Survival Mode is a Death Sentence

I’ve lived in Baltimore my entire life. That’s almost 45 years. I’ve been a driver for two plus decades. For as long as I can remember, squeegee boys (edit: workers) have always been around. My experiences with these youth have always been positive, whether I had money to give them or not. I remember driving westbound from Harbor East and about three young men were weaving in and out of traffic at the intersection of President & Lombard on foot with the youngest of them appearing to be about 7-years-old. It was a weeknight. All the boys were school-aged or appeared to be. It was just after dark outside. I rolled down my window. I don’t remember now if I had money to give them. “It’s dark out here. Your family know you out here this late?” Looking at the littlest one who was basically shadowing a young man who looked about 13-years-old. “Y’all related?” The older one said that was his little brother. I wondered where the parents were. I was concerned for their safety. I’m always concerned about their safety. Unlike some of the comments from others who consider them a nuisance to the city amongst other things, I see children. I speculate that most aren’t out there as a hobby or pastime but out of necessity. I’d rather not see children at any intersection risking their safety, dodging cars in motion, weaving in and out of traffic in an attempt to make money. I do wonder if these same individuals hold the same opinion of panhandlers or The Girl Scouts or the Santa soliciting donations for the Salvation Army. What about the people selling flowers at some of these same intersections? What about the white, opioid-addicted beggars in Black neighborhoods? Are they also a nuisance to these same people?

This past summer, a fatal incident in Baltimore involving squeegee workers and a 48-year-old male made headlines. A 15-year-old boy has been charged as an adult for the alleged shooting of the motorist, who approached the group of boys with a bat. The 15-year-old, who was 14-years-old at the time of the encounter, was initially offered 60 years. The child’s defense team rejected the offer (thankfully) and understandably so. What would cause a grown ass man to get out of his vehicle, cross several lanes of traffic to approach a group of teenagers with a bat? What would have happened if he was able to strike one of those boys?

My biggest issue with this situation is that the child in question is being charged, held and tried as an adult. The problem with holding a child to the same standard as an adult is just that. This boy is not an adult. He doesn’t have the capacity to think as an adult nor should there be any expectation of him to think nor behave as such. There are many books, scholastic articles and other resource materials that would indeed support that fact. To have the expectation that a child of any age should have the same impulse control of a fully-developed adult is entirely unrealistic and unjust. Unfortunately, this is a societal and systemic trend as it relates to Black children, especially. Holding children to standards that (too many) adults aren’t being held accountable to maintain is problematic and dangerous. I mean, the young man responsible for the massacre in Charleston got a police escort to a burger joint afterwards.

The way I see it: poverty is the culprit as violence thrives amongst the impoverished. As long as poverty is allowed to ravish communities, nobody’s safety can be guaranteed.

Why I Love the Fuck Out of Black People

FeaturedWhy I Love the Fuck Out of Black People

I love the fuck out of Black people.

It gets no realer than that. I have an intrinsic bias for which I make no apologies. We are some of the most brilliant creators and innovators, in addition to the most beautifully, wonderfully-made beings that have graced the planet.

Ancient Egyptians gave us hieroglyphics. What is graffiti, if not the hieroglyphics of our time? This won’t be a history lesson—not today. This is more of a reflection and affirmation of love for my culture.

Maybe this is more of a testimony. I feel like I might need an organist and maybe one of the church mamas to tell me to take my time.

A few days ago, a picture popped on my timeline of a cake made of cornbread, mashed potatoes, gravy and fried chicken wings. It was one of the most creative cakes I’ve seen in a while—and I’ve seen plenty. I had to double-take on the caption because I thought it was some re-vamp of the whole chicken and waffles thing. Not so. I checked the original post to confirm if the one who crafted that culinary masterpiece is Black–and sure enough…..

“I swear, I love my people!” How could I not, though? Realizing just how much I say this—and the familiar, soul-stirring feeling I get every time I get to witness some epic Black shit. I couldn’t help it if I tried.

Cultural norms? We absolutely have those. Some are unwritten, unspoken, rules, laws and bylaws, that align with our daily survival. For many of us, it’s ritualistic. There are things we just do off instinct while navigating through life. It could be a bar, restaurant, store, event, or any place where we’re the minority. We scout for allies. We survey “the land”, scanning for exits, as well as others of us. I know for me, I try to identify the skinfolk in the space and take note of how deep we’re rolling. If we make eye contact, we either give the nod of recognition or some other gesture that says, “I see you”, if distance is an issue. Depending on the verbal or non-verbal feedback, you recognize who’s down or not, should things take a left turn. If the nod or that patented look/glance/friendly glare of recognition doesn’t happen, or the other party avoids eye contact, we know that one ain’t tribe.

I remember being in a 7-11 downtown before work one morning making coffee. There was me, another sister, and this dude who seemed a bit off. He was on my side fixing his cup, mumbling, standing far too close for my liking, and just doing some off-kilter type shit. The sister looks at me, I look at her. That glance/eyebrow raise/side eye (like, you see him?) combo we exchanged was a silent conversation. Dude finally walks off. “I didn’t know what was up with him.” Laughter. “Girl!” More laughs. “You know I was ready, right?” We agreed that we were ready to jump if need be. We never exchanged names. I couldn’t even to this day tell you what that lady looked like, but in that moment, we became fast friends and ready to go to war if need be. There’s been so many other instances of similar situations with complete strangers that just know the code and fall in line.

That look, though. It’s the look of Black people universally, that lets you know if today is the day or not. The look that stops you right in your tracks as a mischievous child—or else. You could be across the room and lock eyes with just about any Black person and know what time it is. A look that’ll get your whole life together in a mere second. Anything longer than that to straighten up is a danger zone.

