Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My "America's Got Talent" Audition

Now that it's past and the only thing I won was the opportunity to give it a try, I can talk about auditioning for "America's Got Talent."

It was such an overwhelming experience that I'm not sure what happened. It was surreal to say the least. Here's what I think happened...

I arrived in NYC on Saturday night before the Sunday audition. Wendy and I drove down right after a show I did in Albany, NY. My friend Lee who lived in the city, offered to let us stay at his house and he would take us to the location, so we wouldn't have to worry about it. "Great!"

On Sunday, we found our way to a huge convention center and we were two and a half hours early. Outside of the place, there was hardly a person, no matter their appearance, who wasn't there to audition.  We walked past a woman in an electric wheel chair who was waiting at a bus stop. She said, "Are you here to audition?"  "Yes I am."   "I auditioned earlier…"   
A guitarist competing against a singer in a wheel chair?  I was ready to turn back right there.

Once we walked into the place, we entered another world.
Tons of people, colors and costumes everywhere.  It had a circus feel to it. People singing out loudly in the halls as if to increase their chances of being discovered by someone dressed in a power suit.

Dancers, people sword fighting and animals. An Elephant? Lee was loving every moment of this. Since there was a little time to kill, we decided to split up and look around.  I've known Lee for years, never short for ideas - when he saw the elephant, he thought I should make an entrance riding into my scheduled slot sitting on it.  He went to offer some money to the owner for the deed. No such luck.

I came upon a guy juggling three miniature poodles. One of the poodles "Amber," bee-lined toward me and started chomping at my leg. Those sharp little teeth hurt. I should point out that I'm a big fan of Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, but the owner was too busy trying to charm a bikini-wearing unicyclist, so I was left to be eaten. Contrary to Cesar's advice, I tried to kick the crap out of the dog.
Amber ran off. Suddenly we heard a scream. People all darted around the corner…

Apparently the little poodle had startled the elephant.  The elephant took a back step and stomped on poor Amber.  It was a sad sight, but let's be honest, that little beast deserved it.   (Ok, I made up the story about Amber and the Elephant, but in that environment, it could have easily been true.) 

In another sector, I was being harassed by a ventriloquist and his dummy who, because I was dressed in a suit and tie, insisted that I was politically conservative.   "[In a dummy voice] You don't look like a rockstar to me. I bet you're a conservative zealot."    "I suppose you're a democrat?"  "[In a dummy voice] Well, I am a dummy."

The time was getting close.  I was called into the greenroom, along with several other acts, including the dummy.   There was a guy on keys and a young lady playing a song.  Since I had my guitar out, I started lightly playing along with them. They never looked at me or acknowledged me in anyway. This annoyed Lee more than it bothered me.

The thing that struck me were the dancers.  A gang of body beautiful ladies, they just stormed in the room and started taking their clothes off.  There you are trying to be a gentleman and a lady walks near you and throws her leg straight up past her head.  Lee and I didn't know what to do. Were we to be gentleman and try to look elsewhere?  We tried, but hell, you don't see this everyday.  We stared.

Finally I was called into the audition room. There were no judges, just a young lady with a little digital camera. She seemed totally unresponsive and bored.  "Stand on that blue line. You got ninety seconds. Let me know when you're ready."  It was over.  Next was the dummy.

I think this is what happened...?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Capitol

I talk a lot about my family living with my great grandmother. We eventually moved out and into our own place.  Seems like we were moving around a lot, but always within walking distance from our previous dwelling.  My mom eventually reconnected with the love of her life, Mr. Frank, whom we met once or twice.   I guess Greg, Pat and I had never met anyone named Frank before, so we would call him Frankenstein.  He didn't seem to mind.

Mom had some great news for us. "We're moving."  "Again?"  This time we were moving far away.  It really wasn't that far away, but it was a long walk from our old house. 

This neighborhood was nice. It had trees. Some houses had little bushes and gardens in the front.   It really looked like paradise.   The best thing about this neighborhood was that "The Capitol Movie Theater" was around the corner.  Greg and I were beside ourselves.   We heard about the theater and couldn't wait to see it.

There were several movie theaters in the surrounding neighborhoods.   It was always fun to walk by the theaters to look at the posters and hope to see a monster or a gladiator. 

In our old neighborhood I remember someone taking me to see "13 Ghosts".  It was scary, but not as scary and bothersome as seeing "Night of the Living Dead".   

