One of the subjects that always gets the juices flowing is the black relationship. I generally can’t go a day without getting in some sort of discussion or debate with friends or colleagues about why aren’t there any good black men in the world or why do black women want so much.

It’s a topic that can’t be avoided in the black community and a conversation that seems to have no end in sight.

So today, one of my Twitter boos and blogger extraordinaire @OneChele pinned this piece detailing a young woman who had walked in on her boo creepin’ on the come up. This couple, as described in Chele’s piece, appears to be in their late teens, early 20s and have been together for some time. So while they are young, one would think they have a solid foundation. At least as solid as one can have for being that age.

This gentleman, apparently an amateur in the playa department, made two very crucial mistakes. For starters, he chose to handle his side piece in a place where his main boo could walk in on them. That’s pretty damn self-explanatory. Secondly, I’m assuming in a tongue-twisted state and in shock that he’d been caught suggested that it was “just sex.”

Timeout.

Most of us who have loved and been loved, whether we’ll admit it publically, have either been cheated on or have done the cheating. Since I don’t hold back, I’ll put out full disclosure that I’ve both the victim and culprit. There really is no justifying it, it’s wrong no matter what the excuse is. But the reality is, it happens.

Now, in defense of this gentleman, it probably was “just sex.” After all, he’s a sophomore in college and I’m sure there had to have been a little bit of alcohol involved. The holier-than-thou people who read this will be quick to say “wrong is wrong” or “are you really defending this?” But who among us, men or women, never gave in to temptation when we were that age. I’ll wait…

Predictably, my friend uses a graph to slam men, saying that “they will run game if you let them.” I’m almost certain she shared this sentiment with her friend who sought her help. In case you forgot, women cheat to.

Should she forgive her man? I say yes. Only if she fully believes that it’s a one-time deal. And no, I don’t believe in the thinking that once a cheater always a cheater. Unlike women, men tend not to get emotionally tied to a woman just because he has sex with her. So I can get with his “excuse” that it was jut sex.

But at the end of the day,whether he gets his boo back or not,  maybe this will serve as a wake up call that a moment of lust is not worth destroying a foundation built on love.

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From time to time, a friend of mine casually brings up my blog. He questions, in his own unique way, why I don’t write as much as I used to. I smile and mostly deflects his conversation by trying to change the subject. A few weeks will pass and he’ll bring it up again as we pass each other at work.

His latest inquiry came a couple of weeks ago via a Facebook post. He, like many, came to my page to wish me a Happy Birthday. In addition to his birthday wishes, he simply said: “Write in your blog more”

I hadn’t really given my blog much thought as I’ve had a lot going on in my life. It was when that thought crossed my mind that I realized it was the perfect time to jot some thoughts down.

My birthday falls on June 19. It’s a time of the year when summer is just beginning, school is out and people’s minds begin to wonder to exotic places such as Miami, Cancun and the Bahamas, among others. On other note, it marks the halfway point of the year and it causes people to take a moment to reflect on where they are and whether it matches up with their goals and resolutions that were set six months earlier.

More often than not, there’s always something that throws a wrench in our plans. Whether it’s a lack of planning to something better coming up to real life “stuff,” things rarely go according to plan.

So around my birthday, I started reflecting on my year so far. The highs, the lows and the times where things were just blah. Without a doubt, the most memorable moment of my first half was the passing of my grandfather. He was and even in his passing, still is the head of our family. He was the first person in my immediate family to leave. It left us with a void that I feel on a daily basis.

His death and the week that followed leading up to his funeral was one of the most amazing experiences of my left. It impacted me so much so that, I’ve decided to document that experience in a short book, which I hope to have completed in the near future.

What Granddaddy’s passing did for me was serve as a reminder that no matter what I go through in life, nothing can replace the love of a family. It reinforced the fact that your best friends in the world are those whom you’ve grown up with, share characteristics with and whose last name you share. Not that I’d forgotten this, because I hadn’t. But I was beginning to question the man upstairs about some things. Where he was taking me. Why things hadn’t happened when and how I wanted them to.

As I move toward the second half of 2010, a year that has flown by, I’m more focused than ever. I understand now more than ever that, while professional success is great, if I’m not happy and fulfilled personally, all my endeavours are for naught. It’s easy to say, but whenever I get down and ready to give up, I think of my grandfather, and I keep pushing.

Until next time…

Random thoughts…

Posted: April 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

+ I was able to watch ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary on the trial of Allen Iverson the other day. Like most Virginians, I remembered vividly that process and what it meant for black folk not just in the 757, but across the Commonwealth.  Watching it took a lot of me emotionally not just because I have and always will be an AI fan, but if you’re from Virginia —  whether the 703, 804 or 757 — you know that the racism portrayed in that film was just a snippet of what goes on down there.