We stay making lemonade out of lemons making painful experiences bearable. Remember that #NiggerNavy fiasco that happened earlier this year? I was having a rather fucked up morning. Anything that could go wrong did—and I ended up having to miss a funeral. I was a mess. I sent a text to the friend whose family member was being laid to rest explaining my series of unfortunate events. I sulked for a while afterwards, meditated, and finally decided to check out ‘Black Twitter’. I initially refused to do it to myself, but ended up changing my mind after a few of my trusted Facebook friends had mentioned all the funny I was missing. I was glad I did because it took me all the way under in the best way. I laughed so hard and so much, I was in tears, my stomach hurt, and my disposition was much better than it was earlier. Black people came through with the come through and it was comedic gold! It was none of what I anticipated (a racially- motivated shit show). It was such good medicine, and so right on time, I took my improved mood to Instagram to express my love and appreciation.

Constantly, we are setting trends while the world not only watches in awe, but also tries to stake claim and make it their own, hence, cultural appropriation. However, fact checks and clap backs don’t lag too far behind. Sometimes, somebody’s ‘late to the party’ ass gotta get a piping hot serving of “What You Won’t Do” and read for filth in the process. I’m here for it, along with hundreds of thousands of play-cousins, aunties, uncles and the like.

If it’s a new dance, we probably invented it, perfected it, made it fly, spread it like wildfire—and the rest of the world copies—per usual.

If there is a party, wedding reception, crab feast, cookout, or maybe even a baby shower, the Electric Slide is bound to happen, and if ‘Before I Let Go’ isn’t played at least once–your party is trash. That’s law and tradition.

I watched a video of some kids dub-steppin’, pop-locking and some other fly shit to a remixed version of a ‘Switch’ song and it was FIRE. Others would be hard-pressed to out-dance us from the NeNe, Dougie, Milly Rock, Stanky Leg, or any other thing that requires rhythm, coordination or finesse. We got it down to a science. Not that wypipo can’t dance or don’t have rhythm, it’s just not a normal thing to see some Billie or Becky doing so with such flawless execution.

Speaking of parties….

Any party that is thrown by the average Black family, whether it’s for an infant, toddler, grade-school aged child, or teen—liquor will almost always be served. A few games of spades will be played and shit-talking will ensue. If you can’t hang, don’t do it to yourself—and you better not renege. You could never live it down. My friends and I still, from time to time, talk about a spades game that went down at least four years ago. It’s that serious, but I digress.

Our hair, no matter the texture or length, we’ll make art of it. Nobody works hair or hair accessories quite like we do. When wypipo decided that they would try to culturally appropriate braids, Black people quickly got their asses together. You could almost hear the collective: “No the fuck you didn’t”, coming from first “responders” and ancestors alike.

Linguistics is an art and a science. We take language, flip it, pick it apart, scrap some of it, give words an entirely new meaning and connotation. Staying “out of grown folks’ business” was just an unwritten (but very much vocalized) law for us growing up. If you merely pretended to mind your own, your acting skills would need to be on some professional thespian society membership type of perfection. You better be Angela Bassett or James Earl Jones with the acting–or your ass was toast. There was no asking what it meant when some adult mentioned that your uncle came home late and “was feelin’ no pain”. Your curiosity just had to wait it out and make the connection as an adult, or if you were blessed enough, maybe an older sibling or cousin took pity on your green ass.

When “yo” started becoming a thing, my aunt hated it. I don’t remember when it stuck, but it did. At this point, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna use it til I’m gone. I sometimes think about what I’ll sound like as an elder still saying “yo”. Shouts out to “dope” too, though. That’s not going anywhere either. I’m also now wondering about “Ayyy” and aight”. Like, am I gonna be seventy plus, still calling people “yo”, still saying “dope” and the others? Likely, and very much so. We are innovators of communication. If that’s not brilliance, I don’t know what is.

Shout out to Black. Ass. Names. And no apologies for them. A super special shout-out to everybody with a Black ass, multiple syllable having name that you refuse to allow people to shorten or sidestep. Speaking of names, let’s talk about nicknames or monikers, if you will. Every Black person that grew up in a predominately Black neighborhood has at minimum one friend whose nickname is all you knew until they were called out either by a teacher during roll call—or some other ‘government name’ mandatory situation. Shout out to every Peanut, Junior, Mike-Mike, Reds, all the Dante(s), all the variations of Keisha, Tisha, Lisa, Kim, Kia, Nikki, Toya—all the Trice(s) and Tonya(s), all the -etta(s) and -eeka(s) with honorable mention to anybody that was blessed with some combo or variant of both their mother’s and father’s name.

Don’t even get me started on food. Black people and food is not a game. There’s too many things to mention, but no Black person on this planet should be using prepackaged gravy. I rebuke you. I will, however, mention that Black people’s potato salad, greens, chicken, and macaroni and cheese is real–and you damn near need a Ph.D., in order to be considered qualified enough to make those things for any important event or holiday, such as Thanksgiving. If you’re not good at it, we might not tell you, we’ll just whisper warnings or make the look that tells us that’s not what we wanna do.

Music. Who does it better? The most rhetorical question there is if there ever was one. This isn’t even a debatable topic. Hip-Hop culture alone is enough proof to shut down any argument. It lives, it breathes, and reproduces. There are many subcultures that are the fruit of this rich, kaleidoscopic, multidimensional entity.

You can’t mention soul and not relate it in some way to Black folks. That’s just the rule. Soul has a sound that invokes feeling and emotion. It’s the passion and vibe that I equate to the very essence of Black people.

