I hope you enjoy the story, thanks for reading.
Where does inspiration come from?
I like to laugh at life because I’ve been through some pretty dark moments; you know the old adage – “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger” or…a basket case. Doesn’t sound too artsy does it? Don’t worry, I’ll find a way to make this art related, trust me. Back to what I was saying, a happy clown is often fill with sadness moment, most people that make you laugh draw upon their pain in order to entertain you. Too me, Richard Pryor had to have been the funniest person on earth but if you listen to his stories, they were funny but filled with pain. All the great comedians are able to lay their darkest moments on the “public opinion throne” unabashed and without fear of blow back. We love them for it because we can relate to what they are saying but would never have the guts to say it. But when they’re not in front of the camera, that same pain they released is now bottled up and it eats at them. Now we’ve got two different people – Kevin Hart – another great comedian, took a while for me to see it, but damn the man puts me in stitches on the regular! He seems to manage his pain in a positive way – hopefully to be continued – but Richard drowned his pain in any substance he could get his hands on; cocaine, freebasing, whatever! The only person of color abuses drudges openly without ever doing time. The conclusion I’m drawing here is that inspiration can come from any place even in your darkest, most messed up moment.
So I’m going to lay one of mine out there. It’s a pretty dark moment so bear with me as I have to breath a bit, inhale… exhale… I don’t want to cry. No, just kidding! It’s funny to me now but not so much when you’re seven; it’s the end of the world. Here it is I was living in Philly when I was a kid, North Philly to be exact and back then money was tight, what I am saying, money is always tight! Anyway let’s just say my mom wasn’t Rockefeller and desert of any sort was like Christmas. It wasn’t often that unnecessary sustenance graced our table, we’re talking blue moons! My mom had two favorites – hostess chocolate junior and apple pie. Now to put this in perspective just how much money we didn’t have, this was in the early 80s. Entenmann’s pies were about two dollars…they go for close to six dollars now; so that frames the picture for you. My mom brought the pie into the house, now you would think it was a family pie but when you have to split it up between 4 kids well I guess you’re like fuck it, I feed these bastards enough, I deserve something for my efforts. Now I can understand that thought process a bit; food vanishes in our home and we only have two little ones. Four children to a single mom may have been a bit problematic.
Totally get my mother. Now that I’m a parent, I can’t take a bite out of something without me having to share it, or the family finishing it. But I’m thinking I handle it with much better grace well. No I don’t, I try to…haha.
My siblings and I know that there was an unwritten rule – all goodies are shared only at mom’s discretion- which wasn’t very often. Although I understood that pie wasn’t for us, my stomach had other plans. It is twelve midnight; for some reason that’s when trouble brewed well… for me anyway. Everyone had gone to sleep but cinnamon and sweet apples danced around in my dreams, the intense thoughts instantly snapped me awake. Excited I barely realized I had awoken in a sitting position. Quiet as a mouse I snuck out of bed being careful not to wake my brother as I climbed down the bunk bed steps. You see, I was a night Scurrier, you know that kid that can’t sleep and proceeds to walk around the house late at night touching shit he or she isn’t supposed to be touching, and that was me. This particular night I decided to throw caution to the wind even though I knew my mother’s wrath was swift but it’d be worth it for just a taste. So in defiance of my mother “rules” I crossed the line – I touched something without asking, well just a little anyway. So I go into the fridge and I pinch a small piece of pie enough to taste its yummy sweet goodness to savor it in the recesses of my mind since my old stingy mom wasn’t going to give me some anyway. Did I think I was going to get caught? No, I thought I was as sly as a fox and crept back to bed with brimming with excitement content in my thoughts that she would be none the wiser.
Morning time, the sun peeked through my window threatening to wake me up. Low and behold the bellowing of mother’s screams seemed much faster than the sun’s rays hitting my face. My mother: “Get your ass down here now!” To paraphrase no embellishment, my nerves kick in right away, “oh crap, she must know!” Now why didn’t I just tell my mom the truth, oh yeah because she’d whip the living daylights out of me! So I proceed to lie for as long as I kept my mouth shut how was she going to know it was me , there were 4 other kids in the house.
My little brother and I were standing side by side. He had his thumb in his mouth, attached to the thumb a fearful, tear-streaming face. I felt no remorse that I was trying to pin this crime on him besides, He was her favorite anyway. It’s bizarre now that i think about it, at that very moment I knew my life was in jeopardy, but for some reason I couldn’t stop staring at my brother’s batman underwear. What was it, did I want batman to come save me? Was it the drawing of batman that made me wish I was somewhere else, perhaps in the bat cave safe and sound? I don’t know all I know is that the image was etched into my brain as a marker for this life altering event.
