Part 2: Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 20

Chapter 20 We made it home at a little after 10 pm. I instantly walked in and turned on the radio, which was routine for me. Janice walked over and turned it down. “What are you doing?” I asked. “I really can’t stand loud music late at night.” “That wasn’t loud.” I turned the radio back to where it was. “It’s loud Terrence.” I knew we were headed into argument territory so I backed down. Sometimes you have to back down, but not all the time. “I’m going to leave the radio on, but I’ll turn it down okay?” “That’s cool,” she said confidently. “Don’t think you’re going to win every little fight we have.” “I don’t expect to. I don’t plan on fighting over too much, do you?” She slipped her shoes and socks off. “Follow me.” I walked towards the guest room which wasn’t fixed up super nice but it had a daybed, a dresser and a few posters on the wall. “You can put your bag and everything in here if you like.” The room was separated by the bathroom and a small hall, so it wasn’t that far from my room. I figured she wouldn’t want to get dressed and stuff like that in front of me. Don’t ask why I thought that. “That’s okay I’d rather put all of my stuff in your room, if you don’t mind,” she said. “I don’t mind. I just figured you wouldn’t want to dress in front of me. Janice, I had a nice day.” “Me too, but you guys were still wrong for laughing at church.” We walked back to my room and placed her things in my closet. “What time do you wake up?” I asked. “Six o’clock.” “Damn why so early?” “I usually don’t, but I want to make sure I wake up. It may take me longer to fall asleep tonight. You know strange house and all.” “I understand. I’m going to get in bed. You want anything to drink before you go to bed?” “I want you to take a shower.” “Men don’t have to take showers before they go to bed all the time. Not unless we shoot ball or work real hard.” “Well. I’m going to take a shower.” “Oh, my bad. Let me get you a towel and stuff. You need a toothbrush? I have spares,” I called from the hall. “Spare toothbrushes huh?” “Yeah,” I said walking back to the room. She had her robe on and was headed towards the shower. I pulled off my shirt and sucked my stomach up a bit. I flexed in my dresser mirror and put on my Perry Ellis pajama pants. They were a cream colored, shiny material with a drawstring waistband. To make sure I wasn’t looking too flabby, I got a few push ups in. I wasn’t in the best shape but my frame wasn’t too bad looking. I guess at six-two you can hide a lot of things. My stomach wasn’t as tight as it used to be and I could see the beginnings of love handles in my reflection, a slight crease right above my hips. I figured this would be similar to the first experience with Laney so I walked down the hall dancing a little. I could still hear the shower running. I tried to turn the doorknob. She’d locked it, damn. I walked back downstairs, grabbed a glass of ice water, and turned the radio off. I guess it was pretty loud. I came back up and she had put on these baggy pajamas with flowers on them, not sexy at all. She was standing in the mirror pulling her hair back. Although the pajamas weren’t sexy they rode kind of high up on her legs. Smooth, chocolate legs extended to the floor. I looked at her and shook my head. “Sorry about locking the door on you.” “How’d you know I would try it?” “I didn’t. I just didn’t want any mistakes.” “Like what.” “Like you walking in and trying to climb in the shower with me and seeing something you might not want to see.” “I think I wanted to see.” “No you don’t want to see,” she said pointing at a box of tampons. What kind of luck was that? I’d waited six months already and now I’d have to wait another week. Some jokes aren’t funny at all. “Are you okay?” she asked. “Hell no,” I thought. I wanted to smack it up, flip it, and rub it down. Now I had to go to the shower and smack me up and rub me down. “Yeah I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be?” “Tee, I just wanted to be with you tonight. I wanted you to hold me until I fell asleep. If you’ve got a problem with that I can go home.” “Janice I’m sorry, I just thought-” “I know what you thought. I want you also,” she said kissing me on my lips. She rubbed my chest and nibbled on my skin. I felt a rush go through me. I looked down at her as she moved her hand towards the gap in my pajamas. She placed her hand inside and stroked me gently. I pulled her hand out, kissed her and went to the shower. I could hear her laughing. When I came back she had turned away from the door seemingly asleep. I tried to step lightly. She heard me. “Terrence, are you finally coming to bed?” “Oh, that’s funny. That’s real funny.” I pulled my pants off and slipped on a pair of boxers. “I see you’re not shy,” she said as I pulled my boxer shorts up. I don’t think any guy is shy. We tend to think that women get stimulated watching us. I guess it’s an ego thing. “No I’m not shy,” I said climbing into bed. “You’re not going to pray?” “I pray in bed.” I said. She laughed at me. “Goodnight Janice. I enjoyed our first day together.” “Goodnight Terrence, she rolled over on top of me and I could feel that she didn’t have any clothes on. Her breasts touched onto my skin and her stomach and legs felt warm. “I thought?” “No.” She straddled me for a moment kissing my nipples and my neck. She rubbed her hands over my shoulders and then my face. I could feel her through my underwear as she moved back and forth. She sat up a little and allowed me to pull my shorts off. I kissed her softly on her breasts and sculpted her body with my hands. “Roll over,” I whispered. She did so without questioning. She lay on her back and was arching up towards me with her hips. I spread her thighs apart slowly and moved my face between them. She exhaled softly. I looked up at her as she tilted her head backwards. I moved up after about a minute or so and slid into her. We held each other for a moment. I pulled back out and rolled over. There used to be a time when if I was that far along I’d would’ve just kept going. But I had respect for her. I felt something different with Janice. I placed a condom on and she kissed me on the cheek. Sometimes a kiss on the cheek can mean more than the act itself, as it did in this instance. We made love for five whole minutes and I was embarrassed as hell. She told me not to worry. I placed her head on my shoulder and she fell asleep. I stayed up for a little longer and thought about how bad I performed. I guess she could feel that I wasn’t asleep. She woke up after a few minutes. “Terrence are you ever gonna turn the light off?” The whole time the light was on. I had never made love to anyone with the lights on. I knew something felt different. It felt like a new experience. Other than the fact that it was with a woman I cared for, I liked looking at her expressions, seeing her legs and body. “Yeah, I’ll turn it off.” When I did she slid her hand down and we gave it one more try. It was just as beautiful as the first time. We fell asleep in each other’s arms. Buy Stages now if you want to read it at your own pace, or just check back to keep reading it here. 
Read more

