Monday, March 30, 2009

Abstinence only Education

As I'm typing this blog tonight, I have the unfortunate Pleasure (and by pleasure I mean my blood is boiling and crystallizing in my veins....very painful) of listening to Bill O'Reilly in my resident lounge. I'd like to change it but it's providing fodder for this blog. Today this fool is talking about Abstinence only education and how it is the ONLY way to go. A columnist without the opportunity to defend her views on providing condoms and contraceptives to students was lambasted; Just desserts I thought, she should have just gone on the show, though I don't blame her for not being there.

But what really chapped my ass was the fact that he had a woman promoting abstinence only education in DC, and she claims that her program "works, and has done so for over 20 years. Students in DC Public Schools [no less], have decided to not have sex, have not been doing so, and say that their friends respect their decision. Furthermore, the fact that teen pregnancy in the District has declined can be attribute [solely] to her abstinence only education."

***Le Sigh***

Her comments bothered me for several reasons:

1. I currently live in the DC area, and there is NOTHING you can say or do to convince me the DC kids are simply not having sex. In fact, there is nothing you can do to convince me that more that the majority are not engaging in ANY type of sexual activity. Your teens are the years for sexual exploration to say the least!

2. I have no problem with abstinence education, but I feel it should be part of a comprehensive program teaching abstinence as an option along with contraceptives, etc. The reality is that people are engaging in sexual activity, whether it's consensual or not, and you need to know how best to protection ESPECIALLY if you are forced to participate!

3. My fault with most abstinence only education is that it neglects to address facts and dispel rumors about transmission of sexually transmitted infections. There's a reason black middle class girls make up many of the new cases for infections and the AIDS infection statistics (in DC especially) are the way they are. I believe, in part, that it is because of misinformation among African Americans and African American youth!

Swagger* gone awry (case in point #1)

So my best friend came to visit me this weekend. Unfortunately I could take off from bartending (and secretly I didn't want to because the money is so good), so I brought her to work with me. She had a great time.

After a long night of (Me) slangin drinks we were starving, so we decided to go to the Diner and grab a bite to eat...(Thank GOD that place never closes.)

However, shortly after we were seated a gentleman by the name of Jamal** approached our table. He asked us if we minded if him and his 5 friends sat at a table next to ours... I mean, it a free country, so we didn't mind. But then he sits down, and no friends bff and I look at each other quizzically, then understand: We don't know from whence he came, but he has just fed us a line. We are unimpressed, but he keeps talking.

Our waitress comes to take our order, we are unready so we order does he. I HOPE he doesn't think I will pay for it, cuz homie don't play dat! I then realize I left my carmex(tm) at work, and I desperately need to go back and get it, but I did not want to leave my visiting friend with this fool...he just may try to eat her alive. So I send her to fetch my things.

By this time he has sat down next to us (read:me)...has put up his feet in the chair directly across from me, and has perched himself in my personal space. I give him one of "the looks" but I humor him because he has not been disrespectful. He introduces himself and I do the same. He asks me what is the most interesting thing about me. I'm impressed, and I tell him so; it's probably the most interesting question any "potential" suitor has asked me and we're not even on a date. After I complement him and begin racking my brain for an answer, he announces to me that yea, he already demonstrated his swagger* by sitting down with us and putting up his feet [marking territory? I'm trying to understand, lol], you know because he's so swaggertastic he can do pretty much whatever he wants, his swagger will carry him to new heights, but now it was time to show me he was intelligent.

I'm not sure how asking a unique, question makes one automatically intelligent, but it was too early in the morning to send him through the crucible so I focus on my answer.

I tell him that I would probably say my life experiences are what make me mist interesting [not a GREAT answer I know, but it's the feedback I get from friends]. But then I ask him the same, and he didn't really have an answer.... how do you ask a personal question that you don't have an answer for? hmmn Maybe it's just me...... or maybe I was to assume his "swagger"* was what made him interesting...

...And now for my point
1) Swagger in its purest form is not something that needs nor should be announced. If you have to say it, you don't got it. It is something you might just know you possess, and its confirmed or felt by others.
i.e. Sexy, older, bald black man on the metro in a suit the other day. He never once looked my way, he probably never even saw me but I couldn't help blushing and looking away as I was overcome by his aura. It wasn't cocky, assuming, or sexual. It was just there. I felt it. It works. And it dominated me and my thoughts for the rest of the day. Take notes fellas.

