" "Should've Known Better, "Don't Shed A Tear, Abe Vigoda, Anger, Channeling Emotions, Crush #2, Geology, Manhood, Masculinity, M², Paul Carrack, Pitt, Rage, Richard Marx, Self-Discovery, Sexuality, University of Pittsburgh
Sometimes in my life, my anger and rage are a driver toward the better. Usually it’s because I channel that negative energy into something positive, like writing, running, praying and forgiving. In the case of the year after Crush #2 crushing me emotionally and psychologically, it was school and needing to pull my grades up that gave me a place to channel my anger and rage. But with a twist. I deliberately decided that it was the older students at Pitt that I’d befriend my second semester, shunning all but a few classmates under the age of twenty-two.
In Geology that Winter ’88 semester, I had a professor who sounded like Abe Vigoda from Barney Miller and looked like he’d been digging up shale every time he lectured in class. The class was pretty easy, all multiple choice. The main issue of significance wasn’t the class, though. It was M². I had met her at the Cathedral lab the previous semester. She always came to the lab with her boyfriend, and always somehow found something she needed help with. She made almost every girl I went to high school with, well, look like they were girls by comparison.
We were in this Geology class together, which apparently gave her a ready-made excuse for toying with me off and on that semester. As sexy and attractive as she was, I was ill-equipped for any drama between her and her boyfriend. M² was twenty-four, her boyfriend twenty-two and six-two at that. He looked like he worked out, or had at least filled out, in ways that I knew I hadn’t yet.
So at first I kept my distance, not wanting any part of what was going on in M²’s head. I bumped into her one day while getting lunch at the Cathedral of Learning, in the Roy Rogers restaurant on the ground floor. She asked me to sit down and eat with her, and for once, I didn’t refuse. We started talking, or rather, M² started talking about her boyfriend and how she felt about their relationship, particularly their sex life. I really didn’t want to know anything about it, but my ears perked up when she said, “You’d think that as tall as he is he would be bigger down there.” That was definitely too much information.
“You know what they say about men with big feet?,” M² asked next.
I really didn’t know. I guessed that I was about to talk my way into a punchline.
“Big feet equals a big you-know-what,” she answered while pointing to my size thirteens and then looking at my face.
“You’re blushing,” M² said with a coy smile.
Of course I was blushing. It wasn’t every day that someone six years older than me hinted that they might want to have sex with me, boyfriend or no boyfriend.
For what it was worth, a gorgeous Black woman in her mid-twenties flirting with and insinuating that she wanted to have sex with me did give me a confidence boost that slowly wore away the anger I started the year with. What also helped was a battery of new music that helped focus my anger and reinvigorate my imagination. Richard Marx’s “Should’ve Known Better” and Paul Carrack’s “Don’t Shed a Tear” were two songs that were close enough in lyrics, meaning and emotion to my situation with Crush #2 that I smiled a silly smile every time I heard or played them both.For the first time in two years, I started paying attention to rap again. Rob Base, Salt ’n Pepa, Big Daddy Kane, and Public Enemy all began to seep into my consciousness that winter and spring. Geto Boys’ “Mind Playin’ Tricks on Me” would’ve been nice to hear six or eight months before, when I was waist deep in obsession over Crush #2.
Still, M² helped me realize, maybe for the very first time, that as much of a mess I was back then, that I was attractive — or at least handsome –in my own right. And that a goodly portion of my former Humanities classmates were assholes.