Shout out to eye-rolling, neck-twirling, hands on your hips, gum-poppin’, mean muggin’, wishin’ a nigga would, double-dutch jumping, rolling dice on side streets and back alleys, hand games, Saturday Morning cartoons, Soul Train and Showtime at the Apollo on Saturday nights.

Shout out to melanin.

Shout out to being anywhere, talking to nearly anybody and get hit with the, “God is good…..” You know the rest.

Shout out to giving thanks with sigh of relief knowing that the ones you love made it home again safely and pourin’ a lil liquor for the ones we now create sacred spaces for.

Shout out to third-eye open awareness, against all odds and still rising to the occasion, loving who you are (or learning to), from whence you came, and recognizing yourself among the beautiful things.

Shout out to my people.


Battle Tested

FeaturedBattle Tested
I was always defending myself. Quite a few of my past experiences made it easy to justify my defense mechanisms. I’ve been abused in many ways and many times over. These past few years have been challenging to say the very least. (This book is not an easy thing to write) Eventually, I grew tired of wishing a MF would.
In all of this, I’ve learned and am still learning:
  • Love is as love does.
  • Be who you are; no apologies.
  • Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. (That doesn’t mean you keep subjecting yourself to abuse. Forgive and move on)
  • Apologies without change mean nothing.
  • Self reflection takes courage. Be patient with yourself if you’re not there yet.
  • When you don’t know what the next move is, go inward and wait for revelation.
  • There’s power in the pause.
  • Spend as much time as you can with those that increase your energy levels.
  • When you’re not “ok”, don’t pretend.
  • It’s ok to feel how you feel.
  • Seek WISE counsel.
  • Cry if you need to, but make the choice to pick yourself up off the floor.
  • Trap music might not be the move when you’re trying NOT to go to jail. *cues 3 Stacks* “Don’t do it! Reconsider!”
  • Keep pushing.
  • Your character speaks for itself.
And lastly,
The Universe is STILL conspiring in my favor.

Get Down or Lay Down

“I won’t melt.”

I giggle every time I say it, or some other variation of that statement, usually after somebody asks me about having an umbrella. I hardly ever carry an umbrella, unless I absolutely can’t avoid it without getting drenched–and even then, I’ll still bargain with myself if I’m close enough to deal with it until I get where I’m going. I can’t remember the last time I even bought one. As of today, I have one that was given to me by the second brother in the last month or so that has offered me one. The latter gentleman kind of “Debo’d” me this time, though.

I’m pretty well-versed in my own self-awareness. I’m aware of my quirks, emotional triggers, and the fact that my ego at times, is a fire-breathing monster that I’ve kept alive too long–amongst a host of other issues I’m learning to unlearn. With that said, I’ve yet to pull the plug on the monster, but I’m getting there. Brick by elevated (uncomfortable but necessary) brick. Meanwhile, I’m still working towards reprogramming how I translate, respond to, the need for–and acceptance of– help/assistance/support. In my mind, I’ve somehow made the connection that needing help/assistance/support equals damsel in distress. And I don’t do damsel. I’d rather die first. Full disclosure: I don’t even understand my own logic sometimes. That’s a whole other case study waiting to happen–one that’s going to require unpacking with someone more credentialed and far more qualified than myself. I can’t get to a therapist fast enough.

Again, I know me, myself & I. We’ve been in this thing a long time, but I believe we’re growing tired to the point of exhaustion now.

Anyway, “winter is here”, and I’m en route to a ‘GoT’ themed watch party. The rain that night was steady enough to warrant having an umbrella on hand. My driver, quite the gentleman, hops out the car as I approach, umbrella in hand, pops it open and positions it over my head as he opened the car door for me. Insert *swoon* here. One time for chivalry.

He hops back in the car and we ride a few blocks exchanging pleasantries. He offers me some premium water in lieu of the generic brand that was in the storage part of my door, and I’m thinking: Brother is getting rated with all the stars and a tip for his impeccable service.

We chat it up a little more about current events, social issues, metaphysics and such. Needless to say, it got a little deep. He asked if I was originally from Baltimore and shared some of his own personal details. This wasn’t a short ride, obviously.

The conversation dies down a bit and we’re getting close to my drop-off location. He then offers me an umbrella and says to feel free to take it with me.

“I appreciate the offer, but I’m ok. Thank you.”

“You sure? You’re welcomed to take it with you.”

“I won’t melt.” He laughed and let it go, but he wanted me to have it, but I was standing firm on my square.

Fast forward to Friday afternoon. I’m walking to the library as it starts to drizzle a bit. Thinking out loud, I remind myself that I should commit to checking the weather more consistently, while Spirit sarcastically whispers how owning an umbrella wouldn’t hurt.

“Eh. I won’t melt.”

Spirit was not amused, but I was.

Later that evening, I decide on dinner, which requires me heading to a few stores in my neighborhood. It’s threatening to rain again, but I’m not deterred, because again: “Brown sugar don’t melt in the rain!” I know my Spirit tribe tires of me and my antics. I wear my own self out sometimes, but whatever. Off to the stores we go.

On the way back, it starts coming down hard and I hear: “About that umbrella…”

I’m laughing at this point because….touché, but as it stands…ain’t no umbrella. So, I’m gonna just have to be wet for a few blocks. Oh well…

As I’m approaching the convenience store on my block, there’s a few older brothers congregating under an awning, talking amongst themselves like they usually do. I cross the street and before I know it, one of them pops open his umbrella, rushes to put it over my head, hands it to me, and walks back to his spot. I thank him, as the others are co-signing the gesture with, “look at that!”, “right on time!”, and “that’s right!” At this point, I’m not only in awe of his precision, but also laughing and shaking my head at how aggressive my tribe has been lately, rightfully and justifiably so when it comes to me, my hang ups and idiosyncrasies.