2) I'm sure there is another point in here somewhere, but I was distracted by Bill O'Reilly so I forgot.

*again--Can we please boycott the use of this word? It's been commandeered and loosely redefined by "mainstream" media, and while it is descriptive, it has lost much of it's usefulness since everything can now be described as "swagger". It was used shamelessly in this post in hopes that you would be just as annoyed by it's constant usage.

**Name left unchanged so that Brothas named Jamal everywhere may learn from this man's mistake.

Friday, March 27, 2009

the wild kingdom

Probably one of my favorite youtube videos EVER. try putting in your own narration and see if this doesnt make for a great script for an epic war movie.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bartender Vision pt 1

As a bartender, I get to witness a lot of tomfoolery and other social interactions among people who frequent my establishment. You may even find descriptions of and anecdotes about some of my more colorful regulars.

On a slightly unrelated note,
****public service announcement from bartenders across America****
For the best customer service experience on a busy night, please know what you want to order before you flag me down.....

Basic profile of some of the regulars:

"The sleuth"- Aptly named because he slinks from woman to woman insisting on buying them drinks, tho he usually only orders pineapple juice for himself (when he senses I'm getting annoyed by his attempt to monopolize my time)
"The Nekked Contortionist"-To be explained later
"To Infinity and Beyond"- Regular who owns an Infinity and forcefully insists on giving me a ride home after work...which I ALWAYS refuse, UGH!

**mind drifts back to inauguration weekend**

It was actually my first weekend working at the new spot and I gotta admit I was kinda excited. Being the type who would rater make money than spend it, I knew I was gon make a killing (which I did). The bars were gonna be open extra late and there would be throngs of people in town to witness history unfold, and tons of people looking to "toast" the nights away.

As a general rule, I try to always spend time conversing with customers, new or old, when it's slow. Providing a nice environment, can sometimes make the difference between someone becoming "your regular" or not, or if people actually return to the establishment or not. I also have begun the practice of giving out complimentary shots of drink combos for people to try...when its slow. But when it gets busy you cant expect the same treatment simply because the demand for my attention is much higher.

in the slow part of the evening, entering stage left: The Sleuth
he sits down, smiles to indicate that he is friendly and approachable
I smile back, indicating that I see him and I am ready to make some money (lol)

Earnestly Soul Searching: How are you doing today?
the Sleuth: I'm doing great actually
ESS: good to hear! Can I get you something to drink?
S: no. I'm good right now.
ESS: oh okay. well give me a second to check on the other customers and I'll be back.
walks aways to tend to other customers and converse

S: Madame Bartender!
ESS goes to see what the sleuth needs...after much conversation and no drink ordering
S: You should give me your number and we should go out sometime
ESS: No thank you
S: Why not?
ESS: Because I try not to mix work with pleasure
walks away to take drink orders as it is starting to get busy, and the Sleuth doesn't seem to want to order anything, not even water.

The Sleuth flags me down once more. I know he's not going to order anything. I bristle, but pull out my patience reserves.

ESS: Yes?
S: The way I see it, I'm probably the most famous guy you'll meet in here, I'm a nice guy, you seem like a nice lady, we should go out, at least let me give you my number.
ESS:wtf? The sleuth, seeing the confused annoyed look flash across my face says
S: Am I starting to annoy you?
ESS: lying No But I can't sit here and talk to you when it's busy like this especially if you're not ordering anything.
S: I don't drink
ESS: That's fine, we also sell juice, soda, red bull and water.
The Sleuth orders a pineapple juice to placate the increasingly annoyed bartender.
S: Do you have a pen? ESS hands him pineapple juice and a pen. He write his number down on a napkin. Are you going to call me?
ESS: I doubt it
S: No! Are you gon call me?
ESS: (ending this stupid cat n mouse game) Sure!
walks off to take other orders.

