Category Archives: relationships

Friendship Is Essential To The Soul

As a child, I thought Black boys grew up and went to college and became brothers in the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated. I grew up watching my father, my Uncle that’s actually my father’s brother and other Uncles that became my father’s brothers through this fraternity reminisce about old times, discuss present times and teach us about becoming men. I was so proud of my father and uncles; so proud I used to wear a “My Dad is an Omega Man” t-shirt as often as I could.

I went to college but did not pledge Omega Psi Phi. I didn’t pledge at all actually. I missed out on having those relationships I saw my father and uncle nurture. But I did learn one thing from their experience with their fraternity that I find more value in my life now more than ever.

The motto of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. is “Friendship is essential to the soul”. The older I get, the smaller the number of “friends” I have. It took a while to recognize the true difference between a friend and an associate and life experiences teaches you these things in the strangest way. Anyone can drink a beer with you. Anyone can smile and rejoice with you during good times. Anyone can sit down and eat dinner with you. But what happens to those people in crucial moments in your life when you need them most?

Here’s a test: List those that would be present at your wedding. Now from that list, who’d come to your funeral? Now from that list, who would you trust to raise your children in your absence? Those remaining are your true friends. Those are the people who know you best and will make sure your children grow up with the necessary tools you would’ve given them had you not have passed. Your associates aren’t bad people. They just aren’t friends. An association with people is as important to your well-being as having a Pepsi in the desert. Sure that ice cold Pepsi will be refreshing to have temporarily but how beneficial will it be in the long-run in that desert?

Friendships are essential to the soul…
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I’m Not As Smart As I Thought

It’s been a year and some change since my last confession…I mean, blog entry. You know this tune: “A lot has changed”, “I’ve grown up a little”, “I’ve met the love of my life”, and so on and so forth. So I’ll skip past all the back-patting and thumb away on my touchscreen keyboard.

I am not as smart as I thought I was.

Seriously, I’m not. I woke up today after a few hours rest and asked myself: “Self, what the fuck is wrong with you?” Self responded with some mumbo jumbo, politically correct answer because Self didn’t want to bruise his own ego. But I ignored Self and listened to Her.

I haven’t known Her for too long but it feels like I have. I hurt Her with little white lies that I thought were collateral for time I needed to correct insecurities about my Self (see what I did there?) without evaluating the ramifications of them inevitably coming back to haunt me. And man did they come back to haunt me tremendously.

Trust is earned through honest words and sincere, pure, non-confrontational actions that support those words. I failed miserably at doing this recently and in lies (ahem…) this confessional (I mean, blog entry).

A little white lie will most definitely lead to others. Sooner than you know, you’ve planted a field of white lies so thick it’s covered all of what’s true about yourself. And when those white lies blossom and die like all living things, your true Self is covered with wilted petals that give life to weeds. No one wants to plant roses in a garden full of weeds.

I tried to get away with that and the roots to the roses I was planting became suffocated. An “I’m sorry” isn’t going to repair the damages done to my garden. It’s time to put the gloves on, get down on my hands and knees and get dirty. Problem is, I’m not well versed in gardening.

I thought I knew a little bit about everything but I’m not as smart as I thought I was.

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Why Can’t I Get Married, Too?

Yep, I’m back…again. This time by request.

I took a leave of absence because I was told by a few folks that my opinions and comments on certain topics swayed their thoughts of me. Honestly, I laughed at first at one individual in particular but then shortly thereafter became curious as to why and to what extent her thoughts had changed. Well, the answers I received made me laugh even more: “I never knew you were so shallow and judgmental. It made me think twice about opening up and being honest with you.” The contradiction in this statement baffled me. I wanted to point it out but I realized that I was speaking to a foolish person.

So, here lies the reason I’m back, posting my thoughts away for the world (27 or so people) to read and then – undoubtedly – pass judgment upon me for being honest. “B, why can’t I find a good man? Someone who will just act right and make me his wife? I mean, am I asking too much?”

