Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Sitting Between Paul Carter Harrison & Woodie King Jr.

Although I researched the festival online, and looked into the staff at Hattiloo, there was nothing that could prepare me in regard to the people I would experience over the course of a swift 72 hours in town as a performing artist for the inaugural National Black Box Performing Arts Festival in Memphis, TN.

Several luncheons into the festival, I had wrapped up my second show and found myself in a room full of HBCU students and older black folks at Central BBQ just before we headed over to the National Civil Rights Museum to catch Antonio Lyons’ one-man show. Pinned between a gentleman wearing a paperboy cap and silver-maned bloke both as dark as my dad, I went in on the BBQ with the voracity of a starved musician… as I was. The silver-maned bloke spoke to the woman next to him, opposite of me, about Panama. I interrupted with, “Just watched Hands of Stone- y’know the movie about Roberto Durand”. The silver-maned bloke stared at me for a second and nodded...
He went back to whatever conversation he was having with the woman next to him. I recoiled, reset, and checked just how much clout I had to lose in this affair (which was exactly none). If anything, I had negative clout, I meant little to nothing to these people and could only gain (or work my way back to zero) in this room. Aye, I wouldn’t be boxed out of this man’s world, and persisted with the Roberto Durand reference- seeing it’s the only in I currently had upon the conversation.

He gave in, we discussed the 5 youth that were shot & killed during a protest outside of the U.S. Embassy in Panama, then onto the question a few others had already asked once they heard I was from Minneapolis- “Oh, you know Lou then?” Lou Bellamy, the former Artistic Director, of Penumbra Theatre in Saint Paul, MN was inescapable even though he wasn’t anywhere near the zipcode. “Yeah, Lou!” I responded, even though it had been damn near 10 years since I’ve spoke to the guy. I might’ve burned that bridge with the Black Actor, White Theatre article I posted a year ago, then again only 3 folks read this blog, so probably not.

Before knowing someone, their accolades and falls, or even their name, you get a presence about them. The silver-haired bloke emitted this energy of having literally dealt with and seen it all, and being entirely ok with it. If he were in the Marvel Universe, I’d have him pegged as the Watcher or one of the deceased Black Panthers that walks the astral plane. He’s here, he’s created a mass of art & action, and now he observes… to what I’ve briefly gotten from his demeanor from the 30 minutes we sat next to each other.

He explained his retirement to Panama, having once lived in New York as a director, and that was all we really expounded upon- Mostly Panama, which seemed to be the most exciting part, and was also the present tense of his life. I couldn’t get a read on how old this man was. He could be 70, he could be 80, dear lord not 90. Alas, he was somewhere in the winter of longevity and bucking it quite well.
Our dinner wrapped up, the silver-maned bloke called over to the gentleman with the paperboy cap now sitting a few seats away from me. “Woody!” he called, and then said something along the lines of their familiarity betwixt each other. I had taken up enough of this man’s time and it was upon the crowd to go watch Antonio Lyons’ one-man show at the National Civil Rights Museum.

“Hey, you goin’ to the show at the museum?” I asked him, on my way out.

“I’m going to get a ride back to my hotel. And then I’m going to bed.” He said powerfully with emphasis on the “bed”.

I’d taken it this man was tired and had perhaps seen enough theatre for several lifetimes. I, on the other hand, have not. I got a quick picture with him and bumped on down the road to Antonio’s show. Little did I know the man I had been speaking to the whole time was Paul Carter Harrison, legendary playwright, professor to Phylicia Rashad and Debbie Allen, and much more. And the gentleman with the paperboy cap was Woodie King Jr, founder & director of the legendary New Federal Theatre in NYC. 

I may never get another moment like that again. 

However, if I’m lucky, I’ll live to see 90 and have some good-looking young artist try and start a conversation with me about a movie I haven’t seen yet.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Flight of the Para: Young Boris & The Medallion

I am going to write of the first grader Young Boris before I introduce Honeybrook’s first grade class. The temperament of the Honeybrook First Grade populous is a story unto itself, filled with the intricacies of a moving car’s engine or Infinity Gauntlet saga. Characters and pivotal role players sprint the narrative of the first graders’ present legacy, bending the will of the school building into a multitude of stories. No other grade in Honeybrook wields the power to do this. The first graders alone are the only students that can manipulate the school’s direction from straight to cyclical, and more powerfully while the older 4 grades above them commit to a singular story, the first graders have mastered the art of directing multiple stories all at once.

