An Ode to a Frenemy of Mine

Tom Deriggi and I came from completely different backgrounds, but, as the universe would have it, our paths intertwined. He was a heavyset guy with bright red flushed cheeks that seemed to accentuate his greyish blue eyes. Politically, we were on two opposite spectrums: Tom on the far right, arms folded, chest out; me on the left, feet set and ideas ready to pour from me like fire from a dragon.

Today, I found out that Tom is dead. I do not know what led to his death or even the specific date he passed away. What I do know is that he’s been gone since at least June 2017. As I read the FB post “Rest in Peace” underneath his photo and saw the same words emblazoned over a picture of Tom posted by his brother, I felt a deep pang in my chest.

Tom and I built a close relationship rooted in arguments and different ideals. He challenged me as much as I did him, and he offered me a different perspective from my own. Him being nearly three decades my junior, I respected how he apologetically held his ground. Even in the heat of our debates, we found time to laugh and relate.

Without a doubt, I will miss you, Tom. Our brief friendship faded as quickly as it came. There is so much I do not know about you, that I want to know about you, that I will never know about you, not on this plane. You will continue to be a mystery to me, one that drives me to do better and learn what everyone thinks.

I am glad to have known you, Tom.

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Falling Out of Love

One of the most foolish, foolhardy things we can do as people is fall in love with someone we do not know. As much as people show us who they are through their actions, we tend to mitigate those negative actions with false ideals created by what that person tells us. It’s like a relationship where your partner consistently punches you in the face and says, “I love you.” Is that really love?

I have met many people in my life and no matter how influential or meaningless those people are, I learned something from each one of them. What I have found is that I cannot vibe with a person who shifts blame, denies and lies. I cannot take seriously a person whose actions so vividly belie their words when the two forms of communication may very well be night and day. 

Not too long ago, I expressed to my cousin problems I was having in a recently-ended relationship before it ended. “Give her a chance,” my cousin said, and I did. Still, this person lied, denied, misinformed and misdirected. Even when she was wrong, she found a way to shift blame or redirect the blame. For some reason, she could never fully own her mistakes or bad decisions. 

Recently, I had been testing her, asking her questions to see if she had grown because she told me she had. However, from the answers she gave me, I know she hasn’t changed. She is not ready to accept her actions as her own. She is looking to shift blame and not say, “It was me. I am to blame, but this is why it won’t happen again.” She is still at the “It could have been my fault but I won’t say it was because it may have been something or someone else’s fault.”  

Firmly, I am a believer that people do not change people. People change themselves. Dealing with the aforementioned person could have been a case study to prove the previous saying. She proved to me that no matter how nice I was, no matter how much I tried to reason with her, no matter how much I attempted to meet her in the middle, she could not be a trustworthy person who owns her mistakes. 

Looking back on this failed relationship, I realize I too am to blame for it failing. My biggest mistake was getting into a relationship with a person who constantly demonstrated that she was willing to lie and deceive, even when caught red-handed, to make things go her way. My worst decision was choosing to ignore those red flags for what they were. What can I do? Nothing but live and let live. 

This is my advice to you. Love is temporary. It is not permanent. It changes, grows and even fades away until nothing is left. If someone shows you who they are, believe that person. Do not make excuses or think they can change. They won’t change. They are not to be trusted. Run before it’s too late. 

#relationship #relationships

Our Own Sort of Fun

Drugs. Violence. Police brutality. Hate. Love. Love. Love. 

In 1995, if you would have read about the Robert Taylor projects, the news report would probably have headlined something like this: 

“17 Men Arrested in Drug Sting at Robert Taylor Homes.” 

But inside those forsaken buildings where no one but those who lived there would have gone, children lived there. And those children, like all children, found a way to make the best of their situation. We did so in part by playing “It” in abandoned apartment buildings with holes in the walls.

Looking back on those days so many years later, I know my mother would have had a fit had she known what I was doing. As a father of three, I know I would not ever knowingly allow my daughters to play in abandoned buildings. Yet I also know that those dangerous moments where we had fun chipped away some of our surrounding circumstances and gave us a hideaway. 

Maybe my children will not ever experience what it is like to grow up impoverished in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago, but they will hear many a stories from me about those moments. 

Inspiration Comes from Everywhere

As you’ll find if you read my blog thoroughly enough, I grew up in the Robert Taylor Projects on the Southside of Chicago. If you do any research, you’ll find it was not the ideal place to grow up, being overwhelmed with drugs and gang activity. But it is where I am from, and I am not ashamed of it.

My uncle Milton lived there as well but for over thirty years. When I was younger, he made a painting on my mom’s wall of the cartoon Tom cutting off Jerry’s head. Blood was everywhere in the painting. My mom was pissed to say the least. I was delighted, until she made him paint over it.

