EB: Giving ’em the business!

Brain dumps from the original Bonehead.

Getting Beasted?

This is the story of a child that didn't know how far was too far.  It was an overnight business trip to Philly with my boss about three years ago. 

I know, Poca, I know…

Five A.M. meet up at the airport, we go in and execute the training, five P.M. the following evening we're outta there.  A job well done, if I do say so myself.  Here's where the action begins.  Me and the boss had seperate seats for the ride back and I found myself sitting next to a nine-year-old child traveling alone.  Smart kid, funny, sociable…  I'm sure his parents bragged about him to no end.

Maybe an hour into the flight the kid gets bored with his video game, pulls out a deck of cards and invites me to play.  Since we didn't play any of the same games he offered to teach me one of his favorites – some game I'd never heard of but bore a vague resemblance to rummy.  Being that he was only nine I wasn't expecting a detailed explanation of the game which was a good thing because I didn't get one, he showed me some basics of play and apparently figured he'd demonstrate the rest on me instead of to me.  It got ugly, and fast!  I lost game after game, sometimes not even by a respectable score.  I really couldn't care less since I was coming back from a business trip where I'd performed admirably; what does it matter if a kid that I met during a little 3-hour flight got his shine off against me in a card game that I'd never even heard of before?  Well, then the little prick opened his mouth.

Say again?

First it was a little laughter in-between hands.  I suppose laughing at a defeated opponent wouldn't qualify as being a gracious victor, but whatever.  Then it became more laughter.  Then some taunting…  "Dude, you suck!", that sort of stuff.  I could hear the echo of a fearsome banging from inside a cage somewhere deep within me but I still played it cool; gave him my best Bruce Willis smirk.  It wasn't much of a warning but it was the best I could do – anything I would've said back would likely have been incindiary.

Bring it on you little motherfucker!!

Uhm.  Yeah, something like that.  Things were a little different for me when I came up.  It was still ok to talk trash but there were rules: 1) Be careful, because you never know who you're fucking with, and 2) Never, ever, ever spit game you can't back up.  You've got to be ready to have your bluff called and then there's no more time for words, it's put up or shut up.  Upon his next win he enthusiastically shouted out "I Beasted You!!" and the smirk was frozen.  Did he say bested?  No, he said beasted.  Pupils dilated.  The 2×4 holding that cage shut snapped like a twig…

Demon, unleashed.

To me, my competitive streak is like a personal demon.  There are times when it used to absolutely consume me.

Go get 'em, boy!

Oh yes, another job well done – I dedicated every brain cell in my power to putting a mean one on this little boy and at the end I beat him like he was my kid… and I talked hot, stinkin', dirty, nasty shit the whole way through and you know what? it was kinda fun!  He wanted to talk like a man so he got beat like a man and I didn't feel bad about it at all.  I took a page out of a friend's playbook and declared the final game "The Man" game; the loser would have to humiliate himself each and everytime the question 'Who's The Man?' was asked. 

Just after landing my Demon was admiring the new notch on his belt as I tucked him back into his cage, and the boy gleefully put his cards back into his knapsack.  Before we disboarded I kneeled down and asked one last time before I never saw him again…  Who's The Man? 

-E

April 28, 2006 Posted by | Random Ramblings | 3 Comments

Get Your Evil On.

Go ahead, you know you want to!  It's in us – somehow, in some way, it's in us.  It's the whole reason that we attentively watch skateboarders when we go to the park.  It's the reason everybody slows down to get a good look at the carnage of a roadside auto wreck when, instead, they could speed by; but very few pull over to go help.  It's the part deep down inside that knows you love your kitty but still wants to throw her like a fucking shot put when she rips up your furniture again.  Watching someone slip and bust their ass is always funny unless they get hurt… right?

Turn out your fist and stick out your pinky and stick that little fingertip into the corner of your mouth 'cause you know you got some in ya'.  Let's get this out in the open where everybody can see it: It's ok!  A kind, elderly woman on the phone once commended me for having "the patience of a saint" all the while, completely unaware of the many many folk that I've choked out in my day.  Hey, it happens. 

Yo!  Remember that guy that was squirming so much that when he tapped out you didn't realize it until he started flailing with his leg??

Heh.  Yeah.  Wait, where was I?  Right – the evil thing!!  Ok, it's like this: way back in high school one of my teachers came to class with a list of famous quotations.  He had no intention of requiring us to memorize the stuff but he did want us to think about each one and discuss them.  What was so special about each quotation that of all the utterances throughout the history of man, these survived the test of time?  One of the quotes he gave us was from the ancient Greek: Metron Ariston, meaning 'moderation is best'.  Evil… Moderation…  Put it all together.  Balance achieved through the intertwining of extremes. 

