The Big Payback

Y’all, I been sold out for chicken change. Oh, it’s a long story, and it’s not nearly as interesting as a single trial or tribulation of James Brown (oh, no!), but suffice it to say that my wonderful husband, Pretty Bad Dad, totally promised a friend I’d write a blog post in her honor, in exchange for $1.5984 (I gotta getta better agent). And the check—in that exact amount—arrived a few days ago.

So in honor of both the Godfather of Soul and our beloved check-writing Kendra (not to mention that fat chunk of change!), I give you:

 Five Ways Kendra is Totally Like James Brown (Only Even Cooler and Far Less Dead).

But first, a word from our sponsor:

OK. Now on with the show. Kendra is totally like James Brown because:

1. She’s got soul….

Let me make one thing clear: I knew I was going to like Kendra the moment I met her. Well, OK, that’s not entirely true. Technically, the moment I met her took place during a mass family Skype session on my boy’s 3rd birthday; all of the local family squished up into my living room like D-cup boobs into a B-cup bra and stared at our TV, where Kendra, the yet-unmet love of our favey boy Jake’s life, made her flat-screen debut from our mutual Mother-in-Law’s Arizona abode.

At that point, she was only moderately impressive; I mean, sure, she seemed unfazed by the tribe of roughly 876 folks who sat in curiosity and judgment on the other side of the screen (which is key to survival in this family), but what else did she have? Could she cook? Tap dance? Make a free throw 94% of the time?

Actually, as I eventually discovered, she had something even better (two somethings, actually, and no, not THOSE, get your mind outta the gutter): a killer wit, and a solid knowledge of correct grammar (both of which I discovered later, via Facebook friendship). I mean, seriously? Those are the reasons I married my husband, so needless to say, Kendra won my heart with her well-placed adjectives and immaculate subject-verb agreement.

It wasn’t until her wedding to Jake, a year and a half later, that I discovered something else she has: a kick-ass set of pipes. At her wedding reception (and at her family’s request) she moved us all to clutch hands with our neighboring table mates, chins aquiver, and vow to be better people—all with her gorgeous rendition of Amazing Grace. So it turned out that not only does Mama have brains… she’s got soul to boot.

2. …and she’s super bad.

So Kendra’s love affair with Jake has basically had her poinging back and forth across the country like a rabid squirrel on a racquetball court: from Arizona to Pennsylvania and, eventually, back again. When the two love squirrels began, in the midst of a Pennsylvania winter, to plan their future together, they decided that in addition to making MY cutie-booty son the ring bearer at their wedding (a decision I’m sure has resulted in some regret, because the kid stuck his tongue out in every single photo, and then spent the latter half the reception wearing the garter—which he’d caught—around his head) they’d also be making Arizona their long-term home.

Part I of that plan involved Kendra blazing the cross-country trail ahead of Jake, to seek her fortune and to set up camp. And honey, our girl did it in style; not only did she pick up a classy new ride for the occasion, Sister also got herself a gun (which she named Clarence, at my suggestion). Then, with her best Clint Eastwood “Mess with ME, Motherf!@#$%&%#er!” face at the ready (for those of you who rely heavily on mental images, please conjure more of a Dirty Harry-era face, and not a 2012 Republican National Convention face… although if she’d gone for the latter, that empty passenger seat would have provided some great road trip conversation for our heroine), she set forth like the bad-ass she is.

3. She’ll say it loud—she’s black and she’s proud!

Wait . . . what? She’s not? Oh. Well, I’m sticking with this one, because honestly, I’d give her an honorary membership in the club of my people any day, if I were in charge of that sort of thing (which, unfortunately, I’m not any longer, after an early-90s debacle in which I accidentally sent a congratulatory letter of honorary membership to David Koresh instead of David Bowie—but can I just say that it was an understandable mistake, given that they’re both pretty, pretty men who are (or were, in one case) kinda out there?). As it is, she’ll either have to wait until my 20-year probationary period ends (on Juneteenth of this year), or complete a rigorous exam that includes full memorization and one-woman performance of The Wiz.

4. She don’t know karate…

Actually, I have no idea if this is true. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kendra does know some serious karate moves, and is just keeping them under wraps until such time as she is called to bust ‘em out—like if she should happen upon someone in the midst of a ritual puppy-kicking, or catch a mofo purposely using an apostrophe to denote plurality (actually, this grammatical atrocity may not have the same effect on her as it does on me (in short, it makes me want to rip out the nearest six sets of eyeballs—and if it’s on a billboard, television, or some other display that I know will result in at least a thousand people seeing that business and perhaps beginning to believe in their hearts that it’s OK (it is SO NOT OK), then also a few uvulas to boot), but I would like to think that in the name of grammar pedants everywhere, she’d have my back on this one). Because she’s bad-ass, I tell ya. She does Cross-Fit. You don’t want to jack with her. She will sit, all calm and Zen, through whatever petty tyranny you think you’re gangster enough to dish out—but then, like Mr. Miyagi, she will bust out some surprise black-eye-makin’ moves on your ass without even ruffling her mustache. Or she would. If she knew karate. However, for the purposes of this blog, post, she doesn’t…

5. …but she knows ka-RA-zy (yes, she does).

Now, don’t get me wrong: I think crazy—except when it borders on the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer or Fred Phelps—is a good thing. Frankly, I kinda have to feel that way, because crazy people love me. Seriously. LOVE MY ASS. When I lived in the Bay Area, California (which is replete with all kinds of insanity), my friends would marvel, as we walked together to the BART station, at the (apparently invisible) come-hither beacon that drew every left-of center being within a two-block radius straight to my bosom. Guy who’d peed on himself in the grocery store? Hither he came, in response to my silent siren call, to engage in a lengthy conversation about the hoisin sauce he spotted in my cart. Dude who spent his days hunched gutterside in his special-issue FBI suit (which, according to him, kept his body absolutely pristine for top-secret missions; “Check out my hands,” he said, floating them near my face, “they’ve been in the pockets.”)? Ran straight to my side daily to protect me from aliens on the way to the BART station. Doughnut shop clerk who changed his name weekly to evade government flunkies who’d been dispatched to dispose of him and his classified knowledge about the Great Microwave Conspiracy? Dropped to his knees before me and offered me free doughnuts, in recognition of me as the Queen of his people.

OK, that last one is an exaggeration; I did get the free doughnuts, but I was never officially crowned. Point is, I got no problem with crazy, as long as it’s accompanied by kind. That said, I have one crazy family. So far no FBI consorts with rampant incontinence—but we’re still pretty far left of center ourselves. And Kendra has squished in among us nutballs like it ain’t no thang—as evidenced by the $1.5984 check she actually wrote, signed, and mailed—which is all the more reason to love her crazy ass (as if being cooler than James Brown weren’t enough).



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