Wednesday, August 15, 2007

HEAD ABOVE WATER


At 10 yrs old while preparing for my first communion, I remember being taught the story of Eve the Temptress and how, with the simple bite of the fruit, she corrupted Adam with her feminine woes resulting in their expulsion from the oasis that was The Garden of Eden. What was it about Eve that made Adam succumb? This story deeply affected, disturbed, and fascinated me all at the same time, for a very long time. In some ways it was, and still is, the reason I question the intentions of every woman I have ever met. This biblical story was not the only red flag that warned me. I know of a whole generation of men, from puberty to adulthood, who tout women are the basis for their perpetual state of guardedness. Yet, in many cases, the gospel they quote is the contemporary version sung new jack swing style by Bel Biv Devoe, “NEVER TRUST A BIG BUTT AND A SMILE, THAT GIRL IS POISON!!!” While not all of us were aware of BBD’s biblical reference, we knew from that day on, we had heard the word and would be forever faithful followers of it.

This biblical cautionary tale and all its attempts at warning us as men of our own self destruction from temptation that was named “Her” as she was the source of human original sin came back to me as strong as when I had read the story for the first time as a child, while having a conversation with a longtime friend, I extended an invitation for him, his wife and two lovely daughters to attend the seventh annual MIH Heatwave barbeque. The event is by far one of the most anticipated summer gatherings of young Black professionals in New York City. Those of a certain ilk, flock to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for beautiful people, libations, and good finger lickin’ eatin’. Sweet memories are made each year as folks share laughs, camaraderie and witty conversation. As I described the mise en scène, he was gung- ho, echoing my excitement with each detail I relayed about the beauty that was and would be at the MIH Heatwave 7.0. In fact, he couldn’t wait to bring his family to share in the afternoon of summer goodness. My boy was there right along with me. He wanted his family to join us in the atmosphere of friendship and fun that was going to take place at the event. Knowing he had never been to the event, I gladly provided him with all pertinent information. To seal the deal, I forwarded him the full email invitation with pictures from last year’s gathering. I did not, however, anticipate his reaction to the invitation pictures.

Below are excerpts from the e-mails that transpired from there (names have been changed to protect the identities of the innocent and not get my boy in any trouble with his wife)

“K’s” email began, “As a young married man with a family, still virile might I add, this would not be something I would voluntarily come to with my wife and my daughter.”

He went on to say that, they would have a good time, but he himself would not. He continued, “This is something I would go to with you, Cous Steph and/or Mike. Not the sort of thing I take my family along to. And if I have to explain this even more,” he went on to say, “think about it in the terms of that I would have to behave myself.”

“K” thanked me for the invitation then ended with, “Appreciate your freedom now my friend. When you settle down like me, these types of events will be no more.”

This deeply disturbed me to the point that I had to take some time for his words to sink in—which they never really did-- before I responded with;

“NAAAAAH, it’s just good folk enjoying themselves. I have a few friends who are bringing their families too. Just a cool Sunday activity for the family with great energy and no type of disrespect. In addition, this may or may not be of interest to you, but there is a very large following of mixed individuals who will be there. I think that would be great for your girls to experience so they can see adult reflections of themselves in a positive setting. Dude, you're my guy and I'd like to chill with you and La Familia. I understand everything you've said but I'd truly appreciate it if you reconsidered.”

K's Response was, “It would work if Julie (his eldest daughter) was here but she is in Cali with the mother-in-law…sorry my man, ain't gonna work. Gonna probably take them to the beach instead (or maybe the botanicals, hmmmm…”)

I was saddened to hear that he wouldn’t make it. The conversation did not settle right with me. I was reminded of the opening scene in “Hitch.” In the scene, Hitch's longtime friend and brother-in-law are playing pool, the friend begins to pontificate about the shallowness and pathetic nature of single life and how being married with child is the true definition of success. Mere seconds later, Hitch’s friend suddenly changes his mind after two gorgeous women walk into the club. He stares at the women, the corner of his lips almost drooling with saliva.

