Marsha

In three months one of my closest friends, Marsha, will be tying the knot in the land of wood and water, so we (the bride and bridal party) flew to Fort Lauderdale in the hopes of finding a great wedding dress. Our trip was not only full of laughter and shopping, but a tremendous amount of water, as in copious tears. If as many tears are shed at her wedding as were shed by her and another friend when “The Dress” was found, then I’m afraid Jamaica will be flooded.

CNN Anchorwoman: Breaking news: Jamaica is sinking faster than Venice. Sir what are your thoughts?

Man eating a Golden Krust patty in Brooklyn: Yu nuh kno seh is today di one Miss V a guh wed!

The dress was gorgeous, and reputedly so are her cheekbones, as told to her by the consultant at the first bridal shop. All was good, especially since we found the dress after only two boutiques. As mentioned, all was good, but it seems that the bride to be and her fiancé haven’t spent much time apart, and it also seems that they share every detail of their lives with each other. Since Leroy wasn’t there, she felt compelled to share her thoughts with us. I urged her to write him letters, because as much as I love her, I’m as interested in her bowel movements as I am in the Latvian Goat Milk Crisis of 1810. I loaned her a pen and paper, and she started writing:

Dear Leroy,

I woke up this morning at 8:30. It was lonely in the bed without you, well not really since my sister shared the bed with me. I had dried drool on the side of my mouth. I spit on a tissue and wiped it off.

Love,
Marsha

Dear Leroy,

I tried on six dresses today. Some were white, some were ivory. Didn’t we decide French beige would be most appropriate? When I found the dress I loved, I cried like a baby….an ugly baby. Vee told me that I need to perfect the pretty cry or not cry at all. On TV, I saw a woman who cried with just tears streaming, while she pouted. I ordered “The Pretty Cry” video on Amazon for $19.99. Thanks for loving me, even though you’ve seen me cry.

Love,
Marsha

Dear Leroy,

Florida is hot, so all daylong I’ve been craving soft-serve ice-cream. Soft serve soft serve. We went to McDonald’s and bought three cones. Vee almost threw half of her ice-cream out the window, ’cause she said she only wanted a taste; thankfully, Tee screamed “No!” I scooped her ice-cream off with my fingers, and plopped it on my cone. How could she do what she did when there are starving children in this world who would love some soft serve vanilla ice-cream?

Love,
Marsha

Dear Leroy,

I spent three hours in Walmart today. Dee walked out wearing a new wardrobe, and Tee bought plaid shirts for every male in her life (her brother, father, husband, son, gardener, mailman, plumber, you get the picture). I bought a big box of prunes. Big box. Bowel drama soon to be averted.

Love,
Marsha

Dear Leroy,

When I come back home, I’m going to be doing the Insanity workout video. Nards said she’d do it with me for three days, and Dee said she’d do it with me for two days. My point is, please excuse me if I act even more insane than I usually do…it’s all to look good in my deep yellow wedding dress.

Love,
Marsha

Though Marsha’ll be home before the letters arrive, I’m quite sure Leroy will save them, and re-read them everytime she goes away…..to work or the mailbox or wherever.

Gwen

A great song works on different levels; one can enjoy a song without understanding the words, many times the driving beat or a relentless rhythm will suffice. Sometimes it’s a catchy hook, and other times it’s a powerful vocal that’ll take a song over the top. When a song manages to encapsulate all things (“musicality”), and endure in its relatability or danceability over many years, then it’s a classic. My chicken-wing-dip making co-worker Rachelle told me that “Chicken is life,” but I recognize that music is life.

Unlike the O’Jays, I don’t love all genres of music (“any kind of music”), but I do have a tremendous love for late seventies to mid eighties r&b, pop, funk and soul. How could I not? When I was a kid, my brother, appropriately named DJ, controlled the record player with every beat that now pushes my heart. My other brother would beatbox, and when my other “kinda” brother/cousin moved in with us, he brought a guitar. It was on. Volume was never a problem in my house, as Jamaicans have two volumes–loud and louder. Music, and music alone, dominated our abode.