As I’m leaving out the store, I yell to the man whose umbrella I’m now in possession of, who also happens to be the security guard at the convenience store I frequent. I’m trippin’ a little off the fact that whenever I come into the store, I always speak and how he barely even utters a response each time. Add that to another one of the reasons why I was taken aback by his gesture, but I digress.

As I’m attempting to tell him I can return his umbrella when I come back to the store, he waves me off with a “get outta here” and yells out:

Wait for it…..

“I ain’t want you to melt!”

Shouts out to the Universe, my ancestors and my entire Spirit tribe for pulling a me on me.


The Coming of Black Panther Got Me Like…

The Coming of Black Panther Got Me Like…

Dear Comic Book Nerds:

As we all know, the Black Panther movie premiere is this weekend. The streets have been all abuzz about it for months—and my late-to-the-party-ignorant-ass-don’t-know-the-first-thing-about- T’Challa-or-Wakanda-ass couldn’t be more pumped about it.

Yes, I am one of them.

The anticipation of this film has single-handedly converted me into someone that I don’t even know, but here I am. I don’t even plan outfits if it’s not a special occasion, but this certainly qualifies. Anybody that knows me knows that I am always here for some Blackness. I’ve still not decided which of my authentic African prints I’ll be sporting to the theater, but I’m certain I’ll be giving all the African queen vibes, whilst rocking tribal paint on my face and whatever essential oil I’ve chosen for a time such as this. From here forward, whenever someone asks me where I’m from, as my African brethren have a tendency to do—instead of my off the cuff ‘I don’t know’, I’m now from Wakanda. Dead ass. Until I actually have DNA evidence that states otherwise, I am an unofficial Wakandan.

Let this serve as my official ‘sorry not sorry’ because I know y’all been doing this shit for years. I can totally relate. I felt the same as you probably do when UGK did that collaboration with Jigga—and most people were like: “Who’s that with Jigga?”, when really—the more appropriate question should have been: “Who’s that with UGK?”. However, I decided that UGK had just been introduced to an audience that they would have otherwise never been exposed to, but I digress.

The point is, we get to see beautiful Black people as superheroes, rather than slaves for once. I feel that this is not only cause for excitement, but celebration—if you will.

One time for a Black ass movie during Black History Month.

Take the L

Take the L

“Every loss ain’t a loss.” I don’t remember who said that to me or where I’ve heard it before, but it’s taken me quite a while to digest and ultimately accept for a few reasons.

A few years ago, I got a message from a friend, asking me to give her a call when I had a chance. I obliged, although, the message had me on a bit of an alert. I mean, why wouldn’t she just call me? Plus, the wording of the message was a little—I don’t know—I just had a strange, uneasy feeling.

This was someone I had known from high school. A few months after graduation, she came to visit me after I had my son. He was a few months old at the time. I don’t remember all the details, but I remember asking my parents if she could stay with us for a while until things died down at her house. My father had the final say, and ultimately gave the nod. I can’t recall how long she stayed or even when she left, but I do remember (now) how distant she eventually became before she moved out.

We didn’t keep close contact over the years, but that never struck me as odd because that was just how it was with us. I held her in high regard, nonetheless. She was one of my dearest, long-time friends. One time for sisterhood, right? Not so fast.

My reality-check was on the other end of the phone.

Backtrack to the phone call. I called and immediately, she goes in saying how she doesn’t consider me a friend—how she doesn’t really know me—along with some other things that had me baffled at the time. I didn’t know where any of this was coming from. I hadn’t spoken to her in quite a while, which wasn’t unusual for us. The last time we spoke was also the last time we hung out and we had a blast. At least, I thought we had a good time. I was wrong, apparently. Color me lost, confused and dumbfounded.

She ran down a list of the things that she felt made me a bad friend and insisted that she didn’t really know me. That call was strange. She was a bit riled up, as if she had this conversation/argument with me in her head prior to making the call—which I get, but shit still was fucking weird.

She mentioned not knowing how I was to my “other friends”. Up until that point, I hadn’t thought about all the times I’d reached out to her and how one-sided our contact was. I was taken off-guard to say the least, but I listened. She told me that she’d been harboring all of this for more than a decade. Hello?  You could’ve bought me for a dollar. How many times had we been in each other’s company in over a decade? All of this was news to me. How could I have missed that I had been neglecting my friend all this time? Was I really that self-involved? I didn’t rule any of that out. I mean, I know I don’t walk on water. I’m big on consideration, but certainly, there are times when I miss the mark.

By this time, I’m choked up, full of tears. This is my friend. I want to make this right and straighten out any confusion. And then, I started thinking. So, now, I have a few questions of my own. I’m still trying to understand where all this is coming from. My wheels are churning, and quite frankly, a lot of this doesn’t sound like some me type shit. I’m still upset, though.

I asked her to tell me how often she bothered to call or invite me anywhere. I wanted to know if she realized that whenever we’d hung out, it was because I’d been the one to extend the invite. She responded with excuses for just about everything I asked, which was nearly all the things she was accusing me of. By the end of the call, I thought we had it resolved. I apologized for offending or hurting her as that was never my intention. She thanked me for the talk. She sounded a lot better by the end of the call than when it started—and so it went. When we got off the line, I thought it was a done deal, but I couldn’t let it go. I was still weepy, and my nerves were worked. Why the fuck am I so emotional over this? It just wasn’t adding up—and things must make sense to me. Must.

