was the 70s television series, The Six Million Dollar Man.
I sat back while sipping a lemon drink made with crushed ice. More of a listener than a particular, I found myself throwing in my two cents; feeling the cashier's eyes on me as she stood off to the side.
"But that's the whole problem with trying to recreate a classic series," I offered. "The main reason that he original Bionic Woman worked was due to the relationship to the parent show. Besides having the Oscar Goldman and Rudy Wells characters on both shows, there was always the chance of Col Steve Austin showing up. And when that happened ... Wow ... It was pure magic. Nothing like it."
"Weren't they on different networks?" Joy Aames asked.
"Originally they both were on ABC. But then BW got cancelled and they moved to NBC. But if I'm not mistaken, they still managed to do a crossover or two with the other show. Which is unheard of these days. Pure creativity."
A couple of the group members nodded. One nodded and smiled. Joy simply grinned and touched my arm. I assumed that all of this meant that my comments met their approval.
This round table was made up of friends and strangers. Partly of a group who used to meet a poetry/Jazz spot that closed down after years of service. The others were needy souls who'd simply drifted towards the store much like I had. Waiting to belong to something greater than their individual selves. Realizing that sometimes in numbers, greatness can abound.
"So tell us about yourself Brother," said Leon, a blonde kid who seemed more African American than I was.
He had the Hip Hop swagger. Wore name brand clothes from cap to shoes. Talked with slang as he chomped down on chili cheese fries and slurped on a creme flavored soda.
The kind of kid that I liked right away. Yet also the kind that someone with my color skin might accuse of trying to steal "the culture" like ELVIS allegedly stole Rock & Roll from LITTLE RICHARD.
"Not much to tell really ... I write ... Songs and music reviews ..."
"Used to be married. But it didn't work out ... So now I'm walking this road alone, like BILL BIXBY with his duffle bag."
Several of the group members laughed. Joy shook her head and smirked. "That's horrible," she said softly.
"Maybe so. But truthful. I mean, I'm not actually, physically walking down the highway, going from town to town. But mentally, that's what I'm feeling."
"You should put it in your music."
"Music ... I haven't written anything in quite a while."
"Haven't allowed myself ... Maybe because I figure that ... What I have to put on paper is too strong to release to radio ... Christian radio anyway."
"Is it really about what you can release to radio? Or is it about getting it out?"
"Come on now ... You're a writer ... A musician too?"
"Then you have this incredible ... A singer too?"
"Yeah ... And a producer."
"Uh uh! Stop the madness!"
"You have this incredible 4 fold gift Man. You need to get whatever you're feeling out of you before you burst wide open like a balloon. Come on now."
"I'd have to agree with her Brother Brandon. With so many schools shutting down their Art and Music programs ... I'm convinced that there wouldn't be so many aggressive kids out here shooting and killing one another if they had a creative outlet ... If they could be exposed to art and musical instruments and take a liking to them ..."
"I gotta agree with the homie there," Leon said. "My parents were divorced when I was little ... It was such a tough time. But then one of the neighbors kind of took me under his wing. You know? And you know once my mother decided that he wasn't some kind of sexual predator or whatever, she allowed him to take me places. And he just, you know, spent time with me and exposed me to his music ... It just made a world of a difference. Not just him spending time with me, but ... We had this connection with the music that nobody could penetrate. It was our special thing that nobody else got but us ... Music is power Bro."
Morgan Stokes: Somebody's Somebody
Crowded grocery store here. Crowded grocery store there. Crowded grocery stores everywhere. This is the Sunday before Thanksgiving, with 59 cent a pound turkeys and the superstore has the chicken/turkey/duck combination that I saw on Food Network a couple of years back. It's packaged up in one big box to be cooked in the oven for three plus hours. Too bad I don't have my own oven to try it out.
It's Thanksgiving, but the radio and the displays in the store all scream, "CHRISTMAS!!!". But that's cool, because I love Christmas. The most wonderful -- fill in the blanks for fear of copyright infringement -- of the year and all of that Jazz. And in the midst of all of the sample ladies hawking their wares, Eggnog ice cream calling my name from inside of the refrigeration unit, not to mention the pretty holiday pies -- there he was. Just like a moderate Pop hit by Christian rockers, SIXPENCE NONE THE RICHER.
First I looked at him unawares. He was cute, but not metro-sexual cute. Not totally square, but definitely not thuggish the way I used to like them. That's when our eyes met. Well first, his eyes met my Chuck Taylor Converse All Stars --- Black and White. He smiled at that. Then his eyes moved up to my jeans and my quilted coat. A warming kind of look in the midst of 30 degree weather.
Our eyes finally locked. Neither one of us said anything, but I found myself unable to move out the spot that I was in. Feeling happy when the woman that was obviously his wife, appeared out of the aisle behind him. And he pretended as though he hadn't been looking at me as she kind of snatched the cart away from him in some strange sense of urgency. But she was more concerned about the cart than her husband as she sped away around a corner.
I didn't really know what to do, except blush. Then I kind of slowly turned my cart around and walked as casually as I could back in the direction I came from; totally away from his wife's path. So if he chose to follow me, he could do so without any problems. But would he?
