Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Baptist Guilt


I got evicted from my very first apartment! Yes, me and the five guys that I was living with... you heard me right... five guys, got evicted. Somehow, between the five of us, we couldn't come up with the rent money. The landlord, Old Mr. Brown, didn't give me the impression that he liked people that looked like me anyway and he hated me, in particular. I was always guilty of having a smart mouth back then, especially to folks like Old Mr. Brown.

My mother, God bless her, used to constantly lecture me about the future she was working for and hoping for for me. She used to say, "Do you think that I like getting up every morning and going out here to this durn (she never said damn) job everyday and taking this abuse? I'm doing this because I want you to be able to have an education so you can get a good job, work in an office, and not have to take this kind of crap. I want you to be somebody." I suppose every parent of that generation gave their kids that lecture. Some of it went through one of my ears and out the other but, part of it... the important part... stuck with me and I remembered it. I kept it in the back of my mind.

So, here I was being evicted. There's nothing worse than having to break into your former apartment like a common thief to get your belongings out in the cold of the winter and then, sleep back in the dorms with the juniors and sophmores until you can swing another apartment. It was moments like this that made the best part of me come to the forefront.

My mother also used to lecture me about the company I kept and how one can be judged by it. So, the next apartment I had during my senior year, I got with just two other guys. One, like me, had a job and the other one was the child of the Black Bourgeoisie (or so he always claimed). At any rate, his parents kept a check floating every month and with the checks my other room mate and I were getting from working, our rent and utilities were covered.

The shame of that first experience taught me to always pay my bills on time. I never wanted to ever be out on the street again... and (knock on wood), I haven't been since then. I had to have somewhere to lay my head at night and I needed electricity, gas, water, and a working telephone. Those things were motivation enough for me to get my act together. Most people realize that their parents aren't so insane around the time they become someone's parent and/or someone's spouse themselves. For me, the beginnings of that was right about this time.

My Grandmother used to tell me that whereever I went, never forget who I was and how I was raised. Getting evicted and breaking into an apartment that had been padlocked (and breaking a couple of other laws that I won't mention in this post) was not how I was raised. The shame of it brought home the lesson they both were trying to teach me. They say that a word to the wise is often sufficient. Whoever wrote that was not talking about me back then or one of my neighbors today.

I have a neighbor who has had his electric cut off numerous times, as well as his phone and cable. I attempted to show him how to balance his budget and pay his bills but, he remarked... "Everybody isn't Beaver Cleaver like you." I had to laugh because he had no idea who he was talking to and no idea of some of the things I've done and of some of the things that have happened to me. While I wasn't Eddie Haskell, I wasn't Wally or The Beav either! I'm not even Cliff Huxtable!

In many ways, I was a spoiled child. I had a roof over my head, always had plenty to eat, and always had clean clothes. I worked and my parents, for the most part, let me and my brother keep most of our money (they didn't take much, if any, of it). So, when I went to college, I pretty much acted as though I was priveledged... same as the young college students I see everyday at my job. Bad decisions, immaturity, and some hard lessons brought me to where I am today.

A lot of my friends today call me "Beaver Cleaver", "Boy Scout", and such because I pay my bills and they've never seen me drunk. Now, that doesn't mean that I haven't been and I'm not just talking about college. I'm talking about after college too! They don't know that I've had bill collectors after me too and that I've had a few choice words with the State of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Government a few times. I've just been smart enough to cover up a lot of things I did and well, because I was blessed or cursed (depending on how you look at it) with what I call "Baptist Guilt", I always thought about how I was raised and who I was supposed to be, despite doing what I wanted to do, when I felt the notion.

I think that, to become a good husband, father, and a responsible adult in general, you have to get a lot of stuff out of your system so that you can move on. I've done just about everything that I felt I was bad enough to do at a time and I no longer feel a need to prove anything to anybody. I've been a child and I guess I got to a point where I felt like being an adult. I like being an adult and have liked it for some time now. And no, I don't have to proclaim to the world... "I'm a grown ass man!" I think people who say that, often aren't sure and are trying to convince themselves, as well as whoever they are bellowing at.

