My Favorite Old School One Liners!

I have never been into Thanksgiving because of the way the holiday is portrayed vs. the reality of the relationship between the Native Americans and the settlers from Western Europe.  Truthfully it’s merely a welcome “off day” for me.  But the one cool thing about Thanksgiving is that it gives family a chance to gather.  For some they would rather stay away from family, but with my schedule in life, I generally don’t get the chance to see them.  The holiday presents an opportunity for everyone to gather in the same space for a short period of time.  Sort of a mini-family reunion.

Back in the day I was the little kid running around with my cousins.  Now I am a part of the grown folk.  There are still a few remaining elders among us, and seeing them reminds me of the things they used to say.  During these times when the “grown folk” get together, I reminisce about the funny antidotes they used to say when talking to us or to one another or to us.  The feisty and clever one liners.  I will offer a few of my favorites… feel free to share some of yours too! 

First I will give you the line, and then the interpretation behind it.   Enjoy!

Everybody thats grinnin ain’t smiling.  (For recognizing the difference between friends and those who pretend to be friends.

A stitch in time saves nine. (The virtues of dealing with any task early as opposed to later after major damage is done.)

You don’t think fat meat greasy! (That is when a person is being hard headed.  In other words he/she continues to do something that could bring danger and possibly a whooping!)

Imma give ya something to cry for! (This is when a child cries for a reason that doesn’t merit crying.  A whooping is forth coming if the crying doesn’t immediately stop)

What are we eating?  Mustgo!  Whatever didn’t go yesterday, must-go today!  (My grandmother the late Georgia Moore when she wasn’t hearing the thought of cooking that night.)

And My Personal Favorite~

Ain’t nothing open after midnight but legs!  (Old school classic for enforcing curfew.  If your home after midnight, you must have been screwing.)

Give me some more family!

Movies That Scared The BeJeezus Out of Me

Friday will be yet another “Friday the 13th.”  I am not superstitious mind you but there are always horror or scary movies released around that time.  I think of the new Mark Walberg movie “The Happening” that will start this weekend.  Looks wierd – and I think I’m game to check it out.  This got me to thinking…

You ever watch a movie and have wierd dreams that remind you of the movie you watched?  This happens to me from time to time.  Generally speaking I try to stay away from violent movies or horror flicks late at night, cause I don’t want those images to be the last thing imprinted upon my spirit.  But thats not a cure all.  Recently I watched Big Momma’s House and the new Chronicles of Narnia and later had dream that Lester (Terrance Howard’s character in ‘House) was trying to shoot me with bows and arrows. (Narnia)  Its amazing how pictures and images will invade and reflect upon our dreams.  With that in mind…  it cause me to think of the movies that scared me the most as I was growing up.  Or in some cases, not that long ago.

The Happening (2008) Poster

1) Jaws – I saw this classic as an 8 year old.  It was July 1975 and we lived in the Normady Owens Projects we called, “The Hole” cause it was literally underground.  We had no air conditioning and the apartment was as hot as the dickens.  Didn’t matter… I was so scared I was deep under the covers sweatin like the devil.  I remember hearing some kids were scared to take a bath.  But I wasn’t that bad.

Jaws (Widescreen Anniversary Collector's Edition)

2) Damien The Omen II – Not only was this Anti-Christ talk and the three 6s in dude’s head scary, but that darn opera chanting made this one all the more scary!  I thought Damion was going to get me!

Omen II

3) Phantasm – In a way I was intrigued by this mad doctor who threw those silver balls with the blades protruding out of them.  But in watching it I bit off more than I could chew.  I had nightmares about dude for days!



4) Abbey: (The Black Exorsist) – I was only 7 when I went to see this.  It was a part of a double feature that my sister and I saw along with Cooley High.  My parents dropped us off and picked us up later in the afternoon.  When that girl started gagging and spittin green stuff in the movie – I lost my freaggin mind crying like a lil bee-ach! I was spiritual as I knew it back then and into church.  So I believed fully in the devil.  I wanted to stay out in the hallway till the movie was over but my sister knew she couldn’t leave me.  For once, she actually felt for her lil brother and put her arms around me during the film and told me it was going to be OK and that it was just a movie.  Thanks Darcel!