Some of my life’s experiences have given me the kind of self-awareness that causes me to conduct self-inventory quite regularly. I check-in with me a LOT. When I’m unable to settle on a resolution on my own, I go to my support system, particularly, the people that call me on my bullshit when need be. Some of which are constantly telling me that I need to cut myself some slack sometimes. I’m still working towards mastering that skill.

I racked my brain while driving to pick up my daughter from school. Once my daughter was in the car, she told me about her day, which was our daily routine. When she asked how my day went, I broke it down—and by that, I mean, I cried a river. My daughter got me together with the good pep talk. She runs down how I let this person project their negativity on me and a few other things that in retrospect were true, but I hadn’t arrived at accepting just yet. I sucked it up for a short while, but I was still processing. Later that evening, I went over the conversation again in my head—and was in tears all over again. Mad at myself because I couldn’t just shake it. But, why?

It took a few days for me to come up out my feelings and put on my logic. I ended up reviewing a lot of the interactions that we’d had over the years and concluded that our friendship was indeed lopsided, but the deficit wasn’t all on me.

I started thinking about some of the major events in my life that had taken place that this person had no knowledge of. At the time, I was coming out of a toxic relationship with an ex. That relationship developed right when my father had to have emergency surgery. There was a 50/50 chance of him surviving the procedure, which he did, but was in a coma for three weeks post-op. I thought about all the things I managed over the years, while my friend was harboring these feelings about me. While it hurt to admit that we obviously weren’t the friends I thought we were, I realized—I placed more value on our friendship than I should have. This wasn’t friendship. This was just someone that I knew for a long period of time, but I didn’t really know her at all. How can one really know someone that isn’t transparent? There’s no way to build a relationship with anyone sans transparency. All these memories were flooding back now. There wasn’t a lot of sharing coming from her end. How did I miss that? It never once struck me as odd that she didn’t talk much. I am a talker. I talk to the people I trust. I started to realize that whenever I would check-in with her, she didn’t have much to add most times. There were other times that she would just be quiet. I thought that was just her way. Wrong again.

Prior to all this new (to me) information, I attended a memorial service for one of her siblings. In my mind, I was showing my support for her as well as her family. Friendship shit, right?

My hurt feelings turned to anger. The nerve! The audacity of someone who has been elusive for more than a decade, to tell me how much of a friend I haven’t been.  I had my answer at that point. I don’t need this shit. What was I losing? I was letting go of the idea of friendship and connection. I felt stupid for apologizing and not realizing any of this sooner. One of the most hurtful things was admitting to myself that I had been had. I got over that eventually. It was mostly ego and I had to dead that.

After accepting what was, I started also giving thanks for what was. For every severed tie, I gave thanks for genuine connection. I gave thanks for even the losses turned lessons. That’s a win. I was shedding and making space. Things and people and situations that no longer served my highest purpose were leaving. Some of it felt too soon and I didn’t always feel ready, but it was time and I had no choice but to accept it. Admittedly, I mourned a few losses before I surrendered to gratitude. This wasn’t a loss. I had more to gain. New energies, frequencies, fresh creativity, genuine connections, love personified, and just some next level interactions were waiting on the other side of my most challenging lessons.

That’s a win.


Small Penis Etiquette Should Be a Thing



What exactly is ‘Small Penis Etiquette’?

I came up with the term, during a recent discussion, when the topic of small penises came up in a private group I belong to. In this forum, we discuss a wide-variety of topics, with the freedom to be as candid in our responses as we so desire. The ladies of this group were asked to chime in and detail some of their not-so-pleasant experiences with the smallest penis they’d ever had.

After detailing my own experience, I half-jokingly made a hashtag as garnish to a reply I posted after outlining a situation with a man I dated.  I didn’t think much of it until someone asked me to explain what SPE was.

Small Penis Etiquette is about transparency, compassion, understanding and acceptance. I’d also venture to say this addresses body-shaming—something that I hadn’t considered prior to a series of recent reflections.

A little background:  I was in my twenties and had a less-than-favorable experience with a micropenis. I knew about small penises, but I thought micropenises were a myth. I was obviously ignorant. However, I soon learned.

We met at a mutual friend’s party. Nice guy, gainfully employed, job, car, lived alone,  no children, never been to jail, good manners, well-groomed, and an overall gentleman. We lived about an hour away from one another. For me, that was a good thing. We spoke over the phone pretty regularly and eventually started dating. Things were progressing nicely. While I wasn’t yet ready to make a commitment, I liked where things were headed.

Naturally, as time went on, we were ready to take things to the next level. Admittedly, I was not about to make a decision on whether to continue with the man until I knew what the sex would be like.

The plan was for us to spend the weekend together. I handled all the particulars on my end that would prevent any distractions. Basically: if nobody was dying, don’t bother me. I arrived at his place that Friday night. We went out for dinner and a movie. We get back to his place, we do some small talk while watching television. At some point, we start kissing. Once the temperature got to the feverish point, he got up. He started blowing out the candles. He turned the television off, the light in the hallway—just—any light in the apartment—he turned off. I bumped into a few pieces of furniture as he was guiding me through his pitch-fucking black apartment.