Hitch turns to him and says, "Do you want me to go get them and bring them over here?"

The friend tries to contain and compose himself but instead stutters, "NO No Nooo Nooooo, doonnn ddooonnn't don't do that!"

Hitch retorts, “Are you saying you don't want to talk to them, because you can't go home with them?"

The friend pleads, "Hey, what do you want from me? I'm just trying to keep my head above water," with such piety as if he would sink and drown in Hades’ pool just for looking at the women.

My conversation with “K” also reminded me of another scenario that occurred with another attached friend. I took “C”, my good friend, and his now wife then girlfriend, “J” to the launch of another friend’s weekly event. “C” and “J” were excited about the night and trusted in the fact that I always came through with a good party for all to enjoy. We walked through the huge curtains that separated the front from the actual club and entered-- what was for me a beautiful sight as a single man-- a room filled to capacity with some of the most beautiful women I have ever encountered. The ratio was three - to- one with most of them being oh so friendly (YAY FOR ME!).

After about 45 minutes of great music, good people, old and new friends, “C” walked over, tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, "We have to get the FUCK out of here."

I asked with concern, "Why? Did something happen?"

"This is just too much for me” he said with a look of desperation on his face.

I burst out with laughter, unable to contain myself. I then looked around the room and eyed all those cool people, gorgeous women, and one lady in particular, that was giving me the sexy eye. Reluctantly, I scouted out my friend, the promoter of the event, to tell him we were leaving. As I let the words spill from my mouth, the look of shock hit the faces surrounding us in unison.

The promoter, with that same look of shock, posed the question that was stamped on everyone’s face, "Why? This shit is crazy tonight." Before I could say a word, "C" stepped in "It's my fault he has to leave. I'm here with my girl and just can't be in a room with this many gorgeous women."

Everyone in earshot broke out into laughter as they puffed up with pride taking my friend’s anxious comment as a compliment. "Dude just chill, have a good time," they advised.

"I have to get out of here. What can I say I'm just trying to keep my head above water" (There goes that line again)

Being the good friend that I am, I forgot about my own pleasure and took them to another party with less of an offering of goodies for us (ME) to enjoy. This wasn't the first or last time that situation happened with “C”. Just a few weeks ago he turned down another one of my invitations, This time it was to attend the Triple 5 Soul rooftop party with his wife (in short, imagine a massive rooftop filled end to end with the, greatest yearly gathering-- second only to the MIH barbeque,--of black folks in New York City). This event was foregone amongst numerous other soirees in between for the same reasons listed above by “C”, “K”, and a majority of my other married male friends as they justify the need to sacrifice a good time to keep their sanity and morality.

I started to wonder what or who was the problem for these married, in most ways, good men. They believed in the sanctity of marriage. Each had made the commitment and, to my knowledge, had never strayed from their vows. So what was it about being around other women that put such fear into them? I’ve heard the complaint from married men in many forms but the gist of it is, when they go out with their wedding rings on women go through hell and high water to try and turn them into her new married trophy piece (which, even in a kind of twisted way, was the topic on a Humanity critic’s post recently. Please look past his reasoning to his friend’s insight and you will understand the point I have heard time and time again). That’s it. Eve lured Adam. Women are the reason why good married men cannot be around other women and weak married men cheat. However, get a woman’s side of the story. Most will declare that men are hardwired whores who cannot pass up an opportunity to stick it in any hole that will drunkenly give it up.

If my friends are right,

I guess the secret of a happy marriage for men is as long as you don't hear, see, or speak anything related to other women, you can live the dream.

Is that what I have to look forward to when I actualize my Cosbiesque future? A married life filled with me just trying to keep my head above water to protect the illusion?

