“Ms. You Know Who.” You know what? You can’t even imagine…
A tall, long auburn-haired, racially ambiguous, sassy, well-dressed, slightly bowlegged woman with an almost arrogant but self-assured walk. Everything about her seemed like the world did everything her way-at all times.
My friendship with Ms. You Know Who escalated to a whole new level a couple school years before this one in particular. One of my major courses of study ensured that I would see her for the duration of my years there at the artsy-school I had been attending.
We first met some years back when I was in fifth grade. She was always very “big-sisterly,” slash, borderline “motherly” to me; a mentor-a “momtor” of such. She wanted all the best of everything for me and went out of her way to give to me, push me, as well as show me.
No matter what, she always felt like she knew what was best-not only in her area of expertise,’ but she felt like she knew what was best for me (studying under her) as well: artistically and personally.
I admired her so much because she was like magic. My area of study was one in which, if you took the time to care, you could see that I had major potential, but it didn’t come natural for me like other things did. She took that little bit, and like a magic ball; wove together: my potential + her expertise and made me an artistic force to be reckoned with. Step by step, she taught me “how” to do it from the ground-up. It was as if she knew how to take her mind and place inside of my mind-to help me see things from her a perspective that the average untrained mind and eye could not see.
The subject she taught went so much deeper than the surface (and as expected in the outline of the curriculum). She would interject the science or psychology behind what we were learning, so that we would know the science or psychology behind the art-itself. She interjected the study of hemispheres of the brain and how they worked for us in relation to how we could make it work for what were studying, all the way down to how the trained versus the untrained eye looks at lines, shapes, (primary, secondary and tertiary) colors-the whole sha-bang. She was full-on.
I trusted her and everything she taught.
I valued her and held onto everything she said-like I could take it to the bank.
For two hours a day, five days per week, nine months out of twelve, school year after school year; she watched me like a hawk. Come to find out, she had actually studied me school years prior, and now was the time she felt the need to intervene: intervene in my school life, my personal life and any other life that I had that could fit into my busy lil’ teen schedule. My summer before this particular school-year was pretty full with a lot of goings on. My body, my emotions and my mind had seemed to change overnight. She too, could tell that I had a full growth spurt overnight rather than gradual-and she just had to know why.
As my momtor, something about me was just was not sitting right with her. And by the time I sashayed back and forth in her classroom this year; she was ready for me.
Reminiscing on all those previous school years that she would start her classroom demonstrations by break us up into one big circle to surround her-then send us back to our seats; she would lean back in her chair as if to say: “my work here is done.” After which, she would sit back and scan the classroom, her eyes: observing. Everyone would be working diligently on their projects, and sometimes I would look over at her. She wouldn’t quite crack a smile at me, but rather, a squint-as if to say: “I’m on to you/I got my eye on you…”
Her interest in intervening was almost like she had been a fly on the walls of my life up to this point and she could no longer act like she didn’t know.It worked out perfectly this school-year, because my schedule was more flexible-which allowed me to have her class for two hours. And since my study hall followed it, and my lunch bell followed my study hall; my busy little schedule eventually opened itself up to many a conversations with Ms. You Know Who. So when that bell rang for class to end, from the first moment she asked me to stay after, I stayed after every day.
While in class, she was warm-but detached and serious about her job. When classroom was over and everyone was gone, she would start her conversation as if she was taking her lab coat off and it was now time to break everything down to a science.
“Playtime is over bitch,” was what she may as well had said to me, because when class was over and that door shut, with the entire class gone and on the other side of it, it was curtains: “show time.” She wanted to know everything that was going on with me: my life, what I wanted to do with it, where I wanted to go, things I wanted to see, people I wanted to meet, what inspired me, what made me happy, what made me sad, my favorite color, favorite food, favorite movie-you name it, she was on it. I was comfortable talking to her because not only did I trust her, she did not smother and scold me like a mother would-but more like how an older sister would.
Our personal time started off as small talk to eventually: a tough love, slash, mini boot camp, slash, touch of etiquette class, and a dash of image consulting, slash, a crash course of: “Angie Baby Your Life is Calling What Are You Going To Do About It?”
Within a couple of months into that school year, she was on first name basis with my mother.
Before too long, one Saturday or Sunday a month, she would come by the house and chat with my mom for a minute and off we would go out on our girlie dates to talk about life, my life and her trying to keep me focused on it. Our monthly weekend excursions included everything from going to the movies and out to eat-where she’d sit across from me-teaching me dining etiquette. We would also go make-up shopping (for her) where at the counter, she mentioned how she had seen me a couple times trying to sneak into her classroom with goo-gobs of mascara and eyeliner thinking I was cute.
“Death by eyeliner!” she joked-holding her hands up as if she was describing a headline or marquee of some kind. We laughed so hard standing at the counter like two teenagers insulting one another without a care in the world about who was listening to us being downright unruly.
“Girl, that foundation was ten-twelve shades off from your complexion some days. I would look at you and say to myself: “What in the?!” we laughed. It was a fun day-bursting into loud inappropriate laughs mid-store, as if we were both thirteen.
“Angie, sweetie your mom said she didn’t want you wearing makeup right now but just for the record, this is where I buy my makeup and when you do start, this is where you will get yours. I insist!” she emphasized and laughed again.
When the clerk to come back, Ms. You Know Who bought me some pink lip gloss and purse spray, telling me that woman’s purse should always smell good as well.
I felt like a princess that day, it happened to be one of our best weekends out.
We had one of our weekend excursions over to her house. I was astonished when I walked in.
She lived richly. More richly than I already thought she did. I wondered how she could be a mere teacher but live in what looked like a mansion with all the trimmings.
When we first walked into the foyer of her home, there were two sides of spiral stairs that met a giant life-sized oil painting-a portrait-of her beautiful self, posing in such a way that her legs painted in the picture gave off the same mental picture as the long stairwell. It just worked. The stairs looked like they were built for the painting. “How vain,” I thought to myself, but she was sassy anyways, so nothing less could be expected-coming from her.
She had a husband who was the Dean of College, a daughter away in her first year at Harvard and she loved to brag that her son was on his way to Yale or Harvard behind his sister.
Outside of class, more and more, she let her hair down.
She was so child-like and immature with me. We’d love to insult one another non-stop and if it was something that went wrong during a class demonstration or any imperfection or mishap; that would be my insult for her for the day. We were so fun together, but when she would get serious, she’d look me in the eyes and tap my nose:
“Angie I feel like it’s something special about you and I wouldn’t want it to go to waste. You’re “different.” Stick with me and if you want to dance-I’ll make you dance. If you want to sing-I’ll make you sing. If you want to act-I’ll make you act. If you want to go to the best school to do whatever it is you want to do, I will see you there. I have two kids who are doing well. They followed my rules, they’re well-adjusted, and success is a guarantee for them, as long as they have me for mother,” she bragged.
“Success is guaranteed for you, too-as long as you have me as a friend…Oh!... Provided that you don’t get fat!” we busted out laughing, again.
“No, but I do want to tell you a thing or two Ms. Angie. You stay dancing-but you also should stay watching your diet and even when you get older. And most of the girls who dance with you and walk the halls are still built like little twelve year-old boys. You have bells and whistles,” she laughed.
She then got serious:
“You’re different than them. Though you’re slim and fit, your body is still more developed than your peers, so, there are things they do-that you cannot do, anymore,” she explained.
I listened on.
“Let me ask you a question, Angie. Couple days ago, I gave you some interoffice mail to take to Mr. Richards, remember?” she asked.
“Yeah, I remember,” I replied.
“Did he say anything to you-at all, like anything inappropriate or out of the way?” she inquired.
“Oh. I know-I remember. He was just joking,” I replied.