Kinda like that old song lyric about a whore in the bedroom but a lady in the street?

Why why why do I keep letting you in here??  I'm just saying it's cool.  Be the hero.  Go get a white horse to ride and be prince charming if you want.  Fuck it – why not go all the way and just be Shrek!  But don't forget to get dirty once in awhile.  You can try to be perfect if you want, and you won't be the first to fail – so don't go hard on yourself when you do, but believe me it's alot easier if you just haul off and bitchslap somebody every so often.  It'll help you stay balanced.  Trust me, I know these things!  😉

-E

April 27, 2006 Posted by | Random Ramblings | 1 Comment

By Request: Playing A Bad Hand.

A while back I was talking with a close friend about playing Spades.  Spades is a card game involving four players divided into two teams of two.  He and I played as partners for years and we took our show on the road – for a good while not only did we play within our circle of friends but we traveled all over our metro area looking for new opponents.

Mind you, we're not talking about chess or Stratego or even checkers for that matter, we're talking about a game where cards are shuffled and dealt and therefore the luck element cannot be ignored.  Since he and I were somehow born gifted with reliably bad luck at card games, we often played the role of that one-legged man in the ass kicking contest… it wasn't easy but we still kicked alot of ass! 

Ok – here he comes with this D.H. Lawrence thing again…

I don't know where I first heard the expression adversity builds character but whoever said that was a damn genius.  I know that problems are problems are problems, and that one man's famine could be another man's feast, but have you ever met someone that never had to wonder where they would live or how they would feed their family?  Someone that never had to make decisions that would ultimately determine survival?  I have.  I've met this person as he bore different faces, time and time again.  He can be just as good-hearted of a person as the one standing to his left but in some deep, dark corner of his spirit he knows that his mettle has not yet been tested. 

When you draw the connections inside your head and see each thing as being more than a thing but as an interconnected cog in a microcosm of all things, your view of the events unfolding around you changes.  You become less likely to throw your hands up and say "Oh lordy why me???" and instead you tuck your chin down and apply the talents and gifts that you have.  You take the hand you're dealt and you play it; you take that one lonely trump card and you play it; you count and you scheme and you pimp a 10-of-hearts all the way around the table if you have to because it's all you've got.  You just find a way.

Damn, I miss that game.

-E

April 26, 2006 Posted by | Personal Revelations | 3 Comments

Why’d you kick me?

A wise man once said “Don’t rub the lamp if you don’t want the genie to come out” and, although overly simplified, the wisdom in that statement is undeniable.  I’ve long held the opinion that just as no one should be able to make you do something against your will, no one should be held accountable for the choices you make.  For instance, just a short while ago a friend told me how pissed off she was at a particular towing company in the city; when I asked why she said her car had been towed and subsequently broken into and she lost thousands of dollars worth of goods.  I then asked why was the car towed and she said she had hundreds of dollars in unpaid parking tickets.  My response: “Well, I guess paying those tickets would’ve been cheaper huh?”  As I understand it, that response qualifies me as being a dick. 

That response?  That response?!  Asshole.

Accountability, or at least the lack thereof, is something I’ve always found puzzling; this is likely because I learned it at an early age.  I try to pick up life lessons from all around me as I meander along and this whole accountability thing was expressed to me decades ago at that very same Tae Kwon Do school where I learned that I was gifted with the ability to absorb a pretty impressive beating.  One day while sparring in class, a guy got kicked in the nuts and he was pissed!  My instructor stopped us all to give the guy a minute to regroup.  Upon seeing that the kid who got kicked was eager to fight again, Alonzo instead wanted to talk to us all and make sure we understood what had just happened:

“You have no reason to be upset with that man.  It’s not his fault that he kicked you in the balls.
What??
It’s not his fault.
It’s not his fault he kicked me in the nuts?
No it’s not.  It’s your fault.
But how is that possible, sir??  I didn’t kick myself.
You didn’t kick yourself, but you did make a mistake.  Then, you allowed your opponent to exploit the mistake you made.
  …puzzled look…
Look.  If you’re a man and he’s a man then anything he can do to you, you can do right back to him.  But also, there is nothing he can do to you that you can’t take action to prevent.  You are just as capable as him or any other guy in this room and none of us can take advantage of you unless you allow us to do so.  Now tell me – why did he kick you in the groin?
  …pause…
So it's my fault because I didn’t block?
Right.  And if I tried to kick you in the groin right now what would you do about it?
I’d block it.
Good!  Everyone line up!  Face your partners and bow out…"

Just that quickly, that young boy and the rest of us that were paying attention in class, all got a brief glimpse of what accountability is all about.  Going back to the example earlier where my friend’s car got towed, that really is a sticky one because, unlike my classmate, she had no opponent.  The argument could even be made that the outcome was far less foreseeable than a foot to the jewels but, her devout refusal to feed the meter for months ultimately had consequences that she did not care to face.

