The music mixtape saved my life. More specifically, the mixtape enabled me to communicate with girls. The mixtape was not just an ice breaker. It was my comfort to communicate. As a pre-teen and teenager, I was shy. I can remember instances when my hands shook in the presence of girls. Some girls would be condescending and say, "Are you nervous?" Almost catatonic, I'd stare at girls or my head was down too uncomfortable to make eye contact let alone speak. I thought all my neighborhood friends had game. They told their stories with girls. They seemed confident and conquering. I was the lone square. I was the Catholic school boy who was safe for the girls to be friends with. My friends were the bad boys. The hustlers. The playboys. My interests were sports, music and girls - in that order.
Girls may have been third on my list of interests but my libido was high even at a young age. When my uncle came home from his military excursions, he would stay with us until he again went overseas. I had no sense of privacy so I went through his Navy bag to look at porn magazines and porn VHS tapes. Most of the women were black or white yet they were exotic to me. Most of them were voluptuous. They were not the norm the media and television constantly showed. They resembled "Thelma" from the TV show Good Times or "Elaine" from the TV show Taxi but with wider hips. Thick didn't describe them back then but thick is what they were. Thelma and Elaine were every man's kind of woman. They had big breasts; toned body but still soft. They weren't the Glamour magazine models pushed on us as the embodiment of sexy or healthy. I was sprung from those porn moments. My perception of an attractive woman was set.
From those porn moments, I was also able to see the beauty of a woman's movement. Whatever the intent of pornography, my mind was 180 degrees from that. I saw an art in her movement that highlighted the subtle beauty of women. Face and T&A were easy to see and scrutinize but the beauty I saw was how she revealed her neck line or the look of her back becoming a canvas of muscle and structure. In those few years of my uncle's back and forth, I was a quiet and shy, stylized perv. Thank goodness for sports and music.
The first mixtape I made for a girl was during my junior year of high school. It was made because the recipient was gorgeous and I was finally courageous to pursue a girlfriend. Technically, I previously had girlfriends. Fanny in the 5th grade wrote to me a "call me" note. 40+ years later we are still friends. In the 7th grade, me, Marcus and three girls were in the school van playing truth or dare. This was at a Catholic retreat in LaComb, LA. One of the girls was Zonell. She was a pretty girl with a fresh personality but I was not as attracted to her as I was the other two girls. That night she repeatedly kissed me with something on her mind. When we got back to New Orleans, we were boyfriend and girlfriend. See the pattern? If the girls didn't initially show interest, I don't have a girlfriend.
The first mixtape had the purpose of solidifying mutual interest. I didn't know how to convey that in conversation without falling apart. From conversations of benign topics and small talk, I noticed the physical cues that this pretty girl was attracted to me. It's 1987. I'm a Jesuit High student with many white friends who have influenced my musical tastes. I was always a Hip-Hop head. I also loved 70's Soul and Rock n Roll. I knew and listened to bands like Led Zeppelin and Chicago before attending Jesuit. My Dad and Uncle's vinyl collections were diverse and simply awesome. My Jesuit friends, especially Roman, introduced me to British Pop and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Robert Smith and The Cure hypnotized me. Their album "Disintegration" was melodic and ethereal. The song "Pictures of You" was borderline disturbing because of the stalker lyrics but to a 17 year old, it was a love song.
Contemplation comes in silence. Observance comes in silence. Rationale comes in silence. Action comes in silence. Resolution within verbal communication comes after silence. Creativity and thought come in silence. Just as my silence may be unnerving, constant chatter aggravates me. We have to know and utilize each other's communication strengths without ignoring the weaknesses. That's part of effectively communicating. I don't have verbal game despite my college degree in English. My retorts or wit are almost always after the engagement. I don't have the gift to gab though I am educated in many subjects. My verbal short comings keep me on edge and paranoid to perceived verbal attacks. My verbal shortcomings also stem from my interest and tolerance of others.
As I've gotten older, people and their intended conversations bore me. I'm not the life of the party but many instances I'm not interested. I'm not engaged. I love music. I love talking about it but if your only topic is Lil Wayne, you've lost me. I've probably lost some in the first paragraph of this blog, but the narcissist me has no worries 😁.
My silence is protection. My vocabulary and intent can sting so I usually keep it to myself. My ineptitude to conjure compassion when most needed is insanity. My communication pet peeve asks, "Are you willing to live in the moment or will you talk through it?" Tracey and I had a conversation when I took a break from this blog entry. The intent was to better understand my ease to aggravation. It was a good, productive conversation. As I'm writing, she is sitting on our porch reading, jotting notes, absorbing sunshine, looking great and probably relaxed. In on the sofa in view of her. The front door is open. This communication is the content I seek. I see all of her in this moment and she is beautiful. The challenge to myself so she can have a similar content is for me to utilize verbal communication with her as another inroad to us and not as an affront to her.
Enjoy the mixtape...