“What was he joking about? What did he say?” she asked.
“Well when he took the envelope from me and then when I was leaving, he called out my name. I walked back in and he whispered to me: ‘Angie, you’d better not come back in here in that leotard again because if you do-I’m going to start thinking different about you.’ ”
“And you didn’t think anything was wrong with that man saying that to you?” she asked-looking me in the eyes as if she knew that I knew better than that-as if she knew that I was smarter than that, and if not, all this time, she had been giving me credit for being smarter than what I really was.
She had no idea the life I lived, so that comment had gone through one ear and out of the other-to a girl like me.
I didn’t respond.
She was thrown, she scolded me:
“Angie, I know you didn’t think that was appropriate did you? That was inappropriate!” she yelled.
“If it didn’t register with you as being inappropriate-then hell yeah, you got bigger problems coming your way than I thought-where men and boys are concerned…”
“No, let me explain. When you gave me the envelope to take to him, I thought it was some kind of note or something personal for him. And when he said that, I did frown up somewhat, but I didn’t reply back to him. To be honest, I didn’t say anything to you about it because I didn’t know what was going on between you two…the mail and all…I…thought it was a personal letter or note inside.”
“What!?” she replied, in shock.
“I mean-he is fine. And you are really pretty too. Soooo…I…thought that you too were passing notes or something-flirting,” I explained.
“Girl, I don’t even know that fool down there! That envelope was going around to all the staff and his name was next on the list to sign! I only gave it to you to take to him because you were headed that way when you left here. It didn’t dawn on me, until you were good and gone, that you (with all your bells and whistles I might add) were in a leotard, going down to some man’s office. I was hoping that the fool could contain himself and not say anything to you. I just know how some men can be. I merely took my chances and asked you what, if anything, he said to you and you just proved my same exact point that I am making to you!” she defended.
“Oh. Okay,” I replied.
“I want you to quit walking the halls with that leotard on. Those other girls your age, walking around in their leotards after dance, have under developed bodies-they can do that. You: Angie-cannot. Do you hear me? You are getting to an age and stage of development right now where little boys are getting curious and excited about girls like you, and dirty old men are taking notice,” she said.
I stood there and listened-taking it all in.
She continued making quote and unquote symbols with her fingers: “And Angie, just because a man and a woman are both “fine” doesn’t mean they have to be messing around either. Besides, did you forget that I was happily married?” she laughed. She rolled her eyes in her head, rolled some assignment papers up in her hand, and smacked me on my forehead. She then gave me a hug and kiss on that same spot on my forehead before she interjected her bottom line: “You are my special girl. Stick with me-do what I say-and you’ll go far,” something she would always say: many variations-many ways.
After a few moments of silence, she placed her hands on her hips: “Wait a minute. So let me get this straight. So…if Mr. Richards was my lil’ man on the side, you mean to tell me you would not have told me what he said to you girl?” she said-sounding like some sassy peer of mine.
I began to shake my head “no”-repeatedly, then let out a loud and obnoxious laugh.
“You sneaky lil’ strumpet!” she laughed out loud in unison with me. With the rolled up assignment papers in her hand, she then ran up on me and started smacking me anywhere there was an open spot I couldn’t defend and cover myself. I was laughing and giggling like a munchkin-trying to guard myself from her playful blows.
She then interjected:
“I can see right now that I have a lot more to teach you than I originally thought I did.”
I kept giggling, not knowing what was brewing in the lessons forthcoming I still had yet to learn that were in the making-changes between us and my situation altogether; many variations-many ways...
For a long time, I had gotten away with sneaking around with Santana: talking to him on the phone at night without my mom ever knowing, being at his house, him being at my house, us-staying afterschool together. You name it, we did it. We had literally been there-done that; everywhere. I always knew how to do that covert thing right under my mother’s nose since ages seven to thirteen. So now, she was certainly no match for me. I was past covert, I was “pro-vert.”
But sneaking around to be with Santana was beginning to be a bit too tough, we had so many close calls. It seemed like the only pressure and stress in our relationship was getting around it all.
I had to break it to my mother gently, and as soon as possible. Because between school, friends, and sneaking to be with him; my schedule was way too full and poor Ms You Know Who was barely getting any girl-time with me anymore. But if I were able to see him freely, time spent orchestrating the covert could have been spent with-if not her-on something else; even if it was time alone, or some extra rest.
By this time, we were full-on-seven days per week: taking pictures of each other every moment of the day, going to the movies, out to eat and visiting his relatives-that was pretty much our routine.
His bedroom was a little cul de sac garage-like extension at the back end of his mom’s home.
We’d be huddled up in there taking pictures, eating, and taking naps in each other’s arms. Other times, he would be sitting on top of his giant speakers from behind all his DJ equipment, rapping, beat-boxing and playing air-drums while I would be dancing about for him. He would put on his classic Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and Run DMC records, then I would put on his b-boy hat and vintage Adidas Run DMC running suit; standing there looking like “Cousin-It” the way it would be draping over and drowning my body like curtains. I would break into this lil’ borderline corny but sexy b-girl dance that I made up; trying to impress him and fit in to his b-boy world-he l.o.v.e.d it. Santana was my love and one man show: cheerleading for me, smiling, laughing, and making bullhorns with his hands to shout through and cheer me on for when I would break into a break dance stance; folding my arms and tooting my lips while nodding my head. He’d bouncing up and down cheering me on and screaming: “GO BA-BY! GO BA-BY! GO! LOOK AT MY BABY! LOOK AT MY BABY! Aw man you are the SHIT! I love you girl!”
He would grab me tightly and hold me in his arms as if I was trying to run from him: “Don’t ever leave me, don’t ever leave me, don’t ever leave baby-never leave me,” he’d would hold me and say-all the time.
We were like two peas in a pod nearly seven days a week, so I had to let my mother in on it. I had to tell her that I had a boyfriend that loved me-madly.
It was getting kind of hectic and cutting it way too close; those days of us leaving school, coming over to my house, making love, and laying in each other’s arms until the alarm clock rang to wake us up so that he could get dressed and head out the back door in time before my mom would enter the front door.
My two oldest brothers had gotten their own apartment together. Once Twin finished up his mini lock-up bid at the school for disorderly boys; he was due to move in with the wifey and Mr. Super Saturday: that 0 to 120 blast from my past. After roughing up one too many guys for stepping to him-trying to test him, my mother did what she knew to do best: save herself the trouble; send it or ignore it away.
That left breaking in the new apartment for just my mom and me. We had been there for quite a few months-since around the time I had first met Santana. The way the apartment was situated, it was perfect for
COLD SHOULDERS and FROZEN DANCING FEET
Remember me? Santana? About 5.9 wavy/curly hair, cute face, grey eyes? Yea! That’s the one. Hi ya doin! I feel lousy in hell. Baby I’m hurting real bad. Hurtin’ real bad. Something’s wrong and you’re not telling me, and that makes me feel as if you can no longer confide in the man you love (or do you?)
I feel as if I’m no longer any help to you. I’m supposed to be right? It’s either that or you’re trying to change your image or something.
All the times today I’ve tried to speak to you and you say nothing and the look on your face is saying get the hell out of my face and this morning when you resisted when I tried to bring your lips to mine that fucked my insides up. But I said what the hell. I should start getting used to stuff like that ‘cause you are the lady who my entire life will be about. Wont you?
I’ve thought about giving up but I can’t Angie, I love you so damn much and you’re hurting me with whatever you’re hiding, could you please stop. If it’s something I done, can it not be undone, can I not be forgiven. Please. I’ll do anything to bring our relationship back to higher grounds. Ok?
