I wanted Brother Crumble to get out of our life, and I had an idea how to do this; I had a magical way of creating farts. I thought that would make him stop coming to our house. During one of our studies, I farted. Ma smacked me on my thigh.
“Ouch!” I said. “I can’t help it if I have to fart.”
My brother and sister thought it was funny when I farted, so I kept doing it.
After the Bible study was over Ma told Dad, “You need to talk to Ce Ce about producing farts when Brother Crumble comes over.”
“Farting is a natural bodily function. If she has to fart, she has to fart.” I wished Brother Crumble could’ve heard Dad defend me.
Sister Shelby was one of Ma’s Jehovah’s Witness friends. She reminded me of Laura’s first grade teacher because she was built like Fred Flintstone too, but her shoulders were even broader; like a linebacker’s. Her complexion was what black folks call blue-black because her skin was so many shades darker than brown. To many in the black community, blue-black was considered ugly.
Ma often invited her Jehovah’s Witness friends over for meals, but they rarely invited her to their homes. One day Sister Shelby was feasting at our house with a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses. My sister Grace and I were like waitresses serving the greedy Witnesses, but with put-downs instead of tips. I poured Sister Shelby her fourth class of overly sweet iced tea. She looked at me and said, “Just look at her. She’s nothing but a little Jezebel.”
I wanted to say, “It’s not my fault you’re fat and blue-black,” but I knew Ma would’ve smacked me in front of everybody. I came close to dumping the pitcher of tea on her lap. Maybe she knew I would grow up and be desired by many men, unlike her.
I had graduated to seventh grade. Austin waited outside. In fourth grade, he’d sent me a note with a ‘no’ and a ‘yes’ box for me to check, asking me to be his girlfriend. I checked ‘no.’ From that day, he vowed to beat me up on the last day of sixth grade.
My teacher stood at the door, her keys in hand. “Ce Ce, let’s go, I have to lock the door.”
Instead of confessing to her what was in store for me, I peeled myself from the chair. Once outside, my knees began to tremble as I saw a mob of students trampling the grass.
“Here she comes, here she comes,” they yelled.
The mob walked behind me. Austin pranced around me like he was an amateur fighter. Some of his moves looked like he was dancing. Tears had dulled my vision but I managed to see my two best friends, Lillie and Valerie. They were cheering the loudest.
I knew Elder Blank was a sex freak. I called him “Elder Bullshit.” His eyes were shifty. He couldn’t talk to an attractive woman and look into her eyes at the same time. Once he spoke from the stage at a service at the Kingdom Hall and said, “You sisters keep tempting the brothers when you wear short dresses. Please dress conservative.” If he could see a woman’s knee caps, he considered the dress too short. Hearing about Daniel’s sexual trysts was probably the biggest sexual thrill he’d ever experienced.
Today was supposed to be the happiest day of my life, but it was far from it. I was seventeen, but I looked twelve. Dad walked me down the aisle to say “I do” to a man I barely knew. Dad was trembling, and I felt like my job was to hold him up. Ma sat on the front row in the Kingdom Hall sobbing; she was losing another child to marriage. Feeling like a scared kid, I wanted to jump on her lap and say, “Mommy, please take me home.”
Damn Neanderthal! I was pissed off. Turning away, I cried quietly into my pillow. I was starting to experience what shrinks call ‘penis envy.’ Some women felt this because some men didn’t seem to feel pain from sex and they got orgasms, even when the women didn’t. And it doesn’t matter if they like the woman or can’t stand her except for sex. A few months of marriage inflated Barry’s thirst for sex. My life felt like a recurring bad dream. My hubby came home from work and plopped on our gold, crushed velvet sofa. The smell of dried sweat made me feel icky.
Red Suit took my hand and slowly spun me around and scanned my body. “You’d be finer if you gained about twenty-five or thirty pounds.”
“I wouldn’t be finer, I’d be fat,” I said. I started to walk away.
“You two ladies come and join me and my friend, Mac Daddy,” White Zoot Suit said.
“No, thank you,” I said. Laura jabbed me in the back with her elbow. “Ouch,” I whispered.
Laura whispered in my ear; her mouth barely moved, like a ventriloquist. “We’re broke and I’m hungry.” Her eyes widened. “They look like money men.” She gave the men a flirty smile.
“A money man wouldn’t have a turkey feather stuck in his hat. They look like pimps to me,” I shot back.
“We would love to join you,” Laura said, while nudging me in my back with her fist.
“Attention all units: subject is a white male, wearing a white tee-shirt and fatta-goo pants.” Officers clicked their car microphones and laughed hysterically through the radio. My supervisor was monitoring the chase. Within seconds she was in the control booth with me. Her Italian olive skin had turned apple red with embarrassment for me. She patted me on the back and said, “Sweetie, the word is fatigues, you know, they’re those green multi-print army pants.” Oh well, I probably set black people back fifty years that day.
Five drill officers were standing over me making jokes about my gyrations. Drill officers were yelling at us. One got in my face nose-to-nose and shouted, “Carson, do you know you’re a fucking nigger bitch?”
“Sir, Yes, Sir.” Calling me a nigger bitch didn’t faze me because I knew the game. He wanted me to freak out so he could flunk me and say I wasn’t emotionally stable enough to handle real crime on the streets.
He went on, “You’re a fucking cunt; did you know that?”
“Sir, Yes, Sir,” I said with a slight smile.