Naturally, the rainy days of NY last week brought with it a soundtrack: “The Rain,” “Rainy Nights in Georgia,” “Rainy Days and Mondays,” “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” and the ever hopeful “Here Comes The Sun.” The rain drummed outside, and likewise it pounded inside my tiny place. I couldn’t and still can’t stop playing “The Rain,” despite its problematic closing monologue. The heartbreak in Oran Juice Jones’s voice, and the sound of the synthesized rain is pure magic.

DJ commented that I was being unfair to OJJ. He emailed me that “money is one of the main ways people express affection, not ownership, so quantifying things when that affection is betrayed is a natural reaction. Helps one to measure the extent of the betrayal.” I realize that the woman in the song was unfaithful, but it’s still my belief that Oran was too harsh. I wonder if the perspective would change if the woman put it all out there. Is it better for her to say, “I’ll be faithful to you, and even adore you, if you pay my bills;” and thereby deserve every cruelty if she reneges on her promise by cheating? Should gifts and material things automatically ensure fidelity? (I’ve always said that money can buy my love, but that falls on deaf ears).

In 1986 (aka “a very good year”), Gwen Guthrie’s “Aint Nothing Going On But The Rent” put it out there. “What can you do for me?” echoed around town. Though I didn’t really understand the lyrics, its opening vibrations knocked me over/out/away: “Bill collectors at my door, what can you do for me?” Now that I know what Gwen’s talking about, it’s even better. It’s unfortunate that the term “gold-digger” became so popular, because classifying the persona as such demeans the song. What is she saying that’s wrong? Despite being a brokie-lover ( thing for “artists”), I’m unashamedly standing behind Gwen on this one. DJ told me that “Ain’t Nothing Going On But The Rent,” was one of his “main inspirations to go to law school;” so, not only is it a true classic, it’s an inspiration.

*if you double click on play, it’ll take you to the youtube video.

Oran Juice

Last week, my co-worker Rachelle brought in a large aluminum pan of chicken wing dip. Surprisingly, as much as I’m in love with hot wings (*understatement), I’d never tasted/heard/inhaled/seen/enjoyed the glory that is chicken wing dip. Chicken wing dip is the taste and essence of hot wings in a casserole and served with tortilla chips. She photocopied the recipe for us all, and one day when I visit my mother, I’ll coerce her into baking it (no pots or pans live in my house). The chicken wing dip recipe consists of shredded chicken, the hottest hot sauce one can find, jalapenos, blue cheese, cream cheese (for thickness), vinegar, a dash of salt, and a touch of ranch dressing.

Sadly, I was unable to partake in the heaven that is chicken wing dip (I even like saying it), because only forty minutes earlier I’d visited the dentist and my mouth was numb. Damn novocaine. The casserole looked so scrumptious though that I could taste the chicken wing dip in the hollows of my mind, and that was good enough for me.

On the subject of food, it’s been rainy and dreary the last couple of days in NY, and thus Oran Juice Jones has been on the forefront of my mind. In elementary school, three friends and I created a dance for “The Rain” (actually, they created the dance and I struggled to learn it– took me ten years to learn the snake, enough said). Day in and day out, we listened, sang and danced to “I saw you and him walking in the rain. You were holding hands and I’ll never be the same.” My obsessive personality didn’t start yesterday, it’s been steadily in the making; I say that to say that I became obsessed with Oran Juice Jones’s voice. Day in, day out, OJJ.

I’ve been listening to the song for days, and though I still adore it, and treasure the memories it evokes, I’m listening with the ears of an adult. With the ears and partial understanding of a grown woman, Oran Juice Jones’s monologue at the end of the song borders on cruelty (unless the accused woman in the song is just trifling, and running around on a sensitive, thoughtful guy who’s supporting her, and providing for more than her material needs). However, since all he speaks about is the cost of what he gave her, and how he won’t harm her because of the cost of what she’s wearing, then I’m guessing that she’s not trifling, and he felt his wallet was the end-all, be-all of this relationship.

He says:

Hey hey baby how ya doin’ come on in here
Got some hot chocolate on the stove waiting for you
Listen first things first let me hang up the coat
Yeah how was your day today? Did you miss me? You did?
Yeah? I missed you too I missed you so much I followed you today.

