This weekend I turned my recorder on my husband. Here are some highlights from our two-hour conversation. Overall, it was an insightful exercise and there was something freeing, on both ends, about role-playing and treating this like a true interview. (Which it was), haha.
Q: Do you believe living in a house full of women compromised your masculinity?
Mikey: “I think that living in a house full of women compromised society’s view of what masculinity is. So, you know, I played sports and I noticed that all of the other dudes put their hands on their hips like they were superheroes and mine were on my back because that’s how my mom used to stand. And, I would say things differently and I would react with a tone that sounded a little different—because all I had were sisters and a mother. So I guess growing up in a house full of women compromised the normalized version of what masculinity is considered to be and what people overall accept as what is masculine.
Q: What is masculinity to you?
Mikey: “That’s an interesting question. Does anyone know anymore? Haha. To me, as a man, masculinity is taking care of business and taking care of yourself. Masculinity is being able to protect you, my family, myself, and meeting my own expectations as a man. I expect myself to be a: protector, provider, and an overall supportive person. That’s masculine to me.”
Q: What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of your mother?
Mikey: “I’ll say devoted. Mom was very active when it came to what she wanted for her children. She was very protective of us and she worked hard to try to give us something when she had nothing—when we had nothing. Devoted. I had a devoted mother.”
Q: What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of your father?
Mikey: “‘Who?’ Who is the first word. I don’t know my father in more than one sense of the word. I have no clue. I mean, I know what I know. I know he has many children, I know he tried to reach out; I know he was in prison most of my life. I know that he is not in the states anymore. I know his name and I carry it, but that’s about it. So, ‘who?’”
Q: I always tease that you had quite the time with girls when you were younger. What type of fun were you having?
Mikey: What type of question is that? Younger like what? What age are we talking? Just before we got together?
Randie: (laughs) “And while we were together.”
Mikey: “You mean before we got together? Cause while we were together there was none.”
Randie: “There was whaa?”
Mikey: “There was nothing. There was no fun.”
Mikey: “Of the sexual nature—alright SO. I had sex very young and I had a lot of sex very young. I liked sex and sexual things. I was just trying to get some. The goal was to get a girl naked in some form or fashion and touch something, or enter something and then do it again with a different girl because it was fun. I used to make a game of how many times I could have sex in a day, and it may not have always been with just one girl.”
Randie: So what was the switch?
Mikey: Men are stupid and we have to learn lessons two-three times to get it. But when something is really worth it and sticks with you, that doesn’t happen. I don’t need to lose you three times to recognize I don’t want to lose you. You matter too much and you were different, and I specifically didn’t want to be with you yet–
Randie: (Bursts out laughing)
Mikey: “–Because I wasn’t done being stupid, and that’s just the truth of it. You spoke different and you carried yourself differently. Not like a lady, I don’t know what the fuck that means anyway. But you read, you were very well read. We had the same English teachers and our English teacher challenged me to read the dictionary. Scott said, ‘Boy read some words, you need to expand your vocabulary.’ And so I did. I wanted to learn some big words, just for the purpose of using big words. However, you didn’t do that. You actually knew what these words meant. You know? You would use them in regular conversation. It was intuition with you. And I guess that’s what I can chalk it up to. Before you, every other decision I made was guided by an ulterior motive, but this one was strictly instinct. ‘This is where you need to be. Switch it up. Stop now.’ and that was God.
On Black Men
Q: What is a “good” Black man to you?
Mikey: “A good black man is someone who recognizes injustices against his people and says something about them. Someone who recognizes the impact that he has when it comes to anything. When a black man speaks, it does something. When a black man doesn’t speak it does something. A good black man is someone who’s cognizant of what’s going on, someone who understands his purpose is to protect and to serve not to degrade or destroy. A good black man is someone who recognizes that their presence is a big deal in the lives of their children, their families, and in their work. He’s a leader and someone who understands that while they’re leading, it’s their job to support those who need it.”
On Black Women
Q: In your opinion what would happen in the world if more “good” Black men addressed and acted proactively against misogyny—contempt and prejudice against Black women?
