This is about the closet nature of defacto Chauvenism.
Today I would like to address the ever so cryptic interrogative and descriptive powerhouse termed “why.” Now “why” in my limited understanding of vocabulary, consumes two major grammatical categories; interrogative such as “Why don’t you just eat like a normal person and use your utensils!!! And descriptive such as “That’s why you stink, cause you’re so granola that you only take one 2 minute shower a week!!”
Now, as I stated in a prior post on this blog, communication is one of the paramount keys to a successful relationships. So most times, you want to express the truth of your thoughts in a way which is not offensive. However, I have found that in a marriage, this rule has at least one glaringly volatile exception, namely the word “Why!!” You see early on in my 13 year marriage to my wife, I was confused about quite a few things and so why was a very popular means of communication.
“Why can’t you at least put some perfume on? I am not trying to hurt your feelings, but you smell like funk.” Similarly my wife, though more patient and tolerant than myself, would also have some whys of her own, such as, “Why don’t you put that Bible down and take out the dag on trash!!!”
Now as we have grown in maturity, we have become to realize that “why” while seemingly effective is most times useless at best and downright contentious at worst. Our 13 year old daughter reinforces this theory, as with almost every request that I have made of her surrounding chores, homework, spiritual study, practicing piano, or turning off her IPAD, she with a perspicacious propensity for in depth analysis responds, “Why?” Now when I was young and I asked my father “why” in reference to this or that, he would often say, “because I said so!” and that was it!! But like many somewhat ungrateful, self-righteous, and emulative 30 to 40 years, I have been determined to correct my father’s folly, augment my daughter’s wisdom and discussion making capacity, and “transcending” my father’s “imperial” approach by explaining every dimensions of my thinking surrounding my requests. Needless to say, perhaps as a result of her being programmed with too many audible whys as a child, my “rationalization” technique rarely works and I am forced to resort to grounding her, taking away her electronics, creating economic embargos on her sources of import income such as baby sitting, and of course on occasions when I am feeling especially irresponsible and lazy, bribery!!!
Now, as a person who struggles with narcissism, I have a tendency to secretly pat myself on the back. “Yes, even with Schizoaffective,” I say to myself,“ I make money for my family and I am here for my kids,” or “Yes, Yes, Machel may do much of the “Martha” cleaning the house and getting the girls ready for school type stuff, but I do the better “Mary” type thing and expose my children to my profound wisdom and affirming communication style. “Ah yes, I tell myself, if only everyone, had my insight and emotional IQ, the world would be a much better place!!” Of course this mentality gives way to quite a few “Whys,” some of which will be addressed in this exposition. Now let me be clear, after 13 years of marriage and actually wanting to experience sexual pleasure at the end of the day, I have learned to keep many of my “whys” to myself, and so what I am mostly referring to in reference to my current whys is lingering and resentful questioning that I keep bottled up inside until I can unleash it on my therapist or some of my minister friends.
For example when I go downstairs looking for something to eat, and there are invariably empty milk cartons and left over residue on the counter, I often silently ask myself, “Why can’t this female ever keep the house clean? Does she have some kind of cleanliness ADD, maybe it isn’t me that needs to be on meds, but maybe she needs some “clean house!” Abilify. Or when I come home from a hard day at school and now work and see her in sweat pants, an oversize t-shirt, and glasses that look like two reversed magnifying glasses connected by one of the ugliest frames that I have ever seen I ask, “Goodness gracious, why can’t this female make at least some effort to look good? She knows that I am on a campus with 23 year old undergrads every day, she knows that hypomania often makes me overly sexual, and yet she can’t even make herself presentable for a brotha?” But perhaps the worst and most frustrating “Why” of them all, is when I either borrow her car or offer to clean it. I mean when I get in this thing there are like burgers in the cup holders that hold the cups in place, there are wheat thins all over, and I get paranoid that at any moment a school of roaches is going to scamper across the car’s ceiling. And so I ask myself, “Why can’t this woman, just take 5 minutes a day and clean her car so that it doesn’t look like this?” Now every once in a while I hear a kind of annoyed voice say, “My man!! You got all these whys about your wife, why don’t you get off your psychological butt and start asking some whys about yourself!! But yo, you know a brothas got lingering psychosis and so I often attribute that voice to some old distorted delusion.