Fuck the Air Force. I won’t go. Fuck everything. I’ve got all kinds of shit (emotions) building up inside me, confused, angry and sad. All that mixed is pain that I’m bearing. Help me baby please. I love you and I’ll never let you go, not even if you wanted to because you are my wife, me your husband and together we are our child’s parents. Please Angie, don’t fuck my life around. Please stay with me. Am I losing you. Huh? I know I’m not but…to tell the truth I don’t know I just can’t get through to you and its hurting!
PS If I’m blowing everything out proportion I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for false assumptions and everything right now I’m just confused
PSS I love you
PSSS You’re not my same Angie, today.
PSSSS I’ll stay away for the rest of the day if you want me to!
…as long as I was “pro-vert” and he was in love with me, nothing could come between us except for the silent treating that I was giving him and the thinking that I was doing-brought on by Ms. You Know Who in one ear and my mother in the other.
Santana was feeling the remnants of that rollercoaster ride. Things were getting very stressful for me with Ms. You Know Who because just like at home with my mom-we began to fight about any and everything.
She was so upset with me and knew that this Santana thing was bigger than she could have ever imagined-just like my mom couldn’t. Just like my mom, she was straddled with her role as my teacher versus her slowly diminishing role as my momtor and bridge between the gap of me making and being [in love] versus me making something of myself [in life].
Having still never had a conversation with my mother about Santana, and nothing but two to three hours of Mrs. Cochran’s liquor and low-down to play in her mind; I couldn’t even imagine the version that Ms. You Know Who had gotten (from my mother). Regardless of whatever version she was in receipt of, my inaction and inattention was enough to prove whatever my mother said to her-right.
During my whirlwind with Santana, she continued to grade and critique me fairly, but I had pushed her so far away from me, that even if my mother never said one thing to her about it; she absolutely, positively refused to care anymore. She even refused to sit at her desk and stare anymore. It was strictly business of the “I can’t wait until this is over,” kind, with her.
With the huffs and puffs and the sighs in her voice plus her frowned brows; I could feel her thoughts.
If it wasn’t for the fact that I was mere child and subordinate to her (that at one time-she really cared for); the sound of my voice would have sickened her. She did not want to see my face-she was hurt-very.A momtor, she was no more. There were no more once a month weekends, movies, house visiting, beauty counters makeovers and long drives discussing my plans for my near future. The bridge between the gap of me being in love, and making something of myself in life-was broken. She meant business: instantaneously.
She treated me like everything we had was a fable. My being serious about Santana definitely was not a part of the design and she proved to me that where she was concerned; my life would definitely be lived by default-all by my choosing…
I was still hopeful. Hopeful that there was still a little bit of a chance that she cared. I needed her attention-just one more time; something to pick her momtor-brain.
I wore a pair three-inch burgundy boots into her class. My [dead dad] had bought them for me some time ago. I refused to wear them ever. They remained in my closet, new and with a $200 price tag hanging from them. They sat there, annoying me-representative of the total oxy-moron he was; how he could kirk out at me from trying out a face full of makeup, yet buy me sexy swimsuits and boots with three-inch heels-despite the fact that the heel was chunky. He was now a moron who had been dead to me for quite some time now, but at least he was good for something that I didn’t want to let go: Ms. You Know Who. So I pulled the boots out of the closet.
I knew that she would have a problem with me wearing some boots like that to school or around her-period, but I was desperate. I was pulling out any stop I could-to try and get some attention and a rise out of her-in hopes that she would try us again.
When I walked into her classroom with my boots on, she frowned at me and began to scold me:
“Angie…what are you doing with those boots on?” she asked.
“Wearing them. You like?” I stuck my right foot out and looked down at them-so that we both could admired them.
“They’re too grown for you-you look ridiculous,” she insulted.
“I like ‘em, my dad bought them for me a long while ago,” I offered.
“Your mom know you walked out of the house like that today?” she asked.
“My mom leaves the house before me,” I replied.
There was a long pause.
“Don’t come in my classroom with those boots on-ever again,” she warned me.
I didn’t reply. I didn’t care-that was the plan. I had that glimmer of hope that we were on our way to fighting like we used to and all would be well again. Instead, this fight was more of an annoyance to her. And those three-inch burgundy boots seemed to remind her that I was just trying to be grown. Whereas many months ago-before the light-bulb head boy; she would have merely saw it as me going through growing pangs and trying something out that was too much before my time. But the fact that I was now sexually active and with-boyfriend, in her eyes, it was no longer the innocence of a girl who had a lot to learn. It was merely me wearing a pair of boots that were too grown for me-trying to impress my light-bulb head boyfriend when I should have been focusing on keeping up with the formula of the dainty sweet little girl that she was grooming for success as a woman.
Considering the fact that Santana had her class the last part of the day, I could only imagine how she was treating him-but I never asked him. I figured if anything significant were to occur, he would tell me anyways. Although Santana was two years older than me, Ms. You Know Who felt that he was way too young and immature for me. She had no problem warning me that in time, I would see.
All she wanted for me was to graduate high school and concentrate my efforts on college and a career by my design and her direction. I wanted that too, but I guess I didn’t want it bad enough to resist my chance with the light-bulb head boy who chose me to stay with, and be his official and steady girlfriend over all the other girls-many school years. I was just happy. I felt normal and what we had, felt “right.” She didn’t understand that, and Santana and me we were much too tight and serious at this time. It wasn’t open for discussion as far as I was concerned any more than she cared about or understood it. I started to accept the fact that she absolutely positively refused to contend with or even work around it, with what she had in mind was best for me.
So eventually, my study halls would be substituted by my being hugged up in some corner kissing and making out with Santana. My lunches would be spent in its entirety; eating, walking, talking and or cuddled up in some corner with Santana. Every now and then, I would drop by to see if she would be in her classroom-sometimes she would, be most times she would not. The times she would be there, she would let me hear the radio playing from the other side of the door. I would knock a few times, then walking away feeling sad until I’d see Santana. The times when she would not be there, I would expect a note on the door explaining her departure and projected return times, but that never happened either.
She gave up on me so quick and swift that if I didn’t know any better, I would have sworn ours was a mirage or dream of some sort. She closed down shop with me as if it never was open, so, I let go, too.
As my teacher (during class lesson demonstrations) she would practically set me up. She would purposely forget to bring an item to the demonstration circle so that I could volunteer mine-my desk was always closest to the circle. One day she needed scissors. I hurriedly reached over to get mine (trying to ingratiate myself to her). I handed the scissors over to her like an orphan begging for porridge and acceptance. She sucked her bottom lip and smirked at me as if to say: “Got’cha!” then underneath her breath (but loud enough so that the class could hear) she said to me: “these aren’t the best scissors in the world.” The class laughed. She then slid them back to me and went to her desk to get her own-as if my scissors were nowhere near worthy. I was so upset with her-she had her payback coming, I tell you. I was steaming mad.
One morning, she was strutting up the steps on the way to her classroom when some wild boys had come running through the hall and bumped into her-causing her to drop her bag. An individually wrapped sanitary napkin came flying out, and everybody (including me) pointed and laughed. She looked around at the immature kids as she reached to pick it up. When she looked up, our eyes met. She gave me the look of death-squinting her eyes and turning her head in total disbelief that I would participate in such silliness. I froze like a popsicle and turned away from her gaze. I can’t lie though, I did feel a little vindicated for her cutting my lifeline to her.
I wasn’t done with her yet, vengeance was mine-I was still steaming mad inside. When the next opportunity arose, I was still going to be sure to take it. I needed some attention from her so badly-but she turned completely cold. I never felt so completely ignored in all my life. She kept my heart nervously beating.
It’s still on though. My long-awaited opportunity of vengeance finally back came around.
