Cross-posted at The Unmitigated Word
My wife likes to occasionally present my bottle of Frank’s® RedHot® or my tub of Kool-Aid® as examples of me being hood. She’s probably right, even though I could counter-argue (and win) by pointing out that both hot sauce and Kool-Aid are about as universally-binding to Americans as the Star-Spangled Banner and hot dogs. But even in the face of my opposition to those two American staples being used as representatives of the hood, I still concede that I’ve had other moments, which I unashamedly will share in this post, when my hoodness was on full display. Don’t blame me. I was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. Most of us Flintstones have probably did some of the same things.
(1) I’ve attended random strangers’ funerals just for the food. If you’ve ever been to a funeral held at a predominately-black church, you know that they love to serve food. Like, seriously, they live for this stuff. Inexplicably it seems, all the soul food cooking ability in the universe has been harnessed by the black church and distributed amongst a select few worthy people, otherwise known as a “Culinary Ministry.” These agents of culinary showcase their best work at funerals. Who am I, an insignificant speck in this vast and infinite universe, not to take advantage of this?
So whenever I was in the mood for some good turkey and dressing and mac n’ cheese but my mom wasn’t available, the obituaries were my go-to. They served as my ‘menu’, of sorts. “Oh. Deacon Smith passed? His service is at the Rock of Ages Baptist Church? Bet. They’re probably having dressing and gravy. Dinner time!”
Before you judge me, let me assure you that those days are past me. My wife, momma, and mom-in-law can all burn, so funerals are no longer my source of soul-food nourishment.
(2) I’ve purchased bootleg stuff. Anybody who has stepped foot in the ‘hood for even a second has heard the following phrase: “Yo! Got them DVD’s! Got them CD’s!” You can’t go to a barber shop, a weave store, a chicken joint, or a grocery store parking lot without running into a bootleg man. Thing is: for those of you not interested in breaking laws by purchasing pirated entertainment, there were (excuse me, are) plenty of other things a bootleg man has in his Car Trunk of Curious Goods (I’m trademarking that line. So please believe I’ll be Googling that term from now on to make sure y’all haven’t stolen it). Knock off cologne oils, Obama pictures, shoes, handbags. For the money, the bootleg man offers as much variety as Amazon could on its best day.
Besides, what better way is there to keep “black dollars” in the community than by supporting that unnamed store, down the block, through the alley, three doors down?
(3) I re-use old cooking grease. Not only is reusing old grease economically sound (have you seen how much olive oil is running for these days?!), but recycled grease has been said to enhance flavor. This has been scientifically proven somewhere. I just don’t know where or when the study actually took place. I just know it did. It had to have taken place. I mean, if not, why did Big Momma hoard that stuff like it was gold?
Now, what puts me in sort of a bougie part of the hood is that I don’t use jars. I use tupperware. From Ikea. Oh, and I store my grease in the cabinet and not on the stove. See? I’m a refined hoodrat.
(4) I have no qualms with sneaking food into the movies. Over the last several years, movie theaters across the country have made HUGE improvements in their food selections. They’ve gone from offering things that no sensible human being would ever dream of consuming to having some pretty edible items. Still, I prefer to smuggle in my own food and beverages. Why? Well it’s simple arithmetic, really. If a hot dog and a small drink for one person = the equivalent of two adult tickets and airfare to Hollywood for the red carpet premier of the movie, the decision is pretty obvious.
(5) I cheat in the grocery line. I guess this falls in line with stealing, sorry to say. But if I’m purchasing produce by the pound, I put minimal weight on the scale giving me the best deal possible. In other cases (especially with green onions, grapes, or lettuce) if I don’t need the full amount that comes pre-packaged, I’ll only take what I need from that package and the put the rest in another bag and back on the shelf. What can I say? They shouldn’t bulk the produce so much.
(6) Speaking of grocery store antics, if I’m really hungry at the store, I eat. It started with me nibbling on a cookie or sipping on a Gatorade. But it’s graduated to alarmingly high levels lately. I mean, I pay for it…so it’s technically not stealing right? Oh, don’t act like you’ve never made a ham and cheese sandwich in line. You pretentious so-and-so’s.