There were a few things that made this film "bothersome" for me.  
For one, they played "Time of the Season" by the Zombies before the movie.   Hearing that song in a beat-up old theater before this particular film was almost too much for me. 
The other thing that got to me was,  this was the first movie I had ever seen that had a black guy in it who was the hero. WOW!  Unbelievable.  And guess what happened to him at the end? I was stunned. I couldn't believe it.  I couldn't sleep for days. 

To heck with that raggedy old theater, we can now walk to "The Capitol", the best of all the local movie theaters.  Our mom agreed to let Greg and I walk around and explore. We went looking for "The Capitol".   This place was suppose to be around the corner.  We didn't see anything. We were walking all over the place, and practically ended up in our old neighborhood. We gave up and walked backed home.  Turns out the theater was exactly around the corner. However Greg and I were looking for something that resembled the White House.  A big white building with pillars. 
We were pretty disappointed to see a not so raggedy movie theater with a huge sign "The Capitol" right in front. 

But we got used to it.  Every weekend we'd walk there to see the new posters.

Click here for the audio:

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Little World

Over the years, there's one thing I've observed about race issues, if you're looking for problems you'll always find them.  

At first, while traveling from state to state  I was highly aware that I was a BLACK man.  Everywhere I went people would look at the BLACK man walking up the street, The BLACK man shopping at Piggly Wiggly's, The BLACK man putting a coin in the parking meter.  And who's looking at the BLACK man? The WHITE man.  My little world was black and white.

If I were to go out to dinner with folks not of my persuasion and they excused themselves for the restroom, I was convinced that they were sitting on the toilet plotting against my people.  Somehow I figured that white people were spending all their waking and sleeping hours thinking up dastardly deeds.  This wouldn't give them much time for anything else, would it?   I guess it could explain why racists are so stupid.

After meeting so many people and making so many friends, a funny thing started to happen,  people were becoming just people and I was becoming just a person. 
There would be an occasion such as in Jasper, Indiana, when you're walking across the street and someone in a pickup truck passes you and shouts "Get out of the street nigger."    You're shocked. And you realize… "Oh right. I'm black. I almost forgot. Thanks. What did you say your name was?"  

Black awareness was at it's peak whenever I was back home in Philly.  There would be these wholesome moments  when the family would all sit together at the dinner table and we'd talk about the Phillies,  the WHITE man, the BLACK man, the RED man and the YELLOW man, but mainly the WHITE man. "Hey ma, there's a spaceship landing in the backyard!",  then we'd talk about the GREEN man.   

Then there's my step-dad standing at the head of the table, personifying Samuel L. Jackson. "Boy, don't you come to this table dressed like that, looking like the WHITE man. Where the F*** is your Dashiki??!! "    "Sorry dad, I'll go get it. Right on."

One thing for sure, people are fascinating. My little world was expanding.

If you prefer to listen to audio click below

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Birds and The B String

I don't ever recall having the "talk".   It seemed my step-dad had given me a choice. Girls or guitars.  Seeing that I had made a choice, my step-dad saved his breath. 

He figured any young man who would spend hours with an overly developed young lady wearing a cheer leaders version of a sailor suit, just listening to Chicago records (and one Phoebe Snow LP), would never need to have the talk. 

I feel like I want to say that I was a late bloomer, but a late bloomer for what? Am I required to consort at a certain age? 

When I was in six grade I met a girl I liked.  She was the cutest girl in school as far as I was concerned.  I couldn't wait to take her home to meet my folks.  After they met her,  my step-dad later said to me, "Your friend looks like Tiny Tim".   
I wasn't mature enough to ignore it. I was shattered. Not that there's anything wrong with looking like "Tiny Tim", but now whenever I looked at her, she was replaced with the ukulele troubadour .   I held that against my step-dad for a while and I hated Tiny Tim after that as well.

I became more consumed with music after that.  When you spend most of your time in your room practicing and becoming a dedicated neighborhood band leader,  I suppose it could effect ones social development.    I wasn't too bad, but when it came to the opposite sex, I was too shy, too naive, I just couldn't read the signals.  And whenever I thought I could read them,  the signal always said "Get out of my face".   So I never had a girl friend or I wasn't aware that I had.  I certainly never asked anyone, I would have been too shy for that.   

When I was in high school I met a young lady,  she was as sweet as she was cute.  And she didn't look like Tiny Tim.   We spent a lot of time together. We went bike riding once, I lead us on a route where we ended up pedaling toward traffic on the expressway.  We survived.   
I couldn't imagine flattering myself into thinking that she would officially go out with me.   So I never asked.   That's how it's done, right?   "Will you go out with me?"