My turn, again:
While in class, we found an acrylic nail that happened to have matched her nail polish that she was wearing. We knew it was hers. Everyone dared me to walk up and give it to her. Obviously I was glad to do the honors, seeing as though it was in front of these same people-that she embarrassed me, too.
So two minutes before the bell rang for class to let out, (when it got quiet), I walked to the front of the room, nail in hand, and handed it to her. Everybody laughed so loud. She just looked at me with no expression whatsoever. I knew she was shocked at my childish behavior-but I didn’t care. I stared into her face and it didn’t move and inch, as if all that I did-had no effect on her. I knew better though. I knew she was hurt, and that it took everything inside of her body to keep from snatching me up by the collar. She couldn’t, however, because the entire immature class watched while I smiled at her as if to say: “Got’cha back, bitch!”
My timing was perfect after handing her that fingernail. When the two minutes hit, and the bell rang; I blended in with my fellow immature classmates-hoping that she would form a beak at the tip of her nose and lift me by the skin of my neck. That didn’t happen. No white flags were rolled out, and no olive branches were extended. Instead, she let me out of her classroom door on a straight and narrow path and no resistance. And that was the last time we had anything personal, or anything resembling: care, concern, contempt or scorn, ever again. All was lost-any interest in or for me: gone-as if it were never.
I had to learn to accept that…
I loved her to life, but during this time-we had underlying issues far bigger than the heel of my boots. Only about five percent of our issues had to do with the sanitary napkin, the boots, the fingernail and my disrespect. Throughout those months of my dating Santana, we fought about boys and babies and how a situation as such would ruin my life-all my dreams would go down the drain. I didn’t want to listen. Although I needed her, I wanted Santana, and I wanted her to accept Santana-but he wasn’t a part of the plan.
I had to learn to accept the consequence of that. Santana was worth it to me…
With just a short time before the school year was coming to an end, for five days per week and two hours per day, she was merely my teacher-nothing else. Outside of that, pretty much the only thing we had in common at this point was the fact that my birthday was the same date as her wedding anniversary. If it was left up to her-I’m sure she would have probably thrown that away too, if she could.
I heard that after the school year-she would be moving on to another school to become principal there.
I do know for a fact that she never said goodbye to me and neither did I, her.
Sometime later however, I felt like all that time we had been momtor and mentee, she had either been playing a cruel joke, holding on to a big surprise or both. Because one day I sat in my living room flipping through the pages of a popular magazine and turned it to a picture of Ms. You Know Who with: you’ll never guess who…
Turns out, Ms. You Know Who was a sorority sister of, and did business of some sort with my dancing idol who I loved to watch every Saturday. Tears filled my eyes as I focused in and brought the magazine closer to my face:
“Got’cha back bitch!” I imagined Ms. You Know Who saying (back at me).
There, on the glossy picture was Dr. Huxtable’s wife on the right, Ms. You Know Who in the middle and to the left-there she was: Dr. Huxtable’s real-life sister who in my mind, at that very moment, pointed her stick [at me this time] like she’d do every Saturday from the television screen; screaming her notorious line: “YOU WANT FAME? WELL FAME COSTS AND RIGHT HERE IS WHERE YOU STARRRRRT PAYIN’IN SWEAT...”
YOU KNOW WHAT: I TOLD YOU SO
Santana’s senior year had finally come. And just like Ms. You Know Who would constantly remind and promise me-he would soon be “smelling himself” and his immaturity would rear its light-bulb head. She was right-as usual.
From school years past, unlike the few alter-egos that he would spring on me in many-a-letter back then; when he became a senior, he seemed to have a new alter-ego every other day. I could barely keep up with who “he” was, who “he-he” was, or who Santana was, in conjunction with the constant bullshit that would find its way into our “love bubble,” as he would call it (back then).
If I watched one-too-many movies and soap operas about how the mother-daughter bond occurs at certain stages in life, Santana must have watched one-too-many movies or read some book I hadn’t heard about called: “The Boys’ Guide to Senior Year High-School Life.” This school year-his last one-our entire relationship was being tested-everything about it: everything about him, everything about us, and everything we had built thus far. Everybody (secretly) wanted to get their last chance with or back with him. He didn’t know if he was coming or going with all the female attention [and inattention he was getting-used for bait] from girls who were pulling out all the stops-like landmines: doing any and everything (from being rude to inviting), just to get a rise or some attention out of him that, for nearly two school years now; he had been too steady with me, to slow down and give or see. Him being “off the market” in a way like he had never been, was apparent and real to them. But his last year at school, everybody damned near wanted to be the exception to the rule, and Santana was breaking some of our rules-exceptionally.
His senior year was the biggest and most unexpected roller coast of a ride of our entire relationship. Nothing about him was making sense to me: nothing he did, nothing he said, or nothing he wrote in his few letters to me during his senior year. But what did make sense to me was how he had become a walking open book. Although the reasons behind the personality changes and rollercoaster rides were never written all over his face, or in his actions toward me; like never before-still, it was written (all between the lines):
“I Love You. And you know it. First shit that doesn’t even matter, that one bitch Lisha! Talkin’ bout why did I tell you what she said. And I think she wants to fight cause she said to tell you what her homeroom was. But I told her that nobody was pressed for that shit! God I felt like socking her ass. Damn school just started back and people are already starting shit. Now down to business. Baby I’m sorry but I was just playing. It seems as tho’ you’re worried about me running off with her. I don’t care if she has a little place somewhere. Nothing could turn me away. Nothing. God dam! Can’t you see that? I love you and no one else. You know I felt like saying what the fuck do you think I’m gonna do run off with this chick and just forget about my true love. (I love you) sheeet you must be crazy. To tell you the truth, I was hurt (real) That’s why I walked away cause I would have started to act like a bitch…Dead up. I’ll try to call.
I Love You”
What’s up? What choo thinkin’ bout. I hope cause I’m thinkin’ bout you here in math. I don’t ever get no work done cause I’m always writing you, that shits gone have to stop. I left my bus card at the pezad. I’m
gone bum some money. Yezes! Me The Rock gon’ bum sum change.
I LOVE YOU SO MUCH.”
How you feel? Me, I feel like fucking my baby! You looked so pretty today, I wanted to take you to the pezad and just Do you all day! I’m thinking about holding out…
Ok my minds made up we’re making love today after school, but I didn’t bring any protection.
I’ll find some somewhere, don’t worry. I’m ‘bout to move out cause the bell’s about to ring.
But I’ll write back.
What’s up! Sorry for not writing for a while, but I just wasn’t up to it. I love you and you’re my heart. No one will take you or keep me from you. This marker is kinda sporty huh? Baby I Love You.
Yesterday, I was happy to see you. You looked so good. When I get some protection I won’t take Angelo out like I’ve been doing cause I know that leaves you unsatisfied. And me too in a way but girl the way you do what you do…
You know I’ll do anything for you go anywhere and go against anybody’s word to get to you and make you happy. I’m getting kinda tired of this color I’m switchin’ to a color I can relate to. I can’t wait till the break, I’m gone fuck you senseless. I know I’m ‘gon bust. On my bed there is nowhere to tie each other up too Angie. We’ll probably make due.
I’m ‘bout to move out.
PS- Think we should hold out til Wed?”
What’s Up! Baby I’m sorry for upsetting you with my so called “hard rock roll” maybe I do that subconsciously. But I must I admit that it is rather silly and sort of immature. I’ll try to stop. Promise.
Naw I’m sorry about you too I was only thinking of myself. That won’t happen no more. I felt real bad about doing you like that but I promise this weekend we’ll go.
I enjoyed being with you Sunday. My love for you overflowed deepened and everything else. And I wanted to fuck the hell out of you God! You looked so good and I just wanted you to feel how much I loved you.
I LOVE U LOVE U LOVE LOVE U LOVE U LOVE U LOVE U SO MUCH.