On this particular Tuesday, the paras and I decided to throw a medallion hunt for each grade during recess. We hid the medallion in five different places, and read them a clue at lunch before they went out hunting.

Young Boris sat at a table with a red cup atop it. The red cup means your table is last to go out to recess, indicating some means of punishment or restrain applied to the students. From simple observation, you can see the public shaming of the red cup in the joints and gestures of the students that actually apply meaning to it, and then there are the others. The students that look at the red cup with the same stare they would give a green cup, the good cup. The color of the cup, the depth of the punishment, the weight and tone of an adult’s voice moves them none. They are the brightest, most intelligent students in the building as they have mastered the observation of emotion, and are able to bend even the strongest will of a teacher with a sleight of hand and misdirection. Young Boris, no stranger to observation of emotion, gave negative f---- for the red cup, and ate his lunch contently.

Upon reading the first clue for the medallion, I noticed Young Boris’ eyes light up with the subtlety of switchblade being drawn in the dark. My surface attention only noticed it for a moment, and thought nothing of it. Perhaps, a jolt of competitive spirit overtook him, or maybe he was putting on for the rest of the table. Aye, it was neither. Looking back on it now, Young Boris’ eyes had lit with the blueprint of his plan to break recess.

Recess had begun, the first graders bolted to the field, then the playground, then the blacktop, then to the hill in urgent search of the medallion. If found, the student would receive a prize from the carnival and a small prize for their entire home classroom. Ms. L and I stood on the black top where we maintained a view of the entire recess sprawl.

The erratic speed and direction of the search groups spun off like bats swirling amongst trees. Again, the first grade is a plethora of individuals all following their own narrative, and shooting from the hip whenever they feel like it. Time, space, gravity- the first graders laughed at these concepts. Suddenly, the speed and direction stopped. It was as if someone had freeze tagged the entire grade and left them standing. Young Boris walked from the playground to the hill. “Sweet Baby Josiah, what did he do?” I thought to myself. As an adult, my ego immediately shouted “Hey, he can’t do that”, and then the rest of me answered, “Hell yes he can, and we will grab popcorn and watch”.

Young Boris ascended the hill, now running with perfect form, and on his command, jilted the entire (all 100+) first grade student body to chase him up the hill. The first graders formed like a disorganized Voltron and swarmed toward him.

The kids lacking cardio fell first. Their inability to keep up with every single student in the first grade class, taking nothing away from them, easily separated them from the herd. The quicker students now reached the top of the hill only to find Young Boris making a dash for the smaller hill. Screams of excitement and “He’s got the medallion!!!” streamed through the cold air. Young Boris, now descending the small hill toward the blacktop, was in full stride until… he slowed and was caught.
The grade surrounded him to what looked almost to be a soap-box sermon gone wrong. Ms. L walked toward the commotion, as I stay standing on the blacktop wondering just what the hell happened. Did he have the medallion? All the other students that found the medallion, just brought it to us paras. Why would he take it and run?

Questions of logic could not be applied to Young Boris. He was several dance moves ahead of even the choreographers.

Young Boris broke away. The grade, now in hot pursuit once again, was lead to the field and then back to the playground. Several students, who had now given up, came to me exclaiming, “Boris has the medallion! He won’t tell us where it is!” Dear lord, he’s broken the game. Young Boris didn’t have the medallion, he had an appetite for entertainment and he damn sure took his fill.

The free time soon expired, and the grade retired to the building. After watching all the other grades glom together in organized search parties and find the medallion, Young Boris had no interest in the game provided. He desired breaking the game and watching the grade and staff dance at his will.

That is the kind of kid who will change things. Although, there is massive potential in each student, Young Boris possesses a creative mind hovering just above all of us.

Arriving for literacy and classroom support, an episode of The Magic School Bus played on a white screen in Ms. Zelda’s classroom. It was snack time, usually the time I check in with a few students and talk about dogs, what we ate for breakfast, and favorite colors.

