Sometimes being an outside observer of life has its benefits. You get to be a witness to the comings and goings of others. You have the opportunity to see the missteps people make and do what you can to avoid them in your own life. You also get to step outside of situations and make life decisions without the emotional attachment many have. While at other times being an observationist (yup I just made that up) can be very difficult. You can be seen as judgmental due to your lack of participation with those you happen to be observing. You can be labeled as a prude or a square for not choosing to “keep it real” and choosing a different path from those around you. The worst aspect of being an observationist is the agony of never feeling emotionally connected to anyone or anything.
My roommate, Linda and I hung out a lot. We partied with coworkers and other base friends often on base or in Tijuana due to the fact that many of them were underage. Legal drinking age in Tijuana was 18. I can’t remember if it was legal to drink underage on base or not, but I know everyone did. The enlisted club would be packed with kids fresh out of high school filling up on strong drinks and bad decisions. Even before the Navy I was not one to get drunk and let go of my inhibitions. As an observationist I had seen too much to do so. My role would be to hover and keep an eye on any females that came with us. I did not care if I didn’t know them well, even if I had just met them that night. No woman would be left behind. No one would puke alone! No one would be naked publicly! Ok I failed on the last one a few times but I’m not an owl. Heffahs be in all corners of the building my head can only turn but so far in each direction. Also, I never tried to physically prevent anything, just a few words of discouragement and I would let it be. I was a mother hen. Secretly I envied my friends as I watched them much as I had watched the fans at the RUN DMC concert. They were free! I was not. I had tried to be free once and participated in a Daisy Duke dance contest at a club, I felt sleezy and men were so aggressive and disrespectful that I would never do anything like that again. I don’t even wear short shorts in the States to this day. Other countries don’t count. I would watch my friends and wonder how they could do it? How were they able to handle the attention and negativity and still be having fun? I like attention we all do but I could not understand wanting that type of attention.
One-night Linda told me that she was going to start stripping. It was her boyfriend’s idea and she made it sound so exciting. She tried her best to convince me to join her in this endeavor. I immediately declined. She would go on and on about how sexy we were and much money we would make. I could care less. When she asked why I didn’t want to my response was that for one I didn’t need to. I had a job, a place to live, and food to eat. There was no need for it. The second reason I gave was that I did not want to do something that I could not tell my mom and dad about. Both reasons were weak from her perspective. “Who doesn’t need more money?! And who cares about telling your parents, we were grown!” She was correct. We all could use more money and I’m not going to lie, when she started dancing and bring home bags of money every weekend it was tempting as hell! My mind would always flash to me standing in front of my dad in one of those outfits she wore, and my resolve would quickly return. The crazy part was that I did not even speak to my dad nor my mom at that point and had basically decided that they were no longer important in my life. Yet when faced with this choice they were the first things to come to my mind. I told her it was not about me telling them what I did with my life, because I they lived over a thousand miles away and I didn’t even talk to them at all. It was about the feeling of shame I would have knowing I would NEVER tell them that I was a dancer. I had been given enough shame in my life I was not interested in creating my own. I was in the Navy to make a better life for myself not to fall into being a stripper. We remained roommates and friends but looking back I have to admit that I judged her and tried to not become too attached to the friendship. I knew that at some point I was going to move on.
I hated Linda’s boyfriend! I don’t like to use that word often, but I disliked him from the first time we met. It was just something about him that I did not like. He was so over the top player pimpish that I could not stand to say more than a few words to him. I would always find someplace to go whenever he came to see her. He was older (at least in his late 20s or early 30s) light skinned, with light eyes, and finger waves in his hair! He was a first or a second-class petty officer and lived in a different barracks. One day he showed up to see her with one of his homies in tow. I was sitting in the quad lounge watching TV as he introduced us, left the guy to talk with me, and went in to see Linda. My body language, eye contact, and tone of voice were all on one accord. I was in complete fuck you mode! I am usually nice even to folks I don’t like but I was not nice this day or any day when he or his friend was around. I don’t like being in that mindset and so this is why I would leave. So, after exchanging a few fuck you glances and extremely sarcastic comments I left. Went to Ron’s quad to see what they were doing.
About a month or so after that Linda started reading some books, I was surprised but didn’t pay attention to want it was that she read. Soon enough she would tell me. She had been reading books by Donald Goins. Goins wrote books about being a drug dealer and pimp and the lifestyle of it all. She was fascinated. I instantly had a feeling of being punched in the stomach. I suddenly felt responsible for her, like she was a little lost bird with a broken wing that need me to nurse it back to health! For all of her talk and bravado about being from NYC and being tough and street smart, she was just a little lost fool! Before she could tell me how she discovered these books I already knew… It was him! Try as I might to stop her, she was on the path to becoming an Asian girl lost…