I felt so damn stupid for doing you so wrong Sunday.
I’m sorry, yesterday was a trip. Do you think UUUHHH! You threw up on me. We’ll have to do that more often caused it felt kinda good. Gross but good. I like fucking you like that, it feels good. I know you liked it so I was trying to do it harder to make you feel as good as possible.
“Dear Red How do ya do!
I’m alright. But my thumb fuckin’ hurts! That’s why my writing is so sloppy. You do look fine today.
Finest of the fine. I’m thinking about yesterday. That was one of the best experiences for us both.
It felt good to us both. Especially to me. I felt sort of dominant but not fully. I wanted to hurt you and make you cry. But then again, I didn’t. But next time, I’ll show no mercy…”
“Hi! How are you? Yo! You look high.
You really do. Your eyes trip me out.
I asked Rochelle for some paper and she said no so I’m writing on no line paper.
Baby you looked like you felt down 2nd bell I was trying to figure out a way to cheer you up.
And I came up with maybe a hug, a kiss, and I love you would work and sure enough, you smiled from ear to ear. I was so pleased that I had made you smile. I love you so much.
Maybe instead of making love we could just get fully unclothed and get into the bed under the covers and just talk about you’re so much of a woman and you’re so damn sexy.
I doubt that talking would get my feelings across. And I am so much of a man and so damn sexy I doubt if you could keep your legs closed (smiles) My nature rises just thinking about it. You got some money? I don’t! You do?! Good give me some.
B.K.A Dennis (your) Menace REEBOK NIKE LEGEND”
What’s up Surprised you this morning Huh? Should I come get you every morning? I mean there’s nothing at school and at home. I have a better attitude and it is sustained throughout the day. But if not, that’s okay. It helps me feel closer to you knowing that we’re leaving the same place at the same time to the same destination almost as if we live the real one, just us. But my imagination will just have to keep running till it happens………Do you want it bad? Real Bad? Real Bad?. I do too. I love you so damn much! I can’t wait to see and hold your naked warm body in my arms and smell that sweet aroma of sex and love juices. I fuck as hard and as long as you want provided that you climax!
If you do…if not, I won’t. Deal? Deal. Move your hips to meet my every thrust and you’ll get what you want. You’d like that huh I’m sure. It will feel like a hot spray of liquid being sprayed inside you both filling you and fulfilling you. You’ll be on fire ready to fuck again even harder. You will start doing things that you have never done before. I know you want it but you’ll have to cum get it (work for it). Maybe if you fuck me hard enough, I’ll forget and climax right inside you but I doubt it!
Love, Dennis The Menace”
Baby you look so damn good today. I love your hair and your bulging cheeks and your big pretty sexy sensuous baby doll eyes! Just thinking about it makes my love tool feel as though it would rip through the skin. The way you lazily blink your eyes…Damn! I could probably full ejaculate just by looking at you.
I can’t wait to get between those thick soft supple thighs with my pelvis violently smacking yours with every powerful thrust and your soft round wide tight ass ripping you apart with just a powerful thrust to let you know I might cuss you out just to add a little excitement and I expect you to cuss back or do
what you feel no matter what you wanna do no matter how erotic I’ll follow.
Love, Dennis Your Menace”
“I love you (a hell of lot) damn! It’s been so long since I’ve held your supple body in my strong and very secure grasp. I miss you! I miss you! I miss you! Your kiss, your sexy eyes, your sweet way of speaking or saying how much you love me. I sorely miss it all oh! This is not a diamond ring, a car nor a cheeseburger (smile) but the way I feel now, it’s the next best thing or maybe better! I love you! I love you! I love you! I’m gonna treat you like a queen even though you’re just my princess and me your king.
I’ll never leave you! Never cheat! Never lie! Or anything to hurt my precious princess. You better had came over cause my feelings for you are bubbling over and i need you to sit back and open your sweet sexy legs and let it all pour in.
Love your man Santana
PS-what are you waitin for? Take your clothes off lay down and enjoy the show.
PSS-the real surprise was a blue convertible sports
Benz but you wouldn’t guess, someone stole it! (smile)
Love, Santana Papi Love Bear”
How are you. You look fine. You feel fine, you taste fine so you must be fine huh! I was just wondering what time you had?
I have the new watch’s time. You know what. I read your little thank you card you wrote me. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it before which means I don’t pay as much attention as I used to.
I really love you, it’s just that there is so much going on in me. I don’t open up to you like I used to. Because you have your school life and after school life and me mine. What I don’t understand why we can’t attract more when we do find time together I read your more recent letters and began to think to myself why? Why has our relationship gone so much more downhill instead of up and over the hill.
Don’t deny it hasn’t gone down because that would just make it worse. We pretend too much.
For example: when your friends come around, we act like so much in love but after they leave we fuck up again. Sometimes it doesn’t last we fuck up when they’re still standing there because you are so stuck on being the most loving couple.
Nothing is wrong with that but let’s be true to ourselves first. Then other people.
My suggestion is for us to take our time and go slow and build up the relationship up and beyond.
The love is there (strongly) but not the right attitude.
Baby I love you. Baby let’s try harder, please cause I want to be yours forever and vice versa.
Let’s work real hard, talk openly. Express hates, loves, likes, dislikes, whatever, let’s do it.
Senior 9:40 (my new watch’s time)”
“My Darling Red
Hi baby, and how’s my pretty young lady. I’m feeling better, really. And I’m sorry about my dumbass attitude. And yea! I respect myself to a certain extent. And I do care to a certain extent. And yes I respect the hell out of you, but I’m getting the feeling that I am not respecting you as my fiancé’ am I right? I thought so. I just don’t want to unload my problems on you and then we would both be under. I mean I know you love me but there are some things that I have to do for myself in order for me to become a man (your husband) and after I master that, your help would be much appreciated. Not that it’s not appreciated now. Yea I remember the promise and I am keeping my end. I do my work. But anyway. This pertains to the above. All I need is you by my side 100% and I know you’ll be there always and I will expect you to, just as would me. I LO––––––VE you to. No I take that back I LO–––––––––––––––––––– –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– ––––––––––––––––––––––––––VE YOU. You haven’t put me through nothing, you just want to be a part of the problems and it won’t work. I promise to confide in you. And I put all my trust in you, but I just think there is no need for me to burden you too. Make it so bad my problems are sappish and if I can’t handle them, I’ll never be the best of anything to you. But I want to be the best to improve myself as a person as well as a friend, lover and fiancé.
PS It’s easier said than done, but I’ll do it.
I LOVE YOU RED”
I know times are not as good as they used to be, but just to assure you that I love you just as much, if not, more. I’m sorry. I’m not saying I’m sorry cause you won’t believe me but I hope things get brighter.
It’s me. B-Zerk again.
I’m really happy to know that were gonna try to work out a beautiful relationship. Yesterday I thought all was lost. But there was a glimmer of hope. I really love you and that’s true. (strongly) Today when we make love, I want it to last, to be the best as if it were our first time. We really need to try to understand each other. We seem to be strangers in love. And I hate that feeling. You are so pretty. God! Are you pretty. Only reason I don’t write as often is because you don’t respond quickly.
Well Bout to move out Mrs. B-Zerk
I’ll get back B-Zerk B-Zerk B-Zerk
“Come out here! Come out here!” demanded Aya-standing in the doorway of my classroom and looking in at me with her eyes squinted-wiggling her index finger. I had never seen her like that, so I knew it must have been important. She interrupted my class session despite knowing that lunch was in twenty minutes. Since it couldn’t wait that long, I rushed to the front of my classroom door, expecting her to whisper something in my ear. Instead, she forcefully grabbed me by the arms, and held my shoulders steady as she turned me around to face her. She then rested and squeezed her hands on my shoulders; positioning me as if she was about to tell me something that, like a soap opera, was sure to force me to place my right hand upon my forehead and pass out onto the floor. She went straight in for the kill:
“It’s Santana girl. He cheated girl. Santana cheated!” she yelled out angrily, anxiously.
