Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rites of Passage

en are wonderful, magnificent and lovable creatures. They are our heroes, our hunter-gatherers, and our beasts of burden. They come in all shapes, sizes and personalities with individual physical traits and varying degrees of abilities and savvier fare.  We as women love our men. I love men. We love their sexiness, sensuality and all things provocative. And although they are much the same in these traits, they have a couple of others that may not be as endearing to us and it is an undeniable fact that they can do quite a bit of “jive talking” and “messin around”.

I was no stranger to the flirtatious overtures from other men. They would approach me anywhere; at work, while out shopping or pumping gas. They would act like they didn’t see my wedding band and diamond on my left hand, or they just chose to ignore it. Some would even comment on how they knew my husband was a happy man being married to all that, or that they knew I was sweet just because I smelt good, and occasionally someone would get really bold and say something like “baby I wanna treat you like a lollipop and lick you all over.” And then they would try to touch me…just trying to hold my hand or stroke my long hair…nothing to make me feel physically threatened.

The hopefully amorous dude would approach me walking with a “pimp” in his stride, while caressing and stroking his own beard or mustache, lean up against a wall or something and penetrating through an invisible wall of Canoe cologne, he would give me his best come-on spiel. One of my favorite jive talking lines was “Hey Brown Sugah…if you let me take you out not only will I rock yo world, but I will make you feel likes we was the only ones in it.” After having supposedly wooed me with this compliment, he would adjust his aviator sunglasses, hunch up his shoulders and give a hearty “sniff sniff’ while awaiting my inevitable swoon from being overcome with anticipation. If things got really exciting, one of his other women would come on the scene, and it was hilarious to watch him do some serious back pedaling!

 Now, please know that I misspelled some words for emphasis because I want you to picture how it went and how he sounded…you know …put you on the scene. Remember this was at a time when the men wore fancy jewelry (gold chains, bracelets, and rings) and very large hats. The 1970’s action movie “Superfly” starring Ron O’Neal inspired many a man to start wearing long colorful coats and sporting a walking cane just to add that little special touch to the image of a sharply dressed, jive talking, man of the world. I met a man just like this at a very vulnerable age and lost my tender heart to him.

My fascination with this man of the world nearly cost me my graduation during my senior year in high school. He was of course older, and not exactly an upstanding citizen, and I was your typical “goody two shoes” who was drawn to a “bad boy” like a magnet. Needless to say, I had a serious Love Jones for him and because I did everything I could do to get his attention, I subsequently got myself into a boatload of trouble on more than one occasion. But in my seventeen year old mind it was like totally worth it; sort of like going through days of torture for about four hours a week with him. Doesn’t that sound absolutely pathetic? Thankfully I can laugh about my escapades now, but at the time my heart was on my sleeve and I was wearing it for him.

I call these events in life rites of passage. There are some things we just have to experience first hand, and we have to have some things in our past to look back on and have a great big laugh over, and to share with our friends as we stroll mentally back in time. And actually, these events are terrific learning tools, for if we didn’t live through them and go through the pain and heartache, fall in and out of love a zillion times; what would we talk about in our golden years?

My Mother was a great parent in that she kept our clothes immaculate, kept a spotless house, and cooked delicious meals. She was a wonderful woman and I loved her dearly (still do), but she didn’t teach me about life. She was a product of her generation and at this time in my life when I needed to know about personal things, and about boys and about “feelings” I could not openly talk to her. Most of the stuff I needed to know as a young girl coming into womanhood I learned from other people. But she had her tender moments with me, and I have never felt unloved because she didn’t talk to me about “the birds and the bees”.

We all grow up in different ways and in different stages of development. Parenting methods have always been a mix of doing what we think is best, driven by our gut instincts, a lot of prayer, trial and error guesswork. So there were other things I learned from her that were valuable and important and they shaped me and gave me values that could have come from no one else but her. I still live by these values and will treasure her memory always.

Rites of passage and family traditions can instill and nurture us through our lives and keep us on the right paths. Without them we would be lost and with them we are so much the better for it.

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