Pulling up a seat next to Young Boris in the dimly lit room to avert the students’ gaze toward Ms. Frizzle playing on the wall, he kept his eyes forward paying no attention to me.
“You know why I did that?” he said.

“I don’t even know what you did?” I sarcastically replied. I don’t usually hand out sarcasm to 6 and 7 year-olds, however Young Boris is an exception… because he gets it.

“I told everyone I had the medallion, but I didn’t. Honestly, I just wanted to get a work out and have them chase me while I did it.” He continued.

“Well then, Boris. You definitely got a good workout in” I agreed with him.
“Got a great workout” He one upped.

Hot skittles, this kid belongs in Xavier’s school for the gifted. We’re gonna have to raise our game if we’re to operate anywhere near this kid’s level.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Flight of The Para: An Inconvenient Return

All school names, student names and city names have been changed for privacy and anonymity.

Last I was here, Mel and I were confined to a room within a room, a 3-walled cove of sorts that rested right between the resource room and Room 100. Every school has a Room 100, it’s where you take a timeout, detention, timed punishment, or all 3. The teachers can phrase the reasoning however they want, and it doesn’t fool the students. At that particular juncture, Mel wasn’t a fan of anyone. He wanted out of Humbolt Middle School and to go back to the old middle school he was originally placed in, Armstrong. I, a paraprofessional, had little to no power over where Mel took his education. My position is simple, please the teachers, support the students. If it comes down to one or the other, I side with the student.

Now, entering a new school for a new adventure, I couldn’t shake the imagery of Humbolt, the 3-walled cove, and Mel. With each step I took toward this new school- this entirely different scenario I’ve never worked before, I flashed back…

The resource room hosted a dozen or less students, all ranging in a gradient of behavioral issues, mental illness, and histories of potential violence. Most the white students in the resource room had autism and were there for extra support and help. One white student exhibited behavioral problems, and that was it. Every black student in the resource room was there for behavioral reasons. 95% of the staff was white, so you can apply the reasoning to the resource room. Mel’s skin was a shade darker than my own, his hair texturized to tight curls, and his eyes brown like mine. Had it been up to me, I’d flip the resource room into a black leadership space, and turn the entire program inside out. Outside of my reach, I focused on what I could control: The relationship between the black students and the immediate world surrounding them.

Mel, fiercely screamed during this particular episode. It was like no other tantrum I’d seen him throw. It was a moment that little reflected Mel, and more so the resource room. The program had failed this young black boy, and he was shouldering the frustration. Ms. Finley, the lead teacher of the resource room, assigned me to Mel until he cooled out. Alas, there was no cooling down for Mel. The tantrum persisted, the screaming continued… and then… the tears.

I didn’t bother applying reason to him his ears in a moment where reason wouldn’t be had, so I simply blocked the opening to the room until he dealt with the reality of where he was at. Inversely, I’d collide with my own reality as well. As he tears rolled from his eyes, he breathed deeply. He was exhausted, and lost his breath from screaming so intensely. In that, he left an opening, and I stepped through it.

Sitting next to him, we both leaned against the wall. “I want to go back to Armstrong…” he murmured in defeat. “I know, but we’re not there. I need you to breathe, control your body, and show that to Ms. Finley. If she doesn’t see that you can do that, we’re stuck here for the day.” The thought of controlling his body was one thing, but to display it to a white authority figure in the next room was another. He looked away and gasped at an arrhythmic pace, slowly gathering sense. Piecing his consciousness back together, he acquiesced, looked down to his lap.

Right there, it hit me. I was in the foxhole with this young boy, as we both struggled to make sense of a program condemning people of color to rooms to control themselves. Humbolt meant to claim his body. Tears welled up in my eyes, and began to roll. Mel’s head still perched downward looking into his lap. “My middle school was called Windom. It was a good school, but… the detention room always had faces that looked like yours and mine. Dudn’t that seem weird to you?” I said to him, riding a streamline of clarity and conscious.

“Yeah” he murmured through his tears.

“I want you to get out of here. This room ain’t a place for any young person. You just… you just can’t let them put you back in here, y’know. We gotta figure out a way to not come back here. Ok?” I said.

“Ok” he whispered.

Our chests heaved, I wiped my face, and took note that our breathing had synced up in some weird way. I couldn’t tell Ms. Finley what I told Mel, it’d be my job. However, in a moment of truth, I wouldn’t lie to Mel.