My heart was beating faster than a mile a minute, my eyes stretched really big.
“What! How? With who?” I asked her.
“Carmen! The girl named Carmen who still comes down here every day afterschool-the one that got kicked out last year!” yelled Aya-with the kind of intensity and anger as if it was she who he cheated on too…
“No. You are lying to me,” I said to Aya.
“Yes, it’s true. I overheard Carmen’s friend telling someone else while we were in class! That bitch didn’t know that I was right behind her! I was listening to her tell her home girl about Santana and Carmen fucking at her house last night. She and Santana’s friend Tony were hooking up, and while there, it’s a fact that Santana and Carmen fucked too!” reiterated Aya-whose heart was beating hard as mine and looking as if she, too, was about to place her hand upon her forehead and faint and fall to the floor. She nearly dared me to discount this could be true and I sure as hell wanted to. Because we were reporting to one another when we were apart and hogging up so much of each other’s time, I couldn’t figure out how and when he had enough time to do this. And to think that he did-he had to make room and a way for it. My mind was running a race with my heart.
Santana had never met the queen bee in me and he was sure as hell about to meet her.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, because everything was so busy and so were we. We were busy and overwhelmed with preparing for his prom, other senior year extravaganzas and excursions, as well as his graduation. We were busy preparing phase I of our fairytale and on to the next level-getting married and moving in together. Where did all this fit into the equation?
My mind was winning the race right now. My heart had dropped and gone away.
Eagerly, I approached.
He sat by the doorway of the class he had before lunchtime. I walked right to the doorway, reached in and grabbed him by the back of his shirt, catching him by surprise: “Come with me, right now, right now!” I whispered forcefully.
He took a deep breath and his face totally surrendered and dropped to the floor-almost like a kid that knew exactly what he was about to get an ass-whipping for. Aya was standing there with her arms folded and rocking back and forth; waiting on an answer from him that looked more like an apology she expected to be given to her…
I didn’t shed one tear. I was angry-way too angry to cry.
“Why did you do it Santana?” I asked.
He wouldn’t answer. He was standing there biting his lip-looking at me like he needed to hold me. I could feel the dramatics coming on-but I wasn’t having it. I backed away from him some, so that if he reached for me-he would drop to the floor.
“Why’d you do it?” I repeated.
“I didn’t, I didn’t,” he kept repeating, as if somehow, repeating it over and over would work for him like going home worked for Dorothy after repeating: “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” He sure as hell wished he could click his heels and do the same.
He couldn’t even look me in the face. That’s when I knew that he did do it.
I could feel Aya’s energy-it was much too involved in [what was now] our busted “love bubble.”
Santana looked so pitiful-like if he could snap his fingers and rewind this moment to make it all be a bad dream-he would. He was that ready to faint.
“Come with me,” I said to him, nodding to Aya-so as to excuse, but thank her. I lead him into our school’s darkest room where mime class and performances were held every other day. Santana was unlucky-this was that “every other day” and I was all up and in his face with my hands-while he was mute as a mime.
The dark room was all one color. The one and only window that the room had was painted to close out the light, as well. The only things with any color in that room was Santana, me and what we had on for clothes. We entered, I turned the lights on:
“I’ve got to have it, Santana. What the hell happened?” I said, standing over him as he sat on the wooden stoop. The darkness of the room was filling up my head and my body. I was fuming. My brows turned up like he’d never seen before. Finally, he began to speak-looking at the floor:
“Me and Tony went over to her friend’s house because Tony had just started hanging out with her friend. She happened to be over there,” he mumbled.
“Oh, so this wasn’t planned? Is that what you’re trying to say (in other words)?”
“No! No! It was not planned,” he answered.
It got quiet.
“So what happened? You heard me. What happened?” I demanded to know.
He mumbled some more:
“Tony was in the room with her friend and we were in the living room talking,” his face was still looking to the floor.
“We, who? You scared to say her name?” I jabbed.
He continued as if he didn’t hear a word I had just said:
“…Then all of a sudden we ended up being upstairs and that’s where it happened,” he finished.
“We-who? Santana” I yelled.
“Carmen,” he answered.
“These girls have been at you even harder-by the day and you bit the bait! Santana why would you do this to me-to us? When you know that ever since the very day we’ve been together-somebody up in this school was itching to get a hold of some news like this. And now-you scratched it for ‘em! Idiot!” I yelled in a tone like he had never heard before and with a facial expression that he had never seen before.
Feeling the anger from the thought of all that could have happened I decided: to hell with probing him bit by bit; this bastard will sit here and recite every fucking nook and cranny and detail. The anger I felt at the thought of the mere summary he thought he was going to give me, sent me into an angry tailspin. To keep from crying, all I could do was yell. I refused to cry.
I began to yell in his face as if I was interrogating him:
“Okay, you said: ‘where it happened…’ what happened Santana. I didn’t ask for a summary!
E-LAB-OR-ATE-DAMMIT! Every single detail! Tell me what happened!” I forced.
I listed how I wanted the details:
DICHOTOMIES & DAZES
We made it through his senior year and all the plans, and excitement that came with it. I didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer at a time in his life that he would never be able to repeat, but would certainly be able to hold onto the memories of-even if we ended up being a memory to each other.
I continued to be the doting girlfriend; wearing his class ring around my neck while being in receipt of anything else he would give and do to solidify our relationship and rebuild our “love bubble.” Santana was trying hard to prove to me that what we had was built to last. It was working for the most part. He was my man and I was his girl-“Angie and Santana” were household names in both of our households and throughout our extended families by this time. It just was what it was.
If I had any plans on leaving him, they were halted shortly after prom. All that sex we were having and my-on again-off-again relationship with the pill: straddled between gaining one pound and panicking or getting sick from taking them every morning, was proving to be a bit much for me. Over time, Santana and I would see-saw between either using condoms or resorting to the old-fashioned rhythm method until our beat went off the track. In between time, we would just take the plunge and cross our fingers since it had worked for so long.
Well after prom, when I didn’t get my period-we already knew. Ooh if Ms. You Know Who could be a fly on the wall of my life right now.
Part me was disappointed in myself because my life was headed in one direction but then Santana and all things that came with it-in the name of “love,” took me in another direction and my heart followed it.
I knew what I should have been doing and should not have been doing, but we were so tight and no matter what, I knew he would have my back. He loved me crazily, and he also fulfilled for me, that fairytale girl-meets-boy fantasy that every girl dreams about. Now, we were on to real-life and needing to make real-life decisions.
After he graduated, that summer, my mom found out that we had officially made feet for those socks that she would talk about. The decision had to be made as to whether or not I would abort, put it up for adoption or have it.
Our Madonna classic love song “Crazy for You,” eventually turned Madonna-tragic, singing: “Papa Don’t Preach.” Down to the very last lyric, it was as if that woman’s songs brooded over our relationship and every aspect of it from love and now life: the feet that were being made for socks. As irony would have it, Madonna rode with us from conception of our relationship and the theme song for it, all the way through to what was a kind of immaculate conception growing inside of me: the product of two virgins who made love and a baby from love-regardless our interruption and situations. I could not hear “Papa Don’t Preach” without crying uncontrollably and clutching my stomach. Everything about it resonated with what I was feeling about, Santana, our relationship and me being estranged from my dad-who, if he found out I was pregnant; no question about it, would have forced me to stop the music for all dancing feet involved-immediately. Thanks to me being estranged from him, along with Madonna singing all up in my relationship, with abortion omitted from the list of options; the fact still remained that my belly was going to grow bigger. Her goal was to deal with first things first: pull me out of that school. The dream was officially over, as far as she was concerned.
