|Early last week, I had a doctor's appointment for my tension-filled jawbone.
To all my TMJ pain sufferers out there: Get a third opinion if you have to.
The pain is brutal and real. I'd also like to add that no situation on this
great, green earth is worth stress to the point of pain. To quote the
acclaimed Atlanta-based rap group, Outkast: "Shake That Load Off". Forgive
me, dear readers. That was a cathartic moment. I needed to get that out in
order to proceed. My load has officially been shaken.
Whenever I venture out in the city using public transit, I have two required
items that must accompany me: A Walkman and a book - sometimes several books
that I carry in a sling-pack. It's something I've done since my younger days
(of many moons ago, of course). It may not be what you'd expect of a
"professional" twenty-something's business apparel, but I don't do the
briefcase thing much. To me, it just seems a bit overdone. It's tough enough
I have to pick up dry-cleaning and don lint brushes like jedi light sabers. I
have to coordinate ties and shirts, shoes and socks - I even have to make
certain I'm wearing the right belt! Oh, to be young again!
On my off days or times of leisure, I don't even dare look at an iron. I
usually go for the most wrinkled section of my wardrobe. The more wrinkled
the better. On this particular day last week, my trusty old jeans and a rugby
shirt was the outfit of choice- with sufficient wrinkles to boot. Inside the
doctor's office, I pull out one of my impressive tomes. The Cornel West
Reader, by Dr. Cornel West, could be used as a booster seat if needed. It's
probably the largest book in my arsenal. While I was reading the Rubik's Cube
writing of West, the female (and black) medical receptionist asks me if it's
any good. I light up at the chance to express my admiration for West's book.
If you've read any of West's work, the words this brother uses can either
frighten or inspire. They do the latter with me so when I go to explain the
worth of this book, I do it in "West-ese". I use the full command of my
vocabulary and I'm certain I lost her at some point or another. I'm using
words I just learned myself from reading the book. She then says to me:
"I wouldn't have figured you to be so...so...smart! You look like one of my
son's friends! That's so impressive for such a young man!"
(She called me young...that alone made her an angel in my book!)
I almost got offended but then I looked at my clothes. I can see why she may
have thought that I wasn't capable of that sort of word usage. As an
associate of mine would say, I looked a "hot mess." My beard was unkempt. My
glasses were water-stained. Why should anyone have taken me seriously at this
point? We speak for a good half-hour, clearly irritating some of the patients
with our lively discussion. She apologized but went on to say that the rarity
of a young man (YES!) capable of speaking so eloquently was refreshing. I
felt good about that but later, I felt like an oddity. Did I really stand
out? Was my gear a little too "thugged out" for the fashion in which I was
speaking? Is it time to ditch the New Balances and adorn my feet with
wingtips? Do I have to pitch all my rugby shirts for Brooks Brothers
I sometimes try to blend the two. A casual, laid-back style blended with the
conservative one. It usually comes off looking more conservative than how
"hip hoppers" typically looks... more Ft. Washington than SE Washington. I'm
fine with that because I can't rock shell-toes anymore. They hurt my feet.
Give me my New Balances. I won't be suckered into paying 20 bucks for a
T-shirt just because my favorite hip hop artist is on the front. I prefer a
nice golf shirt or perhaps a short-sleeve rugby - on sale for 10.99 a piece.
That's just the way I've been for years so why change now? It's funny when my
fellow local MC's find out that I rhyme (more leisurely now). I will still
torch a cipher in a second especially if the MC's involved have some degree
of measurable skill. But I'm usually met with the following:
"Sun, I ain't even know you be rhymin'"
"You don't even project the MC vibe...you seem so bookish"
"You possibly can't be serious about jumping in this cipher"
I love the underestimation but I don't enjoy feeling as if I stand out. I
tend to think I'm more inconspicuous than that. Perhaps I am until I'm in the
circle of those who are fine with the common image associated with the MC,
whatever that is. I guess I just don't have the MC look and that's fine with
me. It's not a high career choice of mine any longer. I apparently don't have
the intellectual look down pat but its not a thing I'm striving for either.
Appearances are important in all facets of life. Some industries and
professions are mainly built around image projection. I can't be concerned
with that. I will own up to the fact I "fake jacks" when it comes to certain
situations. I won't show up at a social function or job interview looking
like a twister touched down in my bedroom. I wouldn't go on a date looking
disheveled. I do know how to dress up when necessary. Any other time, I don't
think you'll be seeing me in anything that requires cufflinks, starch and a
sports jacket. Sometimes you just have to not match every once in a while.
This goes for the b-boy and girl too. Just grab it and go. You'll appreciate
the freedom and you needn't fuss over coordination and the like. Let everyone
else do it for you.
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