“What did Cydney call you for?” Courtney asked. I had been in a studio session in Queens with my sister and longtime friend, Kristen all day. It was almost midnight and my daughter had not heard from her dad in almost 12 hours.
“She called me to ask “Daddy where is my black and white sweater?” and I told her it was in my room on the dresser. I knew she really didn’t call about the sweater; but once she heard you guys say hi, she knew I was alright. She was just calling to see if I was alive.” I replied with a laugh; Courtney and Kristen joined in as well.
The three of us did not laugh at my daughter’s expense. There were two women in the room who understood how my daughter felt.
I asked Cydney “What is it about me that causes so much nervousness in women? It’s as if I can hear you have rehearsed what you had to say to me over and over. I feel like the fear is that I always give the answer you’re never expecting and it throws off whatever you’d rehearsed before.”
My daughter explained “I didn’t know you were going to say yes when I asked if I could get nails. Almost every time I ask, you say no.”
“You see, Cydney. I thought it made sense. Tomorrow is Easter and you just got your hair done. It’s almost a no-brainer to get nails,” I replied to my child. If I have demonstrated the words which come out of my mouth and actions are unpredictable, I could see how this can create quite a bit of anxiety.
I stand a little shy of 6’2” and have a muscular build. I am larger than 92% of the world’s population, yet my most powerful weapon is not brute strength; it is my mind and my ability to project words through my large body. It is rare I must look up and speak to anyone bigger or stronger than me. I cannot relate to the idea at all in which half of the world is bigger, stronger, faster, or powerful enough in which if they wanted to, with little effort, could dominate.
Men have their own hierarchal system, or perhaps there are different archetypes of men. A word women often use to describe me is “energy.” I fashion myself as a gentle giant, a benevolent king. Kings are both scholars and warriors; yet I prefer to write love songs to make girls smile (it’s way more fun). For every man who possesses such a light, the pendulum swings in the other direction.
As Courtney would call “Not so happy Chad” is harsh. My loyalty to honesty at times can validate and affirm, or dismissive and ruthless at other times. My sister once said I have a long fuse which seems to go on and on. Then one day, the day no one ever expects, it goes off and it’s the Macy’s Fourth of July Spectacular, and minutes later I am fine as if it never happened. The constant state of fear of which day the fuse goes off must feel as if every conversation with me is a game of emotional Russian Roulette.
On the other hand, what can cause fear is also what provides safety. The energy my sister spoke of was on display the night before Cydney’s call. We argued in our paternal family’s kitchen. While our exchange may have been heated one night, Courtney and I had a conversation which explained it all a day later.
As Courtney asked me to recount Cydney’s words, and I did. I elaborated and said “I knew she was asking me about the sweater to know I was alright. The sweater she’s talking about was Timile’s. I could hear she rehearsed her script before she spoke.”
“See, she just wanted to know where was her black [and white] sweater,” my sister said with a laugh. I pulled out my phone to show her our mother a picture she texted, from when I went to visit her in the hospital the previous June. My sister laughed and repeated her statement about the black sweater, once again. In other words, what each woman in my life explained in their own way, was their need for security; to know I am alright. Or at least, this is how I know how to explain it.
It was past 2am, Sunday morning. Thursday night, I cleaned and rearranged Cydney’s room. Friday night, I rearranged and cleaned the basement in my father’s home. I took Cydney to her soccer game, drove to Sunnyside and shot in the barbershop, then had a studio session until 1am. I was tired and my sister insisted I stayed over and napped before I drove home. Ever the chef and creative, my sister offered to make a meal, stating I had lost too much weight and needed to eat.
“You’re in luck today,” Courtney said as she pulled out some Pillsbury Grands Biscuits, eggs, Canadian bacon, and coffee-flavored gouda cheese I bought for her from Sunnyside. As she began to prepare, I told my sister how I became an expert in Pillsbury Grands Biscuits.
In the summer of 2007, the first summer Timile and I spent together in our relationship, we lived off Grands Biscuits. We were broke college students, who attempted to do the best with what we had, as Timile entered her senior year and I embarked on my third semester as a senior.
“We ate Grands Biscuits with jelly, cream cheese and jelly, eggs and cheese and bacon, cream cheese and jelly, you name it,” I said to my sister, while I pictured those days in my mind.
As my sister continued to prepare, I noticed a bottle of chocolate syrup next to the biscuits. I asked if she had ever made anything with chocolate and Grands Biscuits. At first, I asked Courtney if she planned to use the chocolate, which she replied she never had before. While I explained, I realized the reason I asked was because of my love of chocolate croissants.
“It just kind of became my thing. Whenever I go to the coffee shop, it’s what I get and everyone who works there knows it is part of my order,” I said. Courtney listened and after a pause, she said “Chocolate Croissant. That sounds like it needs to be a song; like “You’re my chocolate croissant,”’ she said with a look of imaginative romance.” Who and what girl does not want to be a blissful pastry to someone?
My wheels began to spin. Courtney had been on a roll in the kitchen and not because of what she had begun to cook.