Time is running out in general and the constructions of our childhoods must be put away. When you see what appear to be grown-ass Americans, talking about their âgirlfriendâ or their âboyfriendâ then what you are seeing is both truth and lies. You are seeing peopleâgrown-ass peopleâstill operating under childhood constructs yet at the same time they consider themselves respectable adults, deserving of our envy.
Here is how you earn my sincere and deep envy: you have devoted community-connections like these peopleÂ and you have the collective economic power of these peopleâand you are living this lifestyle over the age of 40 with vibrant friends over the age of 30 (actually 40). When you are unable to balance these âextremesâ then your lifestyle is yours and it should be sufficient for youâand that sufficiency should not include other people (like me) needing to be envious of you.
Thereâs a line in this Bootsy song you probably never heard of (because you are too young) or youâve forgotten (because you are weak in your old age) when the brother says:
Get on down Bootsy! Get on down you mutha!
You see thatâs an efficient expression of envy and admiration at the same time. (You notice how I purposely associate efficiency and Blackness? ââuncomfortableâ for you?) These are things that Black people do. We make âcontradictoryâ statements for the sake of poetic efficiency. This is Blues talk. Here is a classic line:
I been your dog ever since I been your man.
You see, white people of all skin colors? Thatâs a poetic, âcontradictoryâ statement. What Iâve noticed about Blues men is that they can be dismissed as simpletons (who really can play a guitar)âor they are not dismissed from sitting on your stairs:
She said come on in now, JimmyâŠ
So I was having a voice conversation with a professionally-renowned, talented, sexy, bright Black woman (who is older than 40)âthis is a woman that I have known off and more off for over 20 years. First of all, she has stopped picking up the phone when I call herâbut I still would call on occasion out of disrespect for myself. You see, kids, at a certain age you stop picking up the phone not because you have something âbetterâ to do. You stop picking up the phone because you get tired of running over the same shitty-but-infertile ground over and over againâŠ
A phone call from me lately will likely be that same shitty conversation. You would do well to avoid it (you think). But the very point of my call is about how well you are doing (in view of time running out). Hereâs the thesis statement in the wrong part of this paragraph: âpoorâ people get out of touch with each other usually because they are tired of realizing through interactions with others that they are âpoor.â (On the other hand, ârichâ people love to get in contact with you and each other because they want to be reminded of how ârichâ they are.) In my world, because of the Blackness, most of the people with whom Iâve had those long-time friendships are âpoorâ (many of them made to be poor)âand, unlike my Negro counterparts, I did not go âcolorblindâ and replace these âlosersâ with ârichâ (often younger and dumber) people. In racial terms, this would be the gentrification of friendship.
Back to the voice conversation with one of my âpoor friendsââI eventually got angry with her picking up the phone and talking to me (which sounds like a crazy âcontradictionâ). In my anger, I said to her, âI am the greatest man you ever met.â (A social-suicidal/self-preservational attempt to end the conversation. Permanently.) She held herself together and responded, âYou are a great manâŠâ and she let the words trail off so I filled in the rest of what I assume she would say without speaking. I said (without speaking):
You are a great man but I have met men who are greater than you.
Now what I did actually say to her was that she should be busy with living her life, surrounded by great men and womenâmen and women clearly greater than I. Almost every time I would encounter her, the meeting should represent an interruption by brutish me. I should be slightly intruding on her great life filled with the radiance of at least one great personâa person greater than me.
This long-time friend of âmineâ is too mature and economical to waste lies on me. She is not the kind of childish woman to put on too much makeup to conceal herself from people who donât deserve the time it takes to sit in front of the mirror. So we both know that there is no one in her intimate, daily life at the moment (and many, many moments before that). Like most Black women with shitty-but-honorable jobs, her daily life is dominated by shitty, colorless authority figuresâwho should not be within 100 kilometers of my friend because of their barbarian toxicity. So, in context of her intimate, daily life I am the greatest man she has ever metâbut I am not so âgreatâ that I can make all the shitty people go away.
So these âfriendlyâ phone calls from me are self-appointed wake-up calls. Too many black people on social media are young peopleâyounger than 30. This is a 21st-century indicator of what has been happening en masse since the 1970s. What happens after 30 for black singles is largely a kind of self-imposed exile, a going into hidingâwhich from my (personal, family) point of view results in premature death. I am old enough to have seen the complete lifecycle of the black womanâand I am no longer pretty enough to play the court jester, pretending not to see what I think I am seeing because we are all young and carefree. What I am seeing are my friends slowly dyingâalong with myselfâand not one âpermissionâ article written by some millennial kid at blavity.com can help us.
So it should be no surprise that my conversational relationship with women is almost completely absent from my life at the moment (and many, many moments before thisâas I have been over 40 for almost a decade). The young single women that I have had access to are boring and deeply misinformedâmany of them subconsciously determined to have children rather than adult relationships invested in continual self-improvement. And the âoldâ single women within reach (typically) wonât pick up the phone because they are deeply informed (some of them âknowâ itâs too late for them after a lifetime of not-so-great habitsâespecially eating habits) and really donât need a grey-haired wake-up call from me (which can be reduced to emotional abuse in many circumstances).
Actually, they do need the wake-up call from me because I am the greatest man they have ever met.
âŠThese âcontradictionsâ are so tiresome. I clearly claim that I am trying to âhelpâ people with evangelical behaviors that clearly encourage people to avoid me. And whatâs worse is that the American need to be so evangelical about all of these secular, pseudo-scientific, shitty things is my personal pet peeve. So now I understand yet again why âpoorâ people drift apart and never talk to each other foreverâŠ Weâll only come together when some ârichâ white guy gives us âpermissionâ âŠin other words, âfriendsââŠ see you on Facebookâbecause I am not going to your 21st-century plastic Church.
So, while I have my own personal definition of pathetic (which is actually superior to my current situation), I am sure any red-blooded Americanâeven the ladies I am referring to in these words slapped down hereâwould think I am engaging in more joking and I donât really know what is sensual and naturally vitalâas well as what is truly intellectual. What these people fail to hear from me (or anyone) is the Blues talk. I reserve the right to be serious and joking at the same time. I am both trying to be removed and present simultaneously:
Iâm a million miles awayâŠ yet at the same time Iâm right hereâŠ
In yoâ picture frameâŠ
That sounds weird to you? Then you are also failing to understand what millions of sad people taking antidepressants are trying to do.
So, again, based on what you are reading here, I must be incapable of nuanced emotions and detecting the subtle signals from others. So clearly I can only feel the simple, brutish emotions like envy. In that case remember, I âenvyâ you when you have something that looks like this:
âŠwith the collective economics dramatized by people standing in a kitchen that looks like this:
Not getting any envy energy from me may prompt you to assume a whole bunch of things except for what I am struggling to write down here.
Let me struggle with one more thing (wow, I havenât blogged like this in a while). I must confess that I am a child of the radical 1970s. I truly assumed that economic class divides were a thing of the American pastâespecially among people of color. This could not be farther from the truthâmy truth through personal experience. What this means, in terms of the black-women friends/contacts Iâve known for years, is that Iâve experienced two extremes (no middle class): I can ask a âpoorâ sister whether she owns a damn bicycle and I am suddenly under the impression that I am making her feel like how I would feel when a ârichâ sister assumes I can just pick up a plane ticket to maybe have a coffee with her in a foreign country for a few minutes during her vacation.
I have learned the hard, hard way that ignoring the class roles/prisons people are seriously devoted to could end tragically. I think I can still be egalitarian but I will no longer insult myself in the process for the sake of the oppression of black people made confused by the evils of the Babylon System.