“Get that fucking smile off your face.”
“Sir, Yes, Sir,” I said, still refusing to let him get the best of me.
“Momma, you look hot tonight,” the valet manager said. I walked into the nightclub with a ‘Hello, boys, I’m here’ attitude. The room parted like the Red Sea. The sexy swish in my glide would’ve knocked you over if you were too close. My mane spanked my butt as I strutted.
Years ago, an elderly man gave me the secret to a sexy walk. You switch from side to side with little movements from your arms. A woman struggling to walk sexy has her arms swinging out of control like a spinning windmill. The key was to keep your arms under control and move your butt from side to side, slow and deliberate. Because my legs had a slight curve in them, I didn’t have to practice a lot on my ‘make a man’s tongue wag’ walk. When I was a kid I was called ‘bowlegs,’ my walk looked like a series of sideways figure eights. At the time I didn’t know my wobble would be an asset.
“We’ve been talking to these men for 15 minutes, and they haven’t offered us drinks,” Donna said.
“You know the drill. After five minutes, tell them to move their asses on if they aren’t buying,” I said. “You speak up and tell them. I’m tired of doing all the work.”
Donna was intrigued with a black woman sitting across from us who looked like a transvestite. “Look at her, men have been jockeying her all night. She must be a prostitute,” she said, “What other reason would men be interested in her?”
“If a black woman commands attention, you think she must be a prostitute. Gee, what do you think when men come on to me?”
“Ce Ce, you’re different.”
“You think a woman who fornicates for free is better than a woman who fornicates for pay? I think the paid sinner is smarter.”
“He’d better not lay a hand on you. If he does, I’ll handle him,” Laura said.
“You think you could date a white man?”
She flung her hand at me, “Girl, the only thing white that’s going between my legs is a tampon. Did he do anything to turn you on?”
“He liked for me to sit on his face; and that made me melt.”
“Now I can go for that,” she said. My response intrigued her. “Is his thing big?”
“Not really, but his large tongue makes up for it,” I said.
Laura threw a pillow at me. “You’re so nasty. Does he talk about marriage?”
“Yes he does, but I don’t know if I want to get married. I might get bored.”
I got up to view the body. I felt like my bones were leaving my body through my feet. I collapsed before I got to the casket. I was so dizzy, I couldn’t see. I didn’t know if I was breathing.
Through blurred eyes I saw my brother, who hadn’t spoken to me in several years. “Hey, hey, are you okay?” Some men picked me up and sat me on a chair that was in clear view of the casket.
“I want my momma, where’s mommy?” I was speaking in a little girl’s voice; maybe the emotional trauma caused me to regress mentally. Ma was nowhere in sight. She avoided churches because her Jehovah’s Witness religion taught they have demons in them.
Our conversation was recorded. When the jailor came to take my son back, I read, ‘Property of Los Angeles County Corrections Department’ on the back of his orange jumpsuit. I felt numb. It was a humbling experience for a mother to not own her child.
Ma, my oldest sister, and my nephew flew to L.A. to attend my son’s hearing. Ma lay in bed next to me. I put my head on her bosom and cried like a baby. I wished I could’ve gone back to being six months old.
We say things we don’t mean like, “Just be natural.” Trust me, I tried being natural and folks didn’t like it. I went through a phase when I was studying with some women who professed to be earthly goddesses. They didn’t shave their armpits, legs or pubic areas. Some were so natural they didn’t wear deodorant. Sometimes the odor from their underarms could’ve been used as anesthesia. I decided to try the natural thing. For a while I didn’t shave any of the hair on my body. I went to a natural hot springs in California. The setting was perfect; natural springs for a natural body. The hair peeping out of my underarms looked like afro puffs. I had a real bush coming out of the sides of my bathing suit bottom; it looked like a Chia pet was sprouting down there. Four people were in the hot tub; a black woman and three white people. I lowered my body into the hot tub. The white people were embarrassed to see a real bush woman in America. The black lady looked at me with a wrinkled forehead. As the mouthy soul sista stepped out of the tub she said, “That doesn’t make any goddamn sense. That shit is gross!”
I had episodes where I thought I was going stark crazy. I was in the shower and saw a vision of the sky opening. I felt weak. “Lord, Lord, why is this happening to me?”
“The heavens have opened to you. You’re being anointed.” I felt horrible nausea. I screamed and belted out sounds that hadn’t ever come out of me before. I saw visions of black creatures being purged from my body.
“Jesus, Jesus, get these things off of me,” I screamed. It felt like this went on for hours. I cried for weeks and had no appetite. I was going through a shakedown to rid me of my old self. This process couldn’t happen if I didn’t go into the desert. I avoided taking long showers because that was where He lowered the boom on me.
Some women were probably wondering when I was going to talk about finding my soul mate who completed me. Some women write books about spiritual transformation, and speak about finding him in some exotic country somewhere in the world. I knew women who read those books, and they jetted off to exotic islands to find their soul mates. Finding your soul mate is a wonderful thing, however, I wanted to leave you with the power I found in finding her. I found me: Ce Ce. I shared my journey with you to show you it’s possible to live a happy, prosperous, healthy life with or without acceptance from family, with or without a mate, and with or without children. Because I’m a ‘Me-ro,’ I can teach women how to become She-roes and men to become real Heroes. This way, if you jet off to an exotic island or country—alone or with someone—you’re guaranteed to have a fantastic time.