Part 2: Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 19

Chapter 19 Stage Three Amendment Two: When everything is stated and it’s honest and sincere, there is a feeling that comes over you that makes you shiver. It isn’t a small thing. It’s very noticeable and you remember it. It is the moment you realize that maybe you’ve found the right person. I had to place in maybe because we have not, I repeat have not, made it to Stage Four. After that Saturday night at Flip’s house Janice and I went to our own homes. I didn’t push anything. I wanted to let everything settle down for a while before I tried to make love, or have sex, or relations, whatever you wanna call it. I wanted to give her time to reconsider and make sure she made the right decision. I also waited, for the same reason. When we left Flip’s place we all felt relieved, I think. Maybe the feeling wasn’t relief, it may have been something closer to true happiness. I hugged Janice and walked her to her car which was parked further down the street. “So, girlfriend, ladyfriend, my lady, my woman, what should I call you now?” “Janice Lovell.” “You want me to call you by your whole name?” “I just want you to realize that I’m still the same person. I want you to know that this change is for both of us to work on. So if you want to call me anything it better come from the heart, until then just call me by my name.” “Well Ms. Lovell, you drive home safe.” “Same to you Mr. Terrence Matthews, I’ll be thinking about you tonight,” she said holding her hand out. “Is that all I get, a handshake?” I asked. “That’s what formalities get you.” “Oh formalities, I thought you wanted me to call you by your name?” “Call me by my name if, ‘baby and you’re my lady,’ aren’t coming from the heart.” “I think whatever I tell you is from the heart. I’m glad I asked you to be my lady.” “You never really asked.” I held her hands and looked her in the eyes. I kissed her softly on the lips. “Janice Lovell will you be my Valentine?” “No. I want you to ask me?” “I actually practiced a few things to say, but I didn’t want to sound phony.” “Let me hear one of them. If it sounds good then I’ll accept,” she said laughing. “Janice, I’ve thought everything over and I want you to accept me, as I am. My flaws, my attributes, I want to be your man. That is, if you’ll have me?” “I would love to be your lady, I would love that.” We kissed and held each other in the middle of the sidewalk. Flip and Tina were standing out on the porch. They began clapping. I thought, “Man these White folks are gonna,” then I stopped. I looked at Janice and remembered what she said. The hell with what anybody thought. We were celebrating. It took a lot for us not to go home together that night. We stood out on that sidewalk for about twenty minutes talking about absolutely nothing. You know the kind of meaningless talk you have before you decide what house you’re going to sleep at? I finally kissed her one more time before asking her to join me at church in the morning. When she accepted she asked me to see if Flip and Tina would go also. I watched her pull off down the street. I felt like I was in one of those corny love movies. But then I guess love is corny anyway. The closer and closer Janice and I got, the cornier I became. I’ll explain that later. I walked back up and relayed the info to Flip. He agreed to meet us at church in the morning. I don’t know about you, but in my life going to church is something that is more habit than a necessity. I didn’t absolutely agree with everything about church, but I was raised going so I feel obligated. I would much rather stay at home and watch basketball. But I always feel like I’m cheating God. I guess church was one of the only moral obligations I maintained throughout Stage One and Two. How effective it was at giving me any redemption won’t be clear until I, well you get the picture. I went to a church that my mom informed me of. Why is it that church going people in the South know a church to attend in every state? I took her advice. The church had a short name. I thought since the name was simple that it would be okay and it was. I enjoyed going because of the music and the people. But I like it mainly for the preacher, The Reverend Willis Arnold. Yep, Willis Arnold. He threw me off the first time I attended. The church itself was an average sized building. It had several offices and Sunday school classrooms, but other than that it was mostly church, brick with white wood around the windows. The Stain glass windows were on the inside and outside. The inside was filled with new pews made of long white planks of painted oak. The cushions were a dark red and the rug on the floor was blue. The church was lit with lights that looked like candles placed on the walls. There was a big chandelier in the middle of the room that looked like a remodeled strobe light. It was round with the center cut out. A tri colored spot light hung from the inside. It was often used when there was a concert of some kind. The congregation was a trip. Of course there were the sisters who sat in the front and agreed with everything that the preacher was saying. “Yesss Lawd. Amen. Sho your right Rev. Sin, that’s right,” and other confirmations of the word. There was the one brother who led the hymns, “Ahhhh know the Lawd he heard my cryyy.” And there was the group of women in the middle of the church that dressed up as much as they could to impress the preacher. They made comments like, “That was a fantastic sermon Reverend. I made some corn bread for the dinner afterwards, just like you like it. Sho did.” Those sisters always found a way to shake the pastor’s hand first, after the sermon. Now where I fit into this picture I don’t know, but it was all good as far as I was concerned. I usually sat in the back to avoid being called on for something, or rather to avoid having a sermon directed at me. Which always seemed to happen to some poor brother sitting in the front, “These here boys ain’t got no sense of family. They don’t believe in the Bible, in the Commandments.” The Rev. would say pointing right at the lonely brother who was sitting close enough to the front for the Rev. to see over his gold framed glasses. The first time I saw Rev. Arnold I damn near fell outta my seat. The church had been called to order by the head deacon. At this time everybody would stand until the preacher made his way to the pulpit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be blasphemous, but some things have to be said. So, there I was sitting in this church that my mom told me to attend. Feeling extremely nervous, and to make things worse I wasn’t familiar with their routines, so I was standing up and sitting down a second after everyone else was, just lost. The deacon was singing and everyone was attempting to repeat what he’s saying. I’m just looking and humming along. From behind me, almost like he was on a conveyor belt this tall dark brother glides out from behind this closed office door with a long, heavy, white cape on. His, hair in a small, shiny afro, failing to reach his forehead. His moustache was thick in the middle and thinned out at the tips. He walked down the aisle and shook hands with a select few of his members, holding their hands with the tips of his fingers. A ring on each of his baby fingers, both with fat diamonds in them. He just floated down the aisle. I didn’t notice much else about him until he began to preach. He had one gold tooth. What in the hell did a preacher need a gold front for? That bothered me for a minute, but I was able to be blown away further by the gold chain he had on with the cross dangling on it. I would’ve bet money that it was the same one I saw on some rapper. His suit was all white and he had on white patent leather shoes. I was close to shouting myself when I saw the entire outfit come from underneath the cloak. He preached though, I mean heavy breathing and all. Reverend Arnold Willis really put on a show. By the time he finished I put my ten percent in and gave him a damn love offering. Then I thought about the offering after the service was over, “What the hell is a Love Offering?” It felt good though, it felt like my church and I attended regularly unless I was drop dead tired, which may have happened more times than I’ll tell. I got up at about nine-thirty to get ready for eleven o’clock service. I went to pick up Janice and she looked radiant. She wore a blue suit, with a matching hat. The same kinda hat my mom would’ve worn. “You look stunning,” I said. “Stunning? That’s a word I haven’t heard from a brother.” “I’m not your typical brother,” I smirked and closed the door for her. I had asked Janice if Tina would be comfortable about going to a Baptist church. Janice seemed to think it would be cool. They had gone together a number of times. I didn’t know what Tina would think about the service. From what I’d gathered she was Catholic, but she didn’t practice. We made it to the church at about a quarter til and waited outside for Flip. They pulled up and my man had a tough gray suit, with a matching rose colored tie and suspender set. Tina had on a red suit that closely matched the tie that Flip was wearing. I didn’t even wear a suit coat. I guess I just felt comfortable. I began to laugh when I looked at Tina and Janice standing beside each other in their red and blue. For some reason I was thinking, “Damn they match the church.” When we walked inside I felt the laugh come up on me again so I coughed to cover it. We sat closer to the middle of the church than I usually sat. The service had started in the normal fashion with a rousing rendition of “Well Done,” sung by the choir director. He had the whole congregation captivated. Then came the moment of truth. Flip and I had come to the church a number of times together and we would always laugh at the way the pastor entered. Today would be different though. Usually we held it in and just talked about it afterwards, but it wasn’t just us this time it was everybody. As usual the deacon stood to lead in calling the church to order. He did the same thing today, but I guess he hadn’t seen the Rev. yet. Reverend Arnold Willis slid out with his cape on with a bright yellow suit on with his customary white shoes and white tie. Except, today his head was bald. He had shaved off the afro and was clean shaven. Now this wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t done a sermon on Samson. We could overhear the women talking about his head, “Funny looking little ol thang ain’t it?” one sister said. One of the other ladies, a heavyset sister with a small hat sitting on top of hair said, “Look like that Michael Jordan to me.” Flip looked at me and I was dying. I was holding my laugh in so much I started crying. The lady sitting on the right side of me said, “That’s alright baby.” I know you’re wondering what the relevance of this story is, I’m getting to it. The pastor continued to speak, taking deep breaths in between sentences and dabbing his forehead with a napkin every other, “Yes Lawd.” “You see Samson had lost his strength. I said Samsaaaaan, had lost his strength. You don’t hear me. Yes Lawd,” he dabbed his head. “But you see he knew although he had given up the one thing the Lord gave him, yes Lawd, the fight was not over. He still had his faith. Like a lamb in the wilderness he remained faithful. He knew that God hadn’t left him, Yes Lawd. See, although he was different, physically, you don’t hear me.” “Yes we do Reverend, preach preacher,” shouted the women in the front. “Although he changed physically, his spirit remained the same. Yes Lawd. I’m asking yaw’ll today to change your spirit, do what you feel in your heart is right, what the Laaaawd wants you to do. Let us raise our offering.” Now here I am knowing where this was going, but it didn’t matter. I had heard and understood what he was saying. On the outside I had been all show, strength and smooth, but inside was ugly. I did need to change my spirit. Once again I gave my tithes and I gave a Love Offering. Until this day I still don’t know what the hell the Love Offering is, but I guess that doesn’t matter. I felt as if the words were directed at me that day and this time I heeded the word. We had all enjoyed the service. We decided to go to Sherman’s Cajun Buffet afterwards and have Sunday dinner. When we got there and got seated, I knew it was only a matter of time before we got on the Rev’s head. I tried to steer Flip away from talking about the head, but Flip was determined to get his laugh on. “You can’t tell me you didn’t get weak?” he asked. “I laughed a little but I was listening to the words.” “Come on Tee, I saw the lady beside you patting you on the back, don’t front.” The girls sat and looked at us like we were crazy. Janice took a drink of her lemonade. “Yaw’ll both need help, sitting in church laughing like little boys.” “Girl, I had to pinch Flip twice,” Tina said hitting Flip on the shoulder. She then kissed him. They disappeared into their own little world for a minute. “Uh, you two must be ready to go home or something,” I said. Flip looked at me and smiled. Tina looked at Janice and smiled. I felt a kick on the leg. Something had happened between those two. We all knew it, but Janice instantly asked Tina to go to the ladies room with her. They walked off towards the door and Flip moved around to my side of the table. “I appreciated the church thing today man. I think it helped us all,” Flip said. “What do you mean?” “I’ll talk to you later about it. I think going to church after last night made Tina and I feel closer. She told me she loved waking up in my arms and not feeling afraid. She told me, on the ride from the church, that her spirit had changed.” “She was listening too then. You’re right we should talk about it later,” I said as he moved back to his side and dumped half a bottle of hot sauce on his catfish. I had started digging into the peach cobbler, which wasn’t that great, but it filled my stomach. The girls came back out still talking. They continued when they got to the table. “You guys ready to go?” Tina asked. She did seem more talkative and confident. “Whenever Flip gets through douching that catfish we can roll,” I said. Janice sat back and unbuttoned her suit coat. “That’s a first, the woman at the dinner table unbuttoning something,” Flip said. “I was being longeyed. I ate way more than I should’ve,” Janice said. “I’m not gonna have space for popcorn.” “Popcorn?” I asked. “Yeah we’ve decided to treat our men to the movies,” Tina said. “I was just thinking that,” said Flip. We left and went to our houses and got changed. Janice came over to my house and brought a small gym bag and a garment bag with her. She sat it down beside the door when she came in. “I hope you don’t mind,” she said sitting on the couch. I sat next to her. She rested her head on my chest as she leaned towards me. “Mind what,” I said looking at the bag. “I may not feel like going home after the movie.” She rolled over with her head now sitting in my lap. I didn’t know how to respond. I guess this was how it worked in Stage Three. The woman actually takes charge, in some cases, and decides what’s going to happen. She had basically made up her mind and I damn sure wasn’t gonna say no. “If you want to stay here, I wouldn’t mind at all. Besides that’s what couples do, right?” “That’s exactly what couples do.” She moved her lips without speaking and mouthed the words, “Come here.” She kissed me when I got my head close enough to her mouth to hear. I blushed like a punk and thought, ‘Can brothers blush?’ We kissed a little more before we left for Flip’s place. As I rode shotgun in her car I looked at her legs. She had put on some short-overalls with a t-shirt. Her long brown legs looked like shapely sugar daddy suckers. I wanted to lick the hell out of them. She caught me looking. “What you looking at?” “Nothing. I’m just chillin.” “You need to take a cold shower. You got a dirty little mind.” I laughed and played it off. “I can handle myself without having to take a shower.” “How long have you been?” “Been what?” “Handling yourself?” She asked. “Probably as long as you’ve been getting handled.” “Oooh low, that’s low. That wasn’t nice and I was thinking of doing something special today.” “And I was thinking of eating something special.” “Didn’t we just come from church today? I think you need to calm down.” “I’m just being stupid don’t pay me any mind.” “I wasn’t.” I changed up on her because I felt like I was having the same kind of conversations I used to have in my earlier Stages. “You know Janice, you make me feel like I did when I first started dating.” “How is that?” “Like true love is really possible.” “I know, I feel the same. If you don’t mind me asking, When did it change for you?” “Somewhere between my first time and now.” “Seriously Tee.” “I’m as serious as cancer.” I didn’t know when I had changed. All I knew was at some point it became cool to say fuck it and do what I liked. “You mean there wasn’t an instant that you decided that it just wasn’t worth it?” she asked. I thought about it for a minute before responding. “I guess after my first girlfriend discovered that an older guy could do more for her.” “What happened baby?” “I was finishing up junior college getting my Associates of Engineering. I didn’t have much of anything, but what I had, I gave to her. No questions asked. To make a long story short she didn’t care to much for roses, when I could afford them. She could ride in a nice car and eat at nice places whenever he wanted to have her.” “That would have changed anybody, Tee. You’re not a bad person. Circumstances baby.” “Yeah circumstances.” Bringing up those memories had made me feel less happy. I really didn’t like thinking about how I couldn’t keep my high school sweetheart, because I didn’t rate to a college senior with an internship. I didn’t like who I was then. Stage One additional info: What drives a man towards Stage One in many cases is a direct response to what happens to him as a young man. My first girlfriend left me for a man who seemingly had everything and could give her the world. All I had to offer her was an ear when she was sad, walks in the park and dreams for the future. How could I compare? Sometimes a man doesn’t remember what makes him go to this stage. But somewhere buried, I’ll guarantee, his ego was damaged by a similar incident. Janice could see that I was bothered. “Baby the man you are now was created by every experience you’ve had, good and bad. I like the man you are now. I hope that one day soon I’ll love the man you are.” “Thank you baby, I needed that.” I felt better as we pulled into Flip’s driveway and parked. We walked up and rang the doorbell. It took a few minutes before either of them came to answer. When the door opened Tina was standing with her hair flat on one side. “Come on in guys we’re almost finished getting ready.” Janice turned her head towards me. I humped my shoulders and held the door for her. We sat down in the music room. There was a nice groove floating from the speakers. I tried to figure out who it was. The voice had me stumped. “Isn’t that the old Chante’ Moore?” Janice said. “That’s who it is, that’s right. I was trying to figure out who it was.” “I loved that song. Who was the guy in the song?” “Washington, I can’t remember his first name but I bet you do. Every woman I know was crazy about him back in the day.” “Keith Washington. Yeah he was the bomb.” She kept trying to sing. “Where is he now? Like Rollo on Sanford and Son, Keith is missing in action.” “You still jealous of him I see.” “No, I ain’t jealous. I can sing like that. Wait til you hear me in the shower.” “How do you know I’ll hear you in the shower?” she asked. “Nevermind.” “I was teasing you baby,” she said crawling over and blowing in my ear. “You better stop before they come out and catch me humping on your leg or something.” “Nasty, nasty.” We sat and talked until Flip and Tina finally got ready. We decided to take Flip’s SC, it had more leg room in the back for Janice and myself. The rest of the night was great. We all hung out like high school kids until it was time to go home. Buy Stages now if you want to read it at your own pace, or just check back to keep reading it here.
Read more

Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 15

Chapter 15 Sometimes the Lord puts people into your life for a reason. Why question everything? Then again why not? I’m not saying doubt, or that I don’t believe, but you have to wonder. I still was bothered by what Flip told me and I just couldn’t make sense of it all in my head. Why would she choose him to, “come out of the closet,” so to speak? We spoke about it again that night on the phone. I was about to meet Janice at her place to talk. But I was somewhat intimidated by what a conversation would hold after hearing about Tina and her problem. I’m sure Janice had gone through it all with her, and held the same feelings that Tina may have had about men. Maybe that’s why she wanted to really get close to me. She probably assumed that Flip and I were at the same Stage. What’s kind of buggin me right now is how Flip stepped up and accepted what had been put in his face. He thought about the whole situation and decided to stick it out. I know I would’ve ran away. I’m just not at that point in my life where I can handle that kind of situation. I said when I started that I would remain honest throughout and I will. I would’ve ran away because to stay with her after that kind of info would’ve placed me into serious commitment territory. A place I’d been avoiding for a long time, but it was a place that was slowly beginning to seem like the right thing to do. But how am I to know when I’m supposed to settle down? For Flip, everything kind of lined itself up in a nice package and dropped into his lap. He was frustrated and tired of being by himself. I don’t mean physically by himself. He explained it like this a few weeks before we met Tina and Janice. “Tee, do you wake up in the morning and look at the person you wake up next to?” “Yeah I look at them, and?” “I woke up this morning and rolled over to look at Evelyn and,” “What happened? You rolled over and what?” “Let me put it like this Tee. I don’t wanna wake up anymore and look to my side and ask this question, ‘Who the fuck is this in my bed and what is she doing here?’ You dig what I’m saying?” “Yeah I feel you, but I’m trying to understand where all of this is coming from?” “It’s coming from looking at these women that we’re with and realizing that, if it was my moms, I’d kill somebody for doing that.” “But it’s not your mom and you can’t compare it to that.” “Why not? It’s the same thing. This isn’t an argument Tee, it’s a self resolution.” “And that self resolution is what?” “I will never lay up with another woman and wake up in the morning and have to question what I’ve done. I don’t like it.” “Hmph.” “That’s all you have to say?” he asked. “I can’t say anything because I don’t feel the same as you. I haven’t woke up in the morning and asked those questions.” “But did you always feel like that? Like you were never gonna find the right woman?” “I haven’t considered that in a long time.” “I bet when you first started treating women like toilet paper, you regretted it.” “Flip, don’t preach at me man. You ain’t in a position to preach at me.” “I ain’t preaching man, I’m trying to talk. We talk about everything else why not this?” “Cause I don’t want to talk about this.” Flip and I sat in my living room for two hours that day and rapped. I reached a boiling point because the same thing he was saying, felt, for lack of a better word, right. I just didn’t see myself at that point. What does make a brother get to that point? There is always that decision to be made at every corner. What makes some brothers turn right, and what causes other brothers to make a left right out of the picture? I always thought detailing these things in my journal would make me feel better. The truth was the journal was started for the exact reason that Flip had stated. I started it because I did wake up and question myself. But when I was Flip’s age, I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I had just got to San Diego from the South and I only had associates. You never want to look like a punk in front of brothers you’re trying to impress, you know what I’m saying? I began putting everything in my journal and before long it turned into a bragging book instead of something therapeutic. I began denying myself any negative thoughts about what I was doing until I began formulating this Stages theory. Other than something I would use as a handbook, I knew I wanted this to be my redemption. But everytime I sit and think about saying yes to Stage Three or Four, I punk out. I know once I call it quits that I will have to make an earnest effort at being there every moment for the woman I’m with. I just can’t see it. I couldn’t see it then and I still can’t see it. I just can’t. Flip knew that his words had a profound affect on me though. He had never seen me shout about anything. Until I shouted out that I didn’t want to talk. He knew then that I had felt the same way. I think for him, just knowing that I’d gone through the same thing let him know that it was the right thing for him to do. “You know I’m right don’t you?” he asked me. “Look man, I know that you feel bad about some things, but at least you aren’t lying or using the women for money. And you’re not doing two at one time.” “And that makes it better? Just because you break things off every two months and move on that makes it okay?” “I didn’t say that Flip. All I’m saying is you make the right decision for you. That’s all you can do is make sure your heart is right, you feel me.” “I feel you.” We turned on the TV and ordered a pizza. The Knicks were playing the Pacers, but even Miller in the Garden taunting Spike Lee as he stroked the three ball from damn near half court, wasn’t enough tension to make Flip and I comfortable for the rest of the night. He knew what he had to do and I knew also. I just didn’t think on it as hard as he had. Buy Stages now if you want to read it at your own pace, or just check back to keep reading it here.
Read more

Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 12

Chapter 12

So, if the easiest thing to do is lie, what is the second hardest thing to do? Maybe the hardest thing to do sometimes is tell the truth. I guess if telling the truth is the hardest thing to do then remembering what your lie is must be the second hardest. One of the bad things about Stage Two is the fact that you can no longer be completely honest. In Stage One you can tell the truth because you really don’t give a damn, you dig? When I began dealing with Laney and Janice. I had to lie. Not big all out bull, just small ones like ‘the overtime thing’ and the ‘I’m with Flip thing.’ I could use both of these with Laney but Janice was a different situation. I always said that I would never date a woman whose girlfriend was dating a friend of mine and here I was doing just that. I had to be extremely careful with what I said because from the day after Flip and Tina met, they were inseparable. The funniest thing in the world happens when a best friend goes to Stage Three, they stop calling their boys. Flip had started to cut down on the phone conversations and stopped coming by the crib so much. We spoke at work all the time but it wasn’t the same.

