Sardonic Sistah Says

Observations… Ruminations… Ponderances… & Rants from Another Perspective

Locked Away Love

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A few years back  my friend Lonnie was asking me advice about what to do about our friend Tonya.  Tonya asked Lonnie to go on a double date with her which Lonnie agreed to since she was single.

“Gurrrrrl,” she said rolling her eyes.  “I am so mad at her.  This guy was horrible, he was crass, and then I had to pay for the date.  She called me up the other day saying “He likes you.  Can I give him your number?’  I’m like hell no, I can’t believe you did this to me.  Nay, I can’t even tell you all the stuff that went on because I am so upset, but what does she think of me?”

“Did he just get out of prison?” I asked.

“That’s not funny,” Lonnie set her eyes straight on me and gave me an angry look I’ve never seen on her before.  “Why would you ask that?”

“Oh, its just that someone told me she liked to write to men from prison.  You know, because the number of good black men is hard to find.”  The problem also might be that Tonya is very overweight.  Lonnie also is college educated and a bit chunky, but unlike Tonya her weight is in curvy proportion and she often comes off like a playful sexkitten to men at times.  She owns her own home and is known for being a bit spoiled.  After I mentioned the prison guys Lonnie’s emotions went from disbelief to highly pissed in a matter of seconds.

“Wha the— WHAT?  She better not have fixed me up with a prison guy.  Who told you she dates prison guys?”

“I thought you knew?  You used to work with her –I don’t even work with her and I knew.”

“Gurl, oh, hell no.” Lonnie began shaking her head.

“Just ask her if dude was from prison and so no to the next date,” I said.

“Uh.. duh!”

I guess this is where we are in the dating world.  Black women, who feel they aren’t as much in demand because they feel they are too dark or too old or overweight so they have lowered (or abandoned) their standards to have a man.  I remembered when I was shocked when I learned a relative had remarried to a guy she met while she was doing prison missionary work with the church.  Her children were teens at the time and were out the door as soon as they came of age.  The relatives marriage to the ex-con only lasted a few years and now she’s single.

I know some will point at examples like this and think that these black women have low self esteem, but I think its also shows that we have low estimation of one another.  Black women have low opinions of black men because we think most of them are parolees and the ones that are of higher calibre don’t want us.  Black men think that we are desperate and willing to accept anything.  And with many feeling this way it becomes a self fulling prophecy. 

Looking at the battlefield in the war of the sexes between bm and bw it seems as if bm have won this battle but just slightly.  By bm accepting the low view bw have of them it encourages them to not do better for themselves and up to their bad reputation.  BW need to be more like my friend Lonnie, who loves herself unconditionally and no matter what image the media is selling she knows she’s a dime.  Many black women claim to know they are all that but then sell themselves short when it comes to finding a man who matches them as well as cherishes them.

When I was younger I dated a guy who went to jail.  It was an off again on again thing and even at the time I wasn’t even sure why I was with him besides the fact my friends pushed me to be with him (that’s a whole other post).  He was locked up in jail for drinking and driving and he called me up to come see him.  I mentioned it to my friends, who of course had men who had also went to jail and they encouraged me to go see him.  And I went.  I had a guy who liked me drive me there and I spent the whole time laughing at him, telling him his curl was effed up (it was 1988, the curl was still in) and telling him not to drop the soap.  It was over for me after that.  I didn’t care for the idea of being a moll.  My girlfriends would get their letters from their locked up boyfriends and the letters were usually 5-10 pages long.  One friend’s envelope had a drawing of unicorns and rainbows on it and she felt so touched.  She still has that damn letter to this day along with a deep resentment for black man and a mantra that black men ain’t shit.  She’s also unmarried and bitter. 

The whole idea of having a man who is locked up really gets to some women.  One, they know where he is and two they know he’s not cheating on them (they hope).  Three, men locked away get reflective and romantic.  They begin to write long, soppy love letters confessing their innermost thoughts and writing professions of love.  Sometimes they are writing the same letters to other women, too, but you don’t know because you can’t see that. All you see is the long letter and the emotions behind it.  Sometimes you might find out if you go to visit him in jail and see someone else’s name on the roster who has come to visit him.  So, for all you know all he’s doing is thinking of you and counting off the days until you are together again.  Oh yeah, and four, he’s lifting weights and because he’s lifting weights he will come home to you with a really nice body.