(7) I try on dress shirts even if it’s against store policy. I honestly think this one is less hood as it is a silent protest to both the antiquated way dress shirts are packaged and ridiculous store policies. I don’t apologize for trying on shirts. It’s an important part of the whole clothes buying process, which I generally try to avoid (I hate clothes shopping). If retailers choose to continue to waste their money on pins, cardboard, and paper for shirts, then they’ll just have to keep picking up the mess I leave for them after I’m done trying those shirts on. I mean, not all shirts fit the same. Not all materials feel the same. If there’s a problem with my shirt, I want to know NOW. Not after I buy it. Not after I drive all the way home. If you salesmen have a problem with that, kick rocks.
(8) I once moved a bed by tying the mattress and box-spring to the top of my car. Ironically, when I was moving to my apartment in Grand Blanc (the least hood part of the country. It’s French for “great white”, for crying out loud.) I wanted to save my $39 (i.e. what I’d spend on 15 bootleg DVDs) by not renting a UHaul. Instead, I had the bright idea of moving my possessions – trip by agonizing trip – with my 1998 Pontiac Grand Am. But once I got past all the people pointing, laughing and occasionally cussing at me for going 20 miles an hour down a busy street with a bed attached to my car, things were fine.
(9) I had a BlackPlanet account, even after it turned to the hood side. BlackPlanet.com was the lovechild of the hood and the Internet. But at the time of its inception, it was a rather humble and unassuming social networking site. People could meet and chat with new folks, reconnect with old friends, share a pic or two. It was what social networking was supposed to be. But then the hood got a hold of the site and refused to let go. Music playing in the background, amateurish web designs that would cause pages to crash by the thousands, and hood folks creating drama turned the site into the laughing stock it is today.
I should take this moment to point out that, now that I think about it, EVERY.SINGLE.ONE. of my black family and friends probably had a BlackPlanet.com account. I’d bet some of my non-black friends even had a page. So that makes them all equally as hood.
(10) I invoke God’s name as I’m in the process of doing/saying something I know is wrong. Examples: “I know we’re all sinners and we’ve all fall short of the glory of God, but if you say that again, I’m gonna kick your *bleep*.” “The Lord knows my heart, but if this light doesn’t change in the next five seconds, I’m running it.” ‘God, give me strength to deal with my stupid *bleep* co-workers.”
(11) My plastic bag collection is expansive and versatile. In my lifetime, I’ve used grocery bags as a lunch pail, a trashcan liner, a furniture polish applicator, window insulation, a dirty clothes separator in my travel luggage, a depot for grease I discard (after multiple uses, of course), a makeshift shoehorn, storage, etc. In fact, it’s likely that by the end of the week, I would’ve found another practical use for plastic bags. Honestly, as I’m writing this, I suspect this one also isn’t necessary sole province of the ‘hood. I bet you can find a thousand entries on Pinterest saying the exact same thing.
There you have it. A few reasons why I’m probably still hood, despite my best intentions. Still though, Kool-Aid and hot sauce need to stay off this list.
– Captain ALou
Two different players. Two different teams. Same test of blackness in America.
Golden State Warrior Draymond Green and Cleveland Cavalier superstar Lebron James may be opponents on the basketball, as their teams face off in this year’s NBA Finals. But two viral moments over the Internets have unified them as black men.
First, consider Exhibit A with Draymond Greene:
Secondly, I present Lebron James with Exhibit B:
What happened to these two gentlemen has undoubtedly happened at one point or another to every single black person in this country. You start off minding your own business, handling your affairs with your usual level of courteousness and civility. But then suddenly something happens creating an internal schism between your courteous self and the person from the hood you tried to leave behind. This emotional imbalance pushes you all-too-comfortably close to the brink of having what Aaron McGruder called a “n**ga moment”; a period during which even the slightest hint of aggression escalates into a massive conflict. Look it up: it’s a highly researched phenomenon and s***:
In the clips above, Draymond and Lebron were wrapping up their day. They were set to pack it up, grab a shower, head home, and enjoy the rest of the evening with their families. You know, what your average and decent person does after a hard day’s work. But deliberate assaults on their civility almost made them invoke the scary part of their blackness. For that moment, their status as professional basketball players didn’t matter. Being household names (Lebron mostly, by Dray’s making a mark for himself in some respects) didn’t matter. For the briefest of moment’s, their eyes told a much different story. They were right back in the hood.
