In my family I was a real stand out. I mostly stood out because I preferred school and grades versus running the streets. Don't get me wrong I got my share of beatings for sneaking out to the dance club after momma stepped out or was at work. I was nowhere near perfect but I was by any discerning view different from others in my family. No matter what I tried, beauty pageants, oratorical contests, fashion shows, modeling, whatever, I always had their full support.
Our house was the was the gathering spot, simply because my mother worked nights. We created a lot of mischief in that house only to reassemble the chaos when we heard momma's car or she called to say she was on her way home and make sure "her house" was clean. We knew what that meant and so did our friends. Everyone knew we weren't allowed company when momma was not home. Momma worked so much she was hardly ever home except to sleep or cook. We always had company.
My brothers were ultra protective of my sister and me. They were the men of the house when momma was away at work. My brothers often brought their friends around. Without fail if they had friends over there was going to be a fight or scuffle. Fights happened for this reason, over me or my sister.
We lived in a small house with small living spaces. Nearly everything happened in the front room or our bedrooms. I usually did my homework in the front room. My brother Wade was notorious for fighting in that front room. It usually went like this. "Don't even look at her man. I mean it. Don't ask me about her either. Don't look her way. Act like you don't even see her sitting there. Fair warning. One warning." I kept my eyes glued to my book pretending to be studying even as I knew what inevitably awaited. I could count to about 4, his friend or friends would look my way and then POW! It was full on tussle right there in the front room. I would start moving stuff that if broken, would get us all beat, e.g., TV, cassette player, Jesus pictures, cheap African statues, whatnot.
Some of his same friends got into a fight with Wade over harmless looking every time they came over. It was crazy. But Wade did not play when it came to his sisters or he just liked to fight, I am never sure which. I know he fought a lot.
One time he begged me to set up a movie double-date with my prettiest friend Kina. She was Halle Berry beautiful. After I promised her the world in return she finally relented. My brother ran home after his cooking shift at a fast food restaurant to change and meet us there. I smelled his Old Spice from a mile away. I wish I could remember the movie but I don't. Anyway, midway through theatre darkness he asked me to join him in the lobby. He got me out there and asked, "What does she think of me? Am I making a good impression? Tell the truth." And after much prodding and 5 minutes of lost movie viewing, I blurted out, "She says you smell like hamburgers." He stood frozen in place. He teared up, this fighter from our front room. Then he says, "Smell me", as he pulled me into his shirt and his over abundance of Old Spice cover up. I lied and said, "Just a little, not really." We walked back into the theatre and as Kina sat oblivious between us, Wade cried in his chair and I cried in mine, silent, sad, angry tears from each of us. Now neither of us caring less about the movie or Kina.
It was us against the world. Never again did I fix him up. And I didn't have to.