I was only in the plush Uber for three minutes when SIRI announced over the speaker: “Bitch, oh you faking today, huh. Okay.”
There was a lot to process but before I could get it together, the dreadlocked brother driving said, “I’m so sorry about that man. My girl issues all up in the car. Faking? This thing said ‘bitch’ so it might as well have done ‘fucking’…”
Then I put it together completely. And without a complete re-hashing of my war on technology, this moment reaffirmed that at the very least, conveniences like automated text message notification sharing in the car creates a management problem.
Especially if you’re an Uber driver.
With a rider.
Who was at this point laughing hysterically.
“It’s all good, man, no worries,” I said. “Sometimes they get upset…” Yes, I know it was terrible to egg him on, but I was leaving DC, where I had spent the majority of the week investigating how a 2013 conversation between Melissa Harris-Perry and bell hooks about black female voices could be fleshed out with movement on six black women dancers at Howard University. For the third time in my career, I had completely cast aside male perspectives (including my own, to a certain extent) to make something resonant about women; I deserved to hear this dude.
“I met her at the club and she was supposed to be a one-night stand. She caught me off guard. I’m not gone’ lie. It’s like when I’m dealing with her I’m dealing with myself. I’m used to sticking with my normal thing.”
“What’s the normal thing?”
“I call it Build-a-Bitch.” Uh oh. “You take a six or seven and turn her into an eight. I don’t mess with females that are too established because they start acting like you need them. This one is established. She’s a sweetheart but she been through a lot with men and it’s made her cold. But you know, I’m feeling shit for her now, so I might have screwed up.”
Whoops. Maybe not this dude.
“She got me all messed up man. And then there’s my girl…”
“By that you mean the one you’re with?”
“Yeah, yeah, you know the one I been kicking it with for years. But we’ve been through a lot. Trying to live together, working stuff out and but the chick that texted is pissed I’m still boning old girl…”
I was riveted. I had missed the last few episodes of Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, so this was delicious. But I had to make sure I had taken care of business first.
“I told you Dulles, right?”
“Yeah man, and don’t worry. I’ll get you there. People always trip when they find out I’m a paraplegic because when I’m driving this car, I gets it in.”
He was proud for sure, articulating five syllables of paraplegic (you didn’t know there were five?) as if saying Heisman Trophy winner. This is when I peered into the front seat to see the hand controls.
“Did it cost you a lot to get this car hooked up for that?” I asked.
“Get it hooked up? It would have cost $1500 to get it hooked up. But I did it myself for $300.”
It’s important to note that I gave myself a quiet mental reminder to apologize to everyone who loves me for getting cozier in the car instead of pulling him over right away in exchange for a new Uber. I figured with yet another 501c3 needing me to perform (for love) services they could not afford, God probably was going to keep me on the planet intact for a while longer, so I wasn’t worried.
Despite the hubris, and the sexism, and the irony, and the presumptuousness, I clearly had a lot to glean from this experience. Here was a man who did not have a mastery of a specific trade, or English, or full usage of his legs. Yet he did not share my deficiency of ego. It made me start to wonder where in the path of artistic development did my legs—like those of so many dancers—surpass my ego’s capacity for admiring what they can do.
“…yeah I’m not looking for nothing. I just wanted to show her there are good dudes out there. But, I had to ask for more. I opened Pandora’s Box and I guess you have to be prepared for whatever comes out of it…”
On some level, this man was an inspiration for my ego to do better. It is finally time to do everything I need to do for self.
“…then I got beat up by her son…”
“Naw man, really?”
“Look, no man in his right mind is going to watch a kid disrespect his mama. I called him on that shit and he knocked me out of my chair, and got to swinging. He’s a teenager so I told his mama to get him to stand down cuz if I had rolled over on his ass it would have been game over…”
Yes. The one-man show that I sat down one summer three years ago and wrote finally needed to happen. Because if this man could dance, or do a shushunova, or tumble a combination pass, he would be a superstar. Actually, with social media the major life-connecting artery that it is, he still might be one anyway; it turns out his paralysis is temporary.
“Once I get through this physical therapy, I’ll be back walking again, man. I’ma miss the footage I get from my iphone from my chair height though. I be pretending I’m texting and I get the good ass shots. They don’t even be knowing.”
My show. It’s coming.