I felt him behind me. I'd been standing at the end of the frozen dinner aisle for a couple of minutes, but it felt like an eternity. And now that he was there -- just me and him in that long, lonely aisle -- I was suddenly extremely nervous. Not knowing what to do. Not knowing what to say. I guess he felt the same way, because it was another minute and a half before he came closer, walking to the side of my cart, sighing out his nervousness.
He looked at my single Cornish hen, a small pie and other items that signified that I would be celebrating Thanksgiving alone. Suddenly I felt embarrassed and thought I needed to explain.
"Actually ... I work in a restaurant and will be serving on Thanksgiving ... And my boss will let me use his oven, but I try not to use it too much, because I don't wanna take advantage, though its tempting because my room is upstairs and sometimes using a hot plate ..."
He cut off my rambling by touching my hand and I found myself holding on for dear life. "I'm Hamilton," he said in a smooth R&B radio kind of voice.
"H-Hi ... I'm Morgan."
I was smiling like some type of idiot. But he didn't seem to mind, smiling back, until his cell phone started to buzz.
It was his wife, wondering where he was. She was in the checkout line. He told her he'd be up shortly.
"Um ...," he began.
"I guess you gotta go, huh?" My smile turned into a disappointed face.
"Yeah ... But ... C-Can I call you?"
Suddenly I was smiling again.
He was 43. I was 22. Old enough to my father. But somehow I couldn't run away. I wasn't repulsed. Maybe because 43 didn't look as old as it might have to my dad when he was my age. In fact, many of the sexiest celebrities seemed to be in their 40s ... I'm just saying.
As for Hamilton ... I loved talking to him on the phone. So much that I easily forgot the fact that he was a married man. Not only married, but he had kids as well. One of them was even a couple of years younger than me ... Something that left me speechless for a minute ... But then when he tried to give me an out, I chose not to take it.
Keeping The "Christ" In Christmas
SCENE I SETTING
The living room of the Randolph family
SCENE II SETTING
Choir marches in: Song - He's Worthy (Worthy To Be Praised)
(Choir hums Silent Night then The First Noel)
The Randolph family sits in the living room exchanging Christmas
gifts. Mr. Randolph opens a present from his son, Timmy. Timmy
had asked him what he wanted for Christmas and he said, "a leather
wallet." When Mr. Randoph opens his package, inside is a book by
MR. RANDOLPH (thinking to himself)
I just love my son and boy, I can't wait to use my new wallet. Timmy has been working at the accounting firm for a year now, making $10 an hour and I know that ... What?! I can't believe this little ingrate had the nerve to buy me a book for Christmas.
Mrs. Randolph opens a big box from her husband. Inside there is a big picture frame ... with nothing in it.
Where is my gift?
Baby, that is your gift. It's a frame for that painting you just bought.
I can't believe that you bought me such a ... stupid gift!
Well, that's better than this fishing rod you bought me. You know I can't fish.
But you said that you always wanted to fishing when you were a little boy.
That's right!! I said, "when I was boy"!
Allison Randolph looks are her parents. Shaking her head, she can't believe that they are actually fighting over something like a Christmas present.
Mom. Daddy ... Aren't you happy that the Lord ...
Aw Allison, don't be coming talking about that Lord stuff. Christmas don't have nothing to do with the Lord.
Oh really? Timmy, take the "mas" out of Christmas and what do you have?
Uh, let's see ... Chris. You have Chris. Who's Chris?
Timmy you're hopeless.
I'm hopeless? You're the one who bought me a Bible for Christmas. You know that I don't go to church. What are you trying to turn me into?
I'm just trying to introduce you to someone who has made my life better ... Jesus Christ ... If you don't want it ...
Naw ... I'll keep it. But I won't promise that I'll use it.
The doorbell rings. It's Thelma, Timmy's girlfriend.
Hi everybody. Merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas Thelma.
Come in and have a seat.
Oh, I can't. My family is waiting for me in the car. We're going to visit my grandma, but I'll be back this evening for the Christmas service ... Timmy can I see you for a minute ... I have your present. Merry Christmas sweetheart.
Uh ... Thank you Thelma. Just what I always wanted, a little box with a bow on it.
You're so silly . You're supposed to open the box.
Oh ... Wow ... A gold chain. Baby, how much did this cost?
You're not supposed to ask that ... So, um, what did you get me?
Thelma, you told me that you didn't want anything for Christmas.
And you believed that?
Timmy ... I gotta go ... We'll discuss this later.
Allison walks into her bedroom, praying silently to God.
Choir sings: Everyday is A Day of Thanksgiving (Softly then louder).
God, Father why can't they understand that Christmas is more than just presents? Why can't they see that Christmas means a lot more?
Church Scene: Choir finishes singing song and goes into the songs, Full & Complete and I Can Bare It.
The minister takes the podium. He reads Luke chapter 2 and says a few words about the real meaning of Christmas and taking the spirit of Christmas and displaying it all year round. He gives an altar call ... Timmy comes forward.
Thelma leans over towards Allison.
You know ... I think I just got my Christmas present.
Choir wraps up the skit with: The Hallelujah Chorus
TruSoulDJ is a self proclaimed expert on all things trivial to the Mainstream. He is an avid classic comic book reader, non popular music lover and tv-show-on-dvd binge watcher who shops the clearance racks near and far to find the best deals. He would like to think he knows everything important within the realm of Pop culture. But in actuality, he only knows about 99.9 percent of what he thinks he knows.
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