I ran into her 30 years later, she hadn't changed at all.   I wasn't sure how to comfortably catalogue our friendship and memories.  So I asked,   "Um… Err… Did we actually go out?"   "Were we uhhhh… boyfriend and girlfriend?"  She was so PISSED.   I didn't know she was my girlfriend. "Really?"  "We hooked up?"  You can do that without asking?   
Apparently I hadn't changed much either.

I had my first official girlfriend in Geneseo.  She came to my apartment one day and never left. I guess we're going out.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Don't Lock The Door

I traveled on the road for two years with a hotel band.  I learned more in those two years than any time in my life.  For starters, I was required to be an extrovert. It was part of the job. This was not going to be easy for an introvert.  The band had to socialize during the breaks. Talking to people would keep them at their tables and when people are chatting with you they are likely to buy more drinks.   A failure to do this, would be reported back to your agent and could cost you a return gig.

I had a good teacher, Jerome.  Jerome had years of road experience. My two years on the road was less about music than it was about learning about life outside of my room in Philadelphia.   As I started to get comfortable with being a professional extrovert, I hit a few embarrassing moments.  Like the gig we had in the midwest somewhere. We arrived early to set up.   There were a couple of girls dancing together [Must socialize. Must socialize] , so I walked over and started dancing with them. A bouncer approached me, barked something at me, then proceeded to throw me out of the place.  Somebody in the band shouted "He's with the band!" The bouncer walked away muttering nasties. When I turned around those two girls were now dancing without a stitch on, or maybe a stitch.  They were naked.   I didn't know we were in a strip joint.   Embarrassing.     And to think, I couldn't blame alcohol.    

Jerome also taught me to hang on to hotel keys.  We'd save our room keys for every hotel we played in. If we were in a town and needed a place to stay, we'd check our keys  and call the appropriate hotel. 
"Hello, room 108 for Mr. Washington." 
"There's no one in the room by that name." 
"I'm sorry, I may have the wrong name. Someone ordered a pizza…"  
"There's no one staying in that room tonight."

Once we got the green light, we'd enter the room and make ourselves at home. We only had to remember two things.

1. Make sure we leave before the maids came to clean the room.
2. Make sure to never lock the door.
If you oversleep and your door is locked, the maids will figure out something is wrong.  

This routine worked often, except for once in Williamsport, PA.

The bands hometown was Williamsport.  Since we often played in hotels in the area, hotel staff knew us well.

My brother Greg came to visit one weekend.  The band was playing at the Lycoming Hotel.   I really wasn't up for sharing a room, so I had a plan.

I gave Greg a hotel key (I had a few), and some instructions  "Get up and meet me in my room at 8am." "Don't locked the door."

Greg must have partied real hard that night because he came back to his room, locked the door and was out cold.

I got a call at 8:30am. I thought it was Greg. Nope. It's hotel security.  "We have a black man in custody. We think you might know him."

Greg was trying his best to not get Jerome or me involved, but his excuses were getting worse and worse.   "Where did you get that key?"  "From a friend." "Who?"  "I don't know."  "You got it from a friend you don't know?"  

Poor Greg, he was sticking to his story.    Stories like that were known to get a black man beat by the authorities in Philly.   
Fortunately he was in Williamsport. Fortunately because he was my brother, they let him off the hook.   We had to return every Lycoming Hotel key we had.  

Jerome was a better teacher than I.

Meet the teacher:
Jerome and I in Seaside, NJ

Monday, April 9, 2012


A latin flavor has been a part of me and my music for a long time. Where did it come from?  It all started with Mario.  My first band was called "Super Natural".   It was a big band, as most bands were in the 70's.  Drums, bass, two guitars, percussion and a horn section.  
We were all neighborhood friends.  We played covers of "Mandrill", "Kool and The Gang", "The Ohio Players", to name a few. I was a huge "Chicago" fan, so we did a lot of their tunes.  
Believe it or not, we didn't play any "James Brown" tunes, we thought it was too hokey, and we didn't play any Motown  because that music was about the singers, not the band. We didn't like the idea of being in the background.    Bands were bold during that time.   Interestingly, the bands who were backing up singing groups were the ones making all the money.  

Joey had been our percussionist for a few years, when he left. Mario joined the band.  Mario play the bongos.  Most of the percussionist we knew play congas.  Bongos seemed strange in a big band, but we loved his passion.  One jam with us and he was in.   The other great thing about having Mario was the girls loved him. This helped the bands popularity.

