All posts by Ramona

Not Just Another Blog, My Friend

Homie, old chum, pal, buddy… what can we use to replace “my friend?” The overuse of “my friend” is widespread. Senator John McCain uses it to address Americans. Doctors, servers, security guards, supervisors… let me tell you, my friend, “my friend” is coming at me everywhere I go. Some people toss it into every other sentence, my friend. Have the people using it simply forgotten my name? Is it something people toss in while they try to come up with something profound or important. Is it the kinder equivalent of “hey you?”

Please make it stop, my friends!

Not-so-skinny Pictures

If you put a dozen super-models on a scale their total weight wouldn’t come close to the number of pounds I’ve gained and lost since my first diet at age 11.

Weight loss inspiration has come from various sources. My first diet was inspired by some serious teasing from Kent Falana in 5th grade. My second diet was inspired by comparisons to my skinny cousin Michelle. There have been other motivators along the way… designer jeans, dance and step competions, a fraternity guy named Sugarbear, a couple good weight loss info-mercials, Janet Jackson’s weight loss, a close relative with diabetes….

Even though my grandmother, mother and three out of four of my aunts have diabetes, I must shamefully admit that health has not been on top of my list of weight loss motivators. I have mostly just yearned to buy cute clothes in smaller sizes and to turn heads in those cute little outfits.

I wonder if there are a lot of women like me. I still can’t resist reading a story about a chunky celebrity who went from drab to fab (chick magazines love rhymes like that). I know how Mariah Carey lost those last ten stubborn pounds. I’ve read about how J-Lo dropped her baby weight. I followed the weight loss sagas of Kirstie Alley and Valerie Bertinelli and got really excited when Jenny Craig helped them slim down. I came this close to buying a bottle of Trim Spa when I saw Anna Nicole get back into Playboy shape. But sometimes you gotta call BULL!
Queen Latifah looks exactly the same? She (and her management) were smart to say that she was just doing the Jenny program to eat healthier. But I think for many of us the energy boost that comes from shedding pounds has always been just a positive side effect of moving from plus sizes to misses sizes.

Skinny Pictures

As I was leafing through a box of old pictures I cam across some photos from my days at Penn State. The next box had several pictures taken right after a Jenny Craig endorsement in the mid 90’s. In the college pix I was a size 13. Post Jenny I was a size 8 (for about three months). I can’t remember ever thinking I was thin, but it sure would be nice to be either of those sizes again.

The Hot Young Perspective

Me? Hot and young? It all depends on where I hang out. When my friend, who is a huge Jay-Z fan, dragged me to the rapper’s 40/40 club in New York a few years ago, I felt far from young and hot. I have never felt colder or older. Why didn’t someone tell me that the 40/40 uniform for women included stilletos, a halter, booty shorts and a cool hat? Not that I would have worn the uniform. It just would’ve been nice to know.

The line to get in the club looked like a hip hop video audition. We got in, because my friend looks hot and young. Walking through the packed bar I felt so overdressed and underappreciated. After awhile my friend got really annoyed. Jay-Z wasn’t there that night and as we made our way from one room of pounding music to another, men tugged her and bugged her to get her attention. What was I doing? Well, one guy asked me to tap my friend on the shoulder to help him get her attention. Finally, I felt useful.

I have found a place where I feel really hot and young. The men there are always trying to get my attention. They want to engage me in conversation. They’d keep me talking all day if I let them. I get compliments on my hair, my smile and once a man went out of his way to let me know how good I looked in my sweats. I’ve been asked out for coffee, offered a ride home and one guy gave me a fistful of useful coupons.

Where is this magical place where an 80’s girl can turn so many heads? I’ll give you a hint. It’s a place where 80’s guys go to pick up their prescriptions! These aren’t guys who partied in the 80’s. They are IN their 80’s. My hot spot is my local CVS! I live just a mile or two away from a large retirement community.

As a freshman or sophomore in high school it was so cool to be hit on by a senior. At the local CVS? Well, if the problem with men your age is immaturity. The pharmacy line has all the maturity you’ll ever need.

The R-Word, The B-Word and the F-Word

For what seems like the millionth time, CNN is running the clip from “The View” where Elizabeth breaks down over not using the N-word. I haven’t seen her this upset since Rosie left.
Between the clips CNN has interviews with people we should consider important. Sure they’re opinion should count. After all they’ve earned enough notoriety to be asked to talk about the N-word on CNN. One guy gave his opinion, but added that he probably shouldn’t be commenting because he’s not Black. His statement of the obvious left the anchor in stitches! Had the Rev. Jesse Jackson not touched off the latest round of heated N-word discussion, we all know he would have been the first guy to get the call from the news networks.

I probably shouldn’t be commenting on the N-word either. Like Jesse and all the so-called experts, no one can speak for all African-Americans. Not all of us even like to be called African American (I use Black, African-American and people of color). In this blog posting I only speak for me.

I can remember every single time I’ve been in a confrontation caused by the N-word. Mary Feltham called me the N-Word on a school bus. Sadly it happened just a few months after I stood up for Mary when Nicky said she was a whale that all the kids should “harpoon” with their pens. I spent several months believing that’s what all white kids at school really thought of me.

There was a group of stoners from my high school who called mom and me the N-word after she told them they shouldn’t be sitting on other people’s cars in the parking lot of the Somerset, NJ K-mart.

One day at work my friend, Heather, used the word to describe some jobless teens who lived a few streets away. I told her that it was NEVER okay to use the word. She thought it was okay because she wasn’t talking about me. I told her again that it was NEVER okay to use the word. She apologized and promised to never use the word again. Heather also vowed to correct other people when they used it. We’re still friends.

A woman lashed out at me with the N-word during a spat over a parking space at a Michael’s craft store. She could have whipped me with her dirty panties and it wouldn’t have felt more degrading and hurtful. I did my best to shout back something hateful. I told her that my family members who weren’t in gangs worked for the D.M.V. and that we’d work together to make her life miserable. I thought the D.M.V. threat alone should’ve been enough scare her away from using that hate word again.

Sadly during that nasty encounter, coming up with what I considered a menacing yet creative threat didn’t make the N-Word sting any less. I vowed to change my attitude about the word. Those who used it weren’t calling me worthless, they were showing their feelings of worthlessness. I’ve been working on that attitude change for seven years. I still find the N-word hurtful.

A co-worker has a son with Down’s Syndrome. He overheard his kid calling another child the R-word. No matter how much I preach about the R-word, I still hear teens and 20-somethings using it. Can we substitute the word, “wack?”

I’ve heard girlfriends use the B-word with each other, but when it comes from a skank in the restroom who spilled beer on you, there’s about to be a girl fight.

I’ve heard gay guys toss around the F-word. I’m pretty sure those same gay guys wouldn’t think it was amusing if the F-word was yelled at them from a pick-up truck on a lonely country road.

I simply can’t understand why some people believe it is so unfair for Blacks to use the N-word when Whites are forbidden. I think of it like this. I might refer to myself as a big girl and tell people that I suffer from “chubitis,” but my friends don’t make fun of my weight. I hope they aren’t upset that they don’t get to call me a fat chick in front of my face.

The firey N-word argument isn’t about usage for me. The argument is about why you’d want to use it if you knew it would evoke feelings of pain and anger.

I figure they’ll be two reactions to this entry. My friends will vow to never use the word. People who’d like to hurt me or rile me up will post about how I’m too sensitive and tell me that Black people are hypocrits. I won’t know the color of the people who post. It won’t matter anyway. We’ll never get all Black folks and all white folks to agree on this issue. Hopefully we’ll find common ground with another R-word…. RESPECT (cue Aretha Franklin)