Mentors and Rivals

Elementary school was a magical time. LaSalle Avenue Elementary School hosted Anthony Guy, an odd sort of kid. Born and raised in South Central, he didn’t think, act, or talk black. You couldn’t say he was whitewashed because he had yet to meet white people. However, he was different. Pudgy, stout, basketball-loving, read the dictionary for fun, and voted most likely to get his ass kicked at recess. Not many friends, if any. However, it was still magical because in second grade, Anthony met Corey Nash, a yellow, thinner, more athletic youngster, but still quite the genius. In first grade, they both earned the respective highest overall achiever designations from their classes; now, these two were on opposite sides in the same classroom. There would be no wondering what would happen if these two clashed; the dream matchup wouldn’t be delayed until they matured. Instead, the matchup would mature both. Anthony won the first matchup, then swept the remaining three years. Anthony and Corey were friends, but would set their friendship aside to prove which one was smarter. While Anthony succeeded, he had no one to thank but Corey; if it wasn’t for him, Anthony would not have needed a reason to kick it into higher gear.

The magical time ends, as Anthony hasn’t had a rival since. It’s not a question of arrogance as it is a matter of futility. Since fifth grade, my friends have dramatically increased, and my intelligence became less data than it did sophistication. However, therein lies the problem. By not having a suitable rival all these years, I’m asking how much talent did I leave on the table. This is compounded by another issue that never bit me until recently: I’ve never had a mentor, either.

Growing up, it was just my mother and me. No father, no father figure, and not quite enough male teachers. I’m not going to say that I was bathed in estrogen, but I’ve never had a problem throwing a teary-eyed bitch fit. To say I’m sensitive is like saying water is wet. Being tough probably wasn’t in my genetics, but it probably could have been nurtured. I’ve amassed a number of older male friends, but none of them have truly served mentorship roles. This stems from a combination of factors, such as being on equal grounds with the people I have met, or equally/surpassing them in short time. I can’t be the child when I’m directing the offense from the crib. I had to grow up much earlier than I preferred because there was no one here to guide me along the way. Likewise with rivals, I haven’t had a true rival since elementary school. Even the petty things I’ve contested, such as jerseys, title belts, salsa tricks…none of that has ever been a pure moment of rivalry. Some friends have factors that I’m envious of, yet it doesn’t deter me because I’m bound to succeed on a higher level. Not one of my friends can be considered an alpha; if the fire starts, it’s because I scratched a match across my ass and said “ooh, heat.” I’ve never had a sufficient wingman. I have friends, but none of them are contributing to my personal growth. That’s a callous thing to say when I generally like my friends, but my hypercompetitive streak is not being sated. I truly wonder what I would have been like if I had a mentor telling me the way, or a rival racing me down that path.

I started mulling this over after my vacation to Palm Springs. I sojourned there because of the annual salsa festival, and well, it was a mixed bag. For starters, it was hot. Miami has heat (no pun intended), but there’s a beach nearby. Palm Springs is literally in the desert. Burning hot. Sean was my designated companion for the trip, which is where I learned that perhaps I’m not meant to travel with people. There are items that annoy the piss out of me when it comes to traveling with other people: money, timing, energy, and synchronicity. Money is self-explanatory; you need money to do stuff, and preferably, on time. Timing means knowing we’re on a deadline, and if you do something that interferes with my deadline, you will get the death stare. Energy can be described as “we’re on vacation, sleep is the enemy, do not die on me or get sick.” Synchronicity is perhaps the hardest, but in short, being on the same page. When I am on vacation, the rest of the world gets put on pause while until I return. I’ve traveled with a grand total of three people in the last year, and I can’t say there has been ONE trip that went flawlessly. In fact, I’m sure my other companions have heard me hissing under my breath. Granted, I wouldn’t say I’m the perfect travel buddy because I am moody, but I know how to stick to a schedule. Hell, the one perfect trip I took was last year in April, a solo run to the apple cider factory. You can’t put a price on peace. If something went wrong, I could have only blamed myself. Nothing went wrong, so I gave myself a handshake. OHHHHHHHH YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHH!

Back to Palm Springs. My roommate went to a salsa festival and did not dance one m*****f***ing song. Yes, I am so irritated about this that I am self-censoring. On the surface, he was a good companion. He eventually did have his money, and he did buy all the alcohol. Inside the room, there were no space issues. But after the trip, I realized something: I didn’t see him outside of the room. If you can’t dance, take classes; after all, you paid for them with your admission. Also, be cognizant about the realities of your identity. I am the Shaman of Sexy, but I wouldn’t hang around me if I didn’t have to; others don’t have to hang around me, so er, they don’t. My roommate can be effectively described as a mute that doesn’t dance. In what world does that combination create a party environment? It doesn’t. We had a lot of unused alcohol that went back to his place. I was mildly pissed about this, only mildly because I should have seen it coming. Our room was not a party room, no matter how many shots of tequila I imbibed. And apparently, people liked me buzzed, since I came across as friendlier. That’s cause for me never drinking again. I wouldn’t fancy myself a people person, but I don’t hate them, either. I guess by seeing me in a quasi-human state made people think I’m human. They’re wrong, I tell you.

Per tradition, I don’t feel my trip was a success since there wasn’t any coital interaction, but I did meet a cute girl. Pale, glasses, nerdy. You know, my type. If she didn’t get sick, I’m sure we would’ve gotten along famously. We flirted on the floor, were inseparable in the pool, and all of my friends decided to elevate me to godhood when she came near. Quite the funny site that my party was at the other end of the pool cheering me on while I helped my new friend float. Quite entertaining. And I was the best dressed dancer in Palm Springs. Stole the show in every room I stepped. Made a coach leave her husband because she wanted to dance with Salsa’s Only True Premier Athlete. But yeah, that was Palm Springs, and getting questioned on every song home by the guy who could not find the dance floor. Yeah, I’m definitely in need of an alpha male as a friend. Not going to fire the ones currently in my employ, but alas, change is good. Then when change is bad, everything that is old becomes new again.

Probably won’t look for a mentor, though; the last one who applied for the position ended up in a drunk fetal position being rocked to sleep. By me. Skibbedebebop. Much later.

Current Track – Four Horsemen “Horse”

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