Mel and I walked back into the resource room, settled the difference with Ms. Finley, displayed her definition of a controlled body, and proceeded into the day.

And that room still haunts me.

And I’ll never forget Mel. I’ll never forget a second of that day.

Eyes opened, opening the door to Honeybrook Elementary in a 3rd ring suburb of Minneapolis, it felt strangely unfamiliar. The culture was nothing like Humbolt. Could the unfamiliarity be due to the fact I’ve been out of the game for so long? Had I been working with kids on the spectrum so long outside of a school that it warped my perception? Or was it that Honeybrook presented an entirely different operation and budget than Humbolt? Whatever it is, or was, I welcomed the challenge.

Looking back to that  day with Mel, I vowed to never be complicit to a student’s solitary confinement or controlling of their body. We’ll see how that works out here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

With You Into The Next

I’d never done this before, and now was the time to start.

Aborting work to a coffeeshop nearby my mother’s house, I placed the next thing-to-do in the back pocket of my mind. Studying a film schedule and list of scenes for this weekend’s music video shoot put me in half the state I needed to be in. I wasn’t fully there. The mocha was ok, and beckoned of sugar I had abandoned in the last month. Why the hell did I buy a mocha? Possibly because the caffeine rush hits me softer than straight coffee- maybe because I wanted something that felt like a reward for making it this far in the day- making it this close to a gesture I’d never given any living thing before.

My mom calls, “I’m here. You wanna just pull up and get her with me?” I comply because it’s what I drove down here to do, and backing out now would… well, it’d sever a few well-worked-on ties my mother and I have sewn over the past month, and it would put me in a hole I’ve had one foot in for some time. The past months have winded through my chest with the fervor of a whirling dervish and hasn’t stopped. I’ve been riding the proverbial lighting, and if I back out of this now, then surely I will have bucked myself off.

I will not be bucked off.

I arrive to my mother’s house, silent and still in my mind, I walk in. Henry, the family Golden Retriever, hustles head first into my knee cap. I stave him off and take him to the front door where he’ll utilize the front lawn as his personal public restroom. I walk to the basement door, open it, and- “Raaaaahhhhhhh”, she cries. Stashi, our family cat of 17 years looks distantly into the basement stares, withered and outside of herself. “Hey baby” I speak softly to her. I pet her lightly as her back arches and tail coils like petting is the last thing she’d ever wanted on this day.

When I put Jack in the box to go to the vet, he yelped and meowed so deeply & loudly, it damn near wrought me to tears. His passing was untimely after being stricken by a car and then having to be euthanized when the surgery didn’t help. However, with Stash… she knew. Somehow she just knew.
I placed Stashi in the traveling cat box, and there she sat silently. She’d brush her nose up against the sides of the box for some form of pressure, but that was it. The brushing of her face was unconditional- she brushed it against the doorframe, my sleeping face, tree trunks… Henry’s sleeping face. She was fearless like that.

I pick up the box and bring it to my mother’s car. What feels like an hour of traffic later, I land to the vet a few minutes after my mother. The woman at the front desk points me in the direction to the room my mother and Stashi are sitting. By this time, I’d almost put it out of my mind that this was happening, that we’d scheduled the visit, that it’d be the last moment with our own lil’ squirrel terrorist and rabbit chaser. And then the walls of any hospital, whether it be for humans or animals, are inescapably singing a harmony of your mortality. Things become just things as you give into the song of the hospital walls, and meaning for fruitless thoughts dissolve into oblivion. The walls keep you true, and this final moment with Stashi will bring my mother and I closer together, as it will bring me closer to an inescapably authentic  reflection of the man I am.

The room is small, box-like almost. One couldn’t fathom this room serving any other function than what we are there for. What matters most, is that we are there. Throughout my lifetime, my mother, bless her soul, has made this voyage 5 times. And 5 times she has placed a last kiss, spoke final words, and given an ultimately ending caress to our families pets. For me, it was easy to say goodbye to our past dog and cats. I’d walk in the house, say goodbye, and then leave them. My final interaction was seeing them alive in the family house, or playing with something. The reality and responsibility would have to be confronted, and today was no better day than the last to do that.
A knock at the door came. Stashi delicately tipped to the door as it opened. Her left eye half shut, back left hind leg limping, and her back as skinny as a malnourished street cat, Stashi meowed at the doc. Placing her on the table, you could see the energy and light missing from her eyes. Somehow she just knew.

