RHKOA: Big Lou

Once upon a time, not so long ago, Black families were strong. Like men of all races and backgrounds, there were a few Black men that mistreated their wives, but overwhelmingly there was a sense of loyalty, fidelity and responsibility with the male populace. These were the men who share cropped to help feed their burgeoning families, who helped build schools from raw materials and who marched for civil rights. They scraped and scrimped to help raise their families, but it was often not enough. Segregation and discrimination kept them from earning higher wages and put a firm, impenetrable economic ceiling above them. Many of them migrated to different parts of the country in order to find better work and send money back home. A lot of them never came home at all. Some of them started new families in their new locations. A new culture within the Black community was being developed. Seeing these hapless, struggling single mothers, the government wondered how they could help?

“Well, let’s offer them welfare,” Uncle Sam replied. “But the resources must only go to single/unmarried women!”

Those men who did remain were firmly put out of the house and required to languish on corners…just for the time being…just until the social worker left. Food stamps and cans of non-perishable good were rewards for destroying the family unit. Pretty soon, enough women decided they didn’t really need a man. The government had taken his place! And in time, sons were left without fathers, growing up not knowing how to be fathers or responsible men themselves. After being declared obsolete by their own women folk, these men sought comfort in the arms of any other woman who would make them feel needed and important. The trouble is, these males had not grown into full manhood, and the Caucasian women they have come to overwhelmingly lust after and depend on today do not have a complete understanding of the part of the Black man’s narrative. As such, they are content to coddle and indulge these  men in their every whim often to the chagrin and disgust of Black women. How dare this fine brother choose a White girl over us?

“Well, there’s just some Black men you need to let White girls have!” was the pained outcry from the sisterhood.

We were content to let White girls and women suffer through the immature ways of little boys in grown men bodies, and now at sunset, the chickens have come home to roost.

This is where we find Kim.

I mentioned Kim in one of my previous blogs. She’s the brunette who works at a bar less than a mile from my house. Her children Korey and Karen (or whatever names I previously gave them) are bi-racial, and just as sweet as they want to be (when they’re not crying in front of the police at my house). There has been much speculation that they’ve been exposed to male propagated violence, as Kim would often show up with unexplained bruises and blackened eyes. Little Karen would sometimes show up with bruises as well, and it is for this reason, among several others, that Big Lou despises Kim.

I said that I think of Big Lou as a patriarch, and I mean no insult by this. When I think of a ‘matriarch’, I think of someone who makes cannolis and smells like chocolate chip cookies. I think of someone who is a unifier and strives to bring peace wherever she goes. Big Lou is the antithesis of that persona. The best way to describe her is like an M&M. Hard on the outside and soft in the middle. With a little bit of pressure you can eventually break through an M&M. There is not enough pressure in the world to crack Big Lou…at least none that I can think of.

Did I mention that Big Lou detests Kim? Good, because that’s important.

One of Big Lou’s many gigs is babysitting at night – which is an odd occupation if you know her. She completely dislikes children. Her ideal child sits on the couch and doesn’t move until she says so…and that is precisely what all the children in her care do. They take off their shoes at the door, sit on the couch, and take small sips of air. I’ve never seen her strike a child, and I don’t think she would have to. She’s so menacing that it would be folly to disobey her.

However, her treatment of Korey and Karen was more than I could bear. The two little cherubs seemed so forlorn in her presence that I felt it was my duty to save them. That’s why I took over the charge of caring for them for those few days. I believed that her utter disdain for their mother was what was causing her to mete out such foul treatment upon them. I didn’t know at the time that her disdain for Kim was warranted.

“You are SO retarded,” I heard her snarl at 18 month old Karen at the pool one day. “That’s because your Mammy is retarded too. Ugh!”

It was like watching  ‘The Help’ in reverse. Instead of edifying her charges by telling them they were “kind, and special and important” and so on, she made it a point to tell them as often as she could that they weren’t going to be shit…because they were retarded, of course.

“These little White girls don’t need to be having kids by no Black men if they ain’t got no sense or strength,” Big Lou muttered that day at the pool. “How you gonna let a man whip your ass in front of your kids? And then let him take your car and live up in your house that you pay for? That nigga don’t pay no bills!”

“That nigga” wasn’t the kids’ father at all. He was a new man that Kim had declared that she was completely in love with. In time, another man would move in and take HIS place. That nigga brought some other chick to Kim’s house one morning and said that he was screwing her, which was why he hadn’t touched Kim in 8 weeks. She should have cut his balls off, but instead she broke down and began to cry.

“I don’t know what I’ve done to you to deserve this!” she wailed.

This is another reason Big Lou deplores the very air Kim breathes. She hates a begging woman.

I came to admire Big Lou very quickly. Not in the sense that I wanted to emulate her, but more like a fly drawn to a sweet, sticky paper. I should have known early on that my demise was imminent, but it was hard to resist the power of her charms.

You see, Big Lou is a master story teller, and there is nothing I crave more than I good story. Her life is like a series of train wrecks, interrupted by incidences of good fortune. I was powerless.

Big Lou thought I was nothing more than a giggling buffoon. I’m sure she could not understand why her daughter thought so highly of me. I would often sit next to her in my car or in her garage with my mouth agape, sometimes laughing uproariously, sucking in every detail of the stories and events she’d recount. Stories about near rapes, beat downs at bar-b-ques, drug deals gone bad, encountering children who beat up and/or slept with their own parents in the juvi system where she worked…basically everything that was opposite of my experience in life so far. I was like milk toast and she was like hot pepper soup. I only needed to absorb a little to add some flavor to my mundane being.

It was from Big Lou that I learned most of what I know about my neighbors and what they in turn think about me. I found out that the angry woman up with row with two evil little children is a lesbian who has sex (or what she calls “suckin’ ‘n f*ckin’”) in front of her kids. She was actually Harriet’s best friend until the two of them had a falling out.

It was from Big Lou that I discovered that the enormous stud that lives 6 doors down from me thinks that my kids are “animals” because they come outside to play when she wants to publicly fondle her new girlfriend(s) and can’t because of their prying eyes.

I also learned that the very sweet interracial couple isn’t as agreeable as they appear. The woman, being from the Islands, is very hot tempered and beats her husband. She demands that he take care of the children and do EVERYTHING relating to their care. In order to escape his mini-prison, he comes across the street to the Stud’s house to smoke (and yes, I do mean weed), which is supplied by our local dealer who lives 7 doors down from me!

I’ve lived here for 7 years and have never known any of this!

In time I grew to trust Big Lou, and trust her completely. She was a straight shooter and never minced words. Was my trust misplaced? I still don’t know.

Stay tuned for the conclusion. I’m going to do some laundry and be right back! Remember, you’re supposed to help me figure this whole thing out.