Being black, it was always easy to see the prejudice and ignorance in others. I learned through Mario that yes, black people could be as ignorant as anybody else.  For example, when Mario came to my house for dinner, we had beans and rice that night.  How many times have I guffed at people having fried chicken when I was invited to their house.  Of course, I'd eat up all the chicken.  Humans, you gotta love us.

Mario lived in a hispanic neighborhood in north philly.  Every weekend his church would have a dance.  One Friday our band played a set before the dance.   When the dance got underway,  I experienced something that would change me forever.  I had never heard Salsa music before.  Energetic, fast, syncopated. Then when everybody started dancing. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  The footwork, the spinning, the gyrations,  it was so exciting.  

Mario later took me to a "Willie Colon" concert. I'll never forget it.  It had a profound effect on me.   
Mario also taught me a salsa groove on the bass.  Look out.

Since then, the latin influence has only grown and still continues to grow.  

Bless you Mario

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Food Fights

My wedding day was March 1st, 1986.   Not only will my mom be returning to Geneseo to attend the wedding, she's going to bring the whole family with her.  And she practically did.   They all traveled in a crowed van from Philly along with my cousin David who was driving a Pontiac Fiero, a sporty two seater. My brother was his passenger.  Like his father, David was a very good looking man, "light skinned" and wavy hair.

When my family was living with my great grandmother (I'll call her grandma),  we kids would constantly ask adults for some change. If my grandma were to give us anything at all, it would be a penny.  When David would visit, he would always get a nickel or a dime, or something silver.  We were jealous. We thought she was treating him better because he was lighter than the rest of us. No one considered that since we were living with my grandma, if she gave us silver coins everyday, she'd be bankrupted.  

David and my brother Greg were about the same age.  Sometimes something would set them off and they'd be ready to brawl and it always involved food. 
David doesn't eat pork.  One morning David was at the house for breakfast. Eggs, grits, bacon, toast and scrapple.   Nothing like the smell of bacon in the morning.  This particular morning, even David couldn't resist the smell.  There were only two pieces left. David gave in, he snatched them before Greg could get them. 
David was very happy. Greg was furious. "Man, you don't eat pork!!"  "I'm gonna kick your motha f_____ a**!" 
Taste buds can have an amazing effect on ones language.

They were at it. Have you ever seen someone get smacked with a piece of scrapple?

The day after the wedding was snowy and cold.  The family was traveling home on the Jersey Turnpike. They pulled into a truck-stop to have lunch. My mother had made everyone sandwiches.  Greg and David were the last in line. There were only two sandwiches left, a turkey ham sandwich and a cheese sandwich. Greg wasn't thrilled about a cheese sandwich and David insisted that he wanted some meat.  Greg was holding the turkey ham sandwich while they were arguing.  David snatched the turkey ham sandwich out of Greg's hands and started chowing down. 
David was very happy. Greg was furious.

This was a great day for the amish people at the truck-stop watching black people fight in a snowstorm.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

An Urban Mom In Upstate NY

Though my mother tried, I don't think she ever really liked upstate NY. She appreciated it's beauty, but that's what photos and a "View Master" is for. 
Being a city girl,  she was used to the urban ambience: falling asleep to sirens, passing busses and trollies, neighbors talking and people getting robbed. 

She first  came to visit me when I lived in Geneseo.  I was living on main street.  On school breaks when the college students weren't around, main street could be as quiet as the outside rural areas.    I was working at "Buzzo's" (a local music store). A few doors away from Buzzo's was a tanning salon.   It was raining that day.  My mom arrived on a GreyHound bus. The bus stops at a little shop which doubles as a bus station. She arrived early.  While my mother was waiting for me, she decided to walk into the walkway of the tanning salon to get out of the rain.    A friend of mine, one of the funniest guys I know, walks into Buzzo's. As we're talking, I tell him that my mother is coming to town. "She should be here any moment."
He mentions that there's a woman, a black woman standing in the walkway of the tanning salon.  I guess he figured she wasn't there waiting for a tan.    Then he retells the story as though my mother was a  customer who got way more than she bargained for.   "OMG! Look at my hair! Look at my lips! And will you look at my ass!!??  OMG!"  He kept on…   I almost died from laughter that day.
This took place in the winter, and my mom could not believe how cold it was.  One thing for sure, she wouldn't be returning anytime soon. 

We moved to Enfield, NY, just a mile or two from downtown Ithaca. 
We decided one summer that I would do a music tour of the US, and take along the whole family.  Great! This is going to be some adventure. 