Here’s where things get a little sketchy. We’re at the foreplay stage. Okay, cool. There’s lots of kissing, touching and such. I try my hand at checking out the goods, but he moves his lower body just out of my reach, teasingly–or maybe that was just my interpretation, but whatever. The foreplay is  happening. At least, I thought that’s what it was until I noticed the switch in rhythm. He’s on top, gyrating, and sweaty. There was what felt like gallons of sweat—all his. Not a big deal except I thought this was foreplay until I realized that he was……finishing. I had no idea that the main event was actually going on because—well—I couldn’t feel anything, initially. It wasn’t until I put on my full concentration and squeezed my Kegels tight, that I could feel the slightest bit of friction, but by that time, it’s pretty much a wrap. Once the understanding of what actually happened became clear, he tells me he has a surprise for me. He then proceeds to give me some of the worst, lazy, but “neat” head I’d ever had. No exaggeration. It was terrible. I was outdone and not in a good way. He fell asleep. I went to the bathroom, finished myself off and thought about how I was going to make my early departure in the morning. There was no way in hell I was wasting the rest of my weekend with this guy and his underwhelming sex. Not up for negotiation.

Morning came and I was ready to make my escape, but I still hadn’t figured out how to get out of there without being too suspect. I mean, up until that point, I really liked the guy and wasn’t trying to offend him or hurt his ego. We were both awake, exchanging pleasantries and more small talk. I’m caught up in my head, mind racing with possible reasons that I could break camp. My phone rang. I don’t remember who it was on the other line, but that was my opportunity to fake an emergency and get the hell up outta there.

Long story short, I never spoke to him again. He called quite a few times, left messages on the cell phone, home phone, and even one cocky voice mail on my work phone. I just didn’t have it in me to have the talk with him and outline the reasons why I was no longer interested. I figured he’d eventually take the hint.

Even as I type this, I’m confronting the insensitivity that I once displayed towards another human being—and even co-signing the notion of someone “not being enough”. While I can justify how I handled the situation, I’m not proud of it. With that said, I think it’s important to note that SPE applies to all parties involved—not just the one with the penis.

One of the women that chimed in about SPE remarked that “it’s a coded language”, to which I agree. There are some men that will just come flat out and let you know the what’s what. I’ve learned, that those individuals are rare. While there’s a part of me that understands the apprehension, I still feel that open and honest conversations are imperative.

Once the online discussion was over, it had me thinking. I took the discussion topic to a few of my sister-friends and from those conversations Small Penis Etiquette became more than just some snarky, body-shaming terminology. It’s clear that the onus is on the part of the one that has all the pertinent info. However, potential partners and lovers alike could stand to be more compassionate in the overall handling of the situation.

Be honest.

In this case, honesty is going to have to be the best policy. You might just find out that the object of your erection affection, might respect that you are very much self-aware and accepting of who you are.  Giving them the option to choose, rather than surprising them with a pop-quiz, so to speak, could quite possibly be an addition to the other outstanding qualities that you offer.

Hone your skills.

I cannot stress this enough. We know how the saying goes: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Don’t be fooled. Bigger is not always better. Trust me. It’s not size, but skill-level and mastery of skill that makes all the difference. Be creative and become a master of your partner’s satisfaction and size really won’t matter.

Accept your fate.

Everything ain’t for everybody. Maybe your honesty was met by someone who isn’t interested in what you have to offer. That’s life. There are no failures, only outcomes. Move on. Quality over quantity. If they don’t want you, you don’t need them. Plenty of fish and all that jazz.

Looking back on my personal experience, and I have a few times, I could have handled it better. While I still maintain that I was duped, it doesn’t negate that I lacked the maturity, compassion, tact, and education to properly handle this person. Yes, I was disappointed. Valid. I was also ill-prepared for what I learned way too late. Moving forward, this experience–and a few others—taught me some invaluable lessons:

  • Do your own research; ignorance is NOT bliss
  • Open communication can help save you time and frustration
  • You might just face the music long after the dust settles
  • Be open to learning, growing and evolving—and you will
  • There is always more to learn; be flexible
  • Own your shit
  • Live with compassion so you won’t have to muster it

One of the major takeaways I’d like for people to understand is that a small (or even micro) penis doesn’t always equal bad sex, trust me.

Continue reading “Small Penis Etiquette Should Be a Thing”

I Almost Dated a Rapist

rape (2)

He was sobbing, pleading for me to let him explain. No explanation was going to change the inevitable outcome.  I was, however, a tad bit curious. Chalk that up to being a stickler for details or just plain curiosity. Either or. 


We were introduced by my good friend, Mary, who is more like a sister to me. It had been quite a few months since the break-up with an ex; and while I wasn’t quite ready for anything serious, I was open to at least meeting new people with the possibility of dating.

Mary was seeing this guy that she talked about constantly. Let’s call him Joe. I hadn’t met Joe in person, but we had spoken over the phone a number of times. It was normal—almost routine—for she and I to be holding conversation while my friend was driving to his place, waiting for him to arrive at hers, or waiting on him to pick her up for an outing of some sort. There were times when they were together, she’d put me on speakerphone and we’d all just talk. I remember a time when she went over to his place to check out the progress he’d made on the home improvement project he was working on. Mary was very much into that kind of thing, so this guy and his project were right up her alley. While there, she was giving me a virtual tour of the place by phone—telling me about all the things he had done since her last visit. She was so excited and he was just as excited to get her feedback. He seemed nice—not overly nice, but nice enough (whatever that is), well-spoken and cared about her from what I could tell. He suggested the three of us make time to hang out together some time soon. It just made sense that I’d eventually meet the guy my friend was spending so much time with.

Joe often talked about his cousin, not anything of any special significance, just mentioned him a few times during our conversations. I remember Mary mentioning him once or twice, just asking Joe what his cousin thought about the renovations, and what opinion he gave about a debate she and Joe had about some random thing that I can’t remember at the moment. Mary eventually asked me if it would be okay if Joe gave the cousin my number. I didn’t think much of it, so I agreed to it.

