Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Morning Edition - 12/19/07
Long Time No See; Aggression
My mom tells me stories of how aggressive I was as a child. “I couldn’t take you anywhere without finding you balled up fighting with some other kid. It was embarrassing.” As I got older I found myself in a few school fights and some neighborhood battles, but nothing out of the ordinary. When I left home at 15, it was a bit different. I was on the hard NYC streets and didn’t have the luxury of being a pushover. Once I hit my mid twenties, my bone-chilling wit, ability to carve hearts with my words rather than a weapon and more polished exterior, replaced the once carefree – almost careless kid. Then an odd feeling started creeping back about two years ago. The old Cocoa began immerging. More ferocious, more fearless and certainly more challenging. This isn’t to say that I’m that guy you can’t hang with without the threat of impending physical violence, but I’m certainly not the guy who is likely to be caught on the receiving end of a gay bashing. Then I realized that regardless of who I was interacting with the mentality that where-you-do-it-to-me-is-where-you-get-it was a mantra I began living by. Case in point, a few weeks ago I was out with a couple of close friends and ran into a very old friend who was out with his crew. An hour into the night and I noticed that my old friend was sitting down with his new peeps crowding around him and fanning him. As I approached, I asked him, “Are you alright? What happened?!” He mentioned he fainted, probably from skipping lunch and dinner that day. I reached in my pocket, pulled out some candy and shoved it in his mouth. I said, “The sugar should hold you for a minute, but you need to go out and get something to eat.” It was then that I heard one of the guys in his crew say, “Dr. Rosie Perez in his wife beater needs to mind his business.” I felt my skin crawl, but I can play the dozens with the best of them, so I simply looked at the dude and said, “Maybe if you regurgitate some of that mess in your gut you can hold him until he gets something to eat.” I smiled and stood up waiting for his response. A few inches taller than me, I suspected he might want to turn this into something physical. He said, “I’m focused on him,” pointing to my old friend, “so don’t start no shit.” I looked at my crew and back at him before saying, “He’s going to be fine, but I’m focused on you bitch. You say one more word to me and I’m crackin’ you in your fronts.” I waited and waited and waited. He tried doing that side-talking to his own crew, but I was unrelenting. “Nah, bruh…I’m right here. Who the f*ck are you talking to?!” Finally, he said, “I wasn’t talkin’ to you, so why you trippin’?” Cowardly, side-steppin’ hoes have no business speakin’ to grown men and then backin’ down. I looked dead at the guy and said, “I don’t know you kid, but the next time we’re out and you look at me wrong, we’re getting ‘86’d from this joint cuz I’m puttin’ my foot in your natural ass!” I turned to my old friend and said, “You really need to get a new crew to chill with. Later.” As I walked off I stopped at the bar and got my drink before joining my friends on the dance floor. Ultimately, I would’ve had my hands full with ‘ole boy, but at that moment, my fight-flee mechanism was trapped on fight and the natural instinct of preservation never kicked in. I’m an upstanding, professional, classy guy, but don’t sleep...under it all, I’m still a Rican-Boogie-Down-Bronx dude that had to assert himself early on to get to where I am. Guess that Cocoa comes up for air every now and again.
Whether it’s old-style ghetto aggression brought on by years of battling to survive on the streets or the powerlessness that was a product of being bullied, everyone has a character trait that is a result of their upbringing. When stressors or life-changes occur old traits may bubble to the surface.
Which of your old traits do you see resurface occasionally – like it or not?
Keep passin’ the open windows…