Tuesday, March 28, 2006
The prisoner always rings thrice
It was just another manic Monday and by the time noon rolled around and I was refueling on two cups of hazelnut coffee by the half hour just to keep from crawling under my desk for a catnap, I was so wishing it was Sunday. Little did I know a midday summons of the Mama said knock you out variety was waiting for me right around the bend when my Razr started going off like a bat out of hell.
"Hello, we have a person-to-person call for you from Nassau County Correctional Facility. Will you accept the charges?"Who? What? Where?
My mind was racing as I heard myself saying yes and being patched through to the voice on the other end awaiting the connection. The playful swagger that was usually right beneath the surface was deflated. In its place was a sullen tone that spoke my name as an unsure query rather than a definite statement. I couldn't get many details that would answer all the question marks dancing around my brain.
Would this be life imitating art as a homage to an Alicia Keys video on the way to East Meadow to find what trouble this fool wrought on himself this time around? Or do I play it smart and leave him to fence for himself when he needs someone close by the most? I opted for the latter.
Life really does have one twisted sense of humor, indeed.
Friday, March 10, 2006
Cuts for bad luck, scars of displeasure
I'm now convinced that dysfunction was an inherent byproduct within my DNA. There are those that are born blessed with book smarts but are clearly a few melons short of a fruit salad when it comes to common sense. I'd like to think that I've avoided that percentage, but if that isn't the case... I simply have a genetic predisposition for playing with fire and watching myself get burned each time."I can't stand it, I know you planned it
I'm gonna set it straight, this watergate
I can't stand rocking when I'm in here
Because your crystal ball ain't so crystal clear
So while you sit back and wonder why
I got this fucking thorn in my side
Oh my, it's a mirage, I'm tellin' y'all it's sabotage..."
This morning unfolded the way it always does, my alarm clock 10 minutes off and me running 25 behind. Pretending that the ruse of being awake with eyes wide shut to remain in that grey area of lazy slumber and deep resignation would turn back time to the midnight hour. Wrapped in the cozy comfort of blankets which never feel better than they do at 7:00 a.m. Trying to feign optimism for having a job instead of a career, in spite of this 9-to-5 floating the paychecks needed just to break even. Unable to reconcile the eternal dilemma of a closet full of clothes and still nothing to wear. Backtracking to pinpoint which jacket I had on the day before so I can find my MetroCard before stumbling out the door in the shoes that pinch my feet but complete the ensemble and a warden's worth of keys weighing down my pocket.
After my 100-meter mad dash to catch the 4 waiting downstairs wound up as another exercise in futility, I settled into zoning out until the next train pulled into station. Not even a full verse into Sade wailing about a Somali sister scraping for pearls on the roadside, the monotony of melancholy was broken up by a tap on my shoulder.
I whirled around, eyebrow half-arched ready to shoot my patented "the hell you want?!" death stare just to be left in peace. The face looking back at me was of a chocolate-colored brother, standing around 6" who reminded me of the singer Joe. I eyed him warily. "Yes?"
"Hi.... I couldn't help but notice when you passed by. How you doing?"
Instinctively, I felt my Negro Please game face creep into formation, but I halfheartedly forced a placid smile and turned my attention down the platform for sight of the next train. Undeterred, he pressed ahead with the one-sided convo. "I'm Jalen, and you are?"
Upon gazing back, I took the extra 30 seconds needed to do the obligatory once over while I waited to elbow my way to a corner seat. Relatively clear skin, check. Dressed casually cool in something other than "urban outerwear" fresh off the rack at Dr. Jay's, check. Teeth absent of food particles, stains and shiny reflections of gold, check. An approach that didn't include hissing at me like a barnyard pet. Hmmm... maybe I was throwing the baby out with the bathwater a tad too soon.
10 minutes later, I learned that he was 28, wasn't wanted for child support, grew up in East New York but now lived alone in Kensington and was 6 credits shy of a graduate degree from Fordham. Stats for the average single girl that looked good on paper. But for me? I wasn't exactly swooning over the prerequisites. We exchanged numbers, except I gave him my middle name and old cell # as a contact. What the hell was wrong with me? I was keeping my heart under lock and key for a bad news bear who needed to have "danger" blinking in neon whenever he's in 10 feet of me, yet here was what seemed to be a walking billboard for the last Boy Scout who was inexplicably attracted even as I was caught off guard in plain Jane city, and I was deliberately taking a wrecking ball to any forthcoming potential. I was treading into bad Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy territory.
And it's the age-old fascination of pushing limits to see just how far you can go or grabbing the tiger by the tail. In other words, damned if you do... damned if you don't. One of these days, I'll learn how to navigate off the dead end road on the Drama Queen Express from relying on my heart alone.