We had two dogs and a cat, so we would need a house sitter for a few months.   I asked my mother if she would house sit for a month. She was happy to do it.  

Before setting out on our trip, we made sure that my mom felt comfortable and at ease with the animals.
She assured us that everything was fine.

After two days she was starting to get creeped out.  
At bed time when she turned off all the lights and could hear nothing but nothing and occasionally an unfamiliar animal, she was totally unnerved.  "This place is even more quiet than Geneseo."

Any neighbor was a good walk away.  One day she decided she would take a walk to meet one of the neighbors. When she opened the door, the cat had left a squirrels head at the foot of the door.   A cat sees this as a gift, my mother saw it as a sacrifice. 
After that, she wouldn't open the door.    In a week she was back in Philadelphia.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Love and Fear

We loved my uncle Harold, but we were also terrified of him.  When we were young he'd disappear in and out of our lives. Usually doing time in jail.  When he got out, it was like a Home Coming for a vet.   He was known as "Piggy".   Everybody knew and respected him.   Once, I got ambushed by some gang in a playground. Before I could start crying in fear of my impending doom, one of them shouted "Hey, that's Piggy's nephew." They let me go.   Most of us could never quite understand what my uncle was saying.  He talked like a young, black, Don Corlione. 

Another thing about my uncle was, women.  He was never without a girlfriend.  They loved him and they were always the prettiest women we had ever seen.

At one point we were all living with my great grandmother.  I'd be sleeping in a room with my uncle.  I'd wake up in the middle of the night and there would be quite a commotion going on with a visitor.  Funny, how instincts are, even though I didn't know  what was going on,  I knew better than to jump up and say "Hey, what are you guys doing?"   The visitors naked silhouette stayed with me for some time.

Apparently he was very particular about his ladies, for example he didn't like a woman to wear much makeup. He was about being natural. My mom tells a story about her walking into the local bar looking like Cleopatra, my uncle sees her and he chews her out for wearing too much makeup, then he runs his hand over her face to mess up her rouge and mascara.  She broke her finger trying to fight him.

Speaking of fighting, my uncle was a boxer.  I don't know if it was for his own entertainment or if he was trying to make rough and tough men out of us, but he'd make us fight.  Rather it was me against my brother, or one of my cousins, he'd match us up and we'd have to fight.
I was a decent fighter, my long arms gave me a good advantage, but my sense of fairness was always my weakness.  "Hey, you can't grab me, we're boxing."  I'd lose.

The thing uncle Harold enjoyed the most, was nabbing us and having us hang from the archway molding until we fell off or jumped.  

We loved my uncle Harold but we were also terrified of him.   

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rite of Passage

My mother thought we were ready. In her eyes my younger sister and I were dependable and capable.  My aunt Velma's kids could do it.  Now we have to prove ourselves worthy. We have to ride the bus on our own. 
We were given instructions.  "The bus driver shouts out every street when he stops.  When he shouts out 16th street get off…"  "If you're not sure what street you're on, just ask the bus driver."   

My sister and I were put on the bus. We looked like we were dressed for Easter.  Our task seemed simple enough. I don't know what my sister was doing, but I spent the whole time looking out the window. It was a long ride and the bus driver never shouted anything. 

We came to the end of the line. Everyone got off of the bus.  There we were, somewhere else on the planet. We picked a direction and started walking and walking.  My sister observed,  "Oh no, we're lost. We're going to get in trouble."         I tried to reassure her with my confidence she knew I didn't have.  "Let's just keep walking, we'll get home."

After twenty three blocks of walking,   my sister couldn't take it any longer.  She stopped walking and started crying. Pat's not a subtle cryer, she doesn't whimper, she goes for it.   Good thing, If she hadn't started crying, we would have ended up in Nebraska.  Her howling caught the attention of a police officer.   "We're lost."   

Now we're sitting in the police car like two little bank robbers. The both of us were crying now.  He drove us home.  A police car in the neighborhood gets a lot of attention, not to mention one with two crying kids in it.  Mom took pity on us.  Our cousins did not.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Window Shopping

My mom was 16 when I was born.  Which means she was still a young lady when I was growing up.  A fact I haven't given much thought to until now.  Through my eyes she was just a mom, she was always 50-70 years old.  My mother has a twin, a fraternal twin.  Most people think they're identical. They're so different yet so much alike.  I'd describe them both as stylish and classy. That's my adult observation, as a kid they were just not to be messed with.   Interestingly, their mother was a twin. So much for skipping a generation.  

