This world does not leave much to be savored, especially as a black woman living in a whitewashed political world with melodramatic rules that don't apply to us or "our kind," or even our culture, and whose destiny it was not to be Oprah,, or even Ms Vernelle Marshall, who played piano and organ at our AME church down south when I was in the kid's and youth choirs.
However, checking out now does leave me with some experiences I have had that no one I know or have ever known, have had or ever will have.
I am proud to say that I have been in the close-up presence of greatness on more than one occasion during this journey, including some of the most upstanding black men and women down in the southern and easternmost parts of America who were teachers, preachers, administrators, and business owners at a time when no matter how far we came in this struggle against American racism, they were still known as "n-words" to the majority white public. Today, to watch the President of the United States and his Republican haters and Tea Party klan members, it isn't hard to see that not much has changed since that time.
As racist aswas when he was alive, he couldn't even get past today's Republican Party.
I remember the day thattook the legislation for the Martin Luther King Jr Day holiday, went to Washington DC, walked it into Reagan's office, and stuck it under his nose, nearly daring him not to sign it. That ticked Arizona off real bad, and they were still the last on the bus to implement the holiday, which they still greatly ignore to this day.
Our older folk used to have a running not so funny 'joke' that nothing we did would ever be good enough for "their kind" unless we were singing, buck dancing, or playing sports and fiddles to turn them into billionaires off our backs, just like in the 17- and 1800s. Turns out the old folk couldn't have been closer to the truth if it jumped up, slapped them, and capped them.
If we moved the bar, they raise it higher. If we jumped over an obstacle, they would find another place to put it. If we surpassed their "rules" that only folks of color had to live by, they changed them -- thus easily explaining today's "birther movement" and the laws now being written on voter suppression and how to stop another black man with a foreign-born father from Africa from becoming President.
However, they would then have to specify no "fer'ners with daddies who came from Africa" in the law because it would takeoff the poll menu due to his family being illegal immigrants from Mexico and all. He's opposing The Black Man in the White House, though; so he'd be the only "anchor baby" welcome in Arizona. If President Obama said the sky was blue, those Teabagging Ronald Reagan-worshiping idiots would call him a racist against white clouds.
That said ...
I know of no one else who single-handedly built a multi-million dollar law firm without the advantage of having a law degree, or who once earned a six-figure salary without benefit of having an advanced degree at all.
Of course, I also know no one else who saw two lawyers so greedy that when they saw the big bucks rolling in legitimately, they decided it was alright to cheat the people who funded their escrow account. And having been taught well by some of the greatest lawyers in the southern US, I also knew that what they were doing was going to lead them somewhere that I didn't want to go. I ditched them and let it be known far and wide that I had nothing to do with any of it. The Karma Bus has finally caught up with them, I'm happy to report.
They are both now under investigation by the state attorney general and I can proudly say there is no way I can be implicated in the fraud they committed. My attempts to talk them out of it were of to avail, and I have known many like them since who are not fit to lick the dirt off the bottom of my household Crocs.
That said ...
I'm the only black woman of all the ones I know, who is only one degree, not six degrees, separated from every famous person in the world. A few of them still stay in touch with me after many years. I won't drop names like one particular German-Californian cow I know of who is all smoke and no fire; but suffice it to say, I "touched heaven" two days ago and still haven't dropped to the ground. A half-hour conversation with a prolific and world-famous performer and musician that I have admired and "personality loved" since I was 11 years old will do that.
No reason to stay around now--that's the closest I can come on this earth to touching heaven itself; and I know heaven isn't anything like the hell this earth attracts and dwells in.
I've met and talked to the highest, made friends with the wives of bankers, local leaders, and still won't infringe on those friendships. They are sacred to me; however, getting a call from this particular one two days ago left me breathless and filled with the first real emotion I've felt in more than three years.
I grew up down home with southern charmers and polite society, so I had to contain myself and remember that we were taught not to address people by their first names unless invited to do so. Emily Post etiquette is still the standard back east, and these fellas, their mom and dad raised them right and righteous. The man was a pure charm, though, so when I slipped and screamed his first name the moment I heard his voice, he was gracious about it and put me on first name basis immediately.
Years and years of fame and celebrity, and of shaking hands with everyone fromto musical studio collaborations with "my" Prince, and he was just as humble as an old fishing codger from the southern gulf part of Alabama; and just as sweet.
I am not a celebrity hawker, but my skin could have melted off and I'd not have noticed it. This is real old-school talent, back when you had to actually sing and/or play an instrument, and maybe even dance, not booty-shake, to get discovered.