5) Fallen – Darn straight I was an adult when this one came out.  But boy did it give me the creeps.  The whole touching scene on the street where the evil spirit Azazal goes from one person to the next was off the meat rack son!  The Rolling Stone’s jam they played at the end (Sympathy For The Devil) during the credits is quite haunting.  Here is a small sample:

Please allow me to introduce myself
Im a man of wealth and taste
Ive been around for a long, long year
Stole many a mans soul and faith
And I was round when jesus christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But whats puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
I stuck around st. petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain
I rode a tank
Held a generals rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah



The Great Prophylactic Embarrassment


When I was in the 11th grade I was still pretty much a virgin.  I mean I had experimented with sex but it never really worked out.  Nevertheless I had a long relationship with a girl the year before.  She was a senior and I was a sophomore.  Her name was Tina.  Anyway we never really got through doing the “grown up” but nevertheless I bought a single condom at a local confectionary “just in case.”  I kept it in my wallet.

We did the prom and everything – no sex.  Even after she graduated we agreed NOT to have sex as a way of saving and respecting ourselves.  However, this guy she met who lived next to her dad’s house convinced her otherwise.  They were hitting the sheets on the regular behind my back – and soon she was pregnant.  I was in pieces – but we remained friends.  She married the guy and he went to the Army to support his new family.

The next year I was a junior.  I had no girlfriend but I was cool enjoying my time at school.  During that time my niece Crystal was born.  I was so proud of her.  One day I was walking the halls and I ran into one of the hall monitors at the time – an English teacher named Miss Bonner.  We got along great!  I figured she was looking to bust me for not having a hall pass during class.  So I was ready to proudly display it.  She didn’t go there.  She asked how I was doing and I said, “GREAT!”  I told her about my new niece and asked if she wanted to see the picture.  “Sure!” she blurted out sharing my excitement. 

I pulled the wallet out of my back pocket and began to flip through the pictures – the thing turned upside down and I showed  her the picture.  To my surprise however her eyes darted to something else.  Unknown to me while I was flipping the wallet looking for the pics, BAM!  The condom hits the floor.  Mind you there is no one in the hallway but me and the teacher.  MY TEACHER whom I had to see everyday!  She said, “Uhhh, you dropped something.”  I looked down and saw the poor unused thing that was of no use to me.  The jenk was so old and crusty it was starting to come out the packet.  I had forgotten all about it.  It was hidden in a secret department mind you.  Needless to say, as a friend of mine likes to say, “You could have bought me for a penny!” 

The look of embarrassment on my face was evident.  To get busted by my teacher by telling her I was having sex was bad enough.  She simply smiled and said, “Thats ok, at least your using safe sex.”  I sure as hell wasn’t going to bother trying to explain to her that, “No this old thing was something was gonna use had I had the chance to have sex with the girlfriend I had last year.”  I didn’t even know how to put the thing on I was so inexperienced.  It was a no win situation.  No explanation needed. 

As I began to sweat and feel the weight of the world upon my shoulders, I said something about having to go to class and tucked my tail between my legs and got ghost!  And what is the moral of this story?  I don’t know if there is one.  But I did learn that sometimes you just have to walk away and be misunderstood. 

Puppy Love and 5th Grade Politics

Ok – so I wrote this blog about my relationship with Jose Cuevas who didn’t speak English – that is till I caught him hitting the “hippie lettuce” in the garage – But I mentioned during that story that my other Mexican friend Alfred Hernandez (who spoke English very well thank you) had a sister that I liked named Leticia.

Leticia or “Letsy’ as her family lovingly referred to her was in my 5th grade class.  She had fair skin and long brown hair.  She wasn’t necessarily the prettiest girl in the class – she had a serious look about her though and she was quiet and yet smart. I was smitten.  She was shy so she didn’t socialize much.  I never had a real reason to like her for real cause we never talked about anything.  It was just a crush thing I suppose. 