On some weekends my mother would take us shopping with her. We'd take a trolley ride to downtown.  This was always fun and exciting.  The streets were always crowded with thousands of people.  It was the only time when reality looked close to something you'd see on TV, but it was even better because it was in color.    My mothers favorite spots were 'John Wannamakers' and 'Gimbels'.  They were huge stores.  We'd would go to the furniture floor and walk through all the room layouts and dream. The bedrooms usually caught my imagination, because some of us kids were still sleeping in the same room together. "Someday I'll have my own room and that's what I want it to look like". I love the feeling I'd get on those adventures.

Once my mother was finished with her window shopping, she'd take us out to dinner.  Usually a nice place and would insist on certain table manners. We had no choice but to oblige.   When we were done, she'd then insist that we each sneak a bowl or utensil to take home with us.  Classy indeed. We had no choice but to oblige.

Everything else was fun.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Simple Things

Most of the fights that would happen in school would be over dumb stuff. Usually saying something about someone's mom. Some things would be so outrageous, you'd wonder why someone would get upset over it. "Yo man, your mom is so old she farts dust". That's all it took. Now there's a rumble in the class. You're sent to the principles office, because 'you' threw the first punch.

Your mom is called in. "What happened!!?? What happened boy!!?? "Mom, he said you were so old you fart dust." In a different world she would have laughed it off, because she wasn't that old and of course no one farts dust. But… "What?? Who said that? Tell me his name! Tell me his name Mickey!" Now I'm dragged to his house. His grandmother answers the door, Oops mistake, it's his mother. Then he comes to the door. She chews him out. right in front of his grandma, I mean mom. He and I are both embarrassed. And there I was choking from some plume in the air.

The next day in school. "Yo man, your mom flips out at the drop of a hat." That's all it took…

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Deacon Blues

Church wasn't a big part of our family life when we were growing up . We'd go occasionally, but Easter was a must. We kids had it made. For Easter we'd get new clothes. We were growing kids, so for a while it must have been new clothes every year. We'd make sure that whatever church we went to, we'd walk around the block a few times before entering, just so we could parade our cool duds. Along with everybody else I should add.

There's no point in my trying to discuss inner city finances and logic, I really don't know why my folks, being poor and all, would spend big bucks on our fine clothes. Probably to convince the other poor folks that we weren't poor. I don't know, but I DO know that we looked good.

I can only think of a few church moments:

For a very brief time my sister and I went to vacation bible school. While there, I didn't know what they were talking about, but the lunches were great.

Eventually I'd find myself hanging around and thinking, "Man, enough of this LAWD business, just give me a g** d**n sandwich." Oops my apologies, that doesn't sound like a kid, does it? Let me rephrase that… "Gee whiz, enough of this lord stuff, just hand me a sandwich please." Vacation bible school didn't last long.

The other two church moments were kind of traumatic.

For another brief time we went to this corner church. It was a good walk away from our house. It was Easter of course. One great thing about Easter, was being handed chocolate and jelly beans. This was a little church and being Easter Sunday, it was packed. It was also a LOUD church. The organist and the drummer would be tearing it up in there. As the music would get louder some ladies sitting near us would start "feeling the spirit". They'd jump up, they're hands would be flying around and they'd be muttering some gibberish. My brother and I would do all we could to not laugh, but we couldn't help it. What's wrong with these old ladies? It was too funny. It stopped being funny when our mom jumped up and started hopping around and muttering gibberish. Then we wanted to get the hell out of there. I'm not sure if she was feeling the spirit or was competing with the other ladies. It was a terrifying sight. We never went back.

My most traumatic church experience was getting baptized. One evening my mom asked me if I wanted to be baptized. It really wasn't a question because she wouldn't let me say no. I don't think we knew what kind of church it was. It was just a church. A big church. The service took place in the evening. We didn't know anybody in the church, and until that evening had never set foot in the place, but Mickey's getting baptized.

"Some deacons are going to escort you to that large pool of water and the guy in the pool is going to grab your head and push you under the water." What??!!! What the heck is a deacon? It sounds like a space alien or some nut wearing a vulture suit. I had no choice but to go through with it. The congregation was singing a mournful version of 'Wade In The Water'. Slow and creepy. Hearing this, all I could imagine were those mournful black male faces that you would see in a 1960's sci-fi flick whenever someone would use the word 'freedom' in a monologue. The camera zooms in. Mournful black male faces. Wade In The Water. DEACONS!

There I was with the Deacon boss. He grabbed my head and pushed me under.

We never went back.