This is where the fear for me sets in. I am the product of a single parent home, even though my father was in my life, he wasn’t with my mother and for that, I was always at a loss and in a perpetual state of longing for what I saw every week on all my favorite sitcoms. From Family Ties with their matured hippie parents raising a family and accepting their children for whomever they chose to be, even if it was an uptight, conservative, capitalist Republican to my all time favorite and the one show in a lot of ways I mirrored my life and future dreams after – The Cosby show. Every Thursday I sat in front of my TV and watched what a real family was suppose to be - two loving married black parents raising children in a home filled with love, Art, music, support, passion, nurture, positive reflections of black, success, pride, and the list could go on for pages of all the things I got from it and wanted for myself. Don’t get me wrong I was blessed as a child with a mother and extended family that went above and beyond to give me everything a child could want and desire.

It was just that I always watched this show with an underlined anxiety. Could I be my own version of Dr. Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable? Could I be a good husband? Father? Black Man? Even though I hadn’t had one in my own home to show me how to be all those thing? With every relationship, I question my ability to be half the man I talked about being. I love the dream I’ve created and the future I want, but as my friends seem to give me more and more reason to question the true strength and love of their marriages all I am left to do is question the strength of my resolve to be the man I dreamed about being every Thursday at 8:00pm for eight seasons through each and every syndicated rerun I’ve watched since over and over again.


PLEASE LEAVE COMMENTS HERE IF YOU HAVE THEM, WOULD LOVE TO READ WHAT YOU THINK.

GVG
~we’re the warriors they write epics about~

11 comments:

steve said...

Good read Gardy.

Like I said don't be afraid to ......

NBeans said...

Too many men use the excuse that they're hard wired whores. Some of them are whores, but that ish isn't hard wired in my opinion--not anymore than for women. Socialization, more than nature, is what condones multiple partners for men and drives some women to want to "hubby" every man who looks their way, even if the man already has a circle of gold on his left ring finger.* I'm beyond buying into what others think or expect me to do.

As for your married friends, they're human. I don't think you get married and then your libido automatically shuts off to all others in the world. PEOPLE are horny--Mr. & Mrs. Huxtable not excluded. I think part of the difference is that for males--due to patriarchal forces--are used to indulging and receiving what they want. You all are encouraged to serve self first, whereas women are taught to put self second. That is why your male friends are just trying to keep their head above water and your female friends are walking on it.

NBeans said...

*Case in point: While shopping for my niece, I came across Bride Barbie Doll. The damn thing was in an all white wedding get up and, the most disturbing part, was that her left hand was formed to stick out, showing off a little glittery piece of plastic on the left ring finger. But it was not enough that the hand was molded to stick out (just like Barbie's feet are permanently arched for heels); no, the packaging has a special hole cut out for the hand to pertrude and is imprinted with "Wedding ring twinkles. Try me!" toy company moral propaganda.

I tried to embed the images but the blogger comments won't let me. For your own eyes to see visit, http://www.walmart.com/catalog
/product.do?product_id=5403079, click enlarge image to see packaging

The specs and features are promoted as:
This glamorous Barbie bride doll is dressed in a long white gown and ready to walk down the aisle looking totally romantic. Beautiful long hair flows down in back (I won't even go into how the use of "beautiful" and "long hair" and "flows" are disturbingly used in the same sentence and how this is soooo problematic in determining young girls' self images). The fitted bodice rises above an exquisite full skirt. A full veil and bouquet complete this gorgeous bridal ensemble.

* Here comes the bride! Barbie is beautiful in her long white gown
* Elegant veil and bouquet
* Light-up engagement ring (The ring lights up, people!)

Age: 3 - 4 Years,5 - 7 Years (Target age is during precious formative years)

Shop by Gender: Girl (I have a cousin who used to want to play with our Barbies as a kid and, to my knowledge, he is a straight as a board)

Might I add that there is a wedding cake topper that is also offered in the Bride Barbie series. It, too, comes with your very own girl-sized light up ring and veil. Fantasize away little impressionable girls. . .begin to pine for your husband when you are only 3 years old.

Christian Michael said...

Gardy G...

LOL...as a married man, I've felt that sinking feeling, that "I've got to get the HELL out of here" feeling!! It's not that you're a "hard wired whore" per se...but, as your friend Nbeans said, our libido doesn't just "shut off".

