Questionable boyfriend

A lady came into the library recently with a guy I recognize. He’s a patron from years ago, and not a good one. She asked him if he wanted to check and see if he had a card. He shrugged her off, but came up to me later.

He said that she was his girlfriend, and he had been using her card. I was pretty sure he had an account that he couldn’t use because it wasn’t in good standing.

I was right. There was a reason he didn’t do any of this in front of her.

He had a dozen CDs out and hadn’t returned them in years. He’d been billed for them, and his account had gone to collections. He owed over $300.

He knew all of this. It wasn’t a surprise. Maybe he was hoping it would have just disappeared.

I told him his options. Find them and bring them back. Buy replacement copies of what is lost. Or pay the fine. He walked away.

They both came up later, and he’d again used her card to check out. She seems like a decent person. She doesn’t look like she would date him. I wanted to warn her – don’t marry him. Stay away.

I can see more than his fines. I can see more than his unwillingness to be responsible with his account. I know that he was caught trying to spray paint this building.

I also can tell more from what he is reading. He’d checked out “urban erotic fiction.” This is what black women in the projects read. It is rough stuff – and straight white guys certainly don’t read it. Perhaps he’s gay? Because the only other guy I’ve ever known to read “urban erotic fiction” was.

This isn’t going to go well.

The last time I warned someone away from a questionable guy I got censured very badly. There was a guy who wasn’t very reliable who was in the medieval reenactment group I was in many years ago. He’d promise the moon and not deliver. He was forever making up his own rules about things. He was shifty, and we’d early on learned to not let him be in charge of anything because he always let the group down.

He started dating this girl who was very nice but very innocent. She was trusting – too trusting. I felt like it was my duty to clue her in to his history with the group.

It all backfired on me.

At an event, months after my talk with her, my knight (I was in a household with a knight as the head) pulls me from what I was doing and says we are going to have a meeting. Next thing I know, I’m sitting at a table with the knight, the girlfriend, and the guy. I’m suddenly on trial and I’ve not had any warning. Turns out she talked to her boyfriend, and he talked to my knight. Nobody had come up to me privately.

It was uncomfortable. It was intense. And I felt betrayed by my knight.

I was asked why I said what I said. My main answer was to protect her. My brother has been married four times and the successive wives didn’t know about his lies and the previous wives. They’d gotten hurt very badly. I felt that I had a chance with this lady to let her know what she was getting in for. I didn’t have a chance with my brother’s wives. I could have saved them a lot of trouble.

I was then asked who told me what I said. Some of what I knew was from before I was in the group, so it was information that was revealed to me. I refused to answer this. It isn’t who told me that is the issue. It is the fact that I repeated it. I wasn’t told by just one person, and my personal experiences with this guy had borne out this impression that he wasn’t trustworthy. Heck – even my knight had told me stories about how shifty he was. I held my ground on this one.

Plus – I didn’t think it was fair to throw other people under the bus, just because I was getting run over.

I meant well, and I got hurt. I didn’t trust my knight after that. I didn’t talk to this guy or his girlfriend ever again either. It ruined my experience in this group that was my main social outlet. I know this group was supposed to be about honor and chivalry, but I felt like I was doing the right thing, and I feel even today that how the situation was handled was inappropriate.

So I’m a little wary of telling anybody to stay away from shady guys.

I don’t think this is the lesson I should have learned.

We read stories about women who were suckered by guys who made them think they were great people, and all the people around them knew the real story. Her friends and family saw how he was when he wasn’t with her. They said nothing, and it all went very badly. In the best case, her heart gets broken. In the worst case, she’s dead.

Is it worth it? Are we supposed to be silent? Are we supposed to pretend that the skunk will turn into a kitty cat? Are we supposed to think that if we don’t tell her our concerns that it will all work out for the best?

This seems stupid. This is how predators continue to work. We are aiding and abetting them with our silence.

How much am I allowed to say at work? Would it be considered slander? Could I get fired for expressing my opinion of this guy to his girlfriend? Library records are private, by law. Even a wife doesn’t have access to her husband’s account unless he gives her his card.

I don’t think this guy is dangerous – just untrustworthy. That can become dangerous.

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Thug and duke life

I see trends where I work, and patterns. They aren’t always good ones. I see so many women reading books that actually make their lives worse. The library is full of good books that can help them make their lives better.

But, it is kind of like a buffet. There are a lot of choices. Not everybody makes the healthy ones. Sadly, the unhealthy choices just perpetuate the holes that they are in.