For all that comfort and loving feelings you have to pay.  You have to pay to receive phone calls from him.  If the guy needs toiletries, cigarettes or snacks some women send money for those things.  Sometimes the guy wants shoes or something else from the prison store so they ask their girlfriends for money there, too.

Once I went with my friend Grace to go see the first of several boyfriends who would end up locked away.  This boyfriend was put in the Justice Center for receiving stolen goods.  A few years later he would go to a jail out of the county for robbing people.  Her boyfriend Joe was funny and charming even behind the glass.  I was naive then and almost completely believed his story that he didn’t know the items were stolen.

“Come on now, you ain’t know they were hot?” I joked with them.  “Didn’t they burn your hand?  You need a good lawyer, we have to get you a good lawyer.”

“She’s funny, Grace,” Joe said.  “You want me to hook you up with one of my boy’s in here?”

“No, that’s okay.”

As we were leaving the justice center Grace looked up to wave good-bye to Joe about 6 or 7 stories up.  A group of men  on nearly every floor were pressed up against the window like puppies in a pet store.  Joe was motioning to a friend beside him and then pointing downward at us.

“What is he doing?” I asked. 

“You wanna give his boy your number?”  Grace said.

“Yeah, okay,” I said wimping out although I really didn’t want to.  She motioned out my phone number and then we left.  A few days later when I came home from work my irate mother met me at the door.

“What is someone doing calling our house collect from the Justice Center?” my mother fumed.

“We were walking past the Justice Center and Grace gave out my number to a guy in a window,” I conveniently lied.  “I said no.” I did say no, but then gave in asked me again.  I never planned to talk to the guy and stood there in entrance way embarassed and ashamed.

“Don’t you ever give your number to someone in jail again,” my mother said.  “And you need to think about who your friends are.”

The last prison boyfriend Grace had was the one who broke away a large chunk of her trust in men.  She had met the guy in church, even became friends with his mother and things were going well until he went to LA to pursue a music career.  With one hit single and a shelved album his group broke up and he moved to NY to continue the career.  There he hit on hard times and decided to turn to pimping and thugging to help make ends meet.  While on the street one day he was jacked for his money by a different crew.  A pregnant girl was driving the get-away car and he had grabbed hold of the door and was dragged along with the car while punching the driver in the face.  The police caught them and arrested everyone including the singer turned pimp.

When he was locked up he called my friend a lot and wrote to her a lot.  He told her about the connections he made while in jail (at the time a prominent rapper was on his cell block) and how he was going to come back for her once he cut his new album with the rapper.   Grace began talking to his mother every so often and when he got out on parole he was only able to make a trip home for a funeral but he was able to see my friend Grace.  A few weeks after that a girl called Grace’s home saying she was the singer/pimp/thug’s girlfriend.  She had found Grace’s number and the letters she wrote to him while he was in prison.  She wanted to know what was up and let Grace in on the real deal.

“I’m the one who went to see him every day in jail,” the girl told her.  “I’m the one who sent him money to buy what he needed and I’m the one paying the rent while he tries to find money.  I’m here, you’re there and I’d appreciate it if you would leave my man alone.”

Grace left him alone after that and really hasn’t dated anyone since then.  Grace is pretty. Her weight varies but generally hovers around a size 12.  She’s intelligent and attractive but always had a thing for thug boys to her own detriment.  After the singer pimp she gave up on men and had embarked on a seven year journey of celibacy.

There are no fairy tales and rarely do imprisoned men who get released come out and make excellent husbands.   But it still hasn’t stopped Tonya from catalog shopping for a man in prison.  And sometimes when I’m on the number 4 bus I will see girls walking down Central.  They hear a noise and look up staring at the windows above.  One girl will hold up her hands, changing the digits on her fingers and mouthing the words.  And up in the windows probably more than one guy is taking down her number and for a small price she can speed date in the comfort of her own home.


Written by rentec

24 May, 2007 at 3:52 pm

2 Responses

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  1. […] IR was the panacea for all of black women’s romantic woes.  And some have done it, even Grace who is only into thuggy black guys.  But things just didn’t work out.  There was no deep […]

  2. […] black woman but with her something is almost always going off. (Grace is the friend from this blog) In a way, she’s like a female Mouse Alexander from the movie Devil in a Blue Dress. She […]

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