In the final days, or damn near past year since Jack passed, there was something removed from Stashi. I don’t know if it was because she missed her homie Jack, or because the last Summer was just a pain in the ass to move around at the age of 17, but she had slowed considerably. Now, she’d only meow for food, and incessantly meow more even after her feeding. I took as her trying to tell us that she wanted to go, that she wanted to move on to the next. Perhaps Jack had spoken to her in a lucid cat dream of the paradise that lay on the other side, and Stashi knowing no other was to communicate that by way of meow was somehow telling us that she longed to not only be there, but to be there with him. Yeah, that’s definitely it.

Before she was euthanized, we chose to have her sedated. Finding a vein in a cat ain’t easy, and it sure as hell isn’t a pleasure for the cat. The doc lay a tray of delicious food in front of her. I have to see this, I have to be here. As Stashi feasts, the doc injects something of a tranquilizing nature in a pinch of her back skin. I must see this, I must be here. Stashi continues to feast until her hind legs give out. Still licking the tray, her front joints dullen to the ability to carry her weight. Still licking the tray, the doc removes the tray, as she looks out at us, now licking the air. I will be here, I will see this. And that’s all she wanted… food… and peace.

I kissed her on the head with tears falling from my face, and stepped out of the building. My mother and I hugged at the car for a little longer than a usual hug. She passed on the experience to me. 5 times she has been here to do this with our family pets, and now for when I raise my family, I know I will be the one to do the same. There is an amazing honor in being with a living creature as it passes, a humbling solar-plexus shaking power you submit to.

And so today, Stashi passed on to that paradise in the sky with Jack.

And that’s all I ever wanted for her… food… peace… and to be with Jack.

Goodbye Stashi.

All my love forever and then some,


Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Prytania Registry, Part 2

Amidst the melee of sleep deprivation and getting to New Orleans, it almost completely evaded me that my aunt from Detroit, my aunt from California, and my cousin from Detroit are visiting as well- All to celebrate my father’s 70th birthday with the added event of Father’s Day. My cousin implored- eh, that’s not the right word- my cousin directed me to host my aunts as they arrived the same day as I. I somewhat understood what he was telling me, but I don’t believe I’d ever done this “hosting” thing before with family. Usually my mother put on Thanksgiving, my Uncle Chuck set up our schedule when we got to California, or my father navigated us through Detroit when we arrived. This- I had little understanding of exactly what I was supposed to do.

Two voicemails and several texts buzzed the moment I landed. A piece of my brain awoke, “Sweet Jesuits, Toussaint. Get the rest of your ass into gear. You’re the one who suggested the father’s side of your family be out here. Act accordingly, my man!” And so, I acquiesced accordingly.

The messages were to meet with my Aunt BB at baggage claim. This was what my cousin was referring to. Host, direct, entertain, something.

Rushing from the terminal to a baggage claim stretching a football field in length, I called Aunt BB. “I’m here” she said. I wanted to shout “WHERE?”, but as one does not simply enter Mordor, one does not simply knee-jerk question Aunt BB’s statement. “Ok” I replied. Power walking the length of baggage claim thrice, I couldn’t find her. Nice, my first duty of hosting and I’m producing an fng  F minus.

Finally, entering a hall unbeknownst to my initial entry, I fly thru it to find Aunt BB on the phone. The moments where I have the good fortune of encountering my Aunt BB are all-together too infrequent. Every family has a rock- a pillar- a monolith to bridge the gap of communication, potential emotional collapse, and little reassurance families move without. Aunt BB is nothing short of that. Like my grandmother, you can learn a thing or two about a thing or two simply by observing Aunt BB in discussion. Her social pacing is timed to that of a veteran social worker- she sees the matrix.

Greeting her soon as her conversation wrapped, we hug and get straight to it- how are we getting Aunt BB to her hotel?

Shit, I just landed here, and not only am I aloof on what I’m doing in regards of entertaining family, I’m seemingly of no help.