That is the kind of thing that angers me with the likes of a Kim Kardashian or one of those "Anna Nicole Smith" types like her, who are nothing more than overblown hype coming from bottom-feeding Holly-drama artists who are more fascinated with looks, people's toes, and what's beween their fishy crotch legs than they are with real talent.
Back in the day, a lot of those singers and artists didn't look so hot, especially without makeup; and they were even uglier when they got their mouths open to sing, but they didn't have to shake a thing, nor act a fool to get attention ... because all their fans wanted them to do was open their mouths and sing, or pick up an instrument and play--nobody gave an eff what they looked like.
Today, FlavOFlav would not be accepted in Hollywood; he came into the business at a time between real talent and today's fake talent, so he slid in under the ' pretentious and flaming gay-dar' that has taken over most of today's Hollywood.
I've spent a lifetime watching people who earned their way into the business through hard work and real god-given talent, so those noise-making, staying in people's business, legs-up-in-the-air-s*x-fetish videoho dingdongs don't deserve to breathe the same air that the Glorious Ones breathe. But of course, they've got their similarly less-talented dingdongs, like attention hogging, Autotuned Beyonce and her barefaced ugly husband JayZ, dragging them along for the ride, certainly in exchange for multiple "favors."
I had to laugh aloud when I heard the insider gossip that got passed along about something Prince said to Beyonce about real musicians at a party. It came from a reliable source, so I knew her face was poker red even if it peeled off the clay mask on her jiggly face. But at the same time, he paid a high compliment to another artist whom I don't love, because her voice is too high-pitched and screechy for me to hear it well, but she's one of the younger folks with old-school talent, so, whoomp, there it is.
The "real deal" called me Friday morning, and ever since I was a little girl in the sixties and heard their first hit record on WOKS-AM, Ft Benning (they laid on mountains of gold and platinum afterward), I never imagined for a moment that I would have his full attention on the phone one day.
He rolled back from time to time to talk to his brother, whom he was visiting, and while listening to that "other" famous voice in the background as we spoke, I only became more hyper. I wanted badly to act like a teenager and forget that we are both in the same age range now and are both grandparents, but I kept it together for the most part. They are in concert tonight back east and then are on their way out here, where an uncle lives, so he told me. I guess it didn't take them long to figure out how far and fast a star can fall if one becomes too arrogant, but even that is no longer true. Humility is not a redeeming characteristic of many of today's showcasers.
I once had an email war with one of the former cast members of The Cosby Show, and I still hate him now. I spent nearly an hour on the phone talking to two of the ladies from The Real Housewives of Atlanta, had a sweet email conversation with a former child star who is now a movie producer, keep in close contact with the leader of a world-famous band who lives near the best guitarist in the world sincedied, and I've attended the victory party of a certain winning Congressman who sits in Washington DC now, and knows President Obama personally. It was funny how he saw me later and remembered me. I wonder if he uses me in war stories from time to time about what made me so memorable to him. LOL.
I have had the most charming conversations with one daytime television star who now does weddings and parties for celebrities, and a couple of famous authors, one who lives in London. They still remember me when I call "just to say hello."
I am the only black woman that I know of who has sat at tables with bank presidents and millionaires doing multiple million-dollar commercial deals and knew the business so well that my attorney "trusted me" and walked out of several meetings, thus leaving me in charge to wrap his wheeler-dealer legal details.
And oh for anyone to be a fly on the wall when one of my bosses offered me a $1,000 raise after I'd been working with him for nearly two years, and I told him to keep it. He'd never heard of anyone turning down a raise, I suppose. He came running into my office, for fear that I was highly insulted and would pack it up and leave, and offered me a much better deal. He never tried that lowball pitch shyte on me again after that.
Then, there was the job interview of a lifetime, when I charmed the socks off a "meany boss" who tried to intimidate me and everyone else. He had to pinch back a grin and leave the room to maintain his composure when I got done with him. I could see him standing in a corner laughing his head off, and when he came back, serious and sourpussed again, he told me to go wait with the only other three people who were hired that day.
He'd ran everyone else off by acting a complete butt, but there were only four jobs open and 130 people, mostly black like me, standing in line trying to get at them.
I knew my business that well at one time, but now it's all lost and faded into the scant memories of old times, and old jobs that I held over a nearly 40 year period went with them. I can't even remember how to do that kind of work any more; constant illness and something that often gets too close to Alzheimer's for me is starting to take over.
