I attended a function called Books And Beats last evening at the Charles H. Wright Museum. I heard some fine poetry, live rap and a lecture by Professor Griff, the founder of Public Enemy who talked about his life and his new book ANALYTIXZ .
For the most part, I had a wonderful evening. At the end of the night, I was standing at the edge of the stage, waiting to obtain Professor Griff’s autograph for the books I had purchased, as a former coworker walked by me. I tapped her on the shoulder. She scooted behind the man that was standing in front of me. I tapped her on the shoulder again. When she turned around I realized that it was my former coworker. She had a look of abject terror on her face which was incongruent with such a festive occasion and the ‘history’ between us. She looked up at me and turned away. I looked at her husband, who was standing directly in front of me. He was glaring at me with pursed lips. I tried to diffuse the situation by speaking directly to, reminding him that we had met before and that I had worked with his wife for over twelve years. He tersely affirmed, through clenched teeth, that he remembered. I immediately turned away from him and refocused my attention to getting my books signed by Professor Griff.
As I got in my car and started the engine, my mind went back to the look of terror on my former coworker’s face. While driving home, I recalled a conversation that she and I had, a few years prior, when she asked me to stop emailing her because her husband did not like her interacting with other men. She conceded that day that, since their marriage, he had become very controlling. As time moved forward, she stopped taking work breaks with the rest of us and became very reclusive. My last encounters with her on the job occurred last spring as we were leaving the building where we worked. We were talking about her new job as an examiner. Her husband was waiting for her at curbside. When she spotted him, she stopped talking and ran to the car. As I recall, the husband glared at me that day as I stood at the curb. I realized that she was no longer the ebullient young woman that I had known in the past.
The woman that I encountered last evening had become a prisoner in a relationship with a very controlling spouse; the type of man the late great comedian Rudy Ray Moore-characterized as an “insecure m********a!”
I first met, Baby Girl as a college student working for my employer, as a student aide. I witnessed her transformation from young girl to woman, only to watch Mr. Insecure MF come into her life, erode her self confidence and destroy her self esteem.
That punk she calls her man stood nose to nose with me as he gnashed his teeth and tried to “act tough”. As I write this, I am reminded of something Judge Greg Mathis told his courtroom recently: that “there’s a part of (me) that’s still a thug!” I wanted to collar that fool up as he “fronted me” but I recognized that he was behaving that way because of his insecurities as a husband and ultimately as a man. The situation would have been comical had I been watching it on TV. The situation reminded me of scenarios I’ve watched on The Jerry Springer Show. I knew at that moment had I put on my thug hat and reacted to him in kind, he would have taken it out on her, when they got home. The irony of the situation is: her husband is part of the so called “enlightened crowd” here in Detroit, comprised of entertainers, artist and intellectuals. Unfortunately, the only criterion for admission to that clique appears to be long term friendships.
I owe Baby Girl a debt of service. Years ago, she introduced me to social networking which ultimately led me to the Motown Writer’s Network, blogging and becoming part of other social and professional networks. She took the first picture of me that I uploaded onto the internet. We were friends (at work). We talked or emailed each other almost daily. I developed a paternalistic attachment to her and I was certain that she was on the fast track for a great professional career, a “good man” and a stable home life. I’m not sure what went wrong but I know it occurred after she married Mr. Insecure MF. I suspect that she fell into a situation that many people find themselves in when they decide to make sacrifices to maintain a relationship with someone that is more physically attractive than they believe themselves to be. Baby Girl has what women call a “pretty man” but she continues to ignore the fact that he makes the same stink in the bathroom as everyone else!
My hope is that some of the women of that group reads this and is insightful enough to know who I’m talking about and checks that fool. The women in the group tend to be very concerned about women’s rights but at the same time are focused on their own lives and are not about other people’s bizness. I doubt that they realize that their “friend” is consciously destroying a great woman.
Mr. Insecure MF began dealing with Baby Girl at a time when she was just beginning to understand the nuances of relationships between men and women. Mr. Insecure MF is about ten years older than Baby Girl and more than likely chose her because of her naiveté, being the proverbial wolf in dreadlocks and Afro centric clothing. As another griot of urban America, Judge Joe Brown, frequently laments, men like Mr. Insecure MF are in need of “manhood training”.
I found it ironic that the theme of the night was unity yet Professor Griff and a handful of the other men present at last night’s function were the only ones that looked me directly in the eye and greeted me! There was a time, that eye contact and a firm hand shake were basic tenants of MAN LAW. Today many talk the talk but do not walk the walk. Many younger men, profess to be the best, the brightest, the most politically correct and-most importantly-more “down” than fossils like me but they kid themselves. Hubris is no substitute for real confidence. OH, BRAVE NEW WORLD, OH BRAVE NEW WORLD!