Now let me preface this all with - I LOVE, LOVE, LOOOOOVVVE my wife!! I love the peace in my home, and the stability. So, it's really a fight, tooth and nail not to revert to "single" mode mindset, while in a club or on the "single" scene, especially with single Friends!! Hey, temptation is real, and our human natures repeatedly shows us that we do things that are NOT always in our best interest or the most logical - in favor of our immediate gratification.

So...I can normally maintain, and then sometimes...I feel like I can't. So, better than put myself in that situation repeatedly, I usually "opt out". I gauge how I am feeling and make the best choices I can. Which many times means staying home with the fam...or inviting single friends to chill by me...instead of going out.

Thinking back to 2003 - 2005 (and prior)...I was out every night, on the virtual hunt! So, IF you place me back in the "wild" and IF I have the propensity to revert. What's the best CHOICE for me? At the end of the day, it's all a Choice. So let's make the best choices for you and your family. (I think your boy's who opted out - where thinking - "Better Safe than sorry" lol)

CMG

tough love said...

You don't take a recovering crackhead into a crack den. Besides, being married doesn't mean your social life ceases to exist, but it should evolve. Buck up camper! You'll find your Claire and you'll stand by her, I'm sure :)

I AM GVG said...

Thanx for all your thoughts so far, I'm going to reply to all the comments left, but I thought I had to post this excerpt from Beansie, since she seems to be really running hard on an estrogen high right about now.

"Your male friends are just trying to keep their head above water and your female friends are walking on it."

REALLY?! RRREEEAAALLLLYYYYY ?!?!?!?!!!!!!

GVG
~we're the warriors they write epics about~

NBeans said...

Yes, REALLY. . .RREEALLLLY!!!! Was my Bride Barbie reference not enough evidence of how females are conditioned at a VERY young age to be a wife? When you receive that many overt social messages at such a formative age it is easier to accept those roles once they become real. I don't mean to imply that women walk on water because they are better--hey, you're the one who started the water reference--but didn't it sound good?!?! ;-)

David said...

Good blog as I told u earlier. As I read this, I thought to myself, "are they serious?" You go to a spot with some fine chicks, so because you're with your lady, you can't stay? Thats truly unfortunate. You should be able to handle yourself in situations like that, and be the man you are. Of course you're going to notice the women. You're not dead, and they are beautiful. Hell one or two may even try to kick it, if you slide to the bar for a drink. But you should still be able to go out with your partner and enjoy the evening, yet in turn still handle what's around you. Simply maintain. Play your position, and she'll respect that. She can see the beauty in the room as well as you do. If you leave abruptly, it may give her more reason to think YOU can't handle that and MAY have done something if she wasn't around. You know women will analyze a situation over and over. Just food for thought..

Christopher said...

You are the older, wiser, more articulate version of myself. Thats why I love you.

I have so many thoughts on this topic to the point where I have already written and deleted my response numerous times tyring to stream line my response and thought process.

What I will say is in response to your fears....I have the same fears and same desires. Kimani(My brother for those reading and dont know) and I would constantly speak of the Cosby Show as the only image that black people in single family homes had to model their own families after. I sat my butt in front of the TV as well every Thursday night, day dreaming putting my self in the place of Cliff (partly because I loved his sweaters and parenting style and mainly because I thought and still do believe Felicia Rashaad is the epitome of a beautiful strong black woman). I grew up always referring to the Cosby show when I thought about what it was I wanted in a marriage.

Now that I am older and wiser I have another idea of what a marriage is. I have observed the few married couples I do see.(Usually the parents of my friends) What I see shocks me. I see in all the long lasting marriage the wives seem like they are the bosses. They run the house hold, they have lives and go cruising and go to health clubs and hang out with the girls and the husband usually builds a basement for himself, gets a TV and a bar and sits in front of the TV and drinks until he dies! YES This is what a successful long marriage is. The guys that had their identities protected in this blog are all on track to having a basement bar, a comfy chair and a big TV. The days of going out with the fellas and enjoying what may seem like respectable gatherings with beautiful people sharing and building with each other are over. Those situations are booby traps. Not because we cant keep our dicks in our paints, or because the wives are making us stay home, but because the temptation and "sexy eye" are to much to fight every time you leave the house. We already know the staggering number of black men behind bars, and the staggering number of black men not graduating from college and every other statictic that makes the pool of educated, financially stable, good brothers a shallow one.