I was snapped back to reality by the baritone sound of my stepfather voice who coincidently was my brother’s biological father; affectionately named Big Fred and he was the coolest guy on the planet to me until this day… wherever he is as an adult a part of me still wants to whip his ass for his part in what was a travesty of justice. My mother proceeded with the interrogation, my brother and i are shaking like leaves because we knew what was coming. All the evidence was there -blocked off steps, belt in hand… we knew.
What was it with her and discipline? It was like an art to her. She seemed methodical in her execution; one could suggest her actions were premeditated. In my experience as a parent you just whack your kid on the bottom and move on or we do time out. We don’t do any of this gestapo-like interrogation.. She always seemed to be leaning a bit close to a soci… never mind it is my mother we are talking about here.
Anyway she proceeded to ask who ate the “mother fucking pie” to paraphrase once again. Now deep down inside I knew it was me but hell, if she was going to get a confession she was going to have to work for it! In hindsight I realize I was a stupid kid at the time, you couldn’t tell me that I just remained silent. She screamed one more time “WHO DID IT!” She snapped the belt just as she finished and both me and my brother were startled from the sound. He proceeded to cry and suck his thumb. At this point I noticed light from the dining room was shining in my face. The only thing I could seem to think of in the midst of this danger was damn I don’t think I’m going to be able to go out and play. That should have been the least of my worries. My step-father emerged from the kitchen with a blue tin that used to house butter cookies during Christmas. It was February or was it March I’m not sure when but I’m sure remember what was in that can, no longer cookies, now in its place flour. That’s right kiddies before CSI had ever been invented Big Fred used it on us. He claimed that he had a technique that required flour that could get our fingerprints and he would know which one of us did it …really? Big Fred worked at a Factory he was always wearing blue slacks and a white tee-shirt accompanied by menthol cools rolled in the sleeve, he didn’t know shit about CSI but hey I was 7 or 6 at the time what did I know.
He said “whoever did it might as well talk because I already know who took the pie”. There are times in your memories that you wish you could go back and smack your younger self for being so dumb. The gig was up, low my hand began to raise, what more could she do to us that bit of interrogation pretty bad, eagerly I waited for my spanking to be done there by allowing me to go to my room to lick my wounds anxiety and pressure over with… I wasn’t going to get off that easily.
Cut to me at the dining room table buck naked eating the rest of pie ¾ quarter to be exact. There one thing I fail to realize, one pieces was missing. I only ate a pinch, figure my mom ate some and was so disgusted she decided a 7 year old gobbling down almost a whole pie would build character. Now when you seven your stomach is not that big and trust me we never had enough food for me to be consider anywhere near robust in any sense of the word, my resemblance as a kid was more akin to a starving Ethiopian… so eating a pie that big was torture . Down to my last two bites my stomach felt like it’s about to bust. I put the fork down, from behind me along with the crack of the belt “You better finish it all!” the thunderous voice said. Even though I felt like a stuff turkey I proceed to put the last to scoop in my mouth, i’m shaking at this point. on the finale bite was stubbornly swallowed i slowly get down from the chair and head to my room. Believing the ordeal was over and rightly so the pain in my stomach should have was enough, oh, wait I did recall I said I was buck naked; you see my mom did not want any type of padding when she was whooping your ass skin to leather contact that how she liked it. She proceed to carve my ass up like a Christmas turkey all while she deliver her testimony of rebuke, because she love to preach while she beat us “didn’t I tell you to never steal!.. Did I… all you had to do is ask” yeah right! She paused just before the last whack, I guess her arms were tired or something this was my chance wiggling loose from her steel like grip I was able to escape to my room I laid there sobbing holding my ass and my stomach
Cut to fifteen year later my big sister pull me over to a corner to tell me something at a family function not sure what caused her to have a crisis of conscience, maybe it’s the fact I told this same story for the hundredth time to my family. to this day it still escape me what her reasoning was for telling me, She says to me “remember when you got beat for that pie.. well there’s been something I’ve been meaning to tell you for a long time.” ”I took a whole slice that why you got that ass whipping…” I replied in shock.” you what? My jaw dropped to the grown something akin to a Looney toons cartoon in that very moment thought of murder did enter my consciousness, but hey it was just a beating one that shape me because of it mental scarring but damn you have to admire a person that can hold a secret that long. Now I don’t know if I would have told me when I was 6’2 250 with muscle everywhere I probably wouldn’t took it to the grave. Man …Sister are evil some times unless they are your Boop. Hey this is not the last time my sister struck, future stories to come.
How does this pertain to inspiration? My mother had her moments good and bad, but she was inspiring nonetheless; her action inspired my humor my talent and my character design she helped me to invent one of most inventive character I have ever come up with Nana. If you think my mom was rough read family spread when It launches
thanks for joining me if you missed something you can read the show note on coffeeeyecrust.com and see the finish art when I get it up thank for joining me good night.
More to come next time of cartoons and caffeine.