If you listen closely you can hear Sir Issac Newton somewhere far off in the distance shouting 'checkmate in three'; it ain’t just physics, baybee.

-E

April 24, 2006 Posted by | Random Ramblings | 2 Comments

The Single Girl’s To-Do List

The other day while driving to work, two local lady DJs were discussing this article they saw in Cosmopolitan about a list of 20 things every single girl should do before getting into a serious relationship.  Interested?  Hell yeah!  It certainly wouldn't be the same as, say, planting a mic in the girls locker room but I still think of a discussion like this as a potentially educational opportunity. 

While trying to find the article online I came across another interesting looking article on Cosmo/iVillage called Why He Goes Psycho Before He Gets Serious. Remind me and I'll come back for that one later…  Anyway, I started looking for similar content elsewhere because, as we all know, very little magazine content is original.  Since the stuff gets recycled every few months I was pretty certain I'd be able to find similar content elsewhere and BAM – along comes handbag.com. Their article, get this, is called 10 Things To Do Before Saying 'I Do'.

Boy, you really lucked out on that one huh?

At first I thought it could just as well be advice for men, but coming from a website called HANDBAG I figured the odds were in my favor.  Ok, no more stalling here's the list:

  1. Travel alone: Nothing feels as incredible as completely losing yourself in another country. Whether you stay a day or a year, give yourself the opportunity to experience the freedom of being utterly alone…you'll never feel so self-reliant or in control of your own destiny. And while you're at it…
  2. Have a holiday fling with someone who speaks not a word of English. Surely every woman's fantasy. No need to explain why you need him out of your bed by 10am…and he wouldn't understand you anyway. A swift kick should dislodge him from under your duvet.
  3. Acquire a hobby: It's time to indulge your interests – whether they include paper mache or parachuting. So what if your passion for collecting novelty tea cosies means trekking several hours to Swansea for their annual cosy-swap? Once you're married, you'll treasure the 'me time' that your hobbies will bring you, even if what you love is something as simple as meeting girlfriends for a monthly book club meeting.
  4. Live on your own: No, not with Ma and Pa. Not with flatmates. And certainly not with your bloke. Spend at least one three-month stretch living completely alone. If you don't already, you'll learn to love your own company – an important lesson for every woman. And if you're planning on staying married and having children, you may never have this chance again!
  5. Devote time to charitable causes: Figure out what it is you truly believe in – whether it's animal rights or resettling refugees. Spending a couple of hours each week making a difference in the community can put into perspective the everyday issues we all tackle in our relationships.
  6. Meet someone online: Create a profile, attach a photo, and let the worldwide web work its magic. Once you're married, it's unlikely you'll be in the market for an internet hook-up so make hay while the sun shines.
  7. Cry yourself to sleep: Experience heartache. Wallow in its agony. Learn to get over it and how to move on.  Knowing what real pain feels like will make you a better partner.
  8. Learn useful things: Don't rely on the other people in your life to know how to change the tyre on your car, cook dinner for six, or back up your hard drive. Put your brain to good use.
  9. Live dangerously: Do things on a whim. While you don't have someone at home worrying about you, get wildly drunk, dance on tables, catch the train to Paris and stay up all night. Or learn scuba diving, start your own business…take risks!
  10. Spend lots of money on something foolish: There's plenty of time for being sensible when you're married. Providing you actually have the funds to cover it, go nuts in Harvey Nicks, throw an enormous cocktail party for your friends, buy those Jimmy Choos you love in EVERY colour, or treat yourself to a disgustingly expensive haircut. You have nobody to answer to but yourself.