Mikey: “Black women would feel safer around us if more black men addressed and acted proactively against misogyny.”
Randie: “Feel safer around you how?”
Mikey: “Black women would feel understood and believe that black men empathized and supported them. Respectability politics wouldn’t be a thing and there would be less women who were beaten and harmed by black men. Everything black men touched would be more positive. There’d be less single mothers, a better state in this country, and more male teachers.”
Q: So far what’s surprised you about being married?
Mikey: What surprised me was my wife. They say you don’t know somebody until you marry them, and I was like ‘Yea, but you know, I know Randie.’ And . . . I didn’t (laughs). I mean, I knew what I knew, which was true and it was what you showed me. But there was stuff that I was completely unprepared for and unaware of.
Mikey: “Like your temper and temperament. Sometimes when your temper gets to that point, you’re not here anymore. That logical, wonderful, beautiful, creature who knows me, gets me, and can talk to me like a civilized adult just disafuckinpears. I can count on one hand how often this has happened but when it does, I’m always like: ‘Oh shit. This aint real.’
And I fucked up. I messed up. I laughed one time. It was a genuine laugh and I wasn’t doing it to piss you off or doing it as a defense mechanism, or out of fear. I was like, ‘Oh shit. This is not real.’ And it was real. (laughs)”
Randie: LOL, any happy things?
Mikey: “You’ve never had to console me when we were in college or younger. You just have something about you now. You’ll be like, ‘just bring your big ass head over here and lay on my chest, and even though I can’t breathe, I’m going to hug you and act like you don’t weigh 260 pounds. I’m going to hold you until you feel better because I know that’s what you need.’ I thought it was always going to be: big dude, protect little woman, and that’s just not the case. I’m very surprised that I would have that in you because I’ve never put you in that situation where you needed to be that, but you were and I’m happy about it. And, bedroom stuff. That’s always the fun stuff. You’re nastier than I remember compared to when we were younger.
Randie: *disbelief* What??
Mikey: “(laughs) Your willingness to do things. Ehh no. I’m not gon’ lie. You were definitely willing but it continued into marriage. I guess that’s surprising because I heard when you get married it all stops, but we’re good. We’re still good. (laughs). Mostly though, I’m just surprised by the bad!”
Q: Do you believe in Divorce?
Mikey: “Divorce for myself? Nah. No. I do not. I don’t believe in divorce for myself just because I know myself. It depends on the relationship for other people. If y’all are toxic for each other, it’s extremely harmful, and you’ve tried everything you need to try to make it work? If you’ve fought to your last breath? Then divorce. But I will never run out of fight. I will never not fight for this. I will never not keep going. I’m not a quitter; I just can’t see that happening. Because of that, because I will always fight for my wife and my relationship. No. You don’t get a divorce, you get me for life.
Q: Do you want kids? How soon?
Mikey: I want kids last year. I’ve wanted kids since I was a kid. I’ll have one tomorrow if we agreed that it made sense, but I also believe that as a parent you’re responsible for your child. I’ve worked with kids for so long, I see certain things that I never want to do if I had a child. I want my child to have my attention and my presence and I can’t do that if I’m working 9am-9pm five days a week. I can’t do that if we can’t afford a vacation here and there or some time to actually raise our child and help them with their homework. I think the only way we can do that is if we have some sort of financial stability and if we’re out of some debt. I know that people have been able to give their children all that they need without having money, but I still feel like I need something to give to this child from the moment they take their first breath. Even if it’s just a roof over their head, a space that they fit, I don’t know—maybe if my wife and I get a house, then we can fill it with baby stuff.
Q: What brings you joy?
Mikey: “I like hearing family laugh and share moments of happiness. Seeing you smile brings me joy because for that moment you’re not thinking about the problems of the world. You’re not thinking about that last hashtag, the person that was raped and nobody told, or the last black woman that was killed. For whatever second when you and whoever are laughing about something, or in a moment when y’all are happy, that does it for me. Other people being happy brings me joy.”