As far as the school itself, the dream had been over long before I even met Santana, little did she or my dad know. That was a big secret I kept from him over the years of my even attending the artsy-school. Because he had a different perception of my inclusion at that school than what actually was. Although I didn’t abort, I still had a second chance at life and a career going forward-hence why I chose adoption as an option. My father however, though estranged and out of the know of it all; the dream would never be over in his eyes-oh hell no-over his dead body. He was far too obsessively ambitious and loved playing fantasies in his head; his idea of success in the making (being cultivated vicariously through me).
Reminiscing on the time from back in third grade when his insatiably ambitious self interrupted me from my language arts classroom with a bunch of papers in his hand. He had the kind of excitement on his face as if he had hit the lottery. I was his lottery ticket: his golden-child.
He grabbed me by my tiny hands and dragged ninety-five pounds of skin and bones down that hallway so fast that dust probably followed us. He sat me in that empty lunchroom with the packet of papers telling me about this new school that was exclusive to kids with talent of a wide variety.
All my dad knew was that I could sing, I could dance, I could act, I could spell, I’d won spelling bees, I was articulate, I was theatrical, I had a lot of personality, good penmanship, nice handwriting, I was loved by my teachers (parent-teacher open houses were big to-do’s and major strokes to his paternal ego)-my hood loved me. So in my dad’s eyes, that was all the ingredients it took to make “Star Pie.” So he signed me on for the school, when little did he know, my: acting, the written test, my dancing, my creative writing, my music and my drama portion of the audition that opened the doors for me to step right in to the world of non-mediocrity (from the outside looking in) wasn’t what it took to actually make it in that “exclusive” school that he felt was built just for me.
All of that was merely behind (the entry) to door number one. That door merely squealed open to let you in the school-to separate you from the “mediocrity” of the traditional neighborhood high-school.
Door number two slammed behind you: hard. It consisted of politics of the economic, political and social kind:
The: “Nobody’s”: usually quiet, exceptionally multitalented, kept to themselves. Fashion was definitely not a priority or forte’. Most of them wore tattered and recycled clothes. Some were groomed acceptably rather than exceptionally well, other’s-not. For many of them, their circumstance was visible and on their sleeve. They were friendly, stayed out of the way, probably had one hell of an opinion about the remaining cliques:
The: “Why-The-Hell-Are-They-Here-Don’t-They- Belong-In-Some-Neighborhood-School-Rather-Than-This-Exclusive-Schooler(s)”: This was Santana’s group. Hardly anyone in the school knew what their special talents were. Amongst one another they knew (I think). But to all other groups, you kind of just wondered why in the hell were they even in school but more importantly: our school. This group consisted of those who were most probably poor to middle class but wore the latest fashions that seemed to camouflage what, if any, talent they really had. It was such a mystery. They were the typical/local/neighborhood high-school type of group that seemed like they floated into the artsy-school on some island and got stranded there. Some of them laughed at the “Nobodys” and other cliques for not having the latest clothes like them and thought people outside of their cliques were lames or just flat out weirdos. They speed dated amongst each other and would rather be caught dead than to date anyone in the “Nobodys,” but would occasionally date or speed date some in this next group:
The: “Artsy- Talented- Popular-Attractive-Part/Nerd-Part/Hood-Part/Normal’s”: This was my group. We cared nothing about the latest fashions, but rather, expressed our fashion sense through what we could do with our clothes to create our own style. Some of our friends were in the “Nobodys,” outside of that, we were friends amongst each other-that was of the utmost importance to us. Our group dated amongst each other, some would date within the “Nobodys” and the “Why the Hell’s” if they summoned (and only if they summoned).
The: “Wanna-Be’s”: Sigh. Rhetorically, I would have to ask: where do I start…
For starters, if this group of people’s fashion choice consisted of white top shirts, white bottoms, white tennis shoes and (whether guy and girl), if they wore pink sweaters tied across their shoulders and they walked around with tennis rackets; it wouldn’t be too far off from all their personas in school.
This was a pretty cool group (a very small part of them). The large part of this group would literally sicken you to your stomach if you let them (or hadn’t eaten yet). They weren’t trouble makers by any stretch of the imagination, but the large part of them would rather fight Goliath or ban together to hold open the mouth of a whale and fight tooth and nail than to digress to the clique in which many of them really belonged: “Nobody’s,” “Why the Hell’s” or the “Artsy’s.”
It was funny because in truth, this large part really did consist of a mixture of “Nobodys,” “Artsy” and “Why the Hell’s” but you better not tell nobody God, because if you brought that truth out, you probably would have been in for a knock-down, drag out whatever-you-wanna-do-about-it-off.
The “Wanna-Be’s” had one goal and one goal only: to be friends with, known by, connected to or connected with and/or besties with the “Be’s.” They lived for that. The “Wanna-Be’s” dated amongst each other-period. The black guys (and black girls) in this group would rather be caught dead than to be caught dating a “Nobody,” but would [in secret and only in secret] let it be rumored that he or she dated or kissed a black girl, or black boy, or an “Artsy”-and only if that “Artsy” was an “Artsy” that wanted to be a “Wanna-Be” or a wanted to be a “Be.”
Eventually, most “Wanna-Be’s” would get their chance in being a “Be,” but the actual “Be’s” were set in stone. “Be’s” had the social power to make a “Wanna-Be” feel like a “Be” and especially depending on that “Be’s” popularity at the time.
The bottom line was-since the “Wanna-Be” wasn’t a set in stone “Be”-they would still have to take their place back in their “Wanna-Be” spot and remain happy that they were friends with, known by, connected to, connected with and/or besties with the “Be’s.” And in order to maintain their “Wanna-Be” slash want to be a “Be” image; it was best that they: deny that a “Nobody” existed, ignore the “Why the Hells” and act like they didn’t know any “Artsy’s” unless it was one of the “Artsy-10.”
The “Artsy-10:” They were like: “reverse-moles.” Moles of about ten guys and girls in our “Artsy” clique who if given the chance, would do anything to be a “Wanna-Be,” and would kill to be a part of the “Be’s.” You could always tell when one of the “Artsy-10” got a chance to step out and hang out with the “Wanna-Be’s” or “Be’s.” Because (for a short while) they would talk different, walk different and carry on a whole persona befitting of a “Wanna-Be” or “Be.” They would feel so accepted and grateful that they stood a chance (even if it was a mere conversation with a “Wanna-Be” or “Be”). That would be enough to send them on these highs that (like clockwork because it was all a matter of time) the “Wanna-Be” and/or “Be” would send them right back into the clique to which they belonged: “Artsy- Talented- Popular-Attractive-Part/Nerd-Part/Hood-Part/Normal.” Their little fantasies and hopes of actually being a “Wanna-Be” or “Be” (for good) never-ever came to fruition and they would steadily try: year after year. It was crazy to observe. Aya and my other friend Carren were two-tenths of one such type. It would be a mixture of pathetic and painful to watch their ups and downs as a result of it all.
The “Be’s”: They were a mixture of three types of people and it was just this simple:
1-Either their parent or relative worked at the school (and/or had some control over the school program or any particular performance art or academic).
2-They were the kids whose parents were on a committee of givers who donated significant monies to the school (on a continuous basis).
3-They were close friends/besties of both. I repeat: close friends/besties of both. Not: known by, connected to or connected with. Their real friends and besties only.
