I guess the best way to describe me is to start at how I came to be…
Hmmmm….my parents. A very interesting pair, to say the least. Everyone knew them. They were the ‘IT’ couple. Dad was very well-known in the Bronx , New York, because of his gregarious personality. Everyone knew “Big Al”. He was loved, feared, but most of all respected. Although it has been many years since I heard that booming laugh with a slight wheeze, I can still recall how it always brought a smile to my face. But, as good-natured and good to his friends as he was, people knew not to cross him. If you did, you would surely pay the price and see that other side – the street side. I would find out how true that was many years later when he pulled a rifle on one of my friends. Yes, dad was from the streets. He was a hard worker, a hard hustler, a good friend to those he trusted and just a lover of all things fun.
He sure did love the ladies, too. A feisty woman with a big butt and a smile would always turn dads head. Which is where my mom comes in.
My mother…what an enigma. As beautiful as she was, she was one of the most insecure woman who I have ever known. She knew she was attractive but, because of her lack of a formal education I believe she thought her looks was all she had to offer to anyone. You see, my mothers dad was killed in a car accident when she was a child – so my mother, who was in the 6th grade at the time had to quit school along with her two other sisters (the twins) and work odd jobs to help support the family. All of the girls became beautiful young ladies, with long hair that went down to their waist and shapely figures. My grandmother certainly had her hands full trying to raise three girls by herself and also trying to keep them away from the boys and vice-versa. Each girl, however, would eventually head down different paths. The only similarity is that the course that all three of their lives would take were determined by the men in their lives. I will go into each of their stories at a later point. But for now, I will just characterize them as, ‘The Saint’, ‘The Sinner’ and ‘The Vamp’.
I guess the best description of my mother at that time would be the character Carmen Jones. I don’t recall those days but, the stories I have heard and some incidents that I recall as a young child, make me tend to believe she was all that. I know she had the looks and I have seen that swagger, switch and batting of the eyelashes. Coincidentally, years ago, one of my cousins told me that he had a picture of my mom where she actually looks like Dorothy Dandridge. He would always tell me that he’d send the picture to me when I would see him at family funerals and extremely rare family gatherings. I have yet to receive that photo.
So, there they were – ‘Mr. Life of the Party’ and ‘Ms. Switch’ – and they decided to have me. To this day, I don’t know if I was planned or a surprise. In fact, I can’t even state with certainty if my parents were ever married. But, according to a few accounts, I do know how I entered the world.
It was the holiday season, and as they were known to do, it was time for their annual Christmas party. Everyone wanted to be invited to one of Big Als parties.
During the course of their holiday party, my mothers water broke and she was rushed to the hospital. My first intrusion into my mother’s life. I entered the world on December 28th. I honestly don’t know if she was happy to see me or not but, I will never forget her telling me many times over the years that she thought I was the ugliest baby she had ever seen. She said I was green. I would say it was the liquor intake at the party that may have clouded her vision, however, my mother never touched anything harder than a beer in her life.
My earliest recollection is of sitting on my father’s lap as he was feeding me from a bottle. I can still picture the room – that would eventually become my toy room – in the background. That is one of the very few childhood memories that I have of interacting with my father. The next memory I have is an incident that occurred when I was about two years old. It happened so quickly yet, I believe it was an indication of how my formative years would be shaped.
I have received many responses to the chapters, thus far. However, may I request that you please reply in the comment section of the blog – as opposed to on Twitter, Facebook or emails – so, that all responses will be together. Your comment may be helpful to others who come across this post. You can comment anonymously. Thank you and many blessings.