Sunday, January 15, 2006
EXCERPT: The B*tch Is Crazy
Never Where You Work,
Never Where You Live
I rented an apartment around the corner from Mama’s house and
found a job working as an executive administrative assistant for a
brokerage house in downtown Chicago. I didn’t know one thing about
the stock market, but my resume was impressive. It didn’t hurt to have
Professional Football League all-pro players, a Professional League
Baseball MVP, and a Phoenix city councilman as references.
I knew I had the job five minutes into the interview; the men who
were interviewing me were seeing dollar signs. With connections like
mine, they were praying that I could bring in some big accounts for
them. But that wasn’t my angle. I needed a job, plus I didn’t want to mix
business with pleasure. Those were words to live by.
Living in Chicago again was a major adjustment. My wardrobe
needed winterizing, to the tune of forty-five hundred dollars. I was so
comfortable living the suburbia life of Arizona that on more than one
occasion Mama had to remind me to lock my car doors.
And that job was working me! They treated me like an errand
girl–with an emphasis on girl–and I knew that before long I would snap.
That thing they gave me on the first and fifteenth of each month called
a paycheck didn’t do justice. If it hadn’t been for my monthly allowance
from Vince, my ass would have been a paycheck away from homelessness.
I was writing my bills when the phone rang. The caller ID read
“Hey, girl? What’s up?” I asked.
“Clarke? This is Kevin.” Kevin was Falana’s newest beau.
“Is everything all right?” I answered, panicked.
“No. But Falana’s fine.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“I think your girl is cheating on me.”
Oh, my God! How did he know?
Falana had just moved back home as well. When she got there, she
had discovered that Thomas, her old boyfriend, had also moved back.
Even though she was newly engaged to Kevin, she couldn’t let Thomas
“He’s so fine,” she’d say. “He’s just so fine.”
“Look,” I said, getting back to Kevin. “Why are you calling me
from Falana’s house? Did she give you a key?” I already knew the
“No, she didn’t,” he stuttered. “She told me to take her keys to her
mom about a month ago, and I made a copy.
“Good thing,” he continued, “I came in here looking for proof and
I found a condom in the trash basket.”
“Kevin, you need to leave ASAP. I don’t know anything about some
condom in the trash basket, but I do know that Falana’s gonna kick your
ass when she finds out.”
“But, Clarke,” he started.
“Clarke, my ass. You’re dead wrong to be in her place. She’s going
to flip a switch. Do you hear me? Leave now!” I yelled.
Oh no! There was going to be drama, and I wasn’t even there to
I started dialing as fast as a telemarketer. I called Falana’s mama,
her granny, her aunts, her uncles, the beauty shop, Thomas’ house, and
everywhere in between. Since I was the drama queen, I had to make sure
that I had all of the pertinent phone numbers of The Committee in case
of an emergency. This was most certainly an emergency.
No one knew where Lana was. I paced, trying to figure out my next
move, when the phone rang.
“Hey, girl, you looking for me?” Falana inquired.
I could tell she was in a good mood, but I was about to ruin all
“Where are you?” I asked.
“I told you earlier that Thomas and I left work early to hang out.
The Committee knew that I had an unforgiving memory. I didn’t
forget anything, so I was kind of insulted, but I didn’t have time to be
“Look, Kevin just called me. He’s been in your apartment snooping
around and found a condom in the trash basket.”
“Girl, stop playing ’cause you ain’t even funny. Kevin doesn’t have
a key to my place, so what you’re saying couldn’t have happened.”
“Did you just hear what I said? He made a copy when you told him
to take the keys to your mama. He called me from your place, and he
was going through your shit.”
The line was silent.
“Where are you now?” I asked.
“We’re at my cousin’s watching TV. She’s cooking for us.”
“Well,” I started.
“Damn it!” Lana whispered.
“Kevin’s ringing the doorbell.”
“How you know it’s him?”
“’Cause I’m looking dead at him.”
“He’s right here too.”
“Call me back.” I hung up and called Zsa.
“So I guess Thomas doesn’t know that Kevin and Falana are
engaged?” Zsa inquired.
“What is wrong with Falana? Is she crazy?”
“How is she getting away with seeing the both of them? Hasn’t
Thomas seen that big-ass rock on her finger?” Zsa asked, flabbergasted.
“I told Falana to break it off with Kevin, but her procrastinating ass
keeps putting it off. This is how people get beat up.”
“Beat up? People get killed every day for much less.”
“I know that’s right,” I replied.
