My name is Joliee, but call me Joe for short, I live on East and Vine street on the poor side of town. Still no matter if were poor or not mama always made us get dressed up for Sunday church. It was on a Sunday when I first seen the lady, yep, the lady I reckon but really never knew her." She walked past mama and I noticed mama made a hiss sound and looked away, reckon tha was the day that made me think about lots of things." My first thought was why the lady had a pair of jeans on and a plain blue shirt with the tail hanging out."
I knew she was different, I stared at her, and mama scored me to not stare, but the lady looked back if she knew me from someplace, it was then I knew I was different."
I was only twelve years old and had many different jobs, such as washing clothes and odds and ends." When I got older it was then I got me a better job washing cars, saving up my money was all I thought about."
Yep, I was going to leave this place and find the place i knew was different like me, and I was going there one day." My mama always tell me to hang out with girls, and then why I never had me a boyfriend, never could please mama, she was a bit confusing to me at sixteen."
I saved enough money to buy me a Peugeot so i could get around and see places." One day I ran into a boy named Pete he told me he seen me always riding around by myself, said I had to get lonely." Yep, I did get lonely lots of times but told him he was not going to be my company, musta upset him because he never spoke to me for few days.
Oh well, mama was on my back again about spending times with girls my age, there she went again confusing me with all her talk."
I was finally eighteen and out of school and had saved more money, it was time to move on, find that place where I belonged. Mama knew I never had enuf money so I had to live longer with her."
Mama told me I need to find some girls to hang with, so I did but felt like I never belonged, it was not my cup of tea, and with the guys they were always talking about girls and things I never like to hear. They laugh and poke at each other and talk kissin and work thier way down toward other areas. I felt out of place so I left and got in my car and drove around till I found something different. I was tired of seeing same old places, all the dirty side walks, little houses without porches, no yards.
Most of the houses looked like death traps, so I drove over to a place to sit down and hide away from everyone.: It was a bench hid behind some trees.
I sat there and looked around at all the tall trees and thought I was well hid behind the bushes, but it was behind those bushes I seen a young woman standing, she never seen me, she seemed to anxius.:
I would turn my head away but still would glance back and when I did I seen another person walking toward the woman. They reached out and hugged each other and gave one another a long kiss, it was then I noticed it was NO man, it was a woman, I had caught their eyes and mine were fixated on them both." My mouth dropped and my eyes woudl not move, as they both looked at me and giggled. I jumped up and ran to my car and jumped in and sped away, going fast and feeling good in a good way, driving fast and feeling all giddy." They both just looked at me and laughed if they never cared who seen them.
I just kept driving around listenng to music and I started singing out loud while driving back home, but had a change of heart and turned my car in the other direction toward Pete's house but why I asked myself.
I just sit still in the car in the dark thinking about what I had just see, I honked the horn for Pete to come on. He grabbed his coat and ran toward the car and jumped in and leaned over and kissed me....WHy did you do that I asked him, that was strange, a quick slick on the lips.
I need to talk someone about something, uh, uh about being gay, you know what I mean right, Pete. He pulled back some and asked me, maybe you think you are gay, look over here at Hugo lee is a Hulk." You need to listen to me, you kinda promised, I dont care about your Hugo lee or what you call it." I need to talk to you about mama, Pete you going listen to me, or think about your Hugo lee. Pete always call his Privates a Hugo lee, ifn I say that word in front of mama she would give me a whippin of my life." Now go on girl tell me what you want to talk about so bad."
Mama say this and Mama say that, my head is all ran out of room with dis confusion.
No, no more of telling me to hang out with or what sex I should pick to hang out with. mama has told me so much stuff and my head is to full to thin aymore. Girl you need to go home to mama, cuz that all you talk about is your mama.
Go on Joe, home is waiting for you, said Pete, I will see you tomarrow, maybe by then you know you will want me as he pulled off his shirt and showed off his abs," Okay, I am leaving, you not interested in my Hugo lee, to much thiinkin on you mama. See you tomarrow maybe you have your head on straight, tonight it is twisted, said Pete, he shuts the car door and walks towrard his house.
Next morning I was up bright and early getting ready for work when mama hollered at me to come into kitchen." I knew the sound of her voice this was not good, not good at all. Mama was sitting at table with her apron on, I sit down across from her in one of the wooden chairs." Mama stared at me for a long time before she spoke, what do you think you doing running around at night, out bein all wild and crazy. I looked back at mama with a confused look on my face, what you mean wild and crazy. I heard about you and Pete in your car with his shirt off, dont go lying to me girl, you still under my roof and under this roof you still obey rules.
You have it all wrong in your head, mama, I ant likin to boy, we just good friends and Pete tried to get all boyish on me, I don't think he know who he is in life. What you talkin about girl, think he don't know who he is in life, my gracious girl he is a boy that is plain to see......mama's voice upset really bad with me with that answer.
Mama was a hard nosed Afrcan American who always spoke her mind, she never belived in things being changed, bible was bible to mama..
I got up and left kitchen, mama just sat there..she mad, made her hissing sound at me, made me think back about time when she hissed at the woman wearing jeans on a Sunday.
Bye mama, I goin be late for work now, see ya later, you gettin things all wrong in yur mind. Don't go back talkin me girl you just eighteen and no nothin, just cus you got you self little education no meanin you talk like to me.
I sorry mama, be back soon. Pete was waiting on the corner of East and Vine wavin at me like some strange monkey. I pulled over to curb and let him in.
hey girl yu lookin fine dressed in that white dress, fine lookin to me, how about me and you take a day off and go park under Wilson's shade tree, he laughs.