Those words spilled from her mouth with such sincerity I proceeded to talk to this female friend of mine for about 45 minutes about our views on the topic. We both went on and on about why we thought dating and marriage between African-Americans suffer so much, why biological clocks with women and the emergence of financial success in men cause a disconnect between the two, even why interracial dating is more prominent now than ever witnessed before. She supported almost every bullet point with an ABC News special on this exact topic. I hadn’t seen the special at that time but I’ve heard the story a million times over. Successful Black woman has worked hard to furnish herself with this, that and the third but still can’t find the man of her dreams. What’s wrong with the Black Community? The conversation between the two of us started out a healthy one, but then I became bothered by some of the things I heard her say about Black men in general and why “we” can’t and won’t commit to “them”. “Well, since you’re such the relationship expert nowadays B, why don’t you spread the wealth of knowledge?” She meant this sarcastically but nevertheless, here ya go!

First of all, women – not just African-Americans – need to stop with the demands and the excuses you call reasons for having them. I have this, I have that. He should this, he should that. No one owes you jack. Putting labels and setting bars on men because of your accomplishments is just as shallow as him saying he won’t settle down because he wants to take advantage of his options. I have several female friends who I consider marriage material – women who’d make great wives and wonderful mothers – that are single, bouncing in and out of relationships to taking a break from dating to being smitten by the guy who calls and asks how her day was. There’s no problem with Black men. This isn’t an issue of Black men being incarcerated, you never considered them your “type” anyway. The graduation rate of Black men has absolutely nothing to do with it either. Ladies, it’s you!

Secondly, start treating the relationships you do have with more respect. No man enjoys dating someone that doesn’t show him that he’s appreciated and wanted. If ladies want to be treated like Princesses and Queens, I’d suggest you learn how to treat us men like Princes and Kings. If you don’t then you’re “hustling backwards”. It’s like having a “Filet Mignon appetite with a dollar menu bank account” or “expecting Crystal with a Boones Farm mind-state”. No one opens a bank account with $10 and then expects to withdraw $100 from the ATM afterwards. The same goes for a relationship. While you’re looking at him to do all the work in the relationship – expecting him to sweep you off your feet – he’s wondering when and why you don’t feel it’s necessary to do the same for him.

Lastly, learn how to let a man be a man. We’ve all seen it before: A woman arguing with a man who doesn’t want to argue with her. He tries to walk away from the situation but she just keeps forcing the issue. I sometimes try to predict how much time goes past before he leaves her, or worse, smacks her across her face. (I don’t condone hitting women – especially in situations like this – but you got to admit, sometimes you understand when it does happen.)

My grandfather has a 6th grade education but runs the family farm, has 15 children, 22 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren, and loved my grandmother ’til her last living day so education and wealth have nothing to do with a Black man’s ability to be a loving father and committed husband. If every Black man looked at his accomplishments and demanded that a woman meet those standards, he’d be labeled “unreasonable” or “selfish”. It’s similar to a prenuptial agreement, the same agreement most women who make less than their counterpart deems disrespectful when asked to sign. So stop patting yourself on the back and making senseless demands on the men you date and start putting emphasis on the important things that really matter. Would a Black man with a degree, 6 figure salary and a respectful financial portfolio that hates children, dogs and your friends be a sufficient candidate for marriage? If so, consider yourself a shallow, gold digging…you-know-what. Now take away the accomplishments and replace them with modest achievements but add the fact that he loves you, cherishes your children and treats your friends like his own…is he looking a little more promising now?

My advice to these unfortunate, beautiful, successful Black women of prominence who have been mistreated by society, are under-appreciated by men because of all of their accolades and can’t find a Black man to marry them would be to get a grip on life and stop looking to men to grant you a life you don’t know how to give yourself. Your relationships as boyfriend and girlfriend should serve as practice before marriage. So, learn from them. If you keep hearing you’re an insensitive bitch, well, who the hell wants to marry that? Lastly, stop comparing yourself to others, especially chicks on television shows like “Desperate Housewives of…”, “Basketball Wives” and anything Beyonce sings.

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It’s Cinco de Mayo!

This is truly one of my favorite days of the year simply because it’s usually nice weather, there’s plenty of good food and drinks and everyone is looking for a reason to enjoy themselves.  But what I don’t like about it is that the Mexican culture never embraces our festivities the same way we do theirs.  Yes, I said it.  Do you disagree?

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When was the last time you saw a Mexican eating ribs at the Black Family Reunion?

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Whites and Blacks support Mexican restaurants and love their beers.  Do we see the same in return?

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Have you ever seen a Mexican wear a t-shirt with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X on it?

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And why are all of our American cultures spun with a little Mexican twist?