Falana was playing a dangerous game, but this was typical Falana.
Finally, at midnight, Falana called back.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Girl, it was major drama. Kevin was screaming and yelling.”
“Can you blame him?”
She just kept talking. “Then Thomas asked what was going on
’cause I was his girl. Then Kevin said I was his fiancée. They both
looked at me. I looked at them and tried to talk to Kevin, but he lunged
at Thomas. Then Thomas kicked his ass all over my cousin’s living
room and left.”
Falana took a deep breath and continued. “After Thomas left, Kevin
started crying, asking how could I do this to him. I just slapped his
“You what?” I said. I knew Falana would cuss someone out, but she
would have to be mad beyond belief to slap somebody.
“I asked him, ‘How dare you?’ That’s what yo’ stupid ass gets. You
had no business going into my apartment with a key that you weren’t
supposed to have.’”
“Damn, Falana.” Kevin was a good guy, and even though he was
wrong, I felt sorry for him.
“Damn,” I repeated.
We were chatting away when my phone clicked. “Hold on, Lana.”
It was Kevin. “Please, Clarke,” he begged, “help me out. I still love
Falana. I want her back.”
“Kevin, you tripping. I don’t know how I can help you out of this. In
fact, I’m through talking to you ’cause I have Falana holding on.”
“Please,” he begged.
“Kevin, I’m not your friend, I’m her friend. I can’t help you. You’re
on your own.”
I clicked over and told Falana what happened.
“He’s crazy,” she said. “He’s been calling everybody. He even
called Thomas to talk to him.”
“Falana, Falana, Falana.”
“Oh, shut up. You got drama twenty four-seven, so don’t even try
“Don’t get mad at me ’cause you got busted. Today was one for the
record book.” We both had to laugh.
I was dead tired at work the next morning. Staying up half the night
talking to Falana had my ass dragging all day. I was hoping that no one
would say anything to me ’cause I was going to let them have it.
There were only three black people in my office: the receptionist,
the mailroom clerk, and me. I wasn’t high up, but as an admin, I had
the highest position of the three of us. For that reason, those white
tards thought they could say anything and get away with it, but I wasn’t
having it. I had let them know, subtly and not-so-subtly, not to try any
of that modern-day slavery oppression B.S. on me. I was an articulate,
fly-as-hell, intelligent black woman, who was still paying on a college
degree that took me five years to get.
My co-workers thought that I was some militant Black Panther
chick, but that wasn’t it. I refused to work on Martin Luther King Day. If
they got President’s Day, then I was taking MLK Day off. I thought that
that was quite fair. They looked at it as some kind of silent protest.
Nevertheless, I was quite taken aback when I was at the microwave,
minding my own business, and another executive assistant walked up
“Hello, Clarke,” she said.
“Hi,” I responded.
I could tell she was checking me out, but I was fly as always with
an Anne Klein navy pinstriped pantsuit, light-blue button-down shirt,
stockings without runs, and AK navy pumps to match. I had it going on
every day of the week.
“You know, I’m surprised that management hasn’t written you up
about your appearance,” she started.
I took one look at her homely, all-cotton dress; knee-highs; run-over
pumps; and granny sweater.
I asked her what she meant.
“Well,” she said, not looking at me in my eye, “your hair is blond,
and we all know that that’s not your natural hair color. Maybe you
should tone it down a little; it’s so ethnic.”
This heifer clearly did not know me. I had taken my hair color down
a few notches since I got back to Chicago. I wasn’t platinum blonde; I
was more of a honey blonde.
“I’m surprised, too.”
“I’m glad you understand,” she said, relieved.
“’Cause Lord knows that if they started writing up women in here
for hair color, all the admins would have something in their files.”
“I use Clairol, just like you and everybody else in here does. So why
is it ethnic for me and natural for you?”
“I just meant . . .”
“I know exactly what you meant,” I said, cutting her off. “The next
time you mean anything else, I’m going to human resources with a
discrimination lawsuit. Do I make myself clear?” I moved within an inch
of her uneven, rimmed glasses.
She slowly backed away. I got my popcorn and walked to my
Word about the incident got around fast. From then on, my coworkers
avoided me like the plague and I liked it that way. I knew that
I wasn’t well liked in the office, and I didn’t really give a damn. The
brokers that I worked for weren’t liked much either, so we all got along
very well. I was still suspicious of them, though, so that’s why I made
sure that my work was impeccable. I did my job well, and the clients
loved me. That was the main reason I still had a job.
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