No wonder woman are throwing themselves at Married men. Its like a bell goes off in their heads. They say to them selves, "Girl, He actually wants what I want, a family, to be with one woman and to grow old together with her. Awwww I NEED HIM!" Im with Chris Rock on this one. Woman need "YOUR" man, not a man like him.

I think there is a reason that Married man start encouraging their boys to settle down and tie the knot as well. They need other married couple to hang out with so they can still hang with the boys like the "Good "ol Days" Except in a controlled environment with less chance of them getting in trouble and straying from their marriage.

Lucky for me I love back yard BBQ's and sitting around drinking a cold Corona with my close friends. Im preparing my self now for that life. All I need now is to buy a few how to books so I can build my perfect basement "man room" for when I do get married.

Anyone wanna come over and play with me? :-(

d3 said...

Don't trust that b*tch! Kate Moss, that is. She does coke!!!! Nah, on the real..this is exactly why I'm still single and stay fab. I'm nobody's ball and chain ; ) And I personally would not could not marry someone that I couldn't sew the rest of my oats with wildly, or not single out as the flyest man in a room (and I'm not talking about looks because if you haven't elevated yourself past just the physical at this age that's a problem), or not want to come home to every night. It's FOR LIFE peoples. Let's reason here...if I marry now and live til I'm...say...85...that gives me 57 years to live with my husband...which is 29 more years than I've even been alive! I'm 28 and I'm content with no ring in sight. How can I make that decision to spend the rest of my life for better or worse with another lightly when I can't even commit to myself to lose that 10 pounds?! lol Think about it man, I can't cash my chips in yet!!!!

TAMIKKO said...

Gardy,
Great perspective. I loved the wind down.
Funny thing, even Bill Cosby, in real life,
could not live up 2 the persona he played
for so many seasons that beckoned us all
to want better for our futures. Years later
even he admitted to adultery and fathering
a child with his mistress....
I think people are human, but i also choose
to believe in the dream for myself. No matter
what outside politixxx say, both good and bad.
I Look inside and know i can be both temptress and spouse for the man i choose to wed in the future.
That way, he and i can hopefully have both
the tempting and the committment fused
into one.
Enjoy a great night at a club while he watches
me from the bar, getting me a glass of goose,
as i stand waiting, dressed to the nines in my
freakum dress and cum f'ck me pumps,playing
stranger, i stand waiting, thinking about our grocery lists, the kids tuition, i wink
and imply "hurry up, let's get drunk, so we can
go home and, a'hem, do the damn thing",
But that's just me.
It would be nice 2 open up dialogue between
men and women.
Women: watch porn with your mate, get into
discussion about the things that turn u on, men,
open up and be a little more sensitive to your
mates emotions, role reversal sometimes helps
to understand what a man/women wants and how
to keep your loved one happy.
Make sure your happy with u 1st.
The most important mating rule.
If u don't love you, who can?

I know I want it all. Even if it contradicts
popular belief or dating style.
The heat, the fire, the lust, the honesty, the loyalty, the committment.
I want 2 put it on
my man so hard i DARE him to stand in a room
full of bootyful woman.
He can come back, report the news, while he
rips my dress to shreds and we get to know each
other all over again........

We now have a black president,
so anything truly indeed is possible...
Maybe Adam planted that apple tree just to bait
Eve cuz he knew she would be curious and
he finally wanted her to see what he was staring
at that whole time and making his fig leaf rise
behind God's back.......
He needed a partner in crime.


Thank u for the blog, keep up the good work,

T.

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