hy do black women have to embarrass themselves by showing the world how desperate they are
, I thought as I watched the
Maury Povich Show
. Today's episode was about women who won't let go of their men no matter what they've done; and, of course, they picked the loudest, most ignorant sisters they could find. I watched a scruffy-looking deadbeat dad stroll out from backstage; then I thought that if the world ended tomorrow and aliens were to find tapes of
and all the other asinine programming offered on television, they would think that black women were a bunch of neck-swiveling, man-hungry idiots with low self-esteem. I'd rather die a tragic death than go around whining over some sorry-ass man. Life's too short for that shit.
All my life I've witnessed my mother and a host of cousins go through ridiculous, time-consuming, energy-draining mini-dramas with men not even worth speaking to in the first place. My father was one of them; he cheated on my mother in the seventies and then became a crackhead.
I guess, at seventeen, my mother was too young to be a very good judge of character but she would definitely live to regret her youthful folly when she was stuck with a one-year-old at eighteen. My parents were high school sweethearts, and my mother tried everything to make their relationship work but he could never meet her even halfway.
They're both dead now but they had an on-again, off-again relationship for many long, painful, age-inducing years.
She didn't learn anything from that mistake. A one-night stand with a cop who lived in the apartment upstairs produced my sister, Saundra. After their encounter, Phil Patterson took Mama out a few times. Maybe he would have married her if she had stopped trying to make things work with my father.
I remember having to stretch my quivering little arm around my mother's broad shoulders many times to comfort her after my dad disappointed us. Again.
I guess psychiatrists would say I have serious issues concerning relationships because of my childhood. I suppose they're right, but after all the stupid shit I've seen in my twenty-four years, they can kiss my ass.
When I was sixteen, I got pregnant by this guy named Dante. He had a high-top fade hairstyle with a blond streak across the front, new Air Jordans and a triple-fat goose coat to match every outfit. Dante was the best-looking and most popular boy in school. Even more important, he was from Uptown. At that time, Saundra and I were obsessed with people who lived in Harlem, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. We grew up in midtown Manhattan and because of that we were called Valley Girls. So to compensate for our shameful “white” locale, we imitated the cool kids who lived in the other boroughs. We wore huge gold doorknocker earrings and MC Lyte mushroom hairdos, which I now regret.
After getting gold fronts and purchasing a few oversize clocks to wear around our necks we were accepted into the much coveted “in” crowd, not necessarily because we were cool but because we looked damn good.
One night Saundra and I were at our friend T-Rock's house at the Butler projects in the South Bronx. Of course Mama didn't know we had traveled so far from midtown. We couldn't risk telling her because she might say “no” and
was going to be there. Besides, we had already bought matching black-and-white polka dot shirts from the Gap and Hammer pants just for this occasion and we weren't trying to hear “No.”
We looked real good.
I'll never forget how excited we were the first time we rode the number 6 train into the Bronx. Saundra was grinning from ear to ear as the train screeched to a halt at the Tremont Avenue station. We ran down the stairs screaming “Yeah Boy!” and dancing the wop because we had managed to sneak off undetected by any of our mother's friends who we were sure would just happen to be riding the train that night. But neither of us wanted to admit our mutual terror as we walked through the playground overcrowded with hoodlums to get to T-Rock's building on the other side. They were some of the hardest-looking boys I had ever seen and Saundra didn't help quell my fear by pointing out that they were wearing colors owned by the notorious Decepticons street gang. I prayed their rival gang, the Autobots, wouldn't spray the block while we were there. After making it safely into the building, Saundra and I followed a herd of equally well-dressed teens up to the fifth floor.
The living room was crowded with sweaty drunk teenagers dancing to Big Daddy Kane's “Ain't No Half-Steppin” that was blasting from the speakers. It was so hot in there I remember being overly conscious of my hair after only two minutes inside. Saundra and I spent a long time trying to get my hair just right, and I wasn't trying to hear it napping up before Dante got a chance to appreciate it.