We started off communicating by phone. He lived over an hour away in another city further south of where I was. We went through the usual survey. What kind of work do you do? Where did you grow up? Do you have kids? Siblings? How’s your relationship with your parents? All the “getting to know you” topics were covered.

With the kind of work he did, his days started pretty early. He called a few times, a few mornings in a row while I was getting ready for work. I rarely answer my phone for anybody that time of morning. He tried to sound casual when he mentioned it, saying something along the lines of how “it would be nice” to hear my voice and how it would help him start his day off on a high note—or some other fluff I wasn’t interested in. All I bothered to respond with was the absolute driest “Oh yeah?” known to man. When I didn’t take the bait, he revisited it by beating around the bush with “mornings must be busy for you”. I became quite irritated. I don’t know if it was because I interpreted his approach as passive aggressive, or if it was because he was trying to not question me. I hate indirect questioning at any stage of interaction, but he was trying to gauge me. I abhor both passive aggression and gauging. Maybe it was because it made him seem a little desperate. I questioned my agitation. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the reason for it.  I’ve been told that I can be too analytical, that I have commitment and/or trust issues, and that I can be “too hard” on men. I don’t care. My feelings are mine and I own them, but I decided to let him slide on that one for the moment. I did, however, count that as a red flag. I cooled my engines before letting him in on how I am not a morning person—AT ALL. There are only two people I have an obligation to talk to in the morning and I talk with God as prep. Everybody else can kick rocks until after my morning meditation with the gods of java. I told him to just text me.  

The other red flag came when we were on talking on the phone one day. I was half listening to him, somewhat distracted by whatever I was doing in that moment. My best guess was that he stubbed his toe or something because he yelled out in pain. He didn’t think I heard him, so he starts cursing and making a commotion so I’d notice. Attention whoredom (not a word, I know) is also on the list with passive aggression and gauging. I waited a few seconds more before saying anything, which made him ask if I was still on the line. I needed to allow my engines to cool before saying anything. Even after balancing out, I rushed off the phone. He was on my last and I’d had more than enough.

Fast forward, we made it past a few of the red flags. While I made mental notes of them, we were still communicating pretty regularly. He made a few requests for us to go on dates, but I wasn’t quite ready for any one on one time with this guy. There was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on that was nagging at me. I just had no idea what that was exactly, but I held on to the expectation that it would reveal in due time.

My questions were direct. Right in the middle of a free-flowing conversation, this urge to skip past the pleasantries took over and I went full-throttle with it. I asked him everything from whether or not he’s hit a woman, if he was ever attracted to men, whether or not he’s had any sexual exchanges with men—orally, anally, digitally, if he’d ever had any inappropriate interactions with children, if he had experienced abuse in any way by anyone as a child or even as an adult, etc.  I don’t remember what we were talking about originally, but I skipped to this line of questioning in an instant. There was no preparation, but he answered everything. He said that he had never hit a woman before, never had any homosexual thoughts or interactions with anyone, had never had any inappropriate relationships with children, had never been abused in any way. Not that I really expected him to freely admit that he was an abuser, murderer, rapist, or pedophile—but I still asked. He told me he had “nothing to hide.”

I told him warned that I would be doing my own research, utilizing every resource that was available to me. I said, “Ok. Just so you know, I do background checks with every resource available to me. So, if it’s a matter of public record, I’ll find it. Nobody’s exempt.”  He swore he had nothing to hide. “We’ll see”, is what I said, never really expecting to find out all that I did. At the same time, I understood the possibility of me discovering some sketchy shit. There’s always a possibility.  I mean, I don’t know this guy.

Moving on.

My internet at home was down, and my phone’s data plan was crap at the time. So, I had to wait until I got to work to research him. I already knew his full name and date of birth, or so I thought. I usually only engage with men that I’ve known for a while, friends of friends, associates, or people that run in the same circles as I– for the most part. On the rare occasion that I date outside of that playing field, I’m on higher than usual alert.

Sure enough, when I got to work, I went to the internet and started researching. I found nothing. I knew his name, date of birth, and the city where he claimed he lived. There was nothing there, not even a traffic ticket. That was odd considering that he’d lived in Maryland his entire life and didn’t even have so much as a traffic ticket? Plus, he was on probation (or was it parole?), so definitely he’s been to court before and for certain there had been a court date. There’s no way there was nothing on file for this guy.  I checked again, date of birth and all, and still came up empty. I remembered him sending me an email once, so I logged in to my email account to see if maybe there was some information I could use.  The last name that was attached to the email wasn’t the same as the one he had given me.

I went back to the Maryland Judiciary Case Search site and pulled up his information, this time with the correct last name. Everything else matched up: his date of birth, first and middle name. There was a long list of charges, one of them being 3rd degree sexual assault of a minor. Some of the other charges associated with the initial charge described him as a violent sex offender, which, to me is rather redundant, but that’s another conversation. I checked the Maryland Sex Offender Registry too, and sure enough, his picture was there big as day.

I called him. As soon as he answered, I told him to lose my number. I just blurted it all out: that he was a sex offender, that he was listed as ABSCONDER’, which meant his address wasn’t listed because he failed to provide that information to the agency. “What?!”, he tried to act surprised. I was not for the bullshit. “You’ve got to be fuck–ing kidding me! You know damn well that’s you. It’s you, AND your lying ass had to register yourself.” Then, he starts sobbing or maybe fake sobbing. I really couldn’t tell, nor did I care about his tears. My anger grew. I was shaking. “Oh, now, you wanna cry?!” I wanted to reach through the phone and crush his esophagus. Then, he tries to reason with me. “Ok, let me tell you what happened.” I really didn’t care about the details. Although, I knew people that had been charged with sex offenses before—that really didn’t deserve to be charged as such. Another story for another time, maybe, but I’ve never considered dating any of them. This guy was telling me a story that sounded like a bad, knockoff version Lifetime movie. I let him tell his story, imagining him on the other line crying crocodile tears. I mean, I am a writer, so, I figured if nothing else, I’d eventually write about it. And here we are.