I see so many black women reading “Urban erotic fiction” and they are all single mothers. They haven’t caught the connection.

Oprah says “What you focus on expands.” If you put garbage into yourself, that is all you’ll get.

If you read “romance” novels where the guy treats you like a piece of meat and leaves you, you’ll imprint that pattern on yourself as “normal”. It isn’t normal, and it isn’t healthy. So when you finally get your “baller” or your “thug” – just new words for “bad boy” – and you get hurt by him, why are you surprised?

He beats you and insults you. You have sex with him to appease him or to get him to stay with you. Then you get pregnant and he leaves you. And all of that matched the pattern in the books you’ve been reading. This is what you have come to expect, and this is what you have been seeking.

Then you are left trying to raise a child by yourself, stuck in poverty. You both are at the bottom of the pile.

But then again, it isn’t just black women. I’ve noticed that the most common thing that obese, single white women read is “romance” novels. They get an idea of the “perfect” man who is going to sweep them off their feet and take them away to a better life.

Real men never match up to the men in the books that these women read. They are never ruggedly handsome, or dukes, or princes. They are average, and have faults, and are human.

So when these women do get involved in a relationship with a real man they get let down. He isn’t awesome or wonderful. He farts. He curses a bit. He has a temper. His parents are jerks. So they leave, because he isn’t up to their ideal picture they have stuffed inside their heads.

And their lives continue to be miserable.

It is just like with food. If a person eats artificial food, jacked up on extra sugar and fake flavors, they won’t know what real food looks like. They will think that real food tastes terrible when they come across it. They will get sick from all the chemicals they have been eating, but they will continue to eat them because they have ruined their taste buds for what is normal and healthy.

It is time to stop checking out romance novels.
It is time to start checking out reality.

“Hated”

We recently went to get gas at a local store. A carload of young black males pulled up in front of us at a diagonal. They were there to get snacks at the shop and to get gas. But how the driver parked was weird. He parked in such a way that there is no way we could pull forward to leave, and there is no way another car could have pulled through. How they parked was selfish and thoughtless and inconsiderate.

Then their music was insanely loud. I was in the car with the windows closed. Their windows were also closed, yet their music was still so loud I could clearly hear it. They did not care whether other people wanted quiet or not. Through their actions they showed that they didn’t care about other people at all. One of the passengers pulled out a roll of cash and started fanning it. There had to be at least five hundred dollars in his hands.

Then I noticed the driver’s shirt. It was black and had huge letters in a white typeface. The letters took up a fourth of the front of the shirt. They spelled out “HATED”

What a way to self-identify. My thought was if you feel like you are hated, then stop acting in a way that makes people hate you. Act in a civilized manner. Start acting as if you aren’t the only person around.

Then I remember how I’ve seen a lot of black mothers talk to their children. Not all, certainly. But I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. Maybe one in ten use calm, friendly tones with their children. If they talk to their children at all it is sharply. It is hostile. It is frustrated. They bark at their children. “Stop doing that”. “Get over here.” The tone from these mothers says “you are a waste of my time. You are an inconvenience. I didn’t want you. ”

No wonder their children grow up feeling hated. No wonder they grow up angry. Maybe their mothers spoke the same way to them. I’m just reporting what I’m seeing. I’m not saying it should be like this. I’m saying it shouldn’t. I’m saying it is time to change things.

How much of this comes from the mothers reading “urban erotic fiction” with such winning titles as “Thong On Fire” and “Pit Bull in a Skirt”? No, I’m not making these titles up. Sadly, the most popular reading genre in my library for black women is “urban erotic fiction” – where the men are gangsters and the women are whores. It is junk food for the soul. Actually, it is worse than junk food. It teaches women that they are nothing. They are meat. They are things. They are something to be used and thrown away. Women read this and they learn this script. They learn that they are less than nothing. They learn that they have no purpose in life other than to get laid by a man, who is going to leave them.

Why would anybody want to put this message into themselves? This is poison.

While I support the right of everybody to read what they want, I also reserve the right to think that what they are doing is harmful to themselves, and by extension, society. I think the same of the general American culture as well. People can refuse to exercise and eat well. They have that right. But I still have the right to point out that not only will they suffer for their bad choices, but we all suffer from having sick people. We cannot possibly move forward if we are all stuck to the couch. And it doesn’t matter if we are on the couch eating junk food, or reading junk books.