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These are legitimate questions  in my opinion and by no means do I intend to offend anyone.  If I have, perdóneme por favor.  In my opinion, we all embrace the festivities and enjoy them the way they are intended.  True, some of our friends from the other persuasion may not have any rhythm and use incorrect terminology when trying to be cool and order their meals in Spanglish, but hey, at least they tried.  No one tries to alter the day and make it their own, we all genuinely want it to be as authentic as possible.  But in other cases, it’s not that way.

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So, with that said, to all my fellow Chicanos, Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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That’s Not What I Meant

I think that I’m a pretty civil individual – at least until I feel I must rebel against those that try to harm me.  I also believe that I think about the consequences of each decision I make and – win or lose – prepare myself for all possibilities of the outcome.  Most of the time I feel the decision will put me in a promising position and, well, other times I choose to fight fire with lighter fluid and know to not expect roses in the morning.  But in both situations I try to determine if I can handle the possible outcome, look at the situation from the other person’s perspective and then implement a plan of action to resolve the issue, no matter what the outcome may be.

So, in this post I will tell a few hypothetical stories and ask you to dissect between verbal intent and physical action and you tell me which one outweighs the other.

Scenario #1

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An argument starts in a bar between two patrons that feel threatened by each other.  One patron feels the other is looking at him “the wrong way” and his masculinity is challenged.  He walks over and asks, “Is there a problem?  Why are you looking at me like that?”  Several seconds pass and now other people in their respected parties are intervening to separate the two men.  Somehow, they still manage to engage in a physical altercation that leads to them spilling out into the street and one patron beats the other to a pulp.  The unfortunate victim withstands several punches and kicks without a returned blow while the other guy is enraged so much that he has to be pulled off of the other guy.  The police show up and ask the patron who’s still conscious why he’d done what he did and he responds, “I didn’t mean for the guy to be hurt so badly.”  Does this make any sense to you?  How does this guy convince anyone that he didn’t mean to cause bodily harm to the other?

Scenario #2

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“Baby, look.  I know it was wrong for me to being seeing ol’ girl on the side and I hate that you had to find out the truth this way.  When I first told you about her I said she was just a friend.  I knew it was wrong but I thought I’d be able to end it without it affecting us.  Yes, I was in Vegas with her last year on your birthday but we didn’t do anything, I promise.  Baby, I need you to understand that I love you.  I just need a little more time to show you that I do.”

Say what?  How does one ask another to believe that they love them when their actions don’t support the words coming out of there mouths?  Where there is reason to doubt then there’s probable cause to deem something is wrong, right?

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We all argue for different reasons and it’s normal for two people who believe that they are both correct to engage in a dispute.  Now, how we handle this dilemma is relatively different on a case by case basis.  The thing I try to determine when I am not agreeing with another person is “What is it that they want me to think?”  I look at the actions the other person has displayed and use that as a way to gauge what their intent is, not the other way around.  If I see a person running towards me with their fist clinched, even if I don’t know the person and have never had an altercation with them, I’m still preparing myself to defend against being punched.  Their actions have lead me to believe I should.  Now once I knock them to the ground and they say, “Man, what did you do that for?  I was just playing” I’ll reply, “Well, it sure didn’t look that way.”

Secondly, your intent can be expressed without you even saying where you want the situation to go.  So choose wisely when trying to make a point.  If you don’t want to get in a fight, then don’t make it look like you do.  If you don’t want to get into an argument, then be calm, lower your voices and back away from the situation.  If you want someone to love you, then show them that you love them.  Don’t lead the life of a friend if you want to become the spouse.  Pretty easy right?

rightandwrong1Lastly, know that there are consequences for every decision you make.  I witness far too many miscommunications between couples and friends that ultimately lead to the relationship being deeply scarred.  Most of it is due to a lack of responsibility to hold yourself accountable for what you do and say.  And no, time heals absolutely nothing people.  It just allows for those scars to scab and become even more ugly.  So, let’s stop expecting others to give you the benefit of the doubt when your actions are evidence that you shouldn’t be trusted.

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Hypothetically speaking…

I am under attack. The Lords of Insanity are sending their messengers and soldiers to infiltrate my life. I try to ignore them but I still somehow find myself engaging into battle with them but then I realize that I must digress and retreat to fight another day. As much as it pains me to let certain subjects of Tom Foolery (that’s right…Tom damned Foolery) go without replying to them I do it anyway, then get sucked back into trying to save someone and then talk sense into myself again and shut up.