Now to digress for just a moment, I have always thought of myself as being extremely progressive in reference to gender equality. I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I often use the pronoun, “She” to represent God just to remind folks that God, in my opinion, is genderless and that all of this “Father” stuff stems from years of Patriarchal deception. I am constantly counseling divorcees and widows about their self-worth!! So, yo, I am one conscious brother!!! And so I have always seen my “Whys” toward my wife as totally legitimate and so every time I thought of a “why” concerning her, I would just remind myself of how magnanimous, patient, kind, gentle, manly, courageous, and all together just straight up righteous I am. I mean I write treatises on the sanctity and legitimacy of people with different sexual orientations. Yo, how much more like Jesus can you get?
Well anyway, last week, my wife reminded me of an educational training and networking trip that she had planned to go on last November. At first, in traditional pharisaic fashion, I was like, “Oh yeah that’s totally cool!” patting myself on the back for my “hands on” parenting style. But like days went by and I began to experience some subtle anxiety and all of the sudden found myself a little irritable, saying things to my wife life, “Yo, I just started a new job and you spring this crap on me? Yo, I feel like you puttin’ that whole literacy coach thang over your family responsibilities!!” And of course my wife, the master of laughing her butt off in the face of blatant hypocrisy simply said, “Well Orion, I am sorry that you can’t go to Jimmy’s doing prayer ceremonies until 4 am in the morning without giving me so much as a call and I’m sorry that you can’t go to clubs and bars, admittedly not doing anything “explicitly” problematic, but rather bolstering your fragile ego by seeing how many woman look at you in a night; but honey, I need to do this for my job, and because you agreed to do it several months ago, it is too late to make alternative plans.”
Now I will say one thing about myself. If a brotha or sista calls me out, and they do it respectively, then yo, I usually concede to the truth of the rebuke. So I had no choice but to man-up and take care of the kids for 7 days. “I mean how hard could it be, I told myself!!” Yo, I went to graduate school while sometimes seein’ imaginary spiders crawling all over the classroom, Come on!! That’s some old constellation stuff, What’s my name!!, I’m a ‘G’, I’m BAD like LL Cool J, and even with weight on me I’m like an oversized Chris Brown, cause I never lose my moves, and even at 280 I would still tear up the dance floor!! I got this thang backwards and forwards.”
And so I drove my wife to the Nashville’s Airport, excited about the week to come. But as I was driving home, I heard a still small ominous voice say, “My son, this week, many mysteries will be revealed to you, and many of the conundrums that have vexed your soul, will be understood!!” Now usually when I hear from God, a brotha is mad happy!! Cause the word is usually a word of hope. But this was a bit different. The word was hopeful you know, cause knowledge and understanding is always good, but there was like this strange sarcastic I mean almost mischievous satisfaction in the intonation of the voice. So I thought to myself,” Oh that probably was not God; it was probably just some fledging messenger angel who had not yet learned the ropes. Yo, a brotha’s good!!!
So we got home, and Gabby, my 2 year old, one of the most positive and joyful kids in the game, started to cry and she said, “Where’s mommy?” And I replied, “Oh mommy’s on a trip and she’ll be back in a week.” To which Gabrielle responded, “What’s a week?” So I said that a week was “seven days.” And Gabrielle asked, “What’s a day?” Now I am not known for my patience, so I immediately went for the distractive escape route. “Hey Gabby,” I said, let’s play with some “Your baby can read cards!”
