Sole Mates and Soul Mates

Few things compare to the exhilarating feeling of finding the perfect pair of shoes! Well, maybe finding them in your exact size!! Wait, and at 50% off!!! Euphoria erupts when you get home and discover that it is the perfect color for the dress you bought last week because it embraced every inch of your curvaceous silhouette without revealing the effects of overindulgence in everything from chocolate cookies to chocolate cake (and all things chocolate in between). The fact that you paid twice your allotted budget on the garment that is sure to turn this first date into your first proposal matters not compared to its ability to give an illusion of perfection.

Perfect hair. Perfect scent. Perfect make-up (but not so much as to look fake). Perfect cleavage and now…perfect pumps.

Two hours later, your heels are blistered and your toes are numb as you try to mask the pain in your “dogs” who are barking up something terrible. That perfect smile now looks like a sign of lactose intolerance and the pain on your face is mistakenly translated into rejection. He awkwardly searches for a way to discreetly check for the body odor that has offended you. Little does he know…you are in the process of committing shoeicide.

Why can’t those perfect 5” ring-wranglers feel as good as a pair of nude, Velcro strapped, support shoes? You know the ones with the rubber sole that can be found in abundance at your local Piccadilly or K & W during the early bird special hours. Why is comfort so ugly? And why is pretty so murderous? Before you get your panties in a bunch, ugly and comfortable shoes are great-if that’s what you like and kudos to you for being the one person on earth who actually buys them. But me no likey!

You have a better chance at finding your soul mate than finding your sole mate.

That’s what I discovered this weekend, when after just a few minutes of dancing, I discovered I had been wearing my two-hour pumps for three hours.* Ache set in but the joy on my soul mate’s face pushed me past the pain and two hours later, we were still grooving. That’s what soul mates are all about. When you find someone who connects to your soul spiritually, intellectually, culturally, physically and socially, you love them too much to let a little bunion end the fun.

I found my soul mate, but not in the way one may think. Not in that romantical love that leads to matrimonial union but in that unconditional love that binds two girlfriends at their heart and core and neither miles nor years can sever the union. For clarification, I don’t use physically to describe a sexual relationship (don’t get it twisted) but a relationship where one’s experiences with body image and body issues are that of the other.

My twin soul and I are as connected as conjoined Siamese cats and for that, I would wear nude, Velcro strapped, support shoes over a pair of come-get-me-stilettos any day!

*You have to find the mathematical calculation to maximize wear and minimize pain. For example, if you can only get 5 hours in a particular pair of leather pumps and you need to wear them for 8 hours, 4.5 hours should include sitting (slightly lift the back of the heel off the foot to relieve pressure but do not-I repeat- DO NOT take the shoe off) and only 22% of the day should involve walking at a mild pace, eliminate all steps and rub a numbing agent on at 4 hours. This method will have to be tweaked if the material is cloth or synthetic and if the shoe is bright red, forego the math cause you’re hot!

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From Sag to Swag

This post is in response to the N&O article “Shaw students mentor middle schoolers in dress, manners” published on February 10th and is dedicated to the current and future alumni of the first Southern HBCU.

Jayden looked at the News and Observer article naming the young men on the photo. With each introduction, his smile widened with seeing his friends on the cover of the newspaper. He is not a member of Gentlemen of Excellence but as the grandson to a staff member, he receives an education in the importance of college every day. Jayden fully understands the necessity of hard work, good grades and excellent behavior as a map to higher education.

Just prior to Jayden’s arrival, Christopher Chunn, a Resident Advisor in Fleming Kee Residence Hall stopped by to tell me all about the GOE and the evening’s ceremonial festivities. He radiated as he explained how the young men in the program had made a difference in his life as much as he in theirs. As he speaks, I think about the mentors in my own son’s lives and I wonder if any are as authentically concerned with their success as Christopher is with his mentees.

With so much negative publicity surrounding African American males, it is refreshing to read a story of inspiration and dedication. It is especially so, when the editorial graces the front page of a publication. Gentlemen of Distinction (GOD) affords young men from underprivileged families and communities the opportunity to participate in a rite of passage program that instructs on everything from chivalry to filling out an application. Rooted in the spiritual development of themselves and the young men they influence, the approximately thirty members of GOD encourage each other weekly and maintain a strong sense of camaraderie. Everton Harris, President of GOD, says that putting Brother before each members name shows a sense of respect and creates unity within the group. 

Programs such as these are not unknown to Shaw University. Building African American Males (BAAM), under the leadership of Carlton Goode, former Shaw University Student Activities Director provides monthly instruction and advising from Shaw University alumni in various disciplines of life. From etiquette skills to post-graduate options, the men in BAAM use their experiences as Shaw students and professionals to give back to their alma mater. Christopher Young, local lawyer and 1999 graduate is excited about returning to his higher educational roots to encourage students to take pride in themselves and full advantage of every opportunity afforded them.

