There was a funeral held Saturday. Really, that should not be news as on average, 108 people die per minute; that makes for a lot of funerals and I am sure they are held pretty much six days a week. No funerals or weddings take place on Sundays; it conflicts with regularly scheduled Masses within the Catholic church. In any case, there was a funeral for a man that I knew way back when: before I was who I am today, before the Panel, before Nebraska, Married Man and Him. This man knew me when I was a lost soul wandering the streets of the city looking for a fix; this man knew me when I was “keeping it real” in the wrong way.
Keeping it real can be a good thing if done properly and responsibly.….you are being honest, expressing your opinion and all in a way that is designed to be productive and helpful. When keeping it real goes wrong, you are still being honest, but in a mean and hurtful way that usually ends up hurting the other person beyond belief and backfiring on you. Now that I am a woman grown, with some life experience under her belt and am somewhat responsible mentally, physically, financially and emotionally I would like to think that when it is time to keep it real, I do so in a proper manner. Not always, and I will elaborate on that in a future post. Does anyone remember the Dave Chappelle show? Of course he is best known for: “I’m Rick James, BITCH”, but he had a recurring skit called When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong, and it was some funny stuff. The chick who ended up in the prison fight all because a woman called her number by accident ( it WAS a wrong number), but old girl had a cheating man, a jealous streak and *69. Seems over the top, but after 15 years in the streets, I know truth is stranger than fiction and a code of the streets was to “keep it real” and Lord knows, it often went wrong more than it went right.
It did not help that in the streets you really do not have friends. The present day name is “frenemies” but back in the day, there were no friends, only fiends with an “r”. Of course you warned others of the man in the car with a gun, or the trick who was a cheap ass bastard regardless of what he was promising or that the po-po was around the corner. What we did not tell you was when we had an STD and that was for a variety of reasons: you already knew (no one had secrets in the streets), someone gave it to me, so why not you and no way were you going to be with my tricks and take money out of my pocket. We did not tell you directly when you looked like or smelled like shit….we told others or talked around you if you were present as if you weren’t there. It was all part of keeping it real….you had enough of the story or were privy to enough of it to put the pieces together. No one out there was a babysitter or a therapist and if you put the pieces together wrong ( forget the fact that everyone’s thought processes are different), oh well. Live and learn.
I used to get high with a girl I will call “V”….she was a cool chick. She was decent looking but had a killer body. Seriously, I have only known two women with figures that made grown men stop dead in their tracks and “V” was one. She was not into the back stabbing and game playing and was a loner, much like me. She was living with two brothers; they worked every day and drank every weekend. They did not use the harder drugs and while it was a strange set-up (all 3 slept in the same bed) it seemed to work for them. They knew how “V” supported her habit and she kept it real with them: she had had a fucked up childhood, could get ghetto crazy and was a whore first and foremost. She would clean the house and cook dinner for them but she had to live her life her way. The brothers agreed and things were going well until they had a friend over for cards and liquor one Friday night. Dude was drunk and loaded, “V” was there looking sexy and the brothers had gone to pick up some takeout for a late night snack. When they returned, “V” was doing dude in an upstairs bedroom ( NOT in the bed she shared with the brothers) and the fatter brother got insanely jealous after seeing “V” with another man. Their understanding, the truths she told…all left his head and he flew into a rage. He pulled “V” off of dude and literally threw her down the stairs and proceeded to beat the guy to a pulp. At the bottom of the stairs, “V” asked the taller brother to help her up: she was bruised, banged up and disoriented; the taller brother called her all kinds of horrible names, ignored her outstretched hand and told her to pack her shit and get the fuck out. When “V” asked what the fuck their problem was, she was told they were just keeping it real…except they weren’t. They were hit hard by the reality of their situation and reacted versus responded. “V” showed them what keeping it real was: she went back upstairs to pack her bags; got a bottle of grain alcohol from her drug paraphernalia bag, then into the bathroom and grabbed a straight razor. When she stepped back out into the upstairs hall with her bag slung over her shoulder, she had the razor ready and slashed the fat brother’s throat so deep, she cut his vocal cords; downstairs in the living room, she threw the entire bottle of grain alcohol (over 180 proof) in the face of the taller brother and set him on fire with a match. Then she walked out the front door and never returned. Both brothers survived….scarred for life but alive. No one ever saw “V” again. She kept it real: she told them her lifestyle and she told them about her damage and her craziness…..yet, it went horribly wrong.