Now the context of this scenario is that around a year and a half ago, wanting my youngest to be the smartest 5 year old that ever lived, despite my constant derision of our culture for its overemphasis on secular intellectual prowess often at the expense of moral integrity and emotional intuition, I told my wife when I saw the commercial on TV, “Yo, we’ve got to get that!!” “That is mad tight!” So the next day we bought it. And when it arrived, I was so excited when it came, that I left it in the box for like 5 days, until I asked the question, “Man that thing has been here for like 5 days, when is my wife going to open the damn thing?!!” So anyway, I pulled out the cards and put in the matching video. As soon as I got the cards out of the box, Gabby asked for them, so I gave them to her. She then proceeded to throw them one by one all over the room. So I said, “No Gabby!! And so I decided on another game!” I got “chutes and ladders”, and she threw all of the plastic players all over the room. I got a puzzle of a Giraffe, and she bent two of the pieces and again through the rest like an abstract painter or Picasso on too many 5 hour energy drinks, would cover a canvas. So I resorted to Holy Grail of 2 year old management. I mustered every bit of irresponsible impatience within me and said, “Gabby would you like some milk?” When I asked the question her eyes lit up and she said with that 2 year old slur, “Yes Daddy!” So I got the milk, and again asked a profound why question, “See, why doesn’t Machel just think of stuff like this, I mean this isn’t so bad!! If she would just go step by step, then the crib would stay clean no problem!!” Well I gave the sippy cup to Gabrielle, but forgot to tighten the lid. So Gabby proceeded to pour half of the milk into her mouth and the other half all over her clothes. But again, Orion had a plan, it wasn’t that cold in the house and it was time for Gabby’s bed time anyway. So I took off her clothes, put them in the washroom, put a pull up potty training diaper on her, turned on the intercom to her room, and lay on the bed!!!
Now the next day at 6am, I woke up as though from a bad dream. I didn’t know what my problem was, but I had this ominous feeling that something was wrong. So I called out to Autumn, my oldest, and she said with the annoying, grouchy intonation that comes from being awoken too quickly, “I’m Fine!!” I then went into Gabby’s room. Man, she was sound asleep. So I thought, “man, I am one distorted thinking, paranoid, dude!!” That is until I walked downstairs, and saw that Rocky had licked up all of the milk that Gabby had spilled the day before, had gotten into the garbage, and had crapped diarrhea all over the living room floor. In addition, I forgot to walk him the night before and so there was a conspicuous smell of dog urine which I could not quite place, but that was definitely present, and lastly because I forgot to lift the blind up out of Rocky’s reach, 3 feet of the bottom portion of our Living room blinds were torn up. My first thought was to put rocky outside on the upper level terrace and make him stay there all day. But my justice advocate oldest said, “Dad you can’t do that, especially when it was your fault for not walking him!!” Well I shut her up with, “Uh, I believe that you’re supposed to be walking him anyway and so you are steppin’ to me, based on your own dereliction!!” Well, she didn’t know what dereliction meant, but I felt victory nonetheless.
Now in reference to that morning’s breakfast, as the usual, intellectual powerhouse that I am, I bought like 5 boxes of waffles that could easily be toasted in our toaster. “Man” I thought to myself, “I am a straight up genius!!” Yo, not only were these, “integral parts of a balanced meal,” but they quick and tasted as good as some stuff from IHOP. Now, the time was 7:05 am, and I couldn’t believe that it was so late. But yo, a brotha as pretty as me, just can’t go outside with at least a quick shower. So I asked Autumn, my oldest, to watch Gaby as I took a quick shower. Well, after I got dressed and had Autumn got Gabby dressed. I drove to For Kids Only, Gabby’s day care. As soon as I got in, although my wife said that the people were mad nice, Gabrielle’s teacher said, “Um, Gabrielle is 20 minutes late and has missed morning exercises, with a pleasant tone, but also a kind of sternness that said, “Look Negro, get your daughter to school on time!!” Then, with another sort of pleasant, but also somewhat invasive statement she said, “Wow, I hardly see you around here. In fact, I didn’t even know that you were Gabby’s daddy.” To which now on the sheepish defensive, I responded, “Well I usually drive my oldest and not my youngest to school. Also, I have been in a PHD program which makes my schedule kind of erratic.” Now instead of the ego masturbating kudos that I usually savor when I mention the coveted “PHD Status” she said in matter of fact tone, “Oh that’s interested,” which I interpreted as “Negro, I don’t care if you got an EDD, PHD, MD, or SDT!! Get your daughter to day care on time!!”
So when I left, although my mind was like, “Ok, that’s cool I had it comin’!! The sister was just doin’ her job!” My heart was sayin, “That butt saggin’, bitter black heffa, the next time that female steps to me, she gonna get some get right!!”