Milton is a very sarcastic person who you’ll either love or hate with hate seeming to be the winner in most cases. Yet he is comfortable with whom he is. On Monday, June 4, 2018, the Chicago Sun Times did a spread on him concerning his upbringing, painting and one of his pieces currently on display at an art gallery. This inspires me.

My family is condensed with people in the arts. I’m a writer, my uncle is an artist and some of my family makes music. Most of us came from those dilapidated buildings, but we have success, college degrees and each other.

Someone once asked me why I never failed to mention that I am from the projects. This person has a painful history, having grown up extremely poor to the point of having no running water in the house. Her childhood was traumatic. She is doing well for herself now, but she shies away from her past. She will not discuss with anyone how she grew up. It is this denial that leads her to question me. How can I, having grown up in the most notorious part of the city, be able and willing to speak openly about it?

I am not ashamed of where I come from. It has made me who I am, good or bad. It showed me that the world can be harsh, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make a difference. It is what inspires me to do better for my children so that they don’t have to experience what I did. The point is, embrace your past to know your future as the Sankofa bird of West Africa tells you.

 

A Newborn

Nearly three months ago, my third beautiful daughter was born. Her eyes are a color I have never seen before and I cannot name. I was hoping for my first son, but I’m blessed either way. The question is, where do I go from here?

Near Death Experience

One of my most devastating moments occurred when I was just twelve years old when I was hit by a car. I hardly ever talk about this, and I don’t know why. What I do know is that since that moment, I have always been aware of how life can change within just a matter of moments.

In grammar school as I have been throughout most of my life, I was somewhat a prick. Before Tristain and I became best friends, I was his enemy. I would pick on him and call him names, mostly because he wore glasses and had a long “tail” (a single braid of hair located towards the back of an otherwise shaved head).

“You’re ugly,” I said to Tristain.

“You’re ugly,” he said.

So on this day, while in line after lunch, I punched Tristain in the stomach. Unfortunately, our teacher saw it. She was a behemoth of a woman who wore a blonde mullet and glasses. After asking how I would like to be punched, she socked me in the stomach. I lost my breath and went down for the count.

I was enraged, so I ran out of school. The security guard, a former stripper, chased behind me. He was too late, as I jetted into the street. I remember being hit by a blue sedan. I was knocked into a pole, but I managed to stumble away. When I came to, I was surrounded by people from my project building. They were all telling me to be still.

The ambulance came and the paramedics cut me from my clothes. The fifty cents I’d had in my pocket is still unaccounted for. I don’t remember any pain.

I was out of school for two weeks while a large sore on the right side of my face healed. Although there were cameras in the school and it was confirmed that my teacher had punched me in the stomach, nothing was immediately done about it. This was the 90s, a different era in a different part of Chicago.

Eventually, the teacher who punched me was either fired or relocated. I learned not to punch people.

Composite Love: Why I Always Fall for Her Type

The biggest mistake I consistently make is loving the same type of chick all over again. My first relationship was with Quetta. She was pretty, seductive but self-centered and calculating. Fool me once, you know what they say. 

Even after Quetta and I separated, it was like I found her all over again in other girls. I would complain about a girl’s attitude and I would compare her to Quetta. Maybe I was the problem. So, I found Brea. 

Opposed to Quetta, Brea was not an A-student. She did not value education, but she was herself. She was not trying to be someone she wasn’t. Brea was not only from the hood. She was hood.  

On a late night while browsing Facebook, I met Brea. We were already FB friends. I don’t know how that came to be. All I know is that she grew up in the same area as I did and attended the same grammar school, but we had not once crossed paths. 

What swayed me was Brea’s extremely large breasts. It sounds shallow and childish bow, but back then it was enough to warrant my attention. And so I copied and pasted her a generic message I used to send to every girl I liked: 

Hey, beautiful. You are very attractive, but I know there’s more to you than a pretty face. I would like to get to know you. I hope you feel the same and I am not being too forward. Have a wonderful day. 

And Brea was smitten. After a few messages, we exchanged numbers and she eventually came to my apartment. She was even more appealing in person. It did not take much to get her undressed. She was…experienced, but her past did not bother me a bit. 

After a brief conversation, we undressed each other. Her body was perfect: flat stomach, big perky breasts, even skin tone. I couldn’t help myself. I ate her like a last meal. She tasted so clean. There wasn’t an ounce of odor. 

“Please, stick it in,” she moaned after she came. 

Brea pulled me on top of her and I went inside without hesitation. She was warm as Christmas Eve by the fire place. Her juices trickled down my thighs. I took her from the front, back and side. I pulled her hair, called her dirty names and came inside her. 

I was spent, but it was not over. She made me stand, as she dropped to her knees. She licked every part of my manhood. It was the best I had ever had. She slapped it across her face. When I came, she swallowed the majority and used the rest as facial moisturizer. 