So after all of that, The sleuth managed to latch on to a group of unsuspecting women and began to pay for their apple martinis, maybe he thought he would make me jealous...I was just glad it wasn't me. But what he didn't know, was that I've got bartender vision*. Our perspective of what goes on in the club from behind the bar is markedly different from those on the other side. Maybe he didn't know I saw or thought I was too busy to notice that the girls he started off with had gotten annoyed by his leech like behavior. Gawd help em if he gave them the same stupid line he gave me, but slowly but surely he made his rounds around the club, slowly getting rejected by each group of girls he would descend upon like a plague...and it happens every time he comes. Maybe he's just clueless, or insane because he tries roughly the same strategy, and I've never seen him leave with neither a number NOR a lady.

The moral of this story? Well there are several. Probably too many to be mentioned in this small space, but for starters we'll point out the obvious ones:

1) Attempts to ingratiate yourself with the women in the club by buying them drinks is an art. Any old fool shouldn't do it and expect great results (unless you try to get them so drunk they don't know right from left, but then again, I don't think you can call that great results). It CAN however, open the door to a conversation, after that, it's all on you. If they didn't like your personality before, they won't like it any more after you've bought a drink for them.

2) A phone number for a drink is NOT an even exchange!!!

3) No usually means no

4) Insinuating that a woman can do no better than you is not a convincing argument, it's an insult! I don't care how much "swagger**" you have.

* No, It's not a creepy 6th sense, nor am I spying on people for blog material, even though people don't realize they provide lots of useful material, but my job consists of more than just making drinks; I'm also sort of a stool pigeon for the bouncers. I have to pay attention to what's going on even beyond the bar to situations that may arise to alert them before they get out of hand. In such a crowded space, bouncers may only notice when the pushing starts or when fists fly. But I also watch body language, and can hear the words that maybe were exchanged at the bar before the fight actually broke out. It's a lot, but I'm good at it.
** Can we please boycott the use of this word? It's been commandeered and loosely redefined by "mainstream" media, and while it is descriptive, it has lost much of it's usefulness since everything can now be described as "swagger".

Friday, March 20, 2009

Forever in your corner

One of my favorite group games, besides those that involve alcohol and a set of cards, would probably be Scruples (tm). Why do you ask? Because it's a great way of getting to know people around you... It's replaces Skipbo(tm) as the game we play when we have family gatherings. For those who have never played, you have question cards, and you chose a person to ask your question beased on the answer you THINK they will give. It's revelaing in two ways: one people learn more about your moral compass based on your answer to their questions, and it gives you a good idea of what people think of you based on the responses THEY think you will give....

(hmmn sounds like a recipe for disaster, but I recommend it)

What does the game of scuples have to do with the price of chicken in Mexico?

Well, at one grand tournament, I asked (heaven forbid) if you and your spouse got divorced and you worked during part of their marriage but he made significantly more would you ask for half? My answer card was YES....I looked around the table nervously, as the only single person playing the game in a room full of married couples and wondered who I could ask the question to without ruffling feathers, I felt the tension mounting so I decided on my mother (Granted we live in California so she is already entitled to half so its...a no brainer right?)

However, to my shock, and honestly the shock of everyone at the table besides my brother, my mother says...."No, I would want whatever he felt I deserved, and would just hope it'd be fair."

Wow. My mother is one loyal woman.

While I don't ever see myself trying to take everything a man is worth, should I find myself in the position of having to go through a divorce, I don't see myself settling for less than half, especially if like my parents, have been together forever, and have been through so much, the good and bad, the sickness and health.

I am also very loyal, but I'm beginning to wonder can you be loyal to a fault?

I'm fiercely loyal to those I care about, even to my employers, but what about those who do not do well by you. While I don't tolerate poor treatment, or let people take advantage of me, I still find myself protecting those who may not "deserve" it.

My last employer wasn't worth a pile of manure but to this day, I don't bad mouth him, to close friends or anybody. Exes get the same treatment, even if I personally never want to deal with you again, I still always find a positive spin to explain the demise of our relationship or some flaw...whatever. Maybe it's just because I'm a private person and dishin all the details about others means I gotta put myself out there too...who knows.