“Be’s” had their way with about 65% of the teaching staff. The teaching staff was kind of like a teaching staff at a college. In college, you have some professors who may have athletes as students, who pretty much have a “pass” in their class no matter what. Athletes’ schedules are methodically chosen by their coaches and the athletic staff on a “preferred professor” basis: the professors who would always cut the athlete some slack because they are in cahoots with the sports program (secretly).
It was like that here, at our artsy school.
Probably about 65% of the staff was in cahoots with parents or relatives who worked at the school and/or had some control over the school program or any particular performance art or academic and as well, parents who donated money to the school.
So having to take a class with a “Be” could be quite the experience. Not as a result of the “Be’s” behavior or presumptuousness (because they indeed were). The “experience” would come from the “Be’s” real friends and besties or the “Wanna-Be’s” behavior-that was the irony of it all.
The “Be’s” besties, real friends and “Wanna-Be’s” loved for it to be known that they too, were exceptions to most rules. Most all “Be’s” were very assuming and presumptuous (subtly so). But they weren’t pathetic or painful to observe. The “Wanna Be’s” and the “Be’s” real friends and besties were-at all times. “Be’s” never had to do anything but just: be. They knew their place and knew it was solidified, and knew they had the most social power in the entire school-effortlessly.
All of that was what my dad did not know about this artsy school that he was so eager for me to get in. The doors had shut behind me, and the politics of the economic, political and social kind was a well-known secret that none of us ever talked about (in either group). It just was what it was. I’m just breaking it down (to how it “was”). I never explained it or broke it down to my dad because he would have taken my inclusion into that school to a whole new level, and I wasn’t interested in that kind of fighting to get in and fighting to stay in kind of illusion that I was watching. It was really a circus act that neither one of them even understood.
When my dad had come to grab me out of my third grade class to do that school’s paperwork, got me auditioned and in; he thought he knew-but he had no idea…
He merely expected that because I was multi-talented, I would get early training at a school that would hone in on that in a big way and from there-the world would be my oyster.
Well, unbeknownst to him, getting trained for the world to be my oyster-did not happen outside of evening recitals from well-rehearsed dance performances, drama recitals or art-exhibits for required classes. I tricked him into thinking that these performances, demonstrations and exhibits were major.
The bigger training and experience took place on the stage. That gave you the feel for what it would be like gigging in New York. The closest I got to that experience and on that stage (outside of my evening dance recitals) was auditioning for the major/school box office plays.
A callback list would go up. It had gotten to the point where I never had to check the first or second callback list-I made all of them. But when that final list would be posted, it was always 77% populated with the: “Be’s” and “Wanna Be’s.” 10% Artsy’s, 10% Nobody’s and 3% “Why the Hell’s”.
Unbeknownst to my dad, by eighth grade (many years before Santana was ever a twinkle in my eye and had even started the school), when I started to take notice of the social politics and began to pay attention to the list of student’s parents who donated big monies to the school-I totally quit auditioning. I would be obsessed with strolling that first floor area near the administrative offices watching rich parents with full-length mink coats stroll in and out of the principal and artistic director’s office; either cutting checks or finding out why their child was the understudy rather than the actual lead in a major. I would run to the front of the building just to take a peek at their big expensive Jaguars, Mercedes and BMW’s parked sideways-presumptuously knowing that the meeting they came for wouldn’t last-because they knew all too well how their money talked and bullshit runs the marathon.
By eighth grade, I quit barking and jumping. It never phased me anymore. I started turning my head to the direction of the window when the suits would show up. To myself, I would crack up laughing when they would leave-from how stupid some people looked-having no idea how that social politic game went. It was sad-watching my peers do just what I would do my first five years there for those suits (that were merely looking for the kid whose parents just strolled through with the mink coat-double-checking to see if the kid had the look for the next commercial they had just promised rich mom, rich dad).
It was hard not to, but I never told my dad about the politics that existed there because secretly, he too, was classist, elitist and insatiably ambitious and so was I, to an extent. Though I hated that school because of it-I understood what was going on. He (secretly) never forgave himself for having kids by a less than ambitious mother, so he was going to make at least one of us pay for it. Between Twin and me and my other brothers; I was the best fit. So he executed his plan, set me on the mark, put me in position and threw me into doors-that once closed behind me-he knew nothing about. He just knew I belonged and would have paid top dollar to put me where he wanted to see me: on a main stage even if it was up on a harness flying across that auditorium with a diaper on and sprinkling glitter throughout-that would suit him just fine. My dad played the game-always had. He had a formula for success and life: no sleep. To be the boss, you have to pay the cost-and usually, by any and all means necessary…
The only thing that made me happy there, were my friends-I loved my friends and two other teachers [outside of Ms. You Know Who, who respected me, knew my worth and talents]. I had nothing to prove to her outside of following her rules.
When I got home to the where I lived, my experience was altogether different.
If I say to someone (who is not from my hood: “my hood held me down,”) that person would probably think I meant that my hood stifled me. But no, that school stifled me, but my hood “held me down” (up-in the highest esteem). I was fortunate because of that. And I always knew and was grateful for that.
Without my hood, I would have had no self-esteem or confidence, because that school would have broken me. When I left that school at 3:40p (many years before meeting Santana) my show began there-that was my main stage and bright lights with people cheering me on and appreciating being entertained by me at whim and request. My hood was my main stage, but while in school from 8a-3:40p; I was amongst a game of social politics that I refused to be the butt and bullshit of. That balance kept me grounded. Everything I learned and any skill I honed was the result of the ones who truly loved me, respected me and knew me-not the school I attended. My hood was merely disillusioned, bedazzled, and dazed by it all, because I was the only one from it-able to make it through those doors, that they (like my dad) knew nothing about-once they closed behind me.
In secret, I continued to let my dad (and even the people from my neighborhood) think that it was the school that was grooming me to blossom. Even Ms. You Know Who (who taught there) thought the same thing. I was learning, dreaming and inspired by way of her and my hood-not the school.
I wasn’t learning shit at the school. I wasn’t inspired there. I didn’t dream there. That school wasn’t preparing me for a life of what she and my dad thought I was attending there for. The school only taught me one thing and one thing only: the game of social politics, where by age thirteen, I was a pro at it and recognizing it. I knew my worth to people, my talents and what I was capable of. I didn’t need that school to validate that for me-all for a financial, social and emotional large fee.
As far as I was concerned with my [dead dad], my faith and disinterest in the school plus my estrangement from him all worked out. I was no longer under his pressure in more ways than he knew (and little did he ever know)…
As far as I was concerned [with my mom on pulling me out of the school], it was a favor to me. Because little did she know, after about my eighth-grade year there, it only became important for me to attend because of the school’s reputation and big name-in the eyes of other people. The school was something I could most certainly live without.
But now, I was faced with a decision to make and to decide if I could live with or without: this growing child inside of me. My mother merely felt that it would be distasteful for me to be in that type of school with a growing belly. She not only did what was best (and a favor to me), she also did what was natural for her and what she did best whenever she was faced with an important issue: run away from it, or ignore it away or send it away. So plans were made for me to be sent away to a home for pregnant girls that had a school campus but to me-was more like a pregnant jail filled with other pregnant and mean big-nosed bitches who like me, had a decision to make as to whether or not we were coming home with our brat, or give them to some happy couple waiting in the wings (which is what most did-as was my prospective decision) because I still had plans for a real life, with or without “real” love.
Couldn’t necessarily say that Santana had any serious and major plans for his life after he graduated, because although I personally knew his creative and artistic talents; they were about as obscure to other people as about as obscure as what he was going to do in life with his talents.
Although I played a part in creating the feet for socks, mending socks were not in my plans. All I could see was a hard life, and a hard-working man; working hard for a minimum-wage job, coming home stressed, over worked and pissed at and resenting me.
No thank you (to that “life”)…
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