Anyway somehow it got out that I had eyes for her.  But no one really said anything out loud.  That is until Robert Sanchez decided to blow up the class.  I don’t remember the details exactly, but the teacher was out of the class and we were all joking around and talking.  Someone said something about Leticia that had nothing to do with me or boys, but Robert took it upon himself to blurt out… “Leticia?  Oh that’s McCalee’s lady.”  My mouth fell open and as I darted my head over to her seat I sighed cause I knew she was terribly shy.  She was not the subject of any classroom kid conversations and this was the worse one to start with.  I could see the fury in her eyes and she must have thought I was the one who spread that rumor.  Well I didn’t.  I never talked about Leticia – I think I told Ivel Jennings or Rob Laskowski but definitely not Sanchez especially. 

I wasn’t savvy enough to approach her and assure her that it wasn’t me.  I was handcuffed without knowing it.  But I hoped it would blow over.  It didn’t.  I called Leticia from time to time.  I would be so nervous that I would write down the things I should talk about so I wouldn’t be holding the phone as if I was playing a game of ‘silent chicken.’  But the tone was always set negatively from the go.

ME: Hello.  May I speak to Leticia? 

Brother Hector for instance: Hold on….  Letsy – telephone.

Leticia: Hello

Me: Hi Leticia how are you?

Leticia: What do you want?

Me: Uhhh, just wanted to see how you were doing.  That was some spelling test today huh?

Leticia: I gotta go… bye.  CLICK

Thats how it went on more than one occasion… or whenever I had the guts to call her.  And don’t even think about speaking to her at school.  Cause that was out.  I thought for sure that she hated me.  That was until I stayed the night at her house as a invite of my boy Alfred’s.  We did a home and home Friday night stay and when I came over to my surprise Leticia and I got along great.  We ate, watched TV, laughed till our stomachs hurt, ran around the yard and at night chased each other around the house having pillow fights.  I couldn’t believe the girl I was seeing.  She was smiling, laughing, more talkative than I had ever heard in school.  We had a ball.  Nothing romantic at all – but big fun as kids just being kids.

Upon getting back to class on Monday I spotted ‘Letsy’ and thought of speaking or telling her again how much fun I had at her house with her family.  She shot me a subtle look as if to say, “You better not!”  I got the message.  Leticia never had anything against me.  She thought I was an OK guy.  But the thought of it appearing that she had ‘a thing’ with me was not going to be acceptable.  Nevermind that we never had anything romantic goin on in the first place.  It was just the appearance of it.  If she was like my youngest daughter is now at the age of 10/11, she didn’t even like boys yet.  My kid loves her some Chris Brown but that doesn’t count.  My point is that Leticia wasn’t messing around with any of the little cats in the school yard. 

It was all good.  I never called Leticia again.  I avoided her at school.  And she in turn didn’t give me the gas face anymore if we happened to bump into one another.  We had an “understanding.”  It was my first lesson in pupply love and 5th grade politics.

**I had not spoken to Alfred or Leticia since I left South Bend in 1981.  I did speak to their mom about 3 years ago.  I called their old number just to see if it was still good.  Alfred’s mom remembered me and gave me his number, but he never answered and whomever answered the phone didn’t seem to care to give him the messages.  Leticia – married with at least four kids at the time.



Friends Beyond Language ~ Or Something Like It

When I was growin up in South Bend, Indiana from the ages of 8-14, part of the fun for me was living among other cultures and races.  Most all of the people I came into contact with living in East St. Louis, Illinois were black.  When we moved and I started going to Benjamin Harrison School K-8, I was exposed to not only people of African-Descent who looked like me, but also Caucasions and Mexicans.  As a matter of fact, there was a very large Mexican migration from Mexico and Texas during the 70s and early 80s.  This is common place now in America, but South Bend was at that time starting to become just as integreated as Chicago or Miami would be.  Having a love for people of all races, I quickly made friends with many people.  There was Robert Laskowski.  He was a cool Polish kid who was my age.  There was Alfred Hernandez, he was a Mexican kid who was a couple years younger than me.  So he was like a little brother to me.  After he and I became friends I found out that he had a sister (Leticia) as well that was in my class that I had a big crush on.  (Thats another blog so stay tuned.)  I had Black friends too like Ivel Jennings.   Each of these friendships were special to me.  But none of them had the unusual circumstances surrounding them like the friendship I had with Jose Cuevas. 