read more

Read more

Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 11

Chapter 11 Considering all the things that come about in a matter of minutes, do you ever think that if given a chance you would go back and make all the things you’ve done right or better? I’m sure you do, I do to an extent. The people I may have hurt and the things I didn’t pay any attention to, the small things are the only things, I guess I would want to correct. Then again those two things pretty much cover the whole spectrum. What would you go back to correct? I knew that night at the club, held an important time for Flip and I. The small things that occurred stuck with me, but they stayed buried for a long time. I didn’t accept any of what I learned that night, not one bit of it. Instead of looking around and truly taking in the atmosphere of the club, I continued to think about how I could get Flip to help me out with Janice and Tina. There are always things that have to be stated as I move along with what I’m saying. Stage Two bore with it a change in the amount of time that I had to place into my relationships. Instead of two or three months to bring things to a conclusion, the time increased to six to eight months. It takes longer to find out about a woman to see if she is really your type. You had to plan it to make it work. Conversation, the first month, set things in motion if sex happened during the first month it’s cool. That’s something that can be considered a bonus. Once the friendship has been established and things are beginning to move past talking and towards sex everything can be played like Stage One. The problem with Two is in the break-up, that shit can actually hurt you as well as her, especially if she’s been accepting of whatever shit you’ve been pulling on her like: working late, ensuring that you have an argument every three weeks or so to ensure that you aren’t getting too close, things like that. I will admit now that it is probably the most calculating stage and the worst. At least in Stage One you don’t build up this false hope as long, it’s just in and out. For me to make Stage Two truly work I had to keep the number of women down to a minimum. Instead of maybe five women in a year, I could only deal with two. Two was and is the magic number. During ninety-seven about five months removed from my Ros and Laney stage, I climbed into the Janice/ Laney stage. I still spoke with Ros but it was rare when I did. That night in the club brought forth a new era, a quick one for Flip, but a long and trying one for myself that’s still a big problem for me. Then again it isn’t really a problem, it’s more like a necessary evil. I just can’t settle down until I feel that I’m ready. You understand I’m sure. I walked ahead of Flip to make sure that those two lame bothers from the bathroom had “talked to the hand.” The two women were still sitting in the same spot in deep conversation. I knew if we interrupted them they would probably show us the hand also, so I walked slower and talked with Flip for a moment. “Are you up to this man? We can go ahead and leave if you want?” I asked him. “I need to clear my mind, maybe dancing and talking to somebody other than you will help.” “Alright keep being funny. I’ma put my foot right up your ass.” “You is so violent,” Flip said smacking me with his hand like a punk. “Chill out, I’m straight. Let’s do it.” “Well, they’re still talking. You know better than to interrupt sisters when they are getting heavy on an issue.” “Forget it man I’m talking to one of em,” Flip said. “I get the dark sister in the skirt-” “I kind of figured that. Why you so hung up on skin color anyway?” “Don’t know, maybe cause kids always talked about my color when I was young.” “We’ll talk about that later, your legs stuck or something? Let’s walk,” he said. So there we were making our way through the club. I was hoping one of them would see us coming so they wouldn’t be in deep thought. I looked at the sister’s legs and followed them up to her breasts and then her face. She was on point from bottom to top. Her friend was just as exotic. Her eyes were like almonds. I kept thinking that she didn’t look quite Black, maybe mixed or something. She was fairly tall, and kinda thick. She had ass like a sister, if she wasn’t Black. Her suit was nice and her hair was pulled back into a long ponytail. The sister I was headed towards had really thin braids. They almost looked like strands of hair. Her nose was small and cute set between her cheeks, which rose when she smiled. She was breathtaking and I really mean that. She had a beautiful neck. Her skin color stood out more at the base of her neck because of the gold chain she wore. I walked closer, she looked at me and turned her head and continued to talk. Flip walked up to her friend and introduced himself. I guess Flip is more of looker than I am, but I always assumed that women liked lighter shades of men anyway. Women always played that, “You look like a tall, cuter Wesley Snipes game with me.” I never appreciated that comment until I heard these sisters saying that Wesley was fine. After that I pretty much used that as my own description of myself. I know that’s corny, but hell, whatever works. “Excuse me ladies you both seem busy, but I just wanted to ask if you might want to take a break from your obviously stimulating conversation to dance for a moment,” Flip said. My girl said no. The one Flip was talking to, who seemed ready to stand up, looked at her friend. I knew I had to act fast or we would be walking away like the bathroom boys. I stepped up to her and said my name. “Hi I’m Terrence. I know you didn’t ask me, but I figured I could help my friend out by asking you to dance.” “That’s the only reason you’re asking me to dance, for your friend’s benefit?” “Oh, damn that came out wrong. Would you like to dance uh?” “Janice.” “Janice would you like to dance? I don’t know this other guy he looks kinda shady.” “Let’s dance girl,” said Tina. “One dance,” Janice said. She walked out to the floor with me, and Flip danced out behind Tina. They seemed to be trying to talk while they danced. I just danced. I didn’t say anything to Janice. We stood doing the two-step dance. The one where you step side to side, according to how fast the song is, the, “I don’t really wanna dance with this person dance.” Anyway we just danced, for one damn song. After it was over, she walked back to her seat. “Thanks for the dance Janice.” “Thank you for getting me out of my seat.” I walked back to my table and she went to hers. Flip kept his punk ass out on the floor, smiling and dancing like a man on his first date with the woman of his dreams. See this whole time that I assumed that Flip had been moving up to Stage Two I didn’t realize that he was actually going to Stage Three. I didn’t see it cause I hadn’t laid out that stage yet. Although I had the basis for it from Laney, I hadn’t made the amendments to it. Flip continued to dance and I continued to sit. This nice looking Filipino lady walked past my table twice in a matter of minutes. I stood and reached out towards her the third time she came by. “Excuse me, would you like to have a drink with me?” “I wouldn’t mind that at all, as long as you allow me to pay for my own drinks. I wouldn’t want you to think I was hustling you or something.” “I wouldn’t mind being hustled by you.” She laughed and sat down. We talked for a few minutes until Flip came off of the floor and walked to the table. “Hey man, I’m sorry, I’ll be right back.” “It’s cool Flip. Sara, this is my best friend Felipe’. Flip for short.” “It’s nice to meet you Flip. Terrence, I really have to be going, it was a pleasure meeting you. Maybe I can give you a call sometime?” “That would be alright with me.” I handed her a card and shook her hand. “I thought you wanted to get at Janice.” “She’s too cold man.” “Cold or intimidating?” “Honestly?” “Yeah honestly.” “Both man, she has a presence,” I said. “Air?” “That’s exactly what it is.” We laughed. “Well, she was watching you. I ain’t bullshittin. She was watching you like a hawk.” “Why?” “I guess she hasn’t had a guy ask her to dance and after the dance he just walked away. I think you messed with her head.” “Damn and I didn’t even try,” Smoothnicity was beginning to become a part of me and I didn’t even see it coming. See, I had done the best thing I could’ve done by not having the heart to talk to her after we danced. She assumed that I was either being honest or I was just not interested. I’m pretty positive that it was killing her to know why I didn’t try to talk to her. But it was a tactic that I didn’t intend on adding to my repertoire, it just creeped it’s way in. “They want us to come over to their table for a drink. You game?” “Definitely.” “I’m gonna go see if there are any more of those hot wings left.” Flip had gone over the edge. He didn’t give a damn what he was doing in front of ol’ girl, which was good for him. She was falling for his honesty hook, line and sinker. I didn’t know what to expect from Janice. I just figured I’d go with the flow. She was precisely what I was looking for, pretty, seemingly intelligent and I assumed she had a good job. I found out later that I was right. I waited on Flip to grab his wings. He was eating them on the way back towards me. “Tacky Flip, real tacky.” “Whatever man.” It was getting late into the evening and I knew we would all be getting ready to leave. I was thinking of what I would say to Janice. Fifty feet, from me to her, seemed like a mile. I don’t know why I was so damn tense. I didn’t have any reason to be at all. I actually took the time to look around as I walked over. I noticed the Winelight album over the bar. I could see the moon shimmering off of the ocean. In the harbor the boats swayed as if the music was in the wind. All of the people dancing and laughing had a feel. I looked at Janice before we made it over there. She had Air, that was for certain. I found it hard to concentrate on what I was about to say. Once I opened my eyes I could hear, and see everything clearer than I had all night. Clearer than any other time. Flip smacked on his wings and sat down beside Tina. She took a napkin and wiped the corner of his mouth. I sat next to Janice. I called the waitress over and ordered a drink. I asked every one if they wanted anything. They all placed their orders. Flip and Tina looked damn near perfect together. Janice looked beautiful. I was intimidated. “So what do you do for a living Terrence?” Such a common question, with a easy response that I couldn’t answer all of a sudden. Why was this woman making me freeze up? All I had to do was answer her and the ball would be rolling. “Terrence are you okay? Terrence?” Janice called. “The music, I didn’t hear what you said?” “What do you do for a living? If you don’t want to tell me that’s fine.” “I’m sorry-” “Don’t be sorry, most men are sorry. I hope you don’t fall into that category.” “I don’t, but that was a good comment. I work at MCC.” Tina interrupted and said, “They both work together in the engineering department.” Flip had sold us out. The last thing you’re supposed to do is let a woman know what you do, unless you really found yourself interested in her. I looked at Flip and he humped his shoulders at me. “Engineers. I guess I can tell you what I do then,” Janice said. “I‘m not an engineer, I’m a quality assurance analyst,” I clarified it for her. “An inspector? Isn’t that a tedious job?” “Yeah, it is.” “You don’t want to know what I do?” she asked. “Not necessarily. I don’t think it’s gonna matter.” “Tee, why are you being rude?” Flip questioned. “Look the only reason she wanted me to come over here is because her pride took a shot,” I said. “Excuse me, my pride took a what? I don’t think so. I assumed that you were as down to earth as your friend. I wanted to talk to you because I thought you might be slightly interesting,” Janice said. “How in the hell am I interesting? You don’t even know me. When I walked off the floor without sweatin you, you were bothered by that. That’s the only reason you wanted me to come over.” “You have really got nerve. Do you know how many men have come up to me tonight?” “No, but I saw a few get dissed, this is probably a part of your game.” “So you saw a few? That means you were looking? Well I saw you too, does that make you feel better?” she asked. “No.” “He’s about as stubborn as you are Janice,” said Tina. “Shut up girl. I think I’m ready to go.” Tina looked at her discouraged, “Janice. Alright if that’s what you want.” Flip grabbed me by the arm and asked the ladies to excuse us. We walked over to the bathroom. “Tee, what’s your fucking problem?” “I’m straight.” “Don’t give me that shit. You buggin for real. Don’t you see that I’m having a good time man? I kinda dig Tina. She’s a damn computer analyst at Sony. She has her own place. Her girlfriend works there also. Don’t you see this shit was meant to be?” “Maybe for you. You the one wanna settle down.” “Is that what this shit is about? Man I can’t believe you.” He walked towards the door. “Man if you wanna leave right now, let’s go. I give up Tee. I do, I just fucking give up.” I caught him before he walked out, “I don’t know what my problem is. I have a lot of shit on my mind too. You’re my brother and whatever you feel is right, I’m with you.” “Word?” “Word.” We hugged inside the bathroom. The door opened and this white guy walked in, “Oh I’m sorry dudes go ahead, I’m sorry.” Flip and I looked at each other and walked out to the table. “We apologize for that. I talked to knucklehead and he apologizes too,” he said kicking me on my leg under the table. “Yeah, I apologize also.” We chilled with Janice and Tina for the rest of the night until closing time. Janice and I talked a little but I had built this wall and she was unwilling to break it down. I couldn’t blame her. The cool thing is, that wall I created, made her think. About a week after the club Flip called and asked me if it was okay for him to give my number to Tina. We talked about it at work on the following Monday. The other engineers were standing in the windows overlooking the floor. Flip and I walked to the end of the line where the motor control centers were standing. I slapped my thick rubber gloves on and Flip stood behind me with his goggles on. I pulled my voltage station over and clipped the power cables onto the bus bars to put the necessary 480 volts onto the control center to test it. Just when I was checking the jumper wires inside one of the boxes, which creates a spark, Flip’s silly ass wants to touch me on my shoulder. “Hey Tee.” He scared the shit out of me. “Don’t do that shit man,” I said. He laughed. “I was talking to Tina yesterday and she asked me for your phone number.” “Say word?” “Word. She said that Janice had been thinking about you.” “She didn’t say that?” “She said that Janice wanted to know if you were okay.” “Hold up. Yo Manny, this shit is shorted from the terminal block to the breaker.” “So you want me to give her the number?” he asked. “I don’t care.” “Good, cause I already gave it to her.” “I figured as much. You need to get back to work.” “I’m finished for the day.” “It’s only one thirty.” “Benefits of being salaried,” he laughed. “Ha ha,” I placed the clips of the power station together in his face and made him jump. The other engineers in the window looked down and shook their heads at Flip. He looked up at them and they turned away laughing. Every now and then even the White guys had a sense of humor. Then again anybody would’ve laughed at that. Flip jumped like a brother running from a L.A. cop. I slapped him five and told him I’d call him later. Buy Stages now if you want to read it at your own pace, or just check back to keep reading it here.
Read more

Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 10

Chapter 10 After placing the napkin in my pocket Flip looked at me like I was crazy. “What did you just write?” “Nothing.” I couldn’t let him see it. The things that went into my journal at the time were private. I looked around the club to see who was in the house. I wanted to see if there may have been anybody that I might have known in there. I tended to forget that this wasn’t a club, club. The people that were here in all likelihood were college grads, or people who enjoyed jazz, real jazz. Not the contemporary fluff from saxophone players like Kenny G. Well, he’s okay, I just think he kind of goes against what jazz really is. He is not Jazz, he’s pop. Jazz is about experimentation, learning the old, discovering the new and finding the place where both past and present meet. I don’t think jazz was ever meant to be elevator music, or “put you on hold music.” But I love jazz and maybe that’s why I don’t understand how Kenny G is considered one of the greatest. Give me a fat platter of Trane and Bird and I’m a happy aficionado. That’s right aficionado. When I began going to the jazz clubs my reformation enabled me to broaden my vocab. My words began to fall in order like the lyrics to a song. I found myself talking without tripping over any statements. In a sense I was becoming elegant, smooth. Not quite refined as silk, but at this time leather was all I needed to compare myself to, rough in some places and smooth in others. “Let’s walk over towards the dance floor,” I said to Flip. “I wanna knock out these hot wings first.” “I’m going to go to the bathroom then.” “Let me know what you say to those sisters you’ve been checking out bathroom guy,” Flip said licking his fingers. I just stared at him. “You a trip, Flip.” “Don’t be rhyming my name. That ain’t funny. I caught enough of that when I was young.” “Trip, slip, rip, dip, I’ma take a sip, I think I bit my lip, Look at honey over there with the big ass hips, I got a homeboy by the name of Flip.” “You finished MC Black ass?” “Chicken eating, finger lickin-” “Purple bastard.” “Yellow cab looking-” “Oil slick.” “Wait til I get back from the bathroom,” I said. “I’ll be here.” “Still licking your long ass fingers.” “That’s why you got hair on your knuckles.” “What? So do you dumb ass.” We laughed and looked. A few of the people around us began clapping. I didn’t realized how loud we were. Everybody seemed to get a kick out of it though. People had walked from the other side of the club to hear what was going on. Even the three security guys, who I assume thought we were two brothers about to fight, stood over by our tables and laughed. Flip looked at me and I reached to give him a pound. I dropped my fist on top of his and said, “Brothers man. That’s all I have to say.” I weaved through the club making my way to the bathroom. Pushing and sliding was a norm at the booty shake joints, but here all I had to do was weave. People got out of your way if they saw you coming, but mostly everyone was sitting in booths or on stools. A few people laughed at me when I walked by talking about what Flip and I had just done. I didn’t mind at all, if it would’ve been someone else I would’ve gotten weak also, which is to say I would’ve laughed my ass off. When I finally made it to the bathroom I overheard these two brothers rapping about some sisters outside. “Over by the wall towards the bar dude,” said one of the guys. The other followed with, “Yeah, I saw them. They was fine. You wanna get at em?” “Let’s do that.” “Am I straight?” “Hell no,” I was thinking, “You fat though.” I kept listening. “When we walk out, we’ll go straight over there and see what’s up.” “You get the light skinned sister in the pants suit. I got the one in the skirt.” “You know I like light skinned sisters anyway.” The two tubby men slapped each other five and exited the bathroom. I knew those brothers were gonna get no where with those sisters. I read them like the writing on a bathroom wall at a gas station. One was probably doing okay for himself and the other was just a sidekick. Kind of like the myth that anytime you see two women walking together one of them is going to be jacked up and the other is going to be super flyy. The same thing goes for guys, then again with guys we fail to understand when we don’t look good anymore. I know this guy who stays in the same condos that I do. That brother will go jogging around the apartments without a t-shirt on. Everyday he trots, not running or moving rapidly, he trots his big sweaty ass in front of my window, everyday did I say. His flat, flabby ass tucked into a pair of tight biking shorts. Stomach folding over the front of the pants, hairy titties bouncing and this look of sheer happiness on his face. Now it’s one thing to have confidence and pride, but do that in your house. If you’re a man and you just can’t face the fact that you don’t have your college body anymore, let that shit go. Do not, I repeat, do not subject others to your body. I for one don’t want to see it. Sorry about that but some things just piss you off. Those guys weren’t going to get anywhere with those sisters. So I wanted to see what they looked like for myself. I left the bathroom and looked towards the bar. I caught a small glimpse of the women as the two guys tried to get their mack on. The women did look flyy. I returned to the table and found Flip engrossed in heavy conversation with this older White guy about investments. “This is my friend Terrence. Terrence, Taylor.” “Nice to make your acquaintance Terrence,” The old guy said. I sat down on my side of the table and waved for the waitress. Flip continued to speak to this guy who was obviously past his limit. “I know these things, it’s my job, that’s’ what I do. See it’s what I do, and I like it,” Taylor said placing his glass up to his mouth. Flip was wrong. He sat there looking at the old guy with this mischievous look on his face. “Your job, you don’t like it. Look at you. I can tell. I can see it in your eyes. Eyes are the soul. Your eyes ain’t happy partner. I can see it in your eyes. I like you,” Taylor said. “What? Taylor I think you better be leaving now,” Flip said. I just looked. “Not like that. I like you. You got Air.” I had to join in, “What’s Air?” Taylor twisted his cup on the table, looked at the vodka and pushed it to the side, “I used to have Air, until my wife, that bitch.” “Whoa,” I said trying to hold in my laughter. “Let me finish, let me finish. I’m still married, I can say that. I still love her too, she just as beautiful as-” “Taylor, Air?” Flip asked. “Air, goddamit, is what you have when you can,” he picked up his empty vodka glass and then he looked at my drink. “You gon finish that? Just gimme a sip.” “What about the Air? You two boys got Air. I ain’t talkin about no farts or tennis shoes or air in your car tires or breathin air-” “Taylor,” we both yelled interrupting his train of thought. “This is all I’m saying then I’ma go. Air is when you walk in a room and everyone there notices you. They remember you, they can’t forget you. You two fellas got Air. It’s a powerful thing this Air is a powerful thing, if you don’t control you’re Air-” “You might stink up the place?” Flip interrupted. “Flip.” I said. “That’s right you stink up the whole goddamn place,” Taylor said this and stood up from the table. He placed a twenty onto the table. “Yaw’ll fellas enjoy yourselves tonight, have a couple on me.” “Taylor you need a ride home,” Flip asked. Taylor pointed towards the large window at the side of the club overlooking the ocean and the parking lot. “That’s my limo out there. I don’t need shit.” He turned and bumped his way through the club towards the door. He grabbed a hot wing and turned around and held it up. “They damn good ain’t they Flip?” Flip gave him a thumbs up. Taylor had left the building. “How in the hell did you meet that guy?” “He just walked up and started talking after we were talking about each other.” “About investments?” “Yeah, something like that.” “Come on man, what was he talking about?” “Investments in life.” “What?” “Look at us man. Two brothers who aren’t doing bad at all, sitting in a bar that we have never really looked at.” “What’s to look at?” I asked. “Who’s your favorite musician, not old school, present day?” “Grover, you know that.” “Did you know that over the bar there is an autographed copy of Winelight?” “Where?” “Over the door mounted, on that piece of wood, is a pad, from a saxophone. An alto sax left in L.A. by-” “Bird?” “Have we ever really paid attention to any place we’ve gone to?” “I guess not.” “For two brothers with Air that’s pretty damn sad don’t you think?” “Damn you got all that from that old White man.” “Tee, do you ever listen man?” “I was just fucking with you.” “If he was Black would that have mattered? You would’ve made the same comment.” “Lighten up Flip. You need to lighten up. Let’s go dance or something.” The tempo of the music had picked up and they were playing R&B. “Alright man, I just got a lot on my mind.” And now I had a lot on my mind, but I’ve learned not to dwell on things too long. “Let’s look around.” We stood up from our chairs and scoped out the place. That’s when Flip spotted them, the same two sisters that sat over by the bar. He suggested we take a stroll over to their table. Buy Stages now if you want to read it at your own pace, or just check back to keep reading it here.
Read more

Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 9

Chapter 9 “In thirteen seconds the tape will flip itself over if nothing is being played.” Flip said. I drove up to Flip’s crib in La Jolla to look at his new stereo system. He had bought a CD player and a tape deck that did a lot of technical stuff that we usually consider work talk. But because of the importance of electronics, computers, cell phones, Playstations and anything else that uses batteries or voltage, for Flip and I to stand and wait on the tape door to open, slide out, turn around, retract and play with the same amount of clarity as it did on the first side, wasn’t a problem at all. As a matter of fact it was like a religious moment when the tape flipped and began to play. “Nice huh?” he said. “It’s pretty sweet. My tape deck will just reverse the tape without doing all of that.” “But when it does that, it stretches the tape and can ruin it. The sound gets muffled.” “Who cares Flip? No one listens to tapes in the house anymore.” “But it’s nice to be able to pull out an old collection of tapes and play them, don’t you think?” “I guess. I’d just buy the CD to replace the old tape.” “Check this out then.” He stood up and walked over to his shelf. On it sat a glass container with a CD inside of it. The CD was facing out, instead of laying down. “Watch how this CD comes out.” He waved his hand in front of the stereo window and the glass windows slid open. “Ha Ha, yeah boy, you like that don’t you? Tell the truth that shit was dope, right, right?” Flip was excited as hell. So I went along with it. “Aww damnnnn, that shit is the BOMB.” He looked at me sarcastically and said, “Fuck you Tee.” We laughed our asses off. He put on some music and sat down on the couch. The pillows sunk in as he placed his feet up on the matching black footstool. “You know I took a pay cut right?” “I kind of figured that you did.” “From forty-nine thousand to forty-three. But at least a couple of people got a raise from eight to thirteen dollars.” “Why Flip? Why did you do that?” “I ain’t never had shit Tee. It doesn’t hurt me to lose that money, but it made a hell of a difference for Manny and Hilda. They got four kids.” “I guess man.” “I think I’m going to move though.” “This place too expensive for you? Or is it that all the White folks are getting on your nerves?” “The second one is bothering me a little, but I just think I should move south a little.” “But it only takes you a few minutes to get to work. Then again forty-three thousand ain’t a lot of money.” “I’m twenty -four years old. I have a ninety five SC that will be paid for this year and one credit card.” “Just one?” I said. “For emergencies. I need to move by my people.” “Ain’t no Puerto Ricans out here.” “Stop being stupid man. I’m serious. Why did I move up here in the first place, do you know?” “You never told me.” “Because when they hired me they said La Jolla was the safest place to live in San Diego. I don’t like it up here. You stay down south.” “In Mission Valley not Southeast ‘Dago’.” “Listen to yourself man, for real. You sound just as bad as these other cats. You always talk that Whitey shit. I’m starting to think that you a little white-washed yourself.” “Hold up Flip, that’s fucked up. I worked hard for what I got, I don’t want no jealous niggas…” After leaving the South and coming here to work for MCC, I actually had forgotten where I was from. Everytime someone mentioned Southeast San Diego I responded like it was the worst place in the world. I didn’t even go to any of the soul food restaurants on Imperial any more. I stayed at those places when I first moved here. Not only had I moved up and out, but mentally I had castrated my Blackness. Flip realized it. “I ain’t saying that you didn’t work hard, you just forgot. I’m reminding you that’s all. You’re my boy man and I wouldn’t say anything to offend you or slight you, but you had to be checked.” “I feel you Flip, I feel you. So you want to move?” “I already picked a house.” “You renting or buying?” “Buying, I figured I’d get a jump on it since I’m young. I got about eight grand saved up for a down payment.” “So where is it? Let’s go see it.” “It ain’t far from you. The place is in Kensington.” “Kensington? Man I thought you was moving to southeast or something, giving me this speech about forgetting who I am and you moving to Kensington?” “I said I didn’t want to forget, I didn’t say I was stupid, but on the real I just thought it was time for me to start getting right.” “You already started that.” “What?” “Flip you’ve had it right for a long time. I know cats your age that still stay at home. I admire you and what you’ve accomplished.” “Thanks Tee.” We walked out of his crib and took his car down to look at the other house. Little did I know that talking with Flip that afternoon would make me consider, being with Laney and only Laney. I mean I was damn close to doing that until Flip asked, “You wanna go to the club tonight?” “Which one?” “By the bay.” “That’s cool.” If I wouldn’t have gone out that evening I would’ve been okay, but as far as I’m concerned it would’ve been to soon anyway. Besides how could I finish this handbook if I would have settled down back then? That night at the club we met two friends, Janice and Tina. Pulling up to the club we could see a small line outside. People were talking and exchanging business cards before they got inside and started relaxing. We walked into line behind this tall brother who we were sure played football for the Chargers, but we couldn’t remember his name. “Damn ain’t that-” “Ol’ boy that plays tight end right?” I added as Flip rubbed his beard. “Yeah, he does play tight end. Got drafted a couple of years ago.” “I bet that’s his Benz over there.” “You think?” “Anyway, man look at the ladies. You think you might meet somebody tonight?” I asked not expecting this answer. “I ain’t looking man. I think I’m ready to meet the right person though. You know I’m sick of all the drama,” Flip said. I stood dumbfounded. This was my running mate telling me he wanted to slow down for certain. We were both having small droughts and I’m sure he was just considering the alternatives. “I could call up Eve tonight, maybe. We kind of split on bad terms though and she’s good for frontin on a brother,” he said. “I don’t split on bad terms with anybody.” “Bullshit Tee. What about Laney?” “That was a misunderstanding. She thought I said she was the one for me.” “You did.” “No, I told her she might be the woman I’m waiting for.” “Same thing.” “No, I never told her she was the one. I make sure I never say that kind of shit man. I say you might be, or you are damn near perfect, or you have to be an angel heaven sent-” “I get it man.” “Never say words that are definite, that leaves you without any leverage.” “You stupid.” “But at least I can still call up all of mine.” We showed our ID’s and walked in. Since the no smoking rules inside of bars law had been implemented it was getting harder and harder to tell who the smokers were. I began to try and smell women’s breath when I spoke to them. It worked sometimes. Flip instantly walked to the hot wings table and began to place the food on his tray. I knew better, he did also, but I guess he didn’t care. Sisters pay attention to a brother that’s eating a lot. I think they assume that a guy who’s eating everything ain’t got nothing at home. I tend to agree. But in Flip’s case they would’ve been wrong. So here we are sitting at our table. Flip eating hotwings and jalapeno poppers and me with a glass of some wine special that had fruit in it. “Settle down? I can see it, but I just don’t understand how you can say that right now.” “Why not?” he returned. “Man you are only twenty-four. Hell I think you got at least another year of living to do.” “Another year? How long should it take for me to decide when to settle down?” “First off I don’t think you decide.” “Hold on now you’re the brother that said a man decides when he’s ready to call it quits.” “I said that, and you’re right a man does decide-” “Make up your mind Tee. You either think one thing or the other.” “Let me break it down for you. I just turned twenty-seven in October okay? I know I’m not ready so I won’t even pretend to settle down. Because I’m not ready you dig?” “Right on brother.” “On the real Flip, a man will settle down as soon as he wants to, with a woman he either likes a lot, or a woman he’s willing to put up with.” “I don’t think so man. A brother is going to settle down only when he finds it convenient to.” “Convenient?” I asked. “Convenient. Tee the only reason I said that I’m looking to settle down is because it’s getting harder to find women that I really enjoy being with.” “Sexually or kicking it?” “Both. I figure it would be better if I start taking women a little more seriously.” “So you’re saying I don’t?” “No.” “Then what are you saying?” “I’m saying I’m looking to settle down,” he said. There it was in those five words his step up to Stage Three. I saw it coming, but I didn’t want to hear it. We stopped talking for a moment and sat quietly. I wondered what he was thinking. I was trying to figure out which way I was headed. I thought about what I wrote in my journal. Talking with Flip had helped me understand that it was time to meet someone that I wanted to be with for more than just the sex. Stage Two, I pulled out a pen and grabbed a napkin: When a man decides that he should only sleep with women that are possible candidates for settling down, that is settling down due to circumstances beyond his control, then that man has reached Stage Two. No more sex for the purpose of just having sex. There has to be a little bit more to the woman. I thought to myself, “It’s time to be picky, which doesn’t mean I’m about to be in a relationship, I’m just deciding to be with women who have their shit together. That’s what Stage Two is.” The words on the paper looked as if they made sense. I held the napkin in my hand and folded it up. I placed the paper into my pocket and felt stimulated by my discovery. I had written, in detail, what the first two stages were. Isn’t that something? The way I came up with this philosophy about the Stages. I truly hope you are starting to see where I’m going with this, because once again, it is all important. My words should be adhered to like commandments. In these days where most men are failing to realize their shortcomings, I’m providing a simple, explicit way for sisters to understand men. I should be paid heavily for this. Don’t you think? I researched the material, formed an hypothesis, studied and reviewed my records and formed a thesis. What I’ve explained up to this point has mostly involved Stage One. There hasn’t been anything for you to measure the difference between One and Two. Keep reading and you will see the difficulties that come with only dating women you actually like. Like night and day, one, if added correctly, will become two and two will become three and so forth. When Laney spoke to me in the park that day, I remembered to write those words down, but I can’t give you Stage Three yet, and don’t read ahead. Like trying to perm Little Richard’s hair, this is a very long process. Well, since we don’t know how long it takes to perm his hair, let’s just say the process has to be done in a sequence that can be compared to cooking greens. First I have to pick the words I’m going to use, clean them up a little so I won’t offend anyone, let the ideas simmer and finally I can serve the whole dish to you. Stages One to Four.
Read more

Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 8

Chapter 8 After church I made sure to call Ros up and let her know I was thinking about her. She told me how much she enjoyed us. I reciprocated her thoughts. “I hope we can get together more often,” she said. I thought, “I don’t. I like it once a week if you don’t mind.” But I said, “That would be nice, but maybe we should make sure of what we’re doing here.” “I agree, but for right now, it’s cool. No stress.” No stress, just what I was trying to convey. For some reason it was like the lotto had walked in to find me, without me even buying a ticket. “Are you sure? I don’t want to disrespect you,” I said. “As long as you don’t throw shit in my face we’ll be okay.” “What do you mean?” “Just don’t lie to me. If you’re going to mess around then do it and let me go.” “I hear you, but that sounds like-” “But are you listening? I want you to let me know when you don’t want to be bothered. Don’t just start doing whatever and leaving me hanging.” “Yeah, I’m listening. I won’t diss you.” “Call me later, okay,” she said. I never dissed Ros either. We really didn’t last long because of her son. I didn’t want to meet him and we just couldn’t find the time to see each other as much as we would’ve liked. She still wanted to see me every now and then, but that would be hard. The two months had blown by and Laney had been back for about two weeks. I had picked her up and we hadn’t talked since then. I would talk to Ros every few days or so just to keep the contact. But now I had to direct my attention back towards Laney. I did so, but I also knew that the likelihood of me getting back in really good with her was slim. I could have regained the same status with her if I felt like devoting the time to it, but come on that would’ve meant I was stepping up a level, and I wouldn’t step up for another five months. On November the 7th, 96, Laney and I planned on meeting each other at the park to talk. As I spoke to her on the phone the other line clicked. During the dissolving phase of letting Ros go, and the rebuilding with Laney, Eva had begun to call me. Eva was the third phone number and she came along at the right time also, I had just stopped kicking it with Ros, and Laney and I weren’t exactly making good music. She stood about five foot two inches. She was pretty in the face but her body wasn’t that hot so I really didn’t pursue her, but she made it a point to contact me whenever it was possible. I kind of blew her off in a real nice way every time she called. I had a few chances to hit it, and I did. I just couldn’t get into her. I kept her on deck in case of emergencies. Laney and I met at Balboa park on a Saturday. We talked and went to several museums. “I missed you Laney. Why didn’t you let me come and pick you up?” “I figured this was more of a business meeting than a pleasure meeting.” “Business? You didn’t miss me?” I asked. “You know I did, but I was disturbed about what happened at the pier. It bothered me the whole time I was gone. Thank God I didn’t work on the flight deck.” “It bothered you that much?” “Don’t ask stupid questions. You know damn well it bothered me. The problem for me was that you were right.” “About what?” “You did express that you didn’t want anything serious.” “I’m sorry-” “No apologies please, unless you have something to feel sorry about. You didn’t seem to feel bad that day.” “How can you say that? It took a lot for me to say that. I was trying to be honest. I was trying not to be typical.” “In your attempt you became typical.” “Come on now, why you got to say that?” “Tee, if you never wanted to deal with me on that level you could’ve easily stopped everything. Instead, you let it all happen.” “Hold up, are you failing to remember that what we did was mutual? I asked you if you were sure. Why is it that a brother can try and be honest and still be considered a dog?” “I’m not saying you dogged me, but what you did wasn’t any better.” “I thought it was,” I said turning and walking towards the fountain. The water was shooting out and kids were wading in the pool. I stood next to the water. “Laney, I didn’t have any intention to play you, and I honestly thought I didn’t. How can you say I deceived you?” She stopped and threw several pennies into the fountain. “I guess I’m just frustrated and you’re the only person I can take it out on.” “What’s wrong?” “I feel so stupid for doing what I did with you. But you seemed so certain of yourself. I liked the fact that you seemed to have it together. I admired that. I thought maybe, that maybe-” “I understand. It’s just that I couldn’t get into another relationship without sorting out some things first.” “Maybe I’m overreacting. So did you do anything I might regret while I was gone?” “It depends on what you’d regret.” “Don’t play Tee. Be straight with me I can handle it. I’ve been through these kinds of things before. I’m not a little girl.” “I met someone, but I just couldn’t relate to her. She had a child.” The best way to talk about what I had done was to tell the truth. That way when it came up again I wouldn’t have to remember the lie I would’ve made up. “What was her name? Nevermind, so it didn’t work out?” “It couldn’t cause even when I was out with her I thought about you.” “But did you spend anytime thinking about us?” “Yes Laney, I did. I knew we had to reconsider what we have here.” “I thought about it too. I think you were right, we should chill out. I’ll give you your space and you give me mine. I’m not going to date anyone else, but I don’t expect you to do the same. Sometimes a man has to get things out of his system. I think you have to get right with yourself.” Stage Three had been announced and once again I was ill-prepared. I didn’t have any paper to write. So I placed the words into my mental journal and saved it. I responded to Laney by saying, “I want to do what’s right, so I’ll respect your wishes as long as we continue to go out and talk. I wouldn’t want to give that up.” We hugged in front of the Museum of Man and held hands the rest of our walk through the park. Stage One at this point began to get overwhelming. I couldn’t keep acting as if I didn’t give a damn about these sisters. I had been sexing Eva on a regular basis, but it wasn’t that great. I continued to do it anyway, but Stage One was coming to an end. From November to January, I could feel myself changing. Flip had already been at Stage Two for a while. It happened to him during my Eva phase. We had changed our stomping grounds from the booty shake joint, to a nice jazz club that sat on the ocean front in Shelter Island. By doing so we changed the rules of the game. I didn’t accept them as easily as Flip, but when I did accept it, I made the change cautiously. I cut off Eva and continued talking to Ros and Laney. But like I said earlier, during the situation at work, the step up to Stage Two began happening to Flip when he started becoming more conscious of the subtle racism of San Diego. He didn’t see how the short distance from Northern California to Southern California could bring with it such an odd change in the consciousness of the people. His life in Berkeley had been a multicultural heaven where, he didn’t have to deal with many complexities. But San Diego is different, the small things are so small you barely notice them if nothing big brings it to your attention. Work was what brought it to Flip’s attention. Buy Stages now if you want to read it at your own pace, or just check back to keep reading it here.
Read more

Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 7

Chapter 7 I picked up Ros from her house, which was off of Euclid. Not the best part of town, but her mother’s home was in a quiet section of Southeast San Diego. I always felt that Flip and I were the only Black men that stayed above Highway Eight, which ran east to west from the beach, to the mountains. A highway that cuts the city in half. It was almost subliminal segregation. The Blacks didn’t seem to want to go above the eight to live, and all the Whites were fleeing from below the eight to stay in “better” areas. Then again it wasn’t subliminal at all, it was kind of the way the city was developed. Cheaper properties established below and more expensive ones set up above. The well off still overseeing the workers, go figure. Ros walked out of the house looking radiant. Her legs looked strong and full underneath her skirt. She wore a blue silk blouse that buttoned up the front to a place right above where you could see her cleavage. Her breast pushed the shirt out, not quite tight but enough to show the size. I looked her up and down and took her in with all of my senses. Her voice was heavy, in a sexy way. She hugged her little boy at the door and began walking towards the car. I climbed out to open the door for her. I liked the way her make-up made her face look a little darker than she was. Her hair was styled nicely with a layer pulled over the left side of her forehead and eye. She licked her lips before she spoke. “Thank you. You must be trying to impress me.” “If I wanted to do that I would’ve brought flowers.” “Why didn’t you?” “That’s not my routine. I try not to be like other guys who only give flowers on first dates and special occasions.” “Is that so,” she said. Her voice was just too sexy. I could imagine what she would sound like in bed, whispering in my ear. “That is so. I think flowers should be spontaneous,” I said using one of Laney’s words. “Maybe you’re right.” “Besides, we’re just two friends going out to dinner right?” “If you say so, friend.” I laughed and continued to drive. She picked up my CD case and began sorting through it. “You have odd taste.” “Why do you say that?” “The Police Greatest Hits, R. Kelly, Marvin Gaye, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Brian McKnight, Eric Clapton, The Fugees, do I have to continue?” “I don’t see anything wrong with that. It’s good to be diverse, don’t you think?” “I just can’t get into some of these.” “You can’t or you’ve never tried?” “I guess I never tried.” “What else have you not tried in a while?” “Oh you wanna pick up on the conversation we had last night?” “Anything wrong with that?” “Yes, if that’s all that’s on your mind.” “If I lie and say the thought hasn’t entered my head at all, will you believe me?” “Don’t be tacky,” she said. I laughed and exited Rosecrans. We pulled into the parking lot and found a place near the front of the building. She walked out in front of me as I locked the doors and checked them. I stayed behind her and looked at her work her walk. Her ass was moving like two cherries blowing in the wind on a warm spring day. I wanted to walk up and place my hands on her. She turned to look at me. “What are you doing?” “Who me?” “No, the guy behind you watching my behind.” I trotted up next to her. “I wasn’t really watching in a bad way, I was just admiring the way you carry yourself.” We walked inside and enjoyed our dinner. After we finished we decided that we would share a dessert, a large slice of strawberry cheesecake. She took the first step in my direction of thought. I had been waiting to talk about sex stuff since she walked out the door of her house. When the pie came she took one of the strawberries in her hand and licked the thick red syrup from the tip and bit it. She then offered it to me. I allowed her to place the berry onto my tongue. “Have you decided what we’re going to do next?” she asked. “I figured we could take a walk down at Seaport Village. You know walk off some of this food. Then again we can work it off.” “Don’t be nasty Terrence.” Damn that voice struck a nerve in a good ass way. Terrence, I thought, “That’s right say my damn name.” I giggled at myself. “I’m not trying to be nasty. I’m just stating a fact.” “What fact?” “The fact that I think you’re an overly sensuous sister, with beautiful style.” “Thank you for the compliment Terrence.” Damn, “Terrence,” I felt that chill again. “Are you ready to go?” she asked. “You?” “Yes, I told my mother that I wouldn’t be back until late, really late.” “Oh really?” “Unless, you offend me in some kind of way.” “I won’t offend you if you don’t want me too.” “One track mind.” “Yours?” “Ours.” We left the restaurant and went back to my place. Ros was another woman who had been without for a while. I didn’t have to do much at all with Ros either, but she didn’t compare to Laney. There is just something about watching yourself slide in and out of a dark skinned sister. Ros had body though. The only bad thing was that she was too damn loud, entirely too loud. I swear I wanted to take my pillow and put it in her mouth. I think she was just excited cause it had been a while for her. She stayed until early in the morning. I took her back to her house at seven in the morning. I slept for about two hours before I got up to go to church. I can feel you saying, “Church?” Don’t I have a right to redemption? People shouldn’t be so judgmental. I was raised in the church and I’ll continue to go. You have to realize that I’m not doing anything wrong. I wasn’t doing anything wrong at Stage One and I’m still not doing anything wrong at Stage Two. I hope you are gaining an understanding of what is occurring here. I’m attempting to detail how Stage One was for me. If this handbook is to be truly successful, you may have to endure a few things you don’t want to see or hear. Life is like that. Then again, maybe I’ll give you a straightforward response as to what exactly Stage One is, that is if you haven’t used your context clues to decipher what it is: Stage One is the time in a man’s life where he doesn’t give a damn who he’s sleeping with, all he wants to do is have sex. It doesn’t matter who it is or what she looks like, although most men won’t admit this. It doesn’t even matter what she does for a living. This stage is strictly about the sex, nothing more, nothing less. Stage One is crude and rather ridiculous, however I ain’t mad that I went through it. I enjoyed the time thoroughly. Buy Stages now if you want to read it at your own pace, or just check back to keep reading it here.
Read more

Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 6

Chapter 6 Thankfully, everything had worked out with Laney leaving and all. I had been rapping with Ros for almost four weeks. We hadn’t gone out because of conflicting schedules. My job and Laney held me captive. Ros’ son and work held her captive. But the weekend when Laney left, our clocks became magically synchronized. We set up dinner at the Olive Garden on Saturday. Flip wanted to double date, but that was a major no-no. Never allow two women, that you have no intention on making your ladies, see each other. Flip knew that, but he was slippin. He called me the day after Laney left which was a Saturday. “Damn Tee I don’t get to see you no more. You leave work and don’t call me. We don’t go out anymore. I need to know if we’re together or not?” “Flip quit trippin.” “So what’s up?” “I told you Laney left yesterday right?” “Yeah, I had to cover for your ass down on the floor at work. You remember that don’t you? Seemed as if she had you stretched out.” “Little bit. Man, what’s up with you leaving the message about double dating? You know better.” “I just figured-” “Sounds as if you’re the one that’s got his nose open.” “I’m coming over,” he said. “That’s cool for a little while, but I’m going out with Ros at seven.” “We got about an hour to talk?” “Is everything cool?” “It’s the job man,” he responded. “I’ll see you in a minute, peace.” In the past few months that Flip and I had been hanging, I allowed his job position and how he seemed to deal with his personal life so well, blind me to the reality that he was still young. Before Flip made it over, I wrote in my journal what had occurred with Laney. I wondered if I handled it in the right way. I think I did. I told her that I wasn’t looking for anything that would be extremely serious, she knew that. By telling her, before she left, about how I felt, the window of opportunity remained open. She could neither hate me or regret what occurred. The best thing was that she would still want me when she got back. Flip got to my house shortly after I finished my entry. The phone rang for me to let him in. “Everything alright with you lil brother?” I said as he walked through the door. “You got something to drink?” “Go get it yourself, you know where everything is.” He walked towards the kitchen and came back with a bottle of water. Flip sat on the couch and took a drink. He looked at me and shook his head, before placing the bottle on the table. “You said the job was bothering you man?” “Tee, I walked upstairs, when you were gone yesterday, to rap with Mr. Sams about some of the paperwork.” “Right,” I said. “What happened Flip talk to me man.” “When I got up there, the door was cracked to his office and I overheard him speaking to someone about some people who work on the line.” “He always does that. He’s always complains about something, you know Sammy,” I said trying to lighten the mood. “He was talking about the Mexicans.” “And, you’re Puerto Rican. What’s that got to do with you?” “I’m Latino. He’s been hiring ‘wetbacks,’ as he said. He ain’t even paying them what they’re supposed to be getting.” “He’s paying them. Look Flip you have to realize that business is business. What he’s doing up there isn’t any of your concern. They may not be getting paid twelve or thirteen dollars an hour, but what they’re getting is a lot more than they would get in Tijuana.” “So it’s okay to you that the Mexicans are the new niggers?” “I didn’t say it was okay, I’m just saying that it’s none of your business and that some things can’t be changed. Everything takes time.” “I don’t know man. I don’t like it. My parents were treated like that before they died.” I knew that Flip had been raised by a Black family, but I assumed that it was from birth. I wasn’t ready for what he was saying. He glossed over his parents story in an attempt to make his point. I realized where he was coming from, but hell Blacks folks done had it bad for so long that I find it hard to find a lot of sympathy for any other races. Flip was really bothered by the whole thing. We talked about the situation for a few months, before he settled down, but I’m not sure if he’s truly over it. Youth is a trip. You still believe that you can save the world, which is admirable. Unfortunately, it’s not true and if you don’t accept that some things will take lifetimes to fix, you can destroy yourself. I felt sorry for Flip and I respected him for his compassion, but I told him, “Flip if you want to do something about this, talk to the Mexicans that work on the line.” “About what?” “Unions, saving money, working together, you know.” “I don’t know. They can’t join unions, they’re not full-fledged citizens. They don’t have any health care, nothing man.” “Look, I feel you Flip, but on the real there’s nothing that you can do except respect them as if they are citizens. Actually, respect them like they’re human, which they are. Sams is a fool, but he runs the facility.” “Whatever man.” “Maybe you can help them organize to pay for monthly hospital visits with a doctor who has his own practice.” His face seemed to brighten. “Maybe man. Maybe I can do that. That would be a start.” “Remember though, you can’t save the world, you can save yourself and listen to your conscience.” “Do the right thing huh?” “Yeah the right thing.” We said our byes and I gave him a pound before he walked out. “Do the right thing,” he said walking out of the door. Flip was a strong young brother and now he’s a strong man who understands the way things kind of work. I admired him for what he attempted to do. He tried to help them out but the problem was simple, they weren’t making enough money. He couldn’t fix that, at least that’s what I thought. He even did the unthinkable by talking with Sams about the whole problem. Sams responded by asking him if he would be willing to take a pay cut to pay them more money. I thought to myself that that was just like a White man. Take what a brother has earned to correct the wrongs that he has done. Then I reconsidered and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t White men, but men period. All people from a race aren’t messed up, but sometimes you can‘t tell. When Flip left that afternoon, “Do the right thing,” stuck with me for a moment. I wrote it down. It was Flip’s step towards Stage Two. The signs were there, but it wouldn’t be for another six months that he would cross the line. Buy Stages now if you want to read it at your own pace, or just check back to keep reading it here.
Read more

Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 4

Chapter 4 I guess it’s time to lay down the law for you about the stages. As I said, this book is going to be a process. The stages, how can I explain, about three years ago after I met Flip I began to realize something about myself. I also recognized things about other brothers, but it doesn’t make any sense to give you those details. If I maintain my focus a more concise outline will be developed. I was having a conversation with this sister at an art gallery about some of the pictures, a conversation that eventually turned into a discussion about men and women. “Terrence right? That’s your name I don’t want to call you out of your name,” she asked. I’d attempted to get her attention several times before I finally introduced myself. Her comment about a picture of an African mask painted on the face of a man dancing in the center of a group of people, gave me the perfect opportunity to talk with her. “You can call me Tee.” “Alright Mr. Tee.” “Funny, you must be a comedian, cause that was too funny,” I said “I get it, the picture. It’s as simple as looking at a man in a car. Men wear masks, in a day to day masquerade.” “Good, I’m glad you get it, because it’s obvious that what you’re getting is wrong. It’s not about men masquerading as a statement. The masquerade is a part of everyday life. Look at it again.” “What about it? Look at the picture, that’s what it’s saying. Sure you can extend any kind of interpretation to a picture but this is clear, it was painted by a woman,” she said. “That’s a picture of a man with an African mask. Afikpo to be exact.” “Don’t tell me you know something about art.” “Just what I learned in college. Besides that I never pass judgment on anything.” “So I’m passing judgment?” “Kind of. I mean it’s obvious you have beef with men.” “Obvious how?” “Your perception of the picture, it’s biased. From something that happened probably.” “I don’t even know you and you’re trying to read me? I guess you must be the comedian, cause what you’re attempting to do is a joke.” “Really?” I said. “Yes, really.” So we’re standing in the gallery walking and talking. I grab a cup of juice as we pass the refreshment bar. I pour her a cup also to be courteous. She accepts the cup and we continue to speak. “Thank you. That was considerate and it was probably part of a mask that you’re wearing.” “Come on now, a brother can’t give you anything without you expecting him to ask for your phone number?” “No, a man can’t just speak with a woman. He eventually gets to the point were he wants to call her later.” “That’s pretty sad that you stay on the defensive,” I said. “You’re trying to read me again, which means that I must’ve hit a nerve.” “Anyway, Adrienne what is it that you do for a living?” “I work with autistic children.” “Wow, what kind of art do they do?” “Autistic-” “It was a joke. You’re uptight.” “Don’t start.” “Okay, okay. I was just saying uptight because of the way you responded to the joke. You must be laid back or you wouldn’t be having this talk with me. Most women would have walked away assuming that I was trying to run game.” “Now you’re generalizing. You must’ve had something happen in your past also.” “Yeah, but haven’t we all?” “Most.” I asked her if she wanted to sit down. We found two oversized, handmade chairs. They almost looked like some kind of hard wicker furniture. The pillows had been painted with kinte designs and other small prints. When we sat on the pillows, a puff of air came out. “Excuse you,” she said laughing. “Adrienne don’t you think that’s kind of childish?” “Now who’s being uptight? I was just trying to lighten the mood.” “It’s light enough, we don’t want to get too comfortable right?” “Right,” she took a sip from her cup and held it in her hand as she sat back in the round chair. She snapped her fingers to the music playing throughout the gallery. “Do you know who this is?” she asked. “Yeah.” “Well?” “It’s a collaboration of Puerto Rican singers and musicians. So, are you dating anyone?” “That was straight to the point. What, no small talk since we took the time to get nice and comfortable? And just like I thought, you spoke to get me interested enough to ask for my number.” I sat up in the chair as much as I could. “Well I figured I’d get this thing started in the right direction, no need to play around. Let’s really talk. I’ll admit it, I did have an alternative motive. Can we get past that though? I won’t front, you’re attractive-” “And you want to get to know me beyond my looks? Is that what you were about to say?” “You got me. Alright let’s just talk, cool?” “Cool. What would you like to talk about? Don’t try and get too deep.” “What do you think a man desires the most?” “That’s rather deep don’t you think?” she asked. “No it ain’t too deep, I think it’s a good question.” “Besides cars and money I think a man desires his freedom.” “Freedom, is a good one. I’ve never heard that one before.” “A man desires having his cake and eating other pies. You know the cliche’” “I do indeed, but I think freedom has more to do with a desire to be respected.” “A man’s kind of respect is detrimental,” she said. “What do you mean by that?” “A man desires the respect of his peers, whether those friends are good for him or not. That’s what a man desires.” “And what’s wrong with that,” I asked. “To gain that respect, brothers lose their conscience. You understand what I’m saying?” I sat there and actually thought about that for a few seconds. I came up with several senseless rebuttals to that statement over the course of my talk with Adrienne, but that notion, that men purposefully lose their conscience, stuck with me. We sat there and spoke for almost a hour and a half. “I really need to be getting on Tee.” “Hey, maybe I can call you some time?” “See, all of this genuinely nice conversing and where did we end up?” “I just thought we could carry this further some other time.” “No I’d rather not. It was nice speaking with you though. You have a lot of insight. But I can kind of gather that you are still trying to find something. It’s in your eyes.” “In my eyes? I was always told that my eyes were heavy, not deceptive.” “The eyes are the soul and it’s awfully hard for them to lie.” “You’re reading me this time,” I said. “Just like you’ve been reading me this whole time. Don’t think I didn’t notice,” she said as she stood up and began to walk away. “Maybe you can take my card and-” “Don’t play yourself.” “That’s cold sister. That’s real cold.” After she walked, I stood there for a minute and took it all in. Staring into her eyes made me want her. I had done everything right but still being at Stage One I didn’t have my routine down. I was still a young twenty-six years old, hitting three hundred in the minors, trying to step up to a major league sister who had just struck me out with a serious change-up pitch. It caused me to recoil and crawl back into my shell. I had to reevaluate and see if I had indeed lost my conscience. That’s when I came up with the stages. Sitting at home doing a recount of the afternoon forced me to write down a few things. The first thing I wrote was: At some point a brother realizes that he wants more out of life than just a quick piece of ass. It’s better to know the women that you sleep with. They don’t have to be the marrying type, but you have to like them a little. I looked at what I wrote and saw it as good. I called it my revelation, the words that would make me more efficient in all of my endeavors. Those words not only held truth in dealing with women, but they also applied to life. You can’t really enjoy what you’re doing if you don’t like it at least a little. I called up Flip and told him about what happened. “Ay Flip, what’s up?” “I’m chilling. What’s the word, how was the gallery? Did you hook up?” “Yeah I hooked up alright. She was tall, caramel skin, soft full lips with shoulder length hair.” “What? She was? What is she now?” “Still the same I guess.” “When are you two going out?” “Never.” “What? You didn’t get the digits?” “On the real Flip, she wouldn’t even give them to me. She read my ass like a book.” “Like that?” “Just like that. I didn’t even come close at any time. We sat and talked for almost two hours-” “Two hours? Damn what were you doing, telling your life story?” “It was just good conversation man. The whole thing made me reconsider what I’ve been doing.” “Which was?” “Slippin man. I’ve slept with any and everything. Didn’t matter if I liked the woman or not. I just wanted to hit. You know what I’m saying?” “I feel you. But what are you really tryin to say?” “Maybe you have to kind of like the woman. I may have been wrong all this time. Don’t get me wrong the sex is all good, but what happens, if something happens?” “Like what?” “Disease, pregnan-” “Don’t tell me you’re not wearing condoms with these girls, don’t tell me that?” “Hell yeah I’m wearing rubbers, I ain’t stupid. I’m just saying what if.” While I was talking to Flip, I had another revelation. I wanted to get off the phone to write it down but I figured I would try to remember it for later. But this current thought would become known later for me as Stage One, the place in a man’s life where the person didn’t matter just the sex. “So you’re saying you are going to chill out a little?” “I didn’t say all that. I’m just going to change my style.” Flip understood everything I was saying. While this was a big discovery for me, I knew at twenty-three he had already made it to the level I was just reaching. “And how are you going to change it up? What can you do any different?” “From now on any woman I sleep with has got to have potential. She has to be someone I enjoy spending time with.” “So you’re on the verge of settling down?” “Are you listening? No, I’m not settling down, just stepping up. I’m going to make sure the women I mess with have got it on the ball. I’m still gonna do my thing, I’m just gonna make sure I have a better selection.” “I’m still listening Tee.” “The first thing I’m gonna do is leave them clubs alone that only fill up on payday and welfare day.” We both laughed. “We shouldn’t have been at those places anyway,” Flip said. “I’m not saying something is wrong with them. I’m just starting to realize that quality women are a rare find in places like those.” “Especially here in San Diego. Now if we drove up to L.A. more often, it would be on.” “True. Look here Flip let me get back with you.” “I might come through later,” he said. “Alright, peace.” I picked up a pen and wrote in my journal: There are different levels to this relationship thing, Stage One being the very bottom of the totem pole. I mean, who would have sex with every lady they meet? You got to have some class. I’m no longer at Stage One. I will never sleep with anybody that doesn’t stimulate me mentally, as well as physically again. After I wrote this I looked at the other entry and realized that the two should be switched. At the age of twenty-six I realized that there was more to life than just sleeping around. There was sleeping around for the right reasons. Stage One and Stage Two, the foundation had been laid for my philosophy. All I had to do was have the other two stages revealed to me so I could write them down. They would come, but it would take time and I’d have to keep my eyes open to what was happening around me.  Buy Stages now if you want to read it at your own pace, or just check back to keep reading it here.
Read more

Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Smooth, smoothness, smoothnicity, which is the act and philosophy of being cool, is all in the mind. Check this out, last week I was sitting at the barber shop having my fade tightened up so my waves would be on point for the weekend. I’m sitting in the chair rapping with my man Clyde as he carefully slides the clippers around the sides of my head. The chair is lifted up just enough for me to see the opposite side of the shop. The beauty side. I’d noticed earlier this nice looking sister had come in with this thick brother. She was about my color, Hershey brown, her long legs were wrapped up in a pair of khaki capri pants, with a tight white t-shirt on, that fit perfectly around a handful of breasts, just what I like. Her big ass boyfriend was sitting in front of me, reading a magazine and checking out the beauty of the week, like any brother would. And just like most brothers he wasn’t paying any attention to his lady. I would’ve been over there talking to her making sure every brother in the joint knew she was with me, but he was slipping. He was in his own world, giving every brother in the shop a chance to look at this sister. I was the main cat looking, from the time she walked in. I hoped she would catch me sneaking a peak and hear me rapping with Clyde about how beautiful she was. If she could read thoughts or lips that is. So here I am sitting in the chair and her boyfriend sits down about eight feet from me by the window, the sun slapping him on the back of his fat neck making him sweat. His lady comes close to the barber’s chairs. I say to Clyde softly as she passes, but just enough for her to hear. “She is beautiful.” “That’s Big Red’s lady, Tee.” “So, I’m just paying the sister a compliment she deserves,” and like slow motion she turns towards me and smiles as she continues to take one long chocolate stride after another towards the back. “You a slick brother man,” Clyde said chuckling. See what I mean, even brothers know I’m smooth. Just like I said, like silk and satin, with a summer breeze floating through an open window, curtains drifting apart as candles flutter to the breeze and flames dance to the distant sound of Curtis Mayfield singing, “Give Me Your Love,” smoothnicity. Big Red was sitting in his chair continuing to make love to the pictures in the magazines, while his lady sat to get her nails done. Now ain’t nothing wrong with paying to have your lady’s nails done, as long as she is devoted strictly to you. Which means: no looking, smiling, joking or nothing else with any other men, boyfriends included. Personally, I have never had any success with preventing these things, but I made sure I was always the man. You have to put the law down in a relationship, even if the relationship is only a sex thing, there have to be boundaries set. “I’m going to spin you around and make sure your line is straight,” Clyde said swinging the chair. “That’s cool, just make sure you turn me back her way when you finish.” “You talking kinda loud Tee.” “That cat don’t hear me, look at him.” “Alright,” he said criticizing. The chair spun back around in her direction. Just as I thought, she was still looking. I smiled at her and she grinned. There is just something about a dark sister with a beautiful smile. I began thinking of how I could get her one of my cards. I continued talking with Clyde. Clyde is a stage three brother. I had a lot of difficulty relating to him after he made the jump. It was cool and all, but the therapist / patient relationship I had with him was affected. I couldn’t talk to him about a lot of things because he was becoming a better person. A brother at stage three, rapping with a brother below him, will always play preacher. Which Clyde didn’t do because he knew his place but some of the traits were there. “Look here man let me put some alcohol around the nape of your neck so you don’t get any of those ugly bumps.” “Hook it up. Look Clyde can you-” “No, I can’t.” “You don’t even know what I was about to say.” “I don’t? This is Clyde man.” “What then? What was I about to say?” “Can you give her my card? I saw you going into your pocket.” “And? She keeps looking, just-” “No Tee. I ain’t getting in the middle of your shit.” “All I’m saying is just go over there and borrow a razor or something from Leslie and put the card down in front of her.” “Then what? Tell her that the silly ass brother that saw you come in with your boyfriend wants you to call him?” “Come on man, just do this one solid for me. Who’s your best customer? Who’s your-” “Alright man, I’ll do it but don’t make this a habit.” “I won’t.” “You need Jesus.” “And you need to come back from Stage Three.” “What?” “Nevermind.” “I’m gonna keep this whole twenty for my services.” “Clyde-” As he walked over and dropped off the card, he pointed towards me. Old girl flashed those pearly whites and my nipples got hard. Damn, I love sisters. I told Clyde he was wrong for keeping my whole twenty. He grinned at me and called his next customer. I nodded at him and walked out of the shop. Smooth as brand new Lex on a street in a White neighborhood, smoothness. Am I right or wrong? There is a distinct set of rules that have to be adhered to in situations like the one I had climbed into by giving my card to the sister at the shop. I knew she wouldn’t call immediately. It would take a little time. Something would have to occur between her and Big Red, then she would call. It just so happened that the girl never called. But a man in Stage One works hard to lay the groundwork, like in construction. He spends the majority of his time putting on this facade. Stage One brother will spend the majority of his non-working hours in pursuit of as many women as he can get, believe me, I know. Buy Stages now if you want to read it at your own pace, or just check back to keep reading it here.
Read more
Page 3 of 3123