The dark side..


First I would start by saying that I do not know why this particular memory popped into my head. This is from a very long time ago. I’m going to date myself by sharing a few things in this story. This incident happened when I was about 12. I was still in junior high school. One of my classmates was having a party at their house. It was somewhere in the projects. I can’t remember who or where exactly, but this all took place in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn. Back then all you needed for a party were colored lightbulbs, preferably red, some music and some wine. Yes wine at 12. Shit gets real fast in the hood.

 I remember being in the living room where the party was happening. It was very dark so you couldn’t make out the faces of everyone there, but you could distinguish male from female. We were a bunch of horny adolescents. There was slow music playing and your mission as a guy was to find a girl to slow dance with you. Mind you I had no idea what the fuck I was doing, but I had to play it off like I was an old pro. I remember there being a small group of girls sitting on the sofa. Daring rejection, I reached out to one of them who seemed to have a really nice body. To my surprise she eagerly accepted my invitation. I remember her holding me so tight. I remember being lost in the smell of her body. My body reacted in ways that I had never really experienced. We stayed locked together for at least three songs. At one point I felt her fingers digging into me wanting more. She let out a breathy moan that turned me on to a point where I was about to explode. I kissed her and she went with it. I’m thinking to myself, I am the fucking man. Mind you I’m only 12. I had no idea what the fuck I was doing really but it seemed so natural. As the music ended, we separated. I couldn’t think of anything else but how to take this experience to the next level.

As the party ended, we both went out into the hallway which was brightly lit. It was the first chance I got to see her face.  She was a few shades darker than me and she had this huge birthmark on her face. It looked as if she had been in a fire. I remember saying to myself holy shit but trying not to show a reaction. I knew this girl from school. I had seen her being teased relentlessly about her looks. I know what you’re thinking, looks aren’t everything, but at 12 they are every fucking thing. I was disappointed but she was so taken by the fact that some boy had found her attractive I didn’t have the heart to show it.  She was heading home and I felt the least I could do was walk her home. So I did. 

We got to her house a little brother answered the door. He asked, Who is this? Almost as if I wasn’t there. She replied, this is my friend. Mind your business! To which his reaction was, ooooh Cheryl got a boyfriend! Cheryl got a boyfriend! He yelled this at the top of his voice running down the hall in the house as we came in behind him. I was thinking to myself,  I have a little brothers and I know they are stupid so that really didn’t bother me. But what happened next is why am telling you the story. Her mother and another sister were in the kitchen. I could hear her mother saying What? What? incredulously. The three of them stood in the doorway of the kitchen staring at me in disbelief. They were literally in shameless shock that some guy liked her. Her mother insisted that I come in so she could get a good look at me. Everyone was aghast staring at me. The girl was totally embarrassed. Her mother was completely blunt. She said that she never thought that her baby would ever find a man. Mind you, I’m only 12. This was blowing my mind beyond blown. They were looking at me as if I had come from another planet. I got asked a few questions about myself my age and things. I navigated it politely and excused myself to leave. Cheryl walked me to the door and apologized for her family. She said that I was the first guy that had ever shown her any interest. She also said something that I never forgot. She said it’s OK, I know I’m ugly, but thank you for the best night of my life, gave me a hug and closed the door.  

I think I may have seen her one other time at school after this. She was too shy to speak and I didn’t pursue. It was crazy awkward and I was unprepared. 

There was a lot to learn from this experience. I learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about sexuality. I learned a lot about maturity. I also learned that girls were way more mature than we were at that age. I believe that it was the first time that I had seen someone tell a brutally uncomfortable truth about themselves up close. I can do nothing but respect her bravery.

A man grows in Brooklyn..


When I was in junior high, there was this kid in my class, Robert Cobbs. Robert was a soft spoken nerdy guy who always dressed like a preppy. In the hood, that alone would make you a target and at that age, the other kids were merciless. To top it off, Robert’s mom would bring him and pick him up from school. So you can imagine the harassment that would ensue. Being in the top class, a lot of us were nerds under the cover, but we knew that our survival depended on fitting in. We had our cliques..young boys pretending to be macho, wannabe jocks. We’d hang out in the park playing basketball for the most part after school.

One day, Robert showed up on the court during a shoot around. It was an unwritten rule that if you stepped on the court, you were allowed to hang. So the ball was passed to Robert. He dropped it. He then awkwardly ran after it looking like an uncoordinated newborn calf. The harassment ensued. It wasn’t mean spirited, but intense. He’d attempt to shoot and miss the entire rim. After a few of those, we’d take the time out to try to teach him how to shoot. He was determined to get it right. We all saw a little bit of ourselves in him, but no one would admit it out loud. Eventually we got a game going and picked Rob on our side. Whenever he’d get the ball we’d cheer him on to hit the shot. When he did it was comical, until he hit the next one, and the next one. The kid gloves came off and the other team would challenge him with some real defense. At the height of the game, his mom showed up, standing off in the corner with a watchful eye. No one had noticed her and as customary during the game, the profanity, and insults, which included the “this is for your mama shots” flew unfiltered. Robert! she said in that voice that you knew meant business, ‘it’s time to go’. Stunned as we became aware of her presence and embarrassed at some of the things that had been said, the game came to an awkward pause. He would plead his case to stay, all sweaty in his now dirty buttoned down shirt, to no avail. Dejectedly he relented to her summoning and bid us farewell, making his rounds through the guys, each one giving him a version of a soul brother handshake. It was for him a single moment of triumph. He’d come to use as the awkward fawn and left as one of the guys.

Fast forward to the late 80’s. I’d moved away from home, gotten a job on Wall St., living with my high school girlfriend in downtown Brooklyn in the stylish yuppie section of Fort Greene. I’d come out of the house, headphones on, oblivious to the world on my way to the store. I stepped out on to the sidewalk and was almost immediately hit by someone on a bike, He jerkily stopped and turned to offer an apology and to my amazement it was Robert. I was totally shocked. He was the absolute last person I’d expected to see and by the look on his face the feeling was mutual. We greeted and talked for a bit. He lived in the neighborhood. Small world we agreed and after a few moments, he started to ride off. He was having a very difficult time trying to get his balance. More than one would expect from a grown man. So I quipped to him, A little rusty? To which he replied, nah..it’s this damn MS. It’s kinda hard for me to keep it steady these days. I’ve had it since I was a child but it’s gotten really bad but I’m dealing with it. I’ll catch you later..and with that he rode off, struggling heavily to keep the bike straight. I was hollow. I did not know how to feel as the realization of what he’d just said to me soaked in. It explained everything..why he was so awkward, why his mom was so protective..it hit me like a wave and I stood there almost in tears, humbled at his bravery and overwhelmed with guilt by the way we treated him as a kid, but comforted in the fact that he considered me as a friend..

Just another guy from brooklyn


I was feeling especially mellow and pensive. Thinking about the old days back in Brooklyn..the many lives and loves I’ve touched and felt. I had this line in my head for some time so I challenged myself to put it to music. One of my devoted listeners called it “smooth and awesome” (Thanks Chris!).
It’s a work in progress as of this blog but I wanted to share it…

https://soundcloud.com/thp215/just-another-guy-from-brooklyn