I sweat it for a second and then jump to asking the information desk the easiest way to get to the hotel. A clerk directs us to a strip of concrete where the hotel bus will pick us up for free and take us to the hotel. Easy.

Exiting the baggage claim, the New Orleans humidity muffs me so surprisingly hard in the face, that I think I winced or murmured some guttural “Ehhhhh” under my breath. Sweet mother of mercy, I haven’t felt high temps like this in a damn long time. Aunt BB cuts through it like the heat shouldn’t have stepped to her in the first place. Not wanting to look like I couldn’t keep up with her, I muster forward to the concrete strip. Alas, we are picked up and dropped off to the hotel. We bid adieu until dinner later that night, and I exit the hotel to New Orleans… by myself. And here the adventure begins, in the suburban swelter of Kenner, LA… just me, my bags, and bus fare for the ride to the Crescent City. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Prytania Registry, Part 1

I had slept 20 minutes and awoken from some strange lucid dream, as one does when only having rest for 20 minutes. The alarm hadn’t gone off yet, so I assumed it was near time for my departure. I rested for what dreamt like hours. When I had awoken again, I’d felt the static shake in my muscles from believing they were experiencing something. My body was trying to trick itself into sleeping, but my brain knew better and kept waking me back to consciousness. It set my body into a rattle of shitty unrest and thick distrust of my brain now that it had completely lied to the rest of my body several times in the past hour of unrest.

Arriving to the airport, I make my first stop at McDonald’s. I don’t eat McDonald’s, I don’t pursue soda, and I for damn sure do not order my Chipotle burritos with sour cream- However, when at the airport, I always make a point of it to reward myself with McDonald’s breakfast (#2 meal) for making it to the airport without fail. The meal is delicious- more than I anticipated. More than the last time I was at the airport. I am alone.

The last time I was here, I was with a significant other, and a different significant other the time before that. Perhaps the discourse between my brain and body kept it from surfacing, but I’ve just realized I’m alone on my first trip to New Orleans to meet my father. For a moment, my legs find rest, my right shoulder isn’t nagging, and my backpack looks like a bag of adventurous holding instead of a ball & chain. 

Dear lord, this is happening. The greatest city on the planet, and just me: Up as late, out as far, writing as much, and defaulting to impulse as quickly as I want to.

It might have taken me several years too many to get to this point, but the “getting here” was all worth it. So, now, slightly hungover, fueled by Mickey D’s breakfast and operating on 30 minutes of sleep, I will enter the arms of my mother land once again. As flawed, damaged and beatin’ up my soul may be, she’s always taken me in without question.

Now, off I go to a connecting flight in Dallas.

By now, I would have speculated my unrest-ridden limbs to be- well, resting. They’re not. I close my eyes to sleep through the deafening thought of disintegrating by some means of tragic plane crash. "I'll close my eyes, and we'll just shut'er down for the 120 minutes it takes to get to Texas." I reason with myself. To no chagrin, my nerves buzzed back, "No, ol' boy. There will be no sleep ‘til Nola."

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Fight That Never Was

I can thoroughly say that New Year’s Eve ringing in 2016 was one of the best I’ve had in some time. There are two routes you can go for the Amateur of all Amateur Hours. #1: Play it chill, go to the VFW, stay at home with your boo thang, or work and make duckets. Either of these options plays into no part of devil that is New Year’s Eve. However, for me, New Year’s Eve is one of my favorite holidays- and I opt for #2: To betroth the devil for at least a few hours. Now, whether you’re mindful of exactly what you’re getting into, is another story entirely.

The night started out at a jogger’s pace with a stop at the best friend’s house, then to an art gallery turned makeshift bar with balloons tacked to a ceiling for the midnight drop. We promptly left, and hitched a ride to the house of bad decisions and impulse. Having fully committed a week ago, I dressed to the nines and readied the crew for a VIP/Balcony soiree. The risk was it all turning into Bronanza Douchefest 2016 starring us. Alas, it did not. Half past midnight, I could feel the liquor burning through the common sense of the ballroom we stood in. Drinks spilled, potential fights brewed, and I stood to have a better chance of finding our server on the back of a milk carton or TMZ video. We needed to get the hell out of there, and fast. I called our ride, blitzkrieg’d the server to pay our tab, and we vacated the imploding ballroom.