He said that he was a former drug dealer and was involved with a woman, who at the time—wanted a more serious relationship than he was willing to offer. He said that when the relationship began to sour, he started distancing himself from her and that she wasn’t happy about it. He went on to say that she knew a lot about what he had been doing, since they had once been very close and that she started asking—then demanding money from him when she realized he wasn’t interested in making her his girlfriend. He said she tried physically assaulting him during a heated argument they once had and also threatened with reporting him to the police for selling drugs. He claimed that he was still giving her money every once in a while whenever she was in trouble financially, thinking that it would serve as insurance for her silence after they split. He said that he met and started dating this young woman, who he believed to be 19 at the time. This man was nearly 40 years old when I was introduced to him. The charges for sexual assault were maybe 5 years prior. He claimed that the new girl turned out to be the daughter of the ex—who lied about her age. So, according to this guy, the girl was actually 17, not 19 (likely another lie) and that she and her mother devised this plan for the daughter to cry rape when–according to him, he never had any sexual interaction with her—at least not yet. His charges included rape in the first through fourth degree (if my memory serves me correctly). I know it was a lot of charges—and from the legal jargon that I sifted through, it boiled down to him being convicted of rape. I couldn’t say his version of events wasn’t true. I just didn’t believe it. I also reminded him about him lying about his last name. There was a story for that as well, but I was tapped out—and I told him never to contact me again.

I told the friend that introduced us about everything that I learned and the outcome. She spoke to the guy that she was dating because she was furious that he would introduce me to a known rapist. She relayed that he had no idea about any rape charges. He stated that he was fully aware about his other charges and convictions, but never even considered checking his information on the judiciary site, but also he never had a reason to. She told me her guy apologized profusely, wanted to apologize to me directly, and that he would have never suggested introducing us if he had known. I wasn’t interested in talking to him or anybody else. This man owed me nothing—I didn’t know him, he didn’t know me—and I was ok with living the rest of my life without his apologies or explanations. I was just glad I knew and listened to my gut instinct.

Moral of the story: Trust yourself. Pay attention to the red flags. Take your time and do your research.

Encounters of the Creepy Kind

Encounters of the Creepy Kind

Last night, I saw the person that ranks ‘Top 5’ on my list of ‘Weirdest/Strange/Gross/Cringe-Worthy Encounters with Strangers’.

Ok, so…back in ’08, maybe ’09…. I assisted at a weekly open mic. This one night, I had to greet people at the door and collect the money because the other support staff went…let’s just say M.I.A. for sake of argument. That part isn’t mine to tell. Anyway…

So, the show is moving along and this dude walks in. We greet; he pays, sits at the bar near me and eventually strikes up convo. He’s a LOT full of himself, keeps flashing his fronts and talking about his money, whilst giving major hand motions so I can see his fancy watch and pinky ring. He keeps calling me “baby girl” and peppering his conversation with street/drug lingo—I guess so I’d understand how “trill” he was.

Meanwhile, one of the regulars (let’s call him fake bae) that would come out to the shows was sitting at the other end of the bar getting pissed because it looks like I am having the best time laughing with “trill one”, when really I’m just entertaining myself since I’m stuck at the door.

Anyway, I’m popping gum, half-listening to whoever is on the mic, playing on my phone, giving eyes to “fake bae”, and pretty much patronizing “trill one”. I’m giggling my ass off, not because he’s funny to me at all—but the conversation I was having in my head, along with”fake bae’s” quiet, but obvious (to me) tantrum was enough to keep me entertained for a few. A couple of latecomers slide through; I greet, collect the cover and head to the restroom for a quick break.

I get back to the bar and “trill one” is finishing up his drink. By now, my gum is beyond stale, so I put it on my finger and ask dude to pass me a napkin. He grabs a napkin, turns and asks me for a piece of gum. “This was my last”, I said while holding up the finger with the “ABC” (already been chewed) gum stuck to the tip. “Gimme that then”, he says. A brief pause so I can process what might be about to happen. Is this guy serious? Is “fake bae” watching? This guy doesn’t know me from Adam! All this and likely more is going through my head. And now….I need to know. Well, not really need…. but…yeah, why not? I chalked it up to research, extended my finger and basically gave him the look of dare. Did I mention that I’d never met this guy before?

It happened so fast. He moved in close, opened wide, and glided the ABC gum off my finger, into his mouth, started chewing and smiling like a Cheshire cat. I was…. stuck for a second. I glanced around to see if anybody else saw it. Then, reality sunk in and I got nauseous, plus my finger started itching. It was probably all mental, but still…. I power-walked to the ladies’ room and washed my hands. I get back to my seat and ABC gum guy is still chewing that stale ass gum like it’s life. The show is almost over, but I’m all in my head trying to figure out who might still be up that late on a Tuesday night that I could call to talk about the creep shit I just participated in. Scratch “fake bae” off the list, considering the very business professional handshake he gave me after telling me good night and calling me “Miss Popular”as he was leaving out. Aww…

ABC gum guy walked me to my car, asking if we could exchange numbers. I declined–all things considered. Plus, I was celibate and took that incident as a sign reaffirming my choice.


Yeah, saw that guy last night while bartending. I had a giggle…to myself.