Prince and the mystery of the freezing genitalia

 

For the past few days, fifty percent of the running dialogue in my mind has included the lyrics of a random Prince song. When I’m in the car, washing my hair, cooking dinner, speaking with my husband or on the phone with my mother, at some point in the conversation my mind takes me back to when I was four years old and first became aware of the majesticness of the amazingly danty, hyper-sensual pop star. Outside of my parent’s embrace, he was my first introduction into the wretched agony that could sometimes be known as love, showing the world in a way that only he (and Beyonce) could, that love can make you happy or sad, it could make you dance or destroy a room with a guitar (or a bat). That in it’s best and more purest form, love can manifest magic before your very eyes.

Every time I have thought of him since learning of his death, my mind takes me back to my paternal grandmother’s house, where I would sneak and watch Purple Rain with my siblings and cousins when I was a kid. Like all giants who have passed on, I still have so many questions: How did his feet move so fast? How did he gyrate THAT high off the ground? How did people make bootleg movies in the 1980s when camcorders were the size of a suitcase? Did my grandmother know that we were watching that movie (along with Coming to America and I’m Gonna Get You Sucka) every – single – time we came to visit her?

….I have so many questions.

Shaking off those thoughts, I think back to my favorite scene of the movie and suddenly have the urge to pick up my imaginary neon pink and leopard print air guitar and serenade myself with the epic and only real instrumental that comes to my mind when I think of the late artist. You know which one I’m talking about, right? That moment in Purple Rain when Prince finally liberates himself from his inner demons and played the song written, in part, by his abusive father (who had just tried to shoot himself in the head).

 

On-ly.
Want.
To.
See.
You.
Laugh-ing.
In.
That.
Purple Rain.

[Air guitar in hand. Bending back on one leg. Arched back. Eyes closed. Head rocking.]

I didn’t know what the heck any of this meant as a kid but I wanted to experience it. If Purple Rain would allow me to look at someone from across a very dark, smoked-filled room and make them know exactly what I wanted from them then it was apparent that it was a very good thing.
Even as a tot too young to know anything else, something deep within me recognized that his angst, his passion, his willingness to move through and use his emotions with otherworldly honesty was unique – a rarity to be marveled at because I would not witness it often.

More than with Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, Prince’s death made me feel like a portion of my childhood had died. Not that either of the aforementioned artists were less significant, but despite his many rumored sexual partners and suspected (and assumed) drug use in the 80s, death was nowhere on my radar when it came to Prince. Like Yoda from StarWars, I suspected that 1,000 years from now, Prince would still be here — a bit smaller in statue but anciently wise.

 

 

The day after he died, I woke up only to be greeted by my distraught five year old laying on the couch, staring up at the ceiling in bewilderment. Did his little soul know that the world had lost a huge creative force? Did he sense mommy’s sadness at dinnertime, as the sweet melody of Prince’s songs rang through the air over my phone’s speakers?

“Mommy, something is wrong.” He said as soon as he saw me.

“I know. Something is wrong, Prince is dead. But what’s wrong with you?” I countered.

“Something is wrong with my penis. It’s freezing but it’s not cold!” He whispered worriedly.

Dammitttttttt! I thought as I shook myself out of my funk and my mind began to race.  Not today Lord, not today, I am not mentally prepared to handle this today.

His words were still suspended in the air as I began to rue the day I decided to talk openly to my sons about their genitalia.

I wanted to turn around and go upstairs. I wanted to pull the covers high above my head and turn on “1999,” as loudly as possibly and make the world around me disappear.

But I knew that I couldn’t. This was not a drill. I had to give him an answer.

I figured that I had two options: I could make him feel embarrased about a normal bodily function or I could make him know that everything was okay…that his non-cold freezing penis was just a part of life.

Thinking of Prince, I smiled and knew exactly what to do. I kissed away the creases on my concerned child’s forehead and gave him a big hug.

“I don’t know why your penis is freezing.” I told him. “Go ask your daddy.”

 

 

Rest in Power Prince Rogers Nelson.  

May heaven be filled with electric guitars and pretty girls.  

May it rain down purple in the presence of the sun/Son just for you.

 

For your viewing, listening and dancing pleasure…

Everyone won’t like your stuff and that’s why God created liquor.

Hello!

 

It’s finally Springtime in Chicago and the proverbial fog of random snow/hail/sleet/wind storms seems to finally be behind us.  I’m about 1/4 done with the first draft of my second novel, which I have recently decided sucks, but I’m still oddly confident that I will meet my own secret deadline to complete the first draft.  Call me crazy or delusional…because my secret deadline is ridiculously close, however the burst of Vitamin D that I’m getting has given me a new take on this writing thing and I have officially stopped asking for signs to undo the signs that I have already received that tell me to keep writing between ever-present moments of trying to not do anything that will traumatize my kids…even if it’s just a word a day.

But on the topic of writing things that sometimes sucks…

I recently had the great experience of being in a room with approximately ten people who thought my book sucked.  Well, to be honest, they didn’t exactly say that they thought it sucked because #Blackpeoplesticktogether, however having gone to enough events where I’ve discussed my book, my Erykah Badu aka sensitive artist radar was activated as soon as I entered the room.  You know, Black women are genetically incapable of completely hiding our emotions.  Sure enough, it didn’t take long for my suspicions to be confirmed, at which point I channeled my mother, grandmothers, and Harriet Tubman (shout out to the new face of the $20!) and I put on my BIG GIRL PANTIES + GIRDLE and listened to the critique that the women around me provided.

The real version of myself has horrible control of my facial affect — so much so that I had to wear bandaids on my eyebrows when I pledged a sorority in college.  However, as I stepped outside of myself, I couldn’t help but be proud of how far I had come as I listened to them with an open mind, heart and smile.  Granted, I was also counting the minutes until I could get out of there and pour myself a drink to process the emotional defeat of the opinions that they didn’t have the heart to fully say, but that’s neither here nor there.

In the end, we agreed that I should have made the ending of the book fuller, however, I still wouldn’t change Lotus’ ultimate fate.  To give her an ending in a pink bow would have done an injustice to the story because let’s face it, Lotus needs a therapist or at least three months to get her mind right after all the drama she has been through.

Nevertheless, everything happens for a reason.

Despite being born with insanely thin skin, over time, my skin has become thick as the hair in the kinky patch of my Super Mighty East African to Mississippi hair.  I can take a bad review — as long as it’s constructive — and though they always sting I accept that everyone in the world didn’t like the Bible or Eat, Pray, Love or The Alchemist or Ocean’s Eleven so OF COURSE everyone in the world won’t like my book.  It’s not a happy, bubbly, book.  It is an unapologetically melodramatic fictional book about a women who is in the midst of an epic WTF moment. 

However…

When it’s all said and done, the weirdo in me has to admit that I have an odd preference for one star reviews over three star reviews.  I know it sounds crazy, but when someone gives you one star, there is a level of passion there.  I mean, they REALLY hated it.  It conjured up something within them that they made them take time out of their day to open their laptop, sign into Amazon or Goodreads, and look for the one-star button.  For some reason, that makes me feel better than someone who may have felt ambivalent about the book and gave it three stars.  It’s weird, I know.  After 2-3 years of time and effort, I like the idea of a reader being passionate about the book, even if they end up burning it in effigy.