I knew he would be burning up the dance floor and that's just where he was. It was in style at the time for guys to battle in a circle and impress everybody with really complex moves. Dante was double jointed so he could do things with his body that always got the crowd going “ooh” and “aah.” I was all gassed up because I had the best-looking dancer there.
It wasn't long before Dante talked me into T-Rock's mother's bedroom and started running serious game. By the time he finished complimenting me on my hair, my clothes and my face, I felt like the Queen of Sheba.
We had sex on top of T-Rock's mother's comforter with only our bottoms off. While we were going at it, another couple wandered in with the same idea in mind and then backed out when they saw us. Later that night, I overheard Dante telling his boys that it was time to quit me now that he'd hit it.
A mixture of tears and eyeliner stung my eyes as I pushed my way through the stubborn crowd. The strobe light made it nearly impossible to detect Saundra amongst the mushroom-haired patch, not to mention the glimmering gold teeth reflecting like mirrors from oversize gold chainsâbut it was time to leave.
Saundra was having a ball; only fourteen years old and high as a kite off St. Ides Malt liquor and doing a damn good running man dance with some guy wearing a twenty-inch high-top fade and leather bomber jacket. I tapped her on the shoulder and she shrugged me off thinking I was some hard-legged dude trying to cut in. The guy pointed behind Saundra to let her know I was there. She turned around and saw me with a face full of black tears and bloodshot eyes. She excused herself and we went home cursing Dante and everything Uptown.
A month later I realized I was pregnant when my very regular period failed to come. I cried so hard that night that I felt my body had become dehydrated.
Mama always tried to be supportive but I knew she would definitely be disappointed in me. I'd used to rather see my mother's angry face than her
Before I told her, I had to call Dante.
His sister Keisha answered the phone and yelled for him to pick up the extension.
“Dante, it's Asha and we need to talk.”
“I'm pregnant” I said slowly.
“OOOOH!” Keisha giggled.
“HANG UP THE FUCKING PHONE!” Dante screamed.
We heard another giggle and a discreet click.
“I can't help you.” he said.
“So am I what am I going to do? You helped to make it.”
It seemed like my life was over and every time I saw him at school he would look the other way. To make matters worse, he told everyone what happened and everyone started staring at my stomach as if I would show so early.
I was the subject of a major scandal and the ridicule was tearing me apart. Saundra tried to defend me but the opposition was too great.
I finally told my mother one Saturday evening and after crying all night, we decided I'd have an abortion. That was during the month of September.
By the end of October, my problem had been solved. My baby was dead and a new Asha Mitchell was born. She wasn't taking no shit from
The abortion and all of that other mess was eight years ago. Today, I make a decent living as an accessories buyer at the Herald Square location of Macy's department store, but I make an even better living as a serial dater. I have no intention of settling down or even being faithful to any one man. Right now I am a girlfriend to three different men: Brent, Nick, and Randall.
I live in a spacious one bedroom apartment on 14th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan. Nick, one of the rich guys I've been sleeping with for the past year, has promised to buy me a home on the beach so I'll be able to escape the city on weekends.
Since I live in one of Manhattan's more expensive areas and my building has a doorman, several women have asked me how I can afford the rent. But a question like that is not even worth answering. Any woman can find a man or men to pay her rent if she isn't dog-ugly or too lazy to do the work involved.
A sister with blue-black skin and trailing a waist-length blonde hair weave was hollering up in some brother's face on the
Maury Povich Show,
while the audience hooted, screamed, and egged the dumb duo on to even greater heights of public humiliation.
The sister squared off, shook the weave, and wagged her finger back and forth in the brother's face. “Hennessey is three years old and your sorry ass ain't nevah gave him a damned thang!” she screeched.
The sorry-looking deadbeat dad adjusted his do rag, hunched up his baggy pants and pushed her finger away. “You betta get up on outta mah face. How I know that baby's mine? You done gave it up to everybody roun' the way.”
Maury Povich stepped in and suggested a DNA test.
If I had a hammer, I would use it to pulverize Maury Povich, the dark-skinned sister with the blonde weave, her dumb-ass man, and the poor little boy named Hennessey to save him from ever finding out that he was named after a bottle of liquor.