But I watched Forest Gump again, for the 79th time and listened to his unbelievable story as he sat on that bus bench until the very end of the movie; and I still laugh when he pulls out that cover of Fortune magazine on the old lady who was listening to him and didn't believe a word he said until she saw it for herself. In the real world, I knew the feeling of not being believed; but I don't care any more. God knows, I know, and that's all that matters now. Like the character Forest, played by Tom Hanks, the time comes now to run and keep running; and never to stop running until I reach the Star of the Ages.
I am the only black woman that I know of who can pick up a telephone and call a certain retired banker who started many innovative financial deals "down south," and he still recognizes my voice the instant I say Hello. He loves to hear from me, and sounds like he's sincere about it when I call every few years. But the last time I talked to him back when I lived in Atlanta, I had an issue with AT&T about a bill I had been overcharged for. He made one call and I got free phone service for three months, and a partial credit in the fourth.
I and my boys were the first black family to join his totally all-white community church back in the '80s. His wife used to bake us bran muffins and make us homemade strawberry preserves and bring them to our little cottage on Second Avenue so we could sit in my livingroom and chat it up. And no, I did not know who any of those people were when I joined that church, it was just a place I wanted to be at the moment and they welcomed us with open arms--the 'nice lady with the four little boys'. Then they started introducing themselves, and I was dumbfounded. They all looked like overall-wearing backwood southern hicks with not a dime to their names. The richest people in the world, I discovered, don't act like it.
I am the only black woman that I know of who spent an entire charming evening with one of Miss Lillian Carter's best friends, listening to her talk about her confederate soldier daddy and her Father in Heaven, whose photos hanged together on her bedroom wall. Down south, it was no small thing, nor was it a joke to sit and swing in a lawn porch rocker with a little old white lady well into the night and hear the stories I heard about the Civil War, and her daddy, "the Colonel," of whom she had a few old sepia-toned photographs to remember him by.
I understood the times, so it was no insult to listen to her talk about how she stood up to him so many times about the Confederacy and the damage that it was wreaking on black people's lives. She had some significant fights with "daddy Colonel", to hear her tell it. There could be nothing but respect for her under those circumstances; and last I checked on her, she was celebrating her 101st birthday and looked not much older than the last time I saw her. She's a real fighter who will hang on to the last.
My oldest sister had to come out to the porch and break it up late into the shank of the evening, because we were laughing and hawing it up like we'd known one another for an entire lifetime. It was then that it hit me that President James Earl "Jimmy" Carter had not grown up taught by the self-centered abusive racist lying whites like the ones I've met in Arizona. What I could see of him on television was genuine and sincere. It was just the way he is, like him or hate him. And what was even more charming was that "Little Ol' Missy's" son was the town drunk, much like the character "Otis Campbell" offame (may they all rest in peace).
She was no "sweet" Aunt Bee, though; she was a cussing so-n-so that said she spent so much "g.d." time working with the federal government, that after retiring 30 years later, she no longer gave a "rat's patooty" (my word, not hers) what anyone thought of her cursing. Time has brought her attitude my way, though; because I've noticed that as I get older, I don't give a rat's arse myself any more.
"Swearing Aunt Bee" knew everything and everybody in those parts, and I will carry the childhood secrets that she told me about "Little Jimmy" to my grave, though I still giggle from time to time at the very idea. This little town, Plains, GA, was so much like the fictional Mayberry, NC, that their police cars still had those single round halo bump lights on top of them long after the police departments in Atlanta had upgraded. But we were the grandchildren of an old black man in the south who couldn't walk down the street and not be recognized, and who still knew us when they saw us long after our grandfather died. Maybe I picked up his ways somewhere along the way about talking to good people, no matter who they are.
In the circle of drunken drug-addicted lying and thieving Arizona low-lifes that I spent too much time around because I forgot who I was for a moment, these have been the redeeming highlights, along with several others that I won't need to mention.
It is easy to ditch and toss into the trash can those who don't amount to much in life and will never walk where I have been, even if they knocked themselves in the arse trying; but these bigger folks who are destined to live their dreams and the folks they've introduced me to in the meantime, are precious to me.
I thank God for putting me in their pathways and helping them not to cross me off in their history books as "just another fan." They know my voice whenever I call, and that makes me feel good; because they've got too many names and voices to remember. However, I'd always been known to keep up an engaging and memorable conversation, even with complete strangers; and the truly good ones, I am glad to say, stuck to me and with me like flypaper.
The Bible says "a wo'man's gift makes room for them and brings them in the presence of great men/women."
I can attest to it.
My cup is filled and overflowing. So, it is with a strange mixture of sadness and gladness that I can say I just really no longer have a reason to hang around after that last phone call.
But he's headed my way in a few days, so maybe just for a few more...