And there you have it.  So, a few observations:

  • The column was written by a Brit, that much is obvious.  Not that it matters much but some flexibility for cultural differences should be accounted for when considering this article.
  • Travel alone, have a fling, live alone, test your hottie rating with online dating, learn useful stuff and live dangerously… well, the pattern there is pretty apparent but what makes that particularly good advice for single women?
  • While I appreciate the asswhippings I've endured because, in hindsight, I understand that they ultimately made me a stronger man, I have no idea why anyone would recommend having your heart broken.  Sure, crossing the finish line feels sweet but DAMN that's one shitty race to have to run.
  • And the last one about spending lots of money on something foolish – on the radio their variant of the article said you should "max out your credit cards" before getting married.  Uhm, if I started on that one it'd take all day and I've momentarily misplaced my 10-foot-pole…

So what's the verdict?  Is this really great advice and I'm just too testosterone-blind to realize it?  Help me out, folks.

 -E

April 23, 2006 Posted by | Relationships | 2 Comments

By Request: The N Word.

A friend asked if I had ever written up anything specifically addressing 'the N word' and I told her no.  We discussed the whole "-a" versus "-er" topic regarding how Nigg is applied and, seperately, the concept of "claiming" the word through desensitization.  And, of course, let us not forget the Sticks & Stones school of thought.  This is probably going to be one of those things that I write and I end up having second thoughts for days and weeks afterwards but fuck it, let's roll.

Application: One could argue that nigga has taken on the requisite flexibility to become the brown man's equivalent of dude and, in fact, for said brown folk that have infiltrated corporate america, the two have become so interchangeable that the choice of usage often depends primarily on the demographic makeup of present company.  Think about it. 

Perspective: Life can be like going to a stadium to watch a ballgame – there are literally tens of thousands of seats we can sit in to watch the game; and though we all watch the same game from every seat in the house, each seat offers a slightly different view.  I've heard opinions on the N-Word ranging from "the filthiest, dirtiest word in the English language"; to "I say nigger fifty times a day… it makes my teeth white", now that's pretty broad range huh?  I'd say the dirtiest word (or at least one of them) is coward, but that's just me… and that brings me to my next thought.

Getting Personal: I've always been one of those 'deeper meaning' kind of folk – as in, anything said without malicious intent likely won't bother me much.  For example, I'm in my 30s but I can still clearly remember the first time someone called me a nigger: 1981, a kid in my class named Justin called me from his house to tell me him and his buddy were going to whip my ass at school the next day for being a dirty, shit-colored nigger.  The following day, instead of brown-bagging my lunch I plastic bagged it because mom always packed me a can of juice and since a plastic bag is longer I could spin it up and brain him with it if he wanted to try me.  Yes, even at the age of seven I was thorough.  The point being that his use of the word was intended to make me feel bad about who I am and that just won't be tolerated.

Respect: Often when I encounter people from, say, the more beligerent end of the equation, they're either young militants or people actually old enough to remember Jim Crow and fire hoses.  Regardless whether you're from that time or not, if you aren't aware of what has happened, and if you don't respect the struggles those people had to endure to have the freedoms that are enjoyed today then you are doing yourself a disservice.  There are words to describe a person that benefits but does not appreciate and none of those words are compliments.

Evolution: Every generation seems to have a cute little nickname – The Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y…  I often refer to the present crop as 'Generation I Don't Give A Fuck'.  Of course every batch has their distinct flavor of tree-hugging protestors in general anything that isn't on MTV or MySpace.com just ain't that interesting to these little shits.  This is usually the demographic you're dealing with when you get the "I didn't say nigger, I said nigga.  That's a whole different word" argument.  Horseshit.  Plain and simple.  We're talking about the same shit, simply acknowledge that it's a slang word for a slang word and we're done here, let's move on. 

Bliss: Ever just sit and watch kids playing?  Kids that haven't been exposed to racism?  Kids that haven't even seen flinching and dirty looks much less racial slurs?  I have.  It's the reason I haven't given up yet.  Anybody that's ever burned themselves knows that fire is hot and it's got nothing to do with fireism, it's just growing up.  Badness happened and you learned from it and unless you're in some way damaged it's what you're supposed to do.  If all slurs and racism are learned behaviors and unlearning is a supremely difficult task to attempt (even a firefighter would call you crazy for rushing into a burning building without gear!), then, can the best weapon possibly BE ignorance?  As scary as it is to even consider the idea, if I pissed down your shoe twice a day for a week to try and aggravate you and you didn't even budge then not only am I not getting to you at all but I'm also wasting my time trying. 

I guess which side of this fence you find yourself on depends on whether or not you feel that the ends justify the means.  Maybe those little pricks have something of value to contribute after all? 

-E

April 22, 2006 Posted by | Observations | 1 Comment

Bobbing and Weaving: A Plea For Help.