+ My cousin, the youngest of us four grandkids on my dad’s side, is graduating from college in a couple of weeks. It has been my grandparents’ dream to see all of us receive degrees. As they get up in age, it’s the little things that they find joy in. I’m overjoyed by the fact that, Lord willing, they’ll be able to see their dream come true. As I get older and more mature, I’ve come to the realization that it’s the little things that dictate happiness in one’s life. I knew it before, but I know it now. If that makes any sense.

+ Lately, I’ve been having discussions seemingly everyday with my friends about personal happiness versus professional success.  It’s a struggle that several of us are dealing with simultaneously, which is good because we’re able to help each other out. In this day and age of economic uncertainty, should we even concern ourselves with whether we’re happy or not as long as we have a good job? Or do we give up a good job/situation for greener pastures where we’ll know we’ll be happier. Closer to home.  Closer to family. A familiar environment. All I can do is pray on it and hope I’m led to the right answer.

Wiping the dust off…

Posted: November 14, 2009 in Life Lessons

Several people have asked me why I don’t blog anymore. I knew the answer, but refused to put myself out there. At the time, I felt it really wasn’t any of their business.

The Beach Chair, even back to the blogspot days, has been an outlet for me to stay sharp on my writing as well as a place to express my thoughts on various subjects to a wide-ranging audience. It was intended to spark debate and conversation. For the most part, it has.

But when the motivation for writing changes, one must step back and take a long look at why you’re typing what you’re typing. Once the publish button is hit, there’s no turning back.

My world, the last 5-6 months has been an emotional rollercoaster, filled with anxiety, anger, depression, frustration and what ever description you can think of.

And while I reached an all-time low, it was a learning experience that I wouldn’t change. People go through things all the time, some more public than other, but it’s not what happens while you go through, it’s how you respond after the storm.

So why didn’t I write about it?

I didn’t want to the the angry blogger who wrote out of spite and emotion, foolishly taking shots and people through the written word. I could’ve easily used the Beach Chair as a forum to do that, I simply chose not to.

In hindsight, maybe I should’ve. But that’s neither here nor there.

With the end of 2009 right around the corner, my hope is to return to the blogging world on a more consistent basis. Because quite frankly, I missed it.

The Pier

Posted: January 26, 2009 in Life Lessons

 pier

I cringe whenever I read, listen to or observe stereotypes about the black man of today’s society. You know what is said:  We are uneducated, at risk, prone to violence and are generally a threat to the community. It is said that if we make it to 21 without being shot, arrested or strung out on drugs, we are a rare breed.  It bothers me to the fullest extent simply because it’s not true. Yes, there are many brothas who fall victim to some of these things and fit the stereotype to a tee. But, we are so much more than what we are characterized by many to be.

In particular, one stereotype that always bugs me is the constant bashing of the black father, or lack thereof.  It always seems, whether in magazines, documentaries, message boards, etc. that black fathers are always being bashed for “not being there” or “not taking care of their responsibilities at home.” For years, black men have been chastised for making babies and leaving the mother to raise the child. As a result, many children, particularly young boys, never have a male figure in their lives growing up to teach them how to be men.

By no means am I trying to suggest that this does not happen, because it does. Where my problems lies is that there’s no other side to the story being told. For every dead beat brother, there are millions of black men who are strong family men and who take care of the children they bring into this world.

Fortunately for me, I was blessed to have male figures in my life growing up. My dad, grandfather and uncles were all intricate players in my development and helped shape me into the may I am now and continue inspire to be. The way I think, react and approach different life situations are all a direct result of what I saw my dad do and/or what he taught me. In many cases, I have to stop and laugh, because the things I thought were so stupid are the very things I’m emulating as I get older.

I will forever be grateful for the type of example my dad set before me. He talked the talked and walked the walk. But the reality is that he was a busy man. Between family, his medical practice and his work at the church stretched him thin a lot. Because of that,  I chose to keep some of my questions I had within, so as not to “bother” him. Now, this is not to say that I would have bothered him, I just know how much he had on his plate at certain times. Despite that, I hung on to his every word, whether I wanted to hear it or not.

As I’ve gotten older and moved away from home, the life lessons my dad and other men warned my about have certainly come to fruition.

But this past Christmas, the damnedest thing happened.

Quick side note: my dad broke his ankle fishing and was confined to w wheelchair during his rehab.