Sometimes, when keeping it real goes wrong, innocent people hurt and suffer because of it. When I was out there on the Avenue, there was a lesbian who tricked with men to support her habit. Others would call her a hypocrite or a confused bitch, but she kept it real: her personal preference was women, but women weren’t paying for head or to fuck a pussy…men were. Men were business, women were personal. I completely understood as I had had a relationship or two out in the street and tricking with men was my job and meant nothing; sex with my partner was all that mattered. I wasn’t cheating, I was supporting my habit. Lesbian Girl and I would hang out occasionally and I knew her mom and brother; eventually, her sexual escapades caught up to her and she got pregnant. It was not her first pregnancy nor her second….this was her 5th baby. She had never mentioned children before and you could have bought me for a penny when she told me. She never went to the doctor or the clinic; she continued to trick with as many men as possible; she continued to get high as if there were not a human life growing inside of her. Her mother allowed her back in the house so she could rest and bathe properly and she ate two meals a day: her mid-morning meal was always chicken with vegetables from the Chinese restaurant and a chocolate milk. Her evening meal was whatever her mom prepared for dinner that day. She limited herself to cigarettes after meals only and one beer a day….not a completely healthy lifestyle but keeping it real, it was the best she could do and actually it was more of an effort towards doing the right thing than other pregnant addicts I have seen. When asked what she was going to do with the baby when it was born (would her mom or other family raise it), Lesbian Girl stated she had a plan. She would sell her baby to The Ugliest Woman in the World for $100 cash and an 8ball of crack. Really she was not The Ugliest Woman in the World, but she came pretty close. The woman was older ( late 40s), ugly and had no children. She had a different man every week and sold drugs and dabbled in being a pimp when big bucks were involved…..and pimping on the Avenue was not complicated. Men came to the crack house looking for women, and a volunteer would go out and scoop one of the girls off the corner. When big spenders came around The Ugliest Woman in the World, she saw nothing but opportunity and dollar signs: he would be spending all his money on her product, she would demand a finder’s fee for the girl, AND the girl would have to pay her for hooking her up. Ugly did smoke crack but it was not her drug of choice….she was an alcoholic and Schlitz Blue Bull filled her fridge.
The day came that Baby Girl made her debut and she looked exactly like her mother. Ugly had bought diapers and the neighborhood had donated clothing but there was no crib, no toys and no formula. She slept in the same bed as Ugly and her man of the week and from Day 1, the child was fed juice and beer. She developed normally ( as far as us higher than hell outside observers could tell) and when she was ready for solid food, she was on a diet of beer, juice, hotdogs and oodles of noodles. By the time the child was four, she could not count, did not know her colors or alphabet, but she could curse a blue streak and knew her brand of beer. The girl wore clothes that were clean and fit her, her hair was always combed neatly but she had never been to a doctor or a dentist and her teeth were stained brown and rotting. I wonder if she owned a toothbrush. Looking back, I wonder if the little girl was lonely….she was ignored and overlooked so often. Ugly fed her and bathed her, but pretty much her time was consumed with drinking and making a dollar. There were no other little children in the neighborhood, and while she was at an age she should have been in someone’s school or daycare, she wasn’t. I am not sure what happened to that little girl: Ugly moved to another part of town and I heard she passed away maybe 5 years ago from breast cancer. No word on the little girl and Lesbian Girl just got released from prison this past fall.
I wonder what would have happened if Lesbian Girl had not been so oblivious to what she was doing to a human life she brought into the world? If she had been able to keep it real with herself and see past her addiction and what she would get out of the deal, would Baby Girl have had a better life? Maybe put into foster care and adopted by a loving, drug free family, raised with proper nutrition and attention. Ugly…she did keep it real. She was out for a dollar first and foremost and her buying the baby was simply an investment in her future. Others say she loved the child, but I have her just not wanting social services come snooping around….love of a child requires sacrifice and she sacrificed nothing. Keeping it real may have damaged a child for life.
As for the man’s funeral this past weekend? I did not go; keeping it real, we were never friends. Occasional roommates and pass the time buddies, but not friends. His death only made me realize how quickly time passes and that we are all only getting older. It made me see that the people who comprise my past are fading away, and that one day I will be the guest of honor at a funeral. It did not make me sad….it made me realize I do not want to be remembered as a crack addict or a whore. I do not want the men I loved to think of me as that crazy bitch or the legacy I leave them will be one of panties, porn and medication I did not take as often as I should. I do not want my family to remember me as the loner who kept in touch with only phone calls and emails and I do not want my friends to think of me as the sweet, wonderful girl made into a bitter bitch because she kept pouring her all into the wrong man. Keeping it real, it made me realize I need to get it together and get right with God and myself. I want to keep it real in the proper manner with myself and all I encounter; I want to get better and I want to heal.
Tomorrow we will learn fun facts about the Panel and later this week we will have A Ray of Sunshine and meet the Right Bitch on the Wrong Day. Until then….keep it real!