That night, she became my girlfriend. Maybe she was a slut. Mayne she wasn’t. I did not know, but I wanted her. I lusted for her. There is more to come, but the most important part of it all is that she was poison. 

Millennium Park Seduction

Quetta and I became acquainted rather oddly. Before she was my high school sweetheart, we lived our lives parallel, our paths never really crossing even though we had many of the same classes. 

Back then, I was just a scrawny kid with gaps between every one of my teeth. Everyone knew me as “smart,” but I didn’t live up to my potential. I just got by. 

Quetta saw something in me she liked. This urged her to give me a note with three pictures of her and her sister and her phone number. I never used the number. I remember her sliding me these things and how weird I felt. She was pretty, but what was her point with me?

So, months passed and she eventually took my number and called me. The first time we had sex, it was amazing and confusing. She cried. 

“Why are you crying.” I said, stopping mid-stroke. 

“Because I feel like a whore. I’m seventeen and I’ve had sex with three different boys already,” she said.

This year, one of those men she had sex with was killed, taken before his time. But back then, I assured her she wasn’t a whore. She loved me for this. 

Months later, we went to the movies. In light of her jerking me off, I have forgotten what we went to see. She couldn’t keep her hands off me, and then things escalated. 

“I want to have sex,” she said, rubbing my manhood. 

“We will when we get home,” I said. 

“I want sex in Millennium Park. Now.” 

I was taken aback, but I kept me composure. In Millenium Park, while people tossed frisbees and drank beer, Quetta and I had sex behind a bush. She rode me until she came. 

She put back on all her clothes. By now, the wind had picked up. She told me how much she had enjoyed it. I didn’t cum. Honestly, I didn’t enjoy it. I felt uncomfortable. It would be years before moments like these actually turned me on. 

The Poison Which We Call Love

Quetta was my high school sweetheart. She was a pretty brown-skinned girl with long, natural hair. In the presence of others, she was always friendly and approachable. No one knew her dark side.  

I remember as clear as day the time she stared at me in class. She kept making sexual gestures. I did not know what to think. I knew her, but we were not friends or lovers. 

“I want to see your penis,” she said one day after class. 

So, we found an empty class and I pulled it out. It was already stiff with anticipation. Quetta smiled and nodded, like an evil genius in a meth lab. From there, our relationship blossomed. 

Months later, I was checking my email on her home computer. She noticed how many of our classmates’ email addresses I had. 

“Together we have everybody’s email address in the school,” she said, lifting an eyebrow. “Wouldn’t it be funny if we made a teasing email about some students and sent it to everyone?” 

What started out as a joke became reality. We created a list of 10 people to make fun of, many of whom were Quetta’s friends. The list went something like this: Nina the Stanky Pussy Baboon. Bradon Booty-Busting Hend. Josh Rump-Rider Daniels. The list goes on. 

The next day, our email blast was the talk of the school. The principal called an emergency assembly. He vowed to get to the bottom of the email scandal and expel whoever was responsible. Quetta and I laughed.

The next day, another assembly was called and the principal told us that he now had the ISP information the email came from. He urged the guilty party to come forward and he would be lenient. 

Days later, Quetta and I decided to turn ourselves in. One of the other students heard us partially confess and told everyone else. Most of Quetta’s friends wanted to fight her. Quetta was no fighter. She denied sending the email. We were suspended for 10 days. 

Throughout this whole thing, I was not afraid. But I found Quetta had a devious side. She could not be trusted. It would take more for me to realize how dangerous she was. 

Oral Sex Date

The first girl to ever give me oral was Lolita, someone I’d met on the local party line. She said she had never given head before but she wanted “to suck [my] dick.” 

After much ado, I met her at her home. She had some of the biggest, prettiest titties I had ever seen. Although I was fascinated by them, she reminded me of why I was there. Her granny would be home any second, so we needed to get down to business. 

“I have to give you head in the foyer, because I can’t here her coming in up here,” said Lolita. 

So, in the foyer of her apartment building, Lolita dropped to her knees and took me fully into her mouth. As I said, this was her first time giving and my first time receiving. Honestly, as she did it, she scraped me so many times with her teeth that I did not know why people enjoyed head so much. 

“Let me just do your face,” I told her. 

She placed her head against the wall and I started stroking her mouth. It still wasn’t all that wonderful, but it was better than what she had been doing. I liked the spund of her head bumping the wall. 

As she slobbered, in mid stroke, the foyer door began to open. It was her grandmother. With my pants around my ankles, I ran up the stairs, through her apartment and out the back door. 

Later that night, as I showered, my penis stung from the scrapes left by Lolita’s teeth. Still, I agreed to meet her in the park the very next day for another round of bad head.