Here are a few tests that I’ve endured recently.

Hypothetically speaking…assuming no laws or sound morals have been or will be broken:

If a friend or relative of yours raises their children in a way you wouldn’t if they were yours, would you tell them what you feel they should do even if you’re in their house?

If your neighbor introduces you to a female friend of his one night and on a different night you see him with a different female, is it your duty to find out who she is and decipher what the nature of their relationship is?

If someone else’s actions hurt you in your past and you saw another person experiencing what looks to be the same thing you endured, do you save them by giving them step-by-step instructions on what you would do if you were them?

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I have more, if you’d like…

If you see a woman wearing a nice pair of shoes on the train, do you ask her where she purchased them from?

If you see a white woman walking a brown child do you ask if the father is black?

If someone starts to scratch themselves in the bank do you ask if they are on heroin?

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If someone makes an attempt to gossip and ask if you’ve heard of something you know nothing about, do you ask for more information and involve yourself voluntarily in the gossiping? And then exclude yourself later when the crap hits the fan?

I believe that if more of us minded our own damned business we’d have less arguements in the grocery store and less automobile accidents caused by rubber-neckers and those that like to drive forwards by looking at what you’re doing behind them in their rear view mirror. More people would get to work on time and less butt kickings will be handed out in grade schools across the country.

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By no means do I endorse or condone this nonsense either! How do you tell someone else to mind their business when you’re out there stealing from others? Pot and kettling aren’t we?

Take responsibility in your own actions. People are always quick to tell another person what they should be doing, especially the one’s that should be reflecting upon themselves instead of someone else. You ever notice how most people who have their lives together pass by those that are dragging their feet? Why stop your progress to let some fool know what they are doing wrong? I believe that there’s a need for the lady in the neighborhood that knows everybody’s name but if she starts causing problems because of what she knows about folks then she becomes the fuel that ignites the fire.

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So, you don’t want to cuddle?

“B, what type of man just wants to cuddle?”

The question startled the hell out of me.  Many of my friends have come to me for my thoughts on situations they were going through but what makes this friend think I’d know why her partner wanted to just cuddle with her?  I think I was initially thrown off because I was deeply engaged with a plate of buffalo wings inside one of DC’s most Republican bars on Capitol Hill.  So the irony of all things around me and the question being asked of me caused a raised brow.

I answered the question – after wiping my mouth and taking a swig of my drink – with a swift, “What in the hell are you talking about?”

Turns out, her male friend of 13 years – often noted as her “best friend” who sometimes doubles as the “asshole” but never the “boyfriend”, “significant other” or “husband” – decided that this time around, in the intimate hours of the night, that he just wanted to hold her.  At this point I’m becoming furious with this woman.  Not only is she keeping me from my 25 cent buffalo wings and the first of quite a few half priced Jack and Coke’s with this nonsense, but she’s choosing to do this by asking me what I thought HIS problem was.  His problem?

It’s funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same.  I’m going to use another musical selection that chronologically breaks down how women have warped the brains of men causing us to burden the blame eventhough we were trying to please them.

For me and most other men my age, it all began with the songs from our parents past.  Our fathers’ admired this individual and tried their best to mirror all that they could that resembled his music.  He’s known as “The Godfather of Soul”, “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business”, and “Soul Brother Number One.”  He’s James Brown.

James Brown set the standard for what a man should be in the 60’s.  He sang lyrics that honored hardworking men who provided for their families.  James Brown also talked about “Living in America” and cultural issues while dancing like no one had ever seen before.  Back then, if you couldn’t sing or play an instrument, you better be a superb dancer and know how to fight.  Just being a smart man in a woman’s eyes wasn’t man enough.  But when the news hit the fan about Mr. Brown’s run in with police, women turned on him quicker than Judas did Jesus Christ.  So we cut the perms out, stopped processing our hair, and supported the Civil Rights Movement.  We would become smooth brothers with a purpose, a cause and waiting for a reason to fight.

Then the bras and panties started to be thrown on stage when the smooth, yet mean, Teddy Pendegrass yelled at his women to “Close the Door” and “Turn Off the Lights.”