But again, the damnedest thing happened. We all went to Myrtle Beach for Christmas and there was a pier not too far from our timeshare. As soon as I arrived Tuesday night, all I heard my dad say was that he wanted to go to the pier. So Christmas Day, after the storm of everyone opening gifts had passed, my dad and I took the short trip over to the trip.

We sat and talked

About everything.

Life, money, relationships, faith and family.

It was, in my 26 years, one of the most gratifying conversations I’d ever had with my dad. And in that Christmas season, the best gift I received.

We talked about the value of a dollar. We talked about how important it is to find “that one” and treat her with respect and love.

I left the pier that day with a renewed sense of perspective on how to deal with some of the problems that life was presented to me. I left with a renewed confidence of how much support I had from my family to succeed.

I left after an hour at the pier — having met my dad for the first time.

All work and no play

Posted: December 1, 2008 in Everyday struggles

bestman21

[Disclaimer: This post was originally started on Oct. 22]

The other day at a company-wide meeting, a young black women, who happens to be a Senior VP, stood up and made a presentation on behalf of her department.

She was poised, articulate and very nice looking.

She was the type of woman that, as a man, if you didn’t have your stuff together, you might be hesitant to even approach her if you saw in in a social setting.

The fact is, there are many successful women, of all races, that fall under this category. Young, successful, attractive and very much not in need of a man.

Or are they.

I asked someone who was at that meeting: “I wonder if she has a problem finding a man.”

What I meant was, I was jut curious what her dating life was like. Like I said earlier, she was successful well-spoken and her job requires her to be on the go all the time. And black men, no matter how much we deny it, are sometimes intimidated by our sisters, particularly those who are well established and may have more power in the workplace and make more money that we.

In this day and age, often times we put our careers in the forefront and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Hard work is important and is required to reach any goals we set for ourselves in life. But at what cost do we set our priorities?

Is there a difference between professional accomplishment and personal happiness? Or does one dictate each other?

This young lady and others, by all accounts, seems content — from the outside looking in at least. I see women (and men) all the time display that swagger and confidence in the workplace and in meetings that suggests that they are the ish and they have their stuff together. As long as the have that pants suit on, that blackberry and are amongst their peers, they seem fulfilled. But what happens when you finally log off for the evening? Is there an emptiness because all of your eggs are in one basket? Did you leave yourself any room for happiness away from the job or school?

The world today with internet, cell phones, e-mail, etc. has sadly created an environment where this is the norm. IF we’re not careful there’s no time to live, love and laugh. And we sometimes don’t allow ourselves to be loved and to enjoy ourselves outside of our “professional” life.

To some, that’s ok with them. They focus is on their work and career goals. And that’s ok. But all work and no play sometimes leaves you struggling to figure out your priorities. When that happens, we often run to what’s comfortable, rather than what’s good for us.

A More Mature Me

Posted: December 1, 2008 in Life Lessons, Relationships

[Disclaimer: This post was originally started on Nov. 8]

One of the toughest challenges for any guy is trying to understand and connect with the female species. Even in our best efforts to please and make women happy, there will forever be a disconnect simply because we are wired.

That’s life and the sooner we as men realize this and understand that, the better our friendships and relationships with the opposite sex will thrive.

However, in many cases, whether having grown up with sisters or having numerous close female friends some of us already are aware that there are contrasting differences that, no matter how much we read and how hard we try, we just will never think the same, react the same or take the same approach to any select subject.

Because of this, many of us men use that excuse in relationships to cover up for the real problem — our lack of maturity.  That fact is often times much more damaging than the problems that our emotional and psychological differences can create.

At 26, I certainly fall victim to this. While I have definitely “grown up” and am much better than years past, I recognize that there is work to be done. They way I handle situations, they way I react and the way I live in general.  And perhaps most important, it’s affected my relationship.

The Moose is a tad older than I. It’s something that has been in the open since the day we met. Fortunately, it was something that was never held against me — to my knowledge at least. But over the course of our friendship and relationships, there have been times were my maturity, or better yet lack thereof, has caused speed bumps.

The problem is, many times I don’t even recognize it …and she does. To me, my thoughts are my thoughts and I believe strongly in them. Perhaps because of my lack of maturity I don’t see the “big picture” which can be frustrating to her and any other woman.  So no matter how stubborn I may be, I have to realize that there’s room for improvement — room to get better.

It’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes to know that there’s room for improvement. It’s even harder to accept that your immaturity is frustrating someone you care about, whether it’s your friends, family or the woman you love.

But I accept it. Aside from relationships, maturing should be an everyday goal in life. And, it’s one of my daily goals — to become a better, more mature man. I do this to better myself, and in return, people, including her, will hopefully see the results.