That’s right now close your mouth, ’cause you cold busted
Now just sit down here, sit down here I’m so upset with you I don’t know what to do
You know my first impulse was to run up on you and do a Rambo
I was about to jam you and flat blast both of you But I didn’t wanna mess up this thirty-seven hundred dollar lynx coat
So instead I chilled — That’s right chilled I called up the bank and took out every dime.

Then I canceled all your credit cards… I stuck you up for every piece of jewelry I ever bought you! Don’t go lookin’ in that closet ’cause everything you came here with is packed up and waiting for you in the guest room. What were you thinking? You don’t mess with the Juice!

I gave you silk suits, blue diamonds and Gucci handbags. I gave you things you couldn’t even pronounce! But now I can’t give you nothing but advice. Cause you’re still young, yeah, you’re young. And you’re gonna find somebody like me one of these days . . . Until then, you know what you gotta do? You gotta get on outta here with that alley-cat-coat-wearing, punch-bucket-shoe-wearing crumbcake I saw you with. Cause you dismissed!

That’s right, silly rabbit, tricks are made for kids, don’t you know that. You without me is like corn flakes without the milk! This is my world. You’re just a squirrel trying to get a nut! Now get on outta here. Scat! Don’t touch that coat…

This is kind of an Eve in the garden moment (since I think that she must’ve been cheating for a reason); It’s much more fun without awareness or empathy.

http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/video/x1vu0j?theme=none
Oran Juice Jones – The Rain by jpdc11

Mark

There was once a song that captivated a nation. It became an anthem. Children jumping double-dutch jumped in time to its beat; grannies in wooden chairs rocked in time to its beat; bodacious girls swung to its beat; young boys dribbling Spaldings pounded the court to its beat. Clubgoers bumped to the beat. Two or more victims of the relentless rhythm were said to have broken their backs to the beat. The omnipresent song was “Return of the Mack.”

From what I gather, the persona in the song was a mack, who it seems, lost himself after heartbreak and then reclaimed his former self. Deep. I don’t even know if that’s what the song’s really about, because I can barely understand what he’s saying, except “You lied to me.” I don’t care that it isn’t profound or any of the “p” words that some people need in their musical choices (poetic, political, etc.); what I do know is that “Return of the Mack” has the catchiest beat this side of Wisconsin, and I woke up humming it as if it were 1996 all over again.

“Return of the Mack,” which has been playing on repeat for thirty minutes now (courtesy of Youtube), has me thinking of macks that I’ve known. We all know macks (old school and new school) and wanna-be macks (we also know that nobody uses the term mack anymore– except me, ’cause I’m old school and unhip). The urban dictionary defines mack as:

A person who is smooth, slick, the Best of the Best, a Pimp, a Ladies Man, the guy who runs everything a.k.a. the Boss. A mack is a person who is always flirting and hitting on girls. Almost always successful at it too.

The mack that I’ll mention, like the singer of the aforementioned song, is named Mark, a mack extraordinaire. The definition states that macks are “almost always successful;” scratch that, he was always successful. When I knew Mark, he had a live-in girlfriend twenty-three years his junior, a woman on the side, and a bevy of women chasing him (models, et al.). How could a woman not pound hot asphalt after him? He could charm a woman’s socks off, or any other item of clothing that he wanted removed. One day he should write a mackbook.

How did he achieve his mackdom? Some thought, and you better believe he was much discussed, that his appeal was his sexy accent, an imposing height, a way of looking directly at the person to whom he’s speaking, a certain self-possession. It was all those things, and it soon became clear that a true mack possesses not only smooth words, but confidence and grace.

To flirt with a mack is one thing, to be in a relationship with one is quite another. He broke up with his girlfriend of two years, promptly moved in with another, and I’m almost 100% sure that he has a hidden harem somewhere nearby. How could he not? He just can’t help that he’s so “charming” and “smooth.” I kid you not when I first heard of him, before meeting him, it was in UWI’s library and a young girl was crying over the fact that he had broken up with her.

It confuses me though that he had a child with the current girlfriend, especially since his children are already in their early twenties. That last play doesn’t seem to be one from a mackbook, but it leads me to believe that his current girlfriend needs to write a mackbook of her own. She’s a true mackstress/pimpstress/playette.