Ever since moving to South Florida three years ago I began to refer to driving as dodgeball.  Ben Stiller be damned – this isn't about comedy, it's about principle and the longer you drive down here the more you begin to feel that people are actually trying to hit you!

Now, I've got to be careful with broad, blanket statements like that because there are millions of drivers down here and they don't all suck.  But there's so many bad drivers doing so many bad things that I was literally afraid to drive for the first six months that I was down here!  The thing that really got to me was the unpredictability of it all; the best way I can explain it is with a quote from a two truck driver I met the other day: "Turn signals are optional equipment down here."

Now for the backstory.  Back in 2000, me and the boys were making the run from D.C. back to north Jersey and a friend of mine got all riled up watching a driver on I-95 change lanes without signaling first.  Previously I'd thought it was just bad manners but I really hadn't committed enough brain cells to the concept to take it any further than that.  He said it was a pet peeve of his and, with him being a pretty reasonable guy, that got me to thinking 'why would a minor inconvenience, and a seemingly harmless one at that, get an otherwise rational person so pissed off'? 

In spite of the abundance of regulations regarding how a motor vehicle should be operated we are largely left ot govern ourselves out there.  In any kind of thing that has multiple moving parts, some degree of coordination is required to ensure proper execution of task.  Think about the engine in your vehicle – regardless of the fuel, that engine is being coordinated in some sort of way.  Think about your favorite sports team – it doesn't matter what sport they play, they're all trying to work in some sort of cohesive rhythm.  Think about any kind of military unit anywhere in the world.  Coordinated.  Think about what happens when that coordination breaks down in any of those examples.  Blown engines…  busted plays…  wounded soldiers…  badness, basically. 

Put simply, using turn signals gives pedestrians and other drivers the ability to accurately anticipate where you intend to be.  They, then, can make sure that they're not there when you're there, get it?  The faster things happen the less time we have to react to those happenings and the more important it becomes to have this power of anticipation available to us. 

Ok, so on a conceptual level this makes sense but what about applying it to real world situations?  How many times have you waited at an intersection because of the presence of an oncoming vehicle only to find that vehicle turning at the same intersection and you waited because they did not indicate that intention to turn?  What about being on the highway and having to REACT SUDDENLY because someone just up ahead decided that they wanted to be where you were about to go and didn't warn you they were coming?

Here's the part I need help with.  I know that the law says we're supposed to do this and that there are rational, safety-oriented concerns that validate these laws but I also know that a great many drivers only signal turns and lane changes:

  1. when there's a cop right on their ass – except for South Floridians, where the cops will Bob & Weave too!
  2. when they're going to cut you off at such short range that they're concerned you not hit your brakes in time to avoid a collision.

What I'd like to understand, if at all possible, is the other side of this argument.  Is it simply unreasonable to expect someone to use their blinkers when one hand is on the wheel and the other holding their cell phone?  Is it just more fun when the thrill of injury is part of your everyday commute?  Since moving down here I've found what was once a rare occurance is now commonplace; an average of 3.5 in 10 drivers will not warn you of an impending lane change on the highway and that number rises to 5 in 10 on the street!  I don't understand crackheads either but at least they can hide behind their addiction.  Can someone please tell me how to rationalize this behavior? 

-E

April 17, 2006 Posted by | Driving | 2 Comments

P.S. Not-Good-Enough

I don't know why but lately I've found myself pondering the public school system. Odd, considering that I don't have children and I'm well over a decade removed from said system, but that's where my head's been nonetheless. What can I say… it's not easy being green. So, in it's usual progression, thinking evolved into wondering which then evolved into researching, and this ultimately resulted in me banging my head onto the keyboard again.

I've been thinking alot about not just the school system in general but about specific things like how it works and such. It's not uncommon to hear fragments in the media about public schools being poorly maintained or having old, worn textbooks; but once you get to college and the book money is coming directly out of your pocket, it's also not uncommon to opt for the older books, this time of your own volition! Ok – so let's skip the books part… so long as they're legible, the pages aren't stuck together, and the info isn't outdated, we're good.

Someone recently asked me which subjects I was best at in school and my answer was: it varied from one year to the next. Though I was typically a math/science guy, there've been plenty of times where I was unusually strong in language, history, etc, not because I was in a rare mood for the whole year, but because I had a teacher that was particularly adept at making it interesting. On the off chance I lucked out and got a teacher that was not only interesting and passionate, but also adamant about holding me accountable instead of letting me skate by for just being "gifted", that's when I really dug in deep and grew as a person.