But what really got me thinkin was a recent situation:
Over cocktails and burgers at a Happy hour with friends, one asks me if Ole Faithful is the baby daddy of Tiffany*. I shrugged and feigned ignorance which I'm guessing wasn't entirely successful because I forgot to include the look of surprise or shock which would have indicated that this was the first time I was hearing such news, which it was not. (more on that later)

**Months ago, I get a frantic call at work from a friend. The way she was acting made me think someone had died, but no, she was calling to tell me Ole faithful's girlfriend was pregnant (sigh, why my friends think I care to have status updates about all my exes is beyond me, but I digress). She then swears me to secrecy, at least til Tiffany who I don't really know starts showing. She tells me Tiffany's friend told her and wasn't supposed to but they wanted it kept a secret ( I'm wondering if Tiffany's friend started making calls shortly after the pregnancy test came back positive but whatever, that's not MY friend)**

I kept quiet about it as I promised, but obviously everyone else who was "in the loop" did not since this was now the second time I'm hearing this news from someone who is not in the inner circle of Ole Faithful or Tiffany, but the bigger question is why? I'm really self reflective, and I like to be clear on my motives for doing what I'm doing, you know, to make sure I'm making wise decisions and not being selfish, stuff like that.

Being a woman of my word is important to me, so yes, that was part of the reason I kept the secret, and I'm loyal to my friends, so yes, that was another reason I didn't tell. ( it does however make me wonder which of my friends would tell my own business to others despite my requests for secrecy, but I'm digressing again) I don't know Tiffany and feel it's not my business to spread hers, so okay, it's another reason for me not to start a phone tree of my own. But if I were completely honest with myself, I know protecting Ole Faithful is makes top 3 of my reason. But almost a year after we are no longer "together" here I am still keeping his secrets? It's not like we parted ways amicably, or that we are friends...

Granted, it would be incredibly shallow and wrong for me to spread their biz just because I didn't like how he treated me, but I was intrigued by my refusal to acknowledge that I knew even though the proverbial cat is out the bag. As one who likes to have all the answers, I'm stumped.

Maybe I'm just a good woman....::::looks around:::: apparently no one is noticing

Thursday, March 19, 2009

And here I thought it was just something in the water

Babies are popping out of the woodwork. They kinda always have been. So what makes these trying times so different? Surely we've all seen young unmarried women with swollen bellies waddling down the street... And I've come to terms with that. There were even some acquaintances I knew that had children early...the problem now is..this is getting WAY too close to home! With close friends, study buddies and gfs of immediate exs now expecting, I feel like I'm in a small room dodging bullets, and I'm claustrophobic.

Ideally I would like to be married before I start a family, and I'm inclined to think that's every woman's plan, but given the sheer number of people being swept away by the undertow of pregnancy, things don't always go according to plan. Don't get me wrong, I love children and I truly believe they are a gift from God, and I wish every woman has a healthy baby, but considering how tough things are in the job market and economy this seems like a terrible time to get pregnant, especially when you are not an established professional, or have little to no job security. Or worse, you're working retail, waitressing or something like that (like many recent graduates are).

However, I bring this up, not to throw ashes on the faces of those who now have to plan for an extra mouth to feed, but it kinda got me thinkin bout some of the larger issues I've been confronted with as of late: mainly my female friends' obsession with marriage or at least "needing a man". I'm not saying at all that men aren't necessary, one day I hope to be in a serious relationship with one and eventually would like to get married. But when did it become the focus (at the ripe ole age of 22)? What happened since graduation that suddenly makes my friends feel like they can't focus on anything besides the pursuit of man? and how, if at all, is that connected to the uptick in pregnancies in my social network?

I feel like I've missed some crucial step in the socialization process because I'm not on the same page.

Growing up I, and many other young women in my generation were taught to pursue education and career first, the boys will always be there. But somehow, during my junior year of college, I was somehow expected to be in a serious relationship. weird right? Maybe for most people. But for me it was downright terrifying!

**Because my parents were strict I wasnt allowed to hang out with girls my own age; instead, my social life centered around women who had almost a decade on me in age or more. One such woman I spent alot of time with, Danielle*, was in ther 30's with a medical degree from John's Hopkins, sweet, caring, loved Jesus and was guess what?--single and hating it with not a single prospect on the horizon.**

Was this the early onset of single woman hateration and devaluation? If so I'm SO not ready. and that's terrifying because I don't like not being prepared...

This isn't over so I reserve the right to revisit this topic later. Hopefully I won't be pregnant then.....

*Name changed