Jose was a year older than me.  We both lived on Liberty and his house was just a block away.  He came by way of Mexico to live with his uncle.  They had a large family and to this day I don’t remember exactly how we met or got hooked up.  But we did.  We hung out all the time walking the neighborhoods.  We’d walk to the store, catch the bus or ride our bikes to the mall.  Normally if you saw me you saw Jose.   Sounds like a typical boyhood friendship right?  But not quite.  I would talk and talk and talk to Jose, but Jose never talked back.  Thats because Jose didn’t understand English, nor did he speak it.  That didn’t stop me from talking as if he understood everything I said, nor did it stop him from hanging out with me.

It was over Jose’s house that I learned what real authentic Mexican food taste like.  Yummy!  I saw his aunt make homemade tortillas and they would warm them by putting them on top of the burning eye on top of the stove.  When one side was warm after a few seconds they would take their hands and flip them over without getting burned.  It was over Jose’s house that I learned what birthday parties with Piñatas were all about.  Only half of his household spoke English.  He had an older cousin who used to whistle that flirting whistle every time she saw me before giggling and walking away into the other room.  I never heard her speak a word of English.  They were the absolute coolest people and I loved going over there.  They accepted me as one of their own.  When Jose wanted to get my attention, he would whistle as well – not the flirting kind but in a “heads up” way to get my attention and then he would point to something or the direction he wanted to go.  And thats how we got down. 

Sometimes I often felt sorry for Jose too because he also went to Harrison School, and one day while walking home from school he showed me his report card.  I was proud of mine and happy that the good grades I got assured me of not getting punished once my mother saw it.  But not Jose’s.  It had a full row of F’s from top to bottom.  Its not that Jose was stupid, he didn’t understand the language and there was absolutely nothing in place for him to transition.  Even in the 5th grade I could figure that out.  I’m not sure if he even knew his grades were bad or not. 

Later on Jose learned to speak some English, though he never revealed this piece of information to me.  I learned it purely by mistake ~ or should I say by some strange circumstances. 

I walked to Jose’s house and though he were not home his uncle told me where to find him.  He was at a neighbor’s house in the garage.  I went through the backyard, around the alley and eventually found the garage.  Opening the door to look for my “boy” my mouth went agape after my eyes fixed on what Jose had in his hands.  It was a blunt!  I could smell it all in the garage and I was shocked.  Beginning my lecture I started in.  “Jose, what are you doing?”  (I was real proper talking back then) “I can’t believe you are in here smoking marijuana!”  (yes i said marijuana) “Man are you crazy, dope is for dopes and junk is for junkies!”  (I saw that on an episode of Fat Albert.) “What do you have to say for yourself?!” I said that as if I expected this dude to talk, but you have to understand that is how we, errr I always communicated. 

Jose said nothing… just sat there with this stupid look on his face as if he had not understood one damn thing I said.  Finally I said, “Well if you have nothing to say fine!   I am leaving!”  As I stormed out his friend with whom he was sharing the ‘budda’ blurted out in a Latin accent, “Hey man, he’s gonna tell!”  He said it in English not Spanish.  Well all of a sudden, in the name of Jimmy Swaggert a miracle occured.  Jose began to speak… English no less.  He ran after me exlaming, “Cliss Cliss… WAIT!” 

The fact that he did learn some English without telling me didn’t seem to bother me at that time at all.  Nevermind we had been cool for almost a year and the cat never spoke a word to me.  I was not a snitch and was quick to let him know.  “Man I ain’t gonna tell on you!  I just don’t want to be around while your smoking that dope!” 

Jose and I never spoke again about that little incident.  I acted as if it had never happened.  Shortly aftwerwards he moved to Texas to stay with some other relatives.  I assume their school systems were better able to accomodate a young man trying to learn his way around and eventually become a citizen.  He surfaced again a couple years later speaking English a lot better.  By then all he could talk about was girls.  He was 16 now and his hormones were going a mile a minute.  I wasn’t into lusting yet.  So I couldn’t relate.  Our friendship was never the same and I learned for the first time that you can’t always pick up where you left off.  I’ll never forget Jose.  I sometimes wonder what he is up to.  But I laugh at the thought that when it comes to the fear of getting in trouble, language becomes universal.