It's amazing what you discover that you're capable of when someone refuses to take any of your shit, ain't it?

Yeah, pretty much. Last night there was this thing on HBO where actor/comedian Robert Wuhl, who also turns out to be a big history buff, lectures a college class on little known pieces of trivia about American history. In most cases history bores me senseless but his enthusiasm and delivery and material made for a very interesting program. For the sake of argument, let's say that we all feel that way – that the right person can make even a dull topic more appealing. Teachers, then, make a big difference in the quality of education.

I've often heard standardized tests being wholly dismissed for being culturally biased. I'd often interpret that as a euphemistic way of saying they're designed to prevent minorities from succeeding academically. Most of these tests are just math and English, occasionally history or science or something but always comprised of stuff we should have been exposed to during the school year. If you're being tested on things you were taught how can the test be biased against anybody's race or gender or anything? Sure, there's big words and you're being watched closely and there's great pressure to perform but that just makes it a little bit more like real life, doesn't it?

But there's lots of different factors that can influence academic and testing performance.  I had every excuse in the book to perform poorly but I was home schooled and maybe just a bit special, oh, and competitive as hell too.  What about other kids whose parents aren't leaving it entirely up to schoolteachers and are home schooling or coughing up the bucks for tutoring?  Or kids that are genuinely gifted or just plain hard workers and refuse to stop working until they're at the top of their class?  No one expects every student to have the same level of drive; or every parent to have the time or finances to make home schooling or tutoring an available option for each kid.  But what we do expect is that each kid that shows up in school is going to have roughly the same shot that every other kid has but that apparently isn't the case either.

Say, did you know that public schools receive bonus money from the state government as rewards for performance based on their standardized test scores?  We're not talking about a high school out in some well-to-do neighborhood that can afford to field Lacrosse and Equestrian teams.  No.  The faculty at schools that record higher scores on standardized tests are rewarded financially. 

These schools are getting their "pick of the liter", so to speak, because of simple common sense.  If you were a schoolteacher would you rather do your job at a school where metal detectors and armed security are needed to ensure safety, or a school where test scores are higher and you'll be paid more for doing the same damn job?  Well it's not really up to you because everybody wants to work at that second school and they're only accepting the best candidates.  The rest will have to take jobs at whatever schools will have them. 

Who you know may be plenty important once your kids are all grow'd up but while they're coming up, apparently, who your neighbors are can be just as important.  I guess it really does take a village to raise a child?

-E

April 8, 2006 Posted by | Observations | 1 Comment

Wait… what did you call me?

It's amazing how something can be right in front of your face for so long and you just never realize it until someone comes along and points it out to you.  I had that kind of experience a few months ago and although it probably shouldn't have, it did bother me.

Here we go again…  To the Bat-Time Machine, Robin!!

Damn right.  It's unfortunate that I don't remember where the beacon of enlightenment came from but if I had to take a guess it was the premier episode of The Boondocks; where one of the main characters was angered by being repeatedly referred to as "well-spoken".   I can identify with the little crumb snatcher from the tv show because I too often received that compliment as a child.

And that's exactly how I took it – in my eternal quest to simplify all that I encounter, when someone used these words to describe me I took it as a compliment.  Well.  Spoken.  A simple two-word phrase used to describe someone who possesses impressive verbal skills, right?  Of course!  How else could you possibly interpret it? 

That's where the cartoon comes in.  It's an edgy satire that specifically takes shots at today's African-American culture and race relations.  During the first episode a young Black boy was making comments deliberately intended to anger some wealthy White adults at a garden party; "Jesus was Black."  "Ronald Reagan was the devil." stuff like that…  Instead of being even the slightest bit annoyed they applauded him for being so well-spoken; which, of course, infuriated him to no end.

Here comes the boom.

Yeah.  That's when it hit me.  It became such commonplace that I truly have no idea how many times I was called well-spoken as a child but the one thing I do know is that from the second grade to the ninth, when I attended accelerated classes in predominantly White schools I've never in my life heard a smart White kid referred to as well-spoken!

Am I reading too much into it?  If the intention was purely complimentary, shouldn't knowing that be enough?  You don't compliment people for breathing, you expect it of them…  what if the unspoken implication is "you speak well for a Black kid"?  Despite harmless surface intentions or should any kind of deep-seeded, subconscious racism lurking behind the "compliment" be justification enough to set a motherfucker's shoes on fire and watch them burn?

 -E

April 5, 2006 Posted by | Personal Revelations | 4 Comments