I'm thankful for my mom and grandmother's warnings, lectures, and admonishments. They are the reason I have a roof over my head today, the electric is on, the water is running, and I can make a phone call. They simply told me... you must one day be an adult because that's why
we sacrificed for you. Nothing more, nothing less. It would be a dishonor to their memory for me to be anything less. Plus, I'm just too old to be anything else at this point.

My neighbor, the one who called me "Beaver Cleaver" and the inspiration for this post, is across the street arguing with the gas man. His car got repoed last week. He's two years older than me, by the way, and still a child. It seems like a little "Baptist Guilt" would have done him some good!

25 comments:

Sunflower said...

I loved this...I always like your
personal posts the best Keith.

Toni said...

Great Post Keith!

Angie B. said...

I got evicted from my first place too!-lololol.

James Perkins said...

Can't believe I'm up this late, but for you ,this was worth it!

Simon Bastion said...

Confession is always good for the soul good brother!

Sean said...

Another masterpeice...You really should write your autobiography.

Captain Jack said...

Loved the title...Loved the story
even more.

Grover Tha Playboy said...

Wow man...you've been through a lot.

Solomon said...

You brought me down memory lane too. My first spot that I could call my own, me and my buddy were running out the back door with everything we could carry as the landlord was pounding on that front door so hard I thought it was gonna come right off the hinges. We were two months past due on the rent and figured we couldn't hold ole boy off any longer.

I have learned form all my experiences while growing up. Some hurt a little more than others. But in the end they shaped me into the man I am today.

I am responsible and curtious towards others even if they aren't always acting the same towards me.

Great post bro!

You've been writing some pretty good stories lately too!

A Free Spirit Butterfly said...

I'm glad you listened to your elders because I love your, "What I've learned post." This one is a great one too and a lot of lessons in between the line.

That's too funny, arguing w/the gas man. What's his defense???

Love and hugs
China
BTW - GREAT PHOTO! (smile)

Thoughts of a Southern gal said...

Wonderful post!

CareyCarey said...

Well Keith, again we find ourselves walking down the same street. I never got evicted but it took me a few years to grow-up emotionally. I wanted to stay a kid for the rest of my life,but, we know that doesn't work.

Speaking of parents, although I didn't always do what they said at any particular time but like you, it was their "teaching/preaching" that I could always reference. I don't know what your mother did, but my mother worked hard for her money. In our early years, she worked as a domestic, she later worked 40 years for Uncle Sam.

So I am feeling this post on so many levels.

Oh, btw, although I said I never got evicted, to this day I still owe Red some money. Yep, for the rent ($140.000, and for groceries). He owned the corner meat market too. Yes sir, "put it on the bill Red, I,ll get you on Friday"

Rich Fitzgerald said...

Never knew what to call that, but I certainly have it too.

Good post.

Jazzy said...

Quite a life you've lived fam!

Brenda said...

Baptist Guilt?? That's funny!

Cheryl said...

I loved this post Keith...You're so raw.. all of you is there, the good and the not so good..I like that.

Halo said...

We Are what we are in the end!

Lisa said...

This was a great post..Reminds me of your "What I've learned " Posts.

Vanessa said...

Loved this post...Real,raw and funny as hell at the same time!

Tate2 said...

ROFLMBAO @ five guys gettin evicted from one apartment...WoW!!
That is something and I imagine having to break in to get your stuff and then run for the hills..
was equally something.

Swaggie said...

Great post man!

12kyle said...

can't imagine somebody callin you beaver or boy scout. lol

too cool for that. wayyyy to cool.

Mizrepresent said...

Great post Keith...funny thing i was just gave my son yesterday, the speech your mother gave...about me working day and night so that he can go to school, college, make something of himself...i hope it sticks...i hope i can bring the Good Baptist out of him.

Anonymous said...

Man, this one cracked me up:

"They say that a word to the wise is often sufficient. Whoever wrote that was not talking about me back then "

i'm glad I bumped into your blog.

Keith said...

Anonymous- I'm glad you did too, Stick around! Don't be a stranger!




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