No I ant going parkin with you, besides you confuse me as much as mama does. What's wrong with you girl? you been actin all strange here lately.
I got me a sceret, if you dont go blabbin I tell you. What now girl?
You have to promise first you ant telling no one about our secert, cuz it be our sceret if i tell you too. I promize tell me what is wrong with your mama. Stop being alll funny, I see two girls kiss in the dark time while I was back in the park one night, I don't know anymore. What you mean you dont know anymore about what girl. I ant never seen anything like that before. Well girl you dont have too, I am here and we can go park under Wison's shade tree. I ant parkin no where with you. Here girl take your hand and see what I got for you..stop that Pete you being all nasty, beside you ant brused you teeth this morning. What does that got to do with...have to do with my Hugo."
Mama say ifn a boy dont brush teeth, then ant worth a kiss on the lips or no were if for that matter. Girl you been round you mama to long, hopin you dont turn out like her. You mama got too many youngins and they scattered everywhere, she no need bible jumpin anyone for that matter. You hush your mouth, mama is good woman she loved men to much when she was younger, now she changed to bible ways more. You mama ant no old woman but she sure look like an old woman all overweight and wearing those stockings all the time. Stop bad talkin bout mama she done no harm to you or no one she is just different.
Pete seemed more let down about his Hugo lee is what he called it, which was that lump in his pants, he always talked bout that stuff, seem his mind was always bout the nasty."
I goin to be late for work, you talk all this boy talk, I serious about stuff happening, I am confused with everything in life, I must be leavin see you later."
Time seemed to slowly distant me and Pete, and I never saw him for longest of time, but I finally I had saved enuf money to go somewhere, mama was not to pleased." You ant going no where girl, you never have enuf money unless you do what u mama done in younger days, it feed you yungins. Mama I ant never doin what you don in you life, I have education to get me a job at new place called SouthWest Missions. I never forget day when left mama left standing at front door cryin but had to go on with searchin for myself. I did mentin one thing to mama she did take to kind to my sayings."
Bye mama stop tears, you be alright you have church friends and when I mentin the preacher mama's face became blushed." Go on child, go now, she changed to a new face, and changed when I said preacher, she knew I had seen him over late at nights. Mama always made herself up when chruch preacher stoped by."
I loaded up my car with everything I owned, two pair of shoes, one were my Sunday besr, two dresses, and the rest consisted of woren out odds and ends. I loved the one pair of jeans that were faded and woren with holes, with my favorite tee shirt also with holes, which showed some of my skin through holes." I was ready to go, waved to mama and drove off to my I thought would be my dream place.
Reckin I was fooled after I arrived there at Midnight, parked my car in parking lot of South West Missions a place to work and earn mo money." I hurried out of the car and walked to the front door of the big building, never seen anything like it ever before in life, but never been no where in life yet."
I was knockin on that big door seemed like forever....I remember Mama always tell me never bang on anyone's door unless you in some kind of bad trouble. I was not in no trouble but startin to think in this big place no one could hear no one ifn you were in trouble." It was after that thought the huge door opened wide like some kind of ghost behind it." I walked in lookin around kind of dazed and confuszed." It was then behind the big door was a huge lady standing, she looked down at me, she seemed all strange." Then all sudden she bursted out laughin, sort of scared me at first, thought she musta be crazy or something." This huge African Amercian woman patted me on my back, come on in youngin and you must be Josie, r Joe. I nodded my head up and down. My goodness child what on earth happened to that head of hair, it looks like a rats nest been in there." Huh, I asked a rat's nest." Youngin your hair needs some tamein, and you need some meat on those skinny bones." I was skinny and my skin was tanned not dark just looked more brown like a white woman who gets tan in her garden while bein out everyday workin. Mama always said she never understood why white women want to be dark like us African Amercian folks, except mama used another expressin for us."
I was still standing waitn for the huge woman to take me somewhere to sleep, maybe a cot to sleep on." Come on follow me to your room youngin, we will work on you tomarrow after good nights rest." She opened up a door to a room and it was big and the bed was fittin for a king." Go on, this is your room, youngin." Huge lady turned around before she left and said my name her is Bertha Bath." She turned and walked on down the hallway and her steps were loud when she take a step, her butt shook from side to side when she walked." I watched her walk plum out of sight,"
Bertha Bath, I thought was a stange name, but she thought maybe she thinks my name is strange too."
I walked over to that big ole bed, it had big post like tall trees and the matress was full and the pillows were fluffy like feathers." I lay down across that big bed and smiled to myself, I thought this was my place, I was so tried I drifted off to sleep." Next mornin came early with a banging on my door, I jumped out of bed fast and ran to open it, thought something bad musta happened." Nope just Bertha Bath standing there with a smiling, when she smiled with big grin her eyes became small, and her cheeks were fat wtih rose color on them. Come on youngin time for you to get your bath and get your hair combed out, you have to be ready for your big time. I still had sleep in my eyes, but I nodded and followed her down that big hall way. Bertha pushed a door open with her big size body and stepped inside and I walked in behind her. I jumped back after what I saw, there were girls all over that room sitting in big tubs of water with other girls combing their hair and puttin stuff on their faces."
Come on girlie we got work to do, said Bertha as she walked over to one of the girls sitting in a large tube of water, they were not all African Amercian, they were white girls, and some were I think another type, I had never seen so many girls in one place at a time. One girl had slant eyes and dark hair she was beauty to look at. then all at once somone was behind me tuggin at my shirt and another at my worn blue jeans. Stop it, I shouted to them, I had no idea what they were tryin to do with me." It is okay, said Bertha you goin take you a bath and smell better and get that rat nest out of hair before you go to work, ant no one want a girl lookin like you."