Off to a northeast bar where nearly everyone knows our names (Cheers ref: check), we leaned against the bar, 12 sheets to the wind, and wished “Happy New Year!!!” when the impulse struck us. Unbeknownst, a bar stool away, two men held a conversation at the bar.
The gentlemen furthest from me, sat draped in a black leather jacket, his wispy black hair barely touching his shoulders. His frame sat fragile as a glass menagerie. In my drunken stupor, I recall his shoulders as meatless knobs only badass’ng it by proxy of the leather jacket. The gentlemen closest to me, holding dialogue with the other gentlemen, sat at least 6 inches higher than the other. I couldn’t tell if his back was actual muscle or just proportion to the whole of his giant body. His shoulders, as far as I could tell, were bulging almost too big for his own frame… and sweater.

Our lives are made up of flickering moments- simple flickering moments that somehow line up and make sense because one precedes the other.

I turned to my friend, James, for a moment to talk about something I’ll never remember due to drunkiness and the split seconds that proceeded it. With my back turned to the two gentlemen, I hear “What the fuck did you just say to me?!?!?” Turning to the two, the shout evidently came from the gentlemen closest me… the large gentlemen… the gentlemen now planting his fist repeatedly into the smaller gentlemen’s face.

Sidenote: I’ve been attacked by dogs in my life. When it happens, you have little to no time to react. The flash of fangs are for sheer ceremony before a quick twitch of violence lunges toward you. I have seen this same quick twitch in a few PRIDE FC fights, and one fight in particular at a party, but never in my adult life up-close.

The large gentlemen arose with the urgency of a hurricane, and began to punch the other man’s face faster than a cocaine-addled E. Honda. In my drunken state, it appeared this man had gotten off two dozen straight jabs in less than 10 seconds. Before he could set off another barrage of hits, my mind said, “Toussaint, we should help this poor smaller man, now being publicly executed by this larger gentlemen. Right?” I agreed with my mind, so I drunkenly- yes, I’ve used this word many times in this story, because I don’t want you to forget how drunk I was- stepped toward the punching assassin. On my last step, I crossed my left foot over my right leg to squeak through the crowded barstools and tables, and reached out my hands to effort breaking up the ass-whoopin’. Just as I reach out with off-balance footing, the larger gentlemen reaches his left arm back to deliver another blow. His elbow, at the peak of pulling back to then move forward and propel his fist into this poor man’s skull, grazes my hands reaching out to break up the fight. So off-balance, and so incapacitated with alcohol, my momentum was sharply shifted backward… and now, I’m falling the opposite direction of the fight.

Just the faint touch of the larger gentlemen’s pendulum blows, sent me flying into a gaggle of barstools, a waitress (my good friend, we call “Sharon Stone”) and my best friend James.
Seconds later, the bar staff removed the larger gentlemen off the would-be corpse of the thinner man. I lay on the ground… still. James offered to help me up. I turned away his offer. I just wanted to take in the moment. Although I was proud of myself for stepping up for another human getting assaulted like a newly colonized strip of land, it was all overcast by a knee-jerk reaction to laugh aloud to myself.

I’d like to rewind and tell you that this fall was a perfect fall. I mean, I effing hit those barstools, waitress, and other dude with the precision of a well-timed tackle. It was like one of those falls, where you hit the ground and shit just keeps falling around you. I physically impacted a 10 ft. radius with that folly.

Finally, accepting a hand to rise to my feet again, we laughed, drank more and uber’d back to the crib. To answer your question, “No, I don’t speak in 3rd person… I write in 3rd person. And welcome to 2016, Toussaint Morrison. You’re a brilliant idiot with a heart too big for both sleeves”.

Post Script: Sharon Stone, the waitress working that night, reported to me that the thinner man entered the bar the next day with his girlfriend, who demanded an explanation as to what happened to her man. Apparently, he was so black-out drunk that even upon exit and waking to his wounds... he had forgotten how he got them. The bartender relayed last night's events, and as they exited, a patron turned to Sharon and shared the sentiment that if anyone deserved that ass-whoopin' from last night... it was that thin guy. "He had it comin'" she said.

Lesson: The universe speaks. Don't be blackout when it does.