The Shaw Communiversity applauds these men, students of the present and past with a standing ovation.

Now the challenge is on…where my girls at?

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Forgive me in advance for putting you through the cliché tribute to St. Valentine and the Hallmark obsession created in his name. I too want to vomit my regular Friday night thin crust Pacific veggie pizza (minus the tomatoes and onions plus pineapples) at the mere mention of chocolates, flowers and heart shaped candies that taste like chalk but nevertheless, here I am-writing and here you are-reading. So let’s just get through this moment and this thought so I can return to tweeting.

 I have seen quite a few February 14ths, 32 of them to be exact. I have minor recollections of cards with perforated edges and red lollipops attached filling brown paper bags just before the call of blue bus. Tomorrow my sons will cut out 20+ names (because why write them all when there is glue and scissors) and strategically decipher who gets what, making sure the boys get ‘hey friend’ and that one special girl gets ‘be mine’.

By age 12, I had graduated to actually having a Valentine and traded Betty Boop cards for a red, heart shaped, velvet box of chocolates. My excitement on the seventh grade hall of Leroy Martin Middle School was not met with reciprocal enthusiasm. Upon opening my locker, just before first period, I found a note. I assumed that it contained two pencil written boxes asking me to profess or negate my affection for a young man ignited by the spirit of the day. Instead, I found a Dear John of sorts that read “___ ______’s legs aint locked.”

That day after school, as Michael Jackson’s Remember the Times video premiered on BET, I washed down chocolates with tears.

The next year, I received a blank thank you card from my then boyfriend that read “Happy Valantine Day, I love you like a sistas.”

Needless to say, I was not developing an affinity for February 14th until two years later when I received an enormous white stuffed teddy bear with two huge balloons that read ‘I [heart] U’ and ‘Be Mine”. I was hooked; not on the holiday but on the feeling that came with it.

LOVE, is not that feeling. It’s not being loved or spoiled or surprised that sends our emotions over the top. No my dear friends…that pleasure…that titillation…that sensation is GLOAT! It’s the ability to feel ten feet tall as the florist enters the office in slow motion and announces ‘I have a delivery for Shannon Bennett’ while every other woman sitting at her empty desk says a silent prayer to be the recipient of such public exclamation of affection. It’s the arrogance that accompanies the knowledge that everyone unanimously hates you and hopes you choke on a raspberry filled chocolate. Even though they’ll “oooo” and “aaaa” and graciously accept one of your delicacies as they congratulate you on having found such a good catch, rest assured there will be infinite texts that begin with “she think she all that…”.

If those same red roses and gourmet truffles were sent to your house you would accept them with little more concern than a certified letter from a bill collector and for that reason may I make this suggestion-please add your work address to your email signature, highlight in bold and attach a link to flowers.com.

Laugh Out Loud-Literally

It was one of those ho-hum kind of days when everything moved in extra slow motion. I was working in one of those offices where there were designated periods of work. While a college admissions office maintains a steady flow of paper traffic, free online app week at cfnc.org and deadline dates provide hours of monotonous data entry. Let me not dismiss the inevitable I-didn’t-get-into-the-school-I -wanted and my-mama-said-I-gotta-get-out-of-her-house periods that provide additional piles of paper on my desk, the chair in front of my desk, the leave a note box on my door and the window sill.

It was during one of these eras of unorganized chaos that the day was interrupted by what sounded like a herd of thunderous wildebeests stampeding in unison outside my window. It was in fact the tumbling spiral of the locksmith who failed to respect the power of the ice on the metal stairs. Her epic descent left her sitting on the final step in disbelief, pain and embarrassment. As she rose and steadied her wobble feet she looked around like we all do, confirming that there were no witness to her plunge.

Behind the bars, the glass, the window plants, my co-worker and I muffled our outbursts and fought back tears as she limped back to her van and drove off, undoubtedly for some pain reliever and a heating pad. I hate to admit that I too have moments of schadenfreude (if you did not click for definition you are either very smart or fake reading). At that moment, one thing could be confirmed-no one was being admitted for the rest of the day.

On our return from lunch where we choked on tacos and refried beans over a four-dollar plate at our favorite little Mexican spot, we found that the van had returned to the scene of the dive. I clasped my chest as my colleague reenacted the plunge in that indiscreet tone that has often forced us to remind her that she is missing a whisper button on her vocal remote.

Upon rounding the brick wall that contained our offices, there stood the locksmith at 6 feet 2 inches and about 250 pounds with her hands on both hips and a gaze that would have sent a lion running like a gazelle.

“Is ya’ll laughing at me?”

I dedicate this post to PD and her deer-in-the-headlight-glance that makes me look twice before ever talking about someone who may be just around the corner and to the locksmith who did not punch PD in the mouth after I walked off and left her holding the bag!