Women would scream for him, cry for him, even take his hand and go on stage with him – leaving their dates behind who’d purchased the tickets to see the man perform.  Trying to be all James Brown got your women stolen by Teddy P.  But Mr. Pendergrass would never be the same after a near fatal car accident paralyzed him from the waist down.  Those demonstrative songs where he barked his sexual commands to his women were left limp.  The site of him in a wheelchair ruined the sexual fantasies of women wanting to be taken by such a macho man.  So we adapted – again – and changed things up.  This time – just like the last time and the time before that – we thought we had it all figured out.  Since the stand-up guy thing was long gone and the smooth, macho man had had it’s stay, we figured it was time to soften it up a little bit and fulfill the needs of women.  Instead of inflicting our wills upon them, let’s try listening to them and doing what they tell us to do.  Yes, that’s it!

Ralph Tresvant picked up on this new movement quickly and was praised by women for being a man with “Sensitivity.”

Men across the nation adopted the silky, but not too silky, vibe.  We embraced our sensitivities and opened up our hearts for all women to see.  We cleaned up our acts so that a “Tenderoni” or “PYT” would notice us.  A “Smooth Criminal” was a force to be reckoned with until March 3, 1991 when several LAPD oficers beat the living snot out of a man named Rodney King.

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Rodney King was a pioneer in this new transformation of men.  He embraced the decades before him.  The 60’s in him are evident from the plastic covered couches he had in his house.  The representation of the 70’s were shown through his flare and dancing in the streets while the cops had their guns drawn on him.  The 80’s – well, he was drinking 40 ounce malt liquor beverages and had a wave nouveau.  But when he opened his mouth, the 90’s began.

After the subsequent acquittal of the LAPD officers involved in the beating of Rodney king, riots from Los Angeles to Atlanta were the focus of the media’s attention.  Of course we were upset with the results of what should have been a simple traffic stop.  Of course we were appauled by the lack of common sense the jurors possessed who ruled over the case.   But what hurt us most of all was that we had to admit that the sensitive, smooth, I’m-a-lover-not-a-fighter attitude was our third and final strike against our women.  Especially when he said, “Can’t we all just get along?”

The love ballads were dead.  Any dude caught singing without a baritone voice or dancing like a Fly Girl from ‘In Living Color’ was banished from the new era of black men.  If you weren’t a gangster and going around telling everyone that you were then the ladies looked at you as soft and a doormat.  Even the kids caught on to this. 

Today, it’s even worse.  After all the changes we’ve endured in the past we now have men that sing sexually explicit songs and use women as their subjects but I’m not too convinced it’s their intended audience.  Catch my drift?

So in conclusion, this poor woman is torturing herself by trying to understand the complexities of our significant others.  But, how many heterosexual men have been told by their significant other, “Baby, can we just cuddle tonight?”  When I asked my friend how many times she’d denied his sexual wishes in the past she answered, “Several.”  When I asked her how many times he’d done the same she answered, “That’s not the point.”  I’m getting much better at convincing myself that everyone else in this world is crazy but me.  We have men telling women to think like men and women telling men how to be a man.  For Steve Harvey – a self proclaimed, born again player – to write a book about the lies men tell is perposterous to me.  Is Steve a little upset that his days of running the streets and being with multiple women are over, so therefore, he’s going to ruin it for every other man wanting those experiences?  If someone needs reforming then they should buy a Bible, not Mr. Harvey’s book on what he did when he played with women’s emotions.  And I’ve never been a woman – thank God – so I’ll never assume that I know what it’s like to be one.  So ladies, do yourselves a favor and cut it out with the “a real man is…” this and that.  If you’re so good at being a man then you be responsible for the manual labor around the house and let us take care of the domestic duties.  Boy, I wonder what kind of punks we’d be then?

A joke was told to me once that said a man’s wife walks up to him and says, “Why would God make you so handsome and so stupid at the same time?”  The man looks at his wife and says, “Well, He made me handsome so you’d be attracted to me.  But He made me stupid so I’d be attracted to you.”

The Laws of Attraction haven’t changed but the people sure have.  Pleasing someone has never been an easy thing to do but blaming it on the other person for it turning sour seems to be a typical course of action.  Call me crazy for saying no one is in a relationship alone.  Who am I to think that compromise, communication and respect for others is imperative for any relationship to succeed?  You may never believe this, but some of you have lost your damned minds!

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