This has happened to all of us at one point or another. We’ve been faced with situations that have almost dared us to channel our inner hood. Hearing a racist joke being told too casually. Being cut off in traffic. Being told you speak so well. People asking why it’s OK for you to say the ‘n-word’, while they can’t. People assuming watermelon and fried chicken are your favorite foods. A person bumping into you without offering so much as an “Excuse me.” The non-stop game invitations on Facebook (you know who you are). Folks trolling you in a comment thread. The list goes on and on. For a moment, your education doesn’t matter, your career becomes insignificant, and all of your accomplishments take a backseat to the n**ga that’s aching to come out. But just before it does, you have a prophetic moment. You remember that education, that career, those accomplishments. You remind yourself that in a moment’s notice, everything you’ve so hard worked for can be gone. You remind yourself that all it takes for the police to shoot you is one word of opposition. You think about all the people (known and unknown) who have paved the way for you to be where you are and all the black folks who will follow in the path you’re laying. You remember that people are scrutinizing you far more than your white contemporaries and are looking for any reason they can find to justify their prejudices about you. You factor all that in as you’re reeling yourself back in.
Draymond and Lebron could have justifiably gone hood. But they didn’t. Instead, they made a conscious decision to reign that mess in and to keep it moving. Do you?
– Captain ALou
There’s quitting a job…and QUITTING a job:
– Captain ALou
…becomes a stereotype.
A Florida man has been arrested after he choked his wife for consuming too much leftover fried chicken, according to local media.
WKMG-TV reported that Desmond Brownlee, 45, of Deltona, a city north of Orlando, became angry after he found that his wife, Shey Alamo, had eaten the leftovers. He then began to cook more chicken and became more agitated after she criticized his culinary technique.
The argument then escalated to the point where Brownlee pushed his wife onto a bed, struck her multiple times in the face and choked her, according to a police report posted on The Smoking Gun.
Alamo also said the couple were in dispute about the care of the woman’s mother, according to local cable channel News 13.
– Captain ALou
I’m experiencing the ultimate in cognitive dissonance right now. On the one hand, this is coonery of the worst kind. But on the other hand, homegirl is stacked. Can’t. Stop. Watching.
– Captain ALou
Cross-posted at my blog: The Unmitigated Word:
Happy Valentine’s Day, you lovestruck muddasuckas!
So I’ve long since moved on from the psycho otherwise known as my ex, and am now headed toward much friendlier and happier climes. As such, I’m in a very generous (and yes, Cupid-y) kind of mood today. This one is for the bruhs. Now, I’ve never believed in giving other men gifts…on Valentine’s Day, no less. But since I’m pretty much the smartest person I know, allow me to impart some sage words to the fellas that will ensure this Valentine’s Day won’t be your last (OK, you might ruin things some time during the year, but not tonight). Here goes:
1. Be on time. For people of color, I know this is genetically a challenge. But it’s imperative to ward off any genetic predispositions to being late. If your plans called for 8 pm, then dammit, be there at 7:45 pm. Now I know with men, there is some inexplicable differentiation in the ontology of time and we will likely get stuck waiting on the woman to get ready. But it is vital that at least WE are on time.
2. I don’t think I really need to tell you this, fellas. But when you’re picking up your date, get out of the car. Don’t wait in the driveway and blow your horn. Trust me: if you do that, she won’t come out.