So I drove back home to get my oldest and drive her to school. Of course she was in the bathroom cultivating her “Emo artistic masterpiece” sometimes referred to us old timers as “her hair style” so that the blue strips hung just right, and the short hair in the back lay down.” “Autumn, I said!! It is time to go!!” Of course, given the deep philosophical discussions that Autumn and I often had, I knew for a fact that this would work!! Well a half an hour passed, and after 4 bouts of screaming in front of her room so loud that the neighbors were probably tempted to call DCS on me, Autumn finally emerged!! So I dropped her off at school and went to the office that I was renting for my new Job. Now mind you, the time was now 9:45am and I usually arrived at my office at 8:15am. So I looked on my text messages, which I hadn’t checked all morning, and low and behold there was a text from my boss that said, “Where are you. I have been trying to call you since 8:30am. Needless to say, the conversation did not go well!!
As I worked throughout the day, half focused and half daydreaming. I felt the first ghost of “whys” visit me. And she said, “You see, you wonder why your house is always dirty. But now you know that it’s because your 2 year old wrecks everything as soon as it is straightened up, and then you internally blame your wife for her lack of organization. Repent! Or you will not only live in a pig sty until your daughter is 3 or 4, but your blood pressure will increase and you will live in a constant state of pharisaic and hypocritical frustration. The angel said, “you wonder why your wife’s car is so dirty. But have you seen your own car this morning? You have bottles of milk which you desperately used to satiate your daughter so that she would not show out at day care, consequently making you look even more ridiculous than you did before. Then the angel concluded, “You wonder why your wife doesn’t look like Venus when you get home. Please look at yourself in the bathroom mirror right now. So I looked. And I saw a t-shirt that was so small that my belly was hanging out of it, I saw bags under my eyes, and as I focused on the mirror started to smell a strange and disgusting aroma which the angel whispered, ‘oh by the way, that’s the funk from your teeth, which has developed since you not brushing them since your wife left.’ In parting, the angel said, “Now clean up all of that dog crap on your living room floor before it becomes one of the ‘stains’ that make you think that you are ‘doomed’ through marriage and kidsto have stank ass ghetto dwelling for the rest of your life!!”
Well I will spare you all of the stories involving the other answers to my “Whys” that God so “graciously and gently” revealed to me this past week. But I will share a couple which included, “Well baby, why do you get so vexed when you try and get Autumn to practice her piano, why can’t you just be like me, calm and secure, and gentle. Come on baby, just open up your love chakra, live in the moment, and breathe deeply.” The answer to this particular “Why” you might ask? Well it was sort like a group of commandments rather than a why which sounded something like, “Stop reading Eckhart Tolle for his stuff is only applicable to rich people living in Malibu and talk show hosts. Also, get off your meditative high horse once in a while and support your wife when she disciplines your oldest daughter, rather than using theological sophistry when sternness is necessary.” And trust me, those were just some of the Faustian revelations that God shared with me this week.
But, in my almost involuntary need for didactic moralism, I feel compelled to leave all child rearing, room painting, money earning, manly men out there who think that the extent of their domestic obligation is to mow the lawn, clip the hedges, and fix shit, just a couple of pieces of advice. I will also leave all manly “Guru” types that think they’re the next Wayne Dyer and dream of doing PBS specials, again with just a couple of suggestions?
1. Yo, stop judging your partner under the guise of “empathic curiosity” and start trying to truly feel where she/he is coming from, maybe even by the unorthodox means of putting down your Howard Thurman book and mopping the damn floor!! Yo, whenever you feel the urge to ask the question “why” in a critical manner concerning anyone else’s conduct, poke yourself in the eye. Not so much that you go blind, but just enough so that you can feel the gaping beam in your own eye that keeps you from even remotely seeing anyone else’s failings with any degree of helpful clarity. Every morning in addition to praying normally, get on the ground like a Muslim praying to Mecca and say the following, “Most Gracious God!! Thank you for your love!! And especially thank you for giving me a partner who puts up with my super spiritual ass!!” Every night, try to manifest some tears even if they’re fake. Get into a traditionally Christian prayer position with your hands on your couch or a low sitting bed and say the following, “Lord God, please have mercy on me for not only have I fallen short of your glory, but I am often just totally full of crap!!!
And lastly, buy a broom and a toilet brush and stop your complaining’!!!