3. Fellas, under NO circumstance should you EVER expect to “Go Dutch”. Perhaps after the fifth or sixth date, you can suggest she leave the tip or offer gas money. But even that’s a stretch. Even the most bold and unfettering feminists who “don’t need a man” apparently don’t expect to ever have to pay. I know: that one tripped me out too! I would’ve never thought…
*Important note here: If a woman offers to pay half or all of the tab, never, ever, ever, ever, ever take her at her word. If she makes a suggestion that seemingly lets you off the hook (i.e. “I don’t mind paying my half” or “Let’s do what YOU want to do”), think the opposite. If you take her at her word, you’ll live to regret it.
4. Don’t be deceived by the women’s liberation movement. Contrary to beliefs, we are STILL expected to be the decision makers when it comes to places to eat, movies to see, events to attend, etc. The key is, however: it HAS to be something she likes. As such, we need to poke and prod our way around their psyche to know what they like. From there, its our job to identify locations most germane to their interests. First, you have to find out she likes sea food. THEN you have to find a good sea food joint. One and two.
5. Once plans have been established, maintain those plans. Deviations and improvisations are not acceptable, unless she prompts them (and be prepared for changes and Plan Bs, especially if you’re dating a single mother, a work-a-holic, a fashionista, or a church girl).
6. Once you arrive at your destination, it is imperative that you do NOT flirt with the female employees at that establishment. Restaurants, for instance, are notorious for having female servers (usually pretty hot ones, too) who always seem to be ‘too friendly.’ Avoid the temptation. Avoid it.
7. If you are at a restaurant, leave a good tip. Throw the 10-15% rule out the window.
8. Be willing to pay heavily for a meal even if it means you have to solicit a Congressional bailout package to cover the tab.
9. Do not drive in separate vehicles unless – again – she prompts it.
10. Do not order FOR your date or BEFORE your date.
11. Shut up and listen. The only time you should speak – as Chris Rock brilliantly pointed out – is when you ask questions which allow her to continue talking.
12. When talking about the future, avoid being the first one to use personal pronouns in the plural sense (i.e. “we”, and “us”). To her, that sounds like you’re planning your future together before she is. Road closed. Thin ice. Drive around. THEY have to be the one who makes it official. Not us.
13. Go to unique places. Frequenting the same joints with different dates (if applicable to your dating situation) is dangerous, especially if the people around you mistaken your date for someone else.
14. Never accept seating in a ‘bad part’ of an establishment. Sitting behind the loud people in movie theatre, the messiest part of a restaurant, the nosebleeds of an event, etc. will lead to some sort of enigmatic transferal of blame. Even if you have nothing to do with the seating, it will nevertheless get pinned to you. I don’t understand that one. It just is.
15. Groom yourself well. I know being the pretty boy seems a little…uh…unmanly (?), but keep yourself well groomed. Don’t go overboard, though. Looking good for your date = good. Looking BETTER than your date = not so good.
16. Don’t do flowers, candy, balloons, or the other Hallmarky stuff until you know what she likes. If she doesn’t like it, she’ll dismiss it (and likely, you) as being corny.
17. Opening building doors is a given. Not so obvious is the question of opening car doors. This is one that even my female friends – much to my surprise – can’t universally speak to. The only cases where it seems mandatory to get the passenger door is when you’re already approaching the car from that direction or when weather is an obstacle. Every other situation is subject to debate. I’d just err on the side of caution and open every single door you encounter. Play it safe.
18. Only hugs are acceptable at the end of a date, unless – again – she prompts something different. Handshakes are too corporate. Kisses are too violating. Hugs are a safe middle ground.
19. Walk her as far to her door as she’ll allow. She will usually let you know where to stop when she stops the first time (once again, a subtle move I never picked up on…). Also, don’t drive away until she’s safely inside. Sheesh.
20. No matter what you’re doing, calling her the next day is vital. To date, I can’t figure out what its so critical that a woman be called back the next day. But apparently it is. Just do it. Ours is not to reason why…
Anything else you can add? If not, be on your merry way. Get it done, bruhs!
– Captain ALou
I give up on life.
– Captain ALou