Who Motivates the Motivator? Chapter 5: “Backwash”

Some odd million years ago, the DMV (Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia area) is said to have been swampland. The way the surrounding creeks, tributaries and rivers carve their way into the landscape and escape into the bay and the bay into ocean is an example of hierarchical systems their finest. It is also the primary reason why it is so damn humid in the summer.

And boy are the summers hot and sticky, and that is of course the perfect time to smoke “Sticky-icky-icky” or that skunk weed that gives those humid summers their olfactory signature on our minds. You got to feel it man–smoking that weed right after a rain—the honey from the honeyblunt or hemp resin leaving a sheath of coating on your lips that you rub throughout the day, the smoke staving off gnats, and mosquitoes have carte blanche to make a smorgasborg out of your legs. Somewhere in the townhouses surrounding the woods you’re smoking in, somebody is having a barbecue—summertime in the DMV.

Those were the times of adolesece, or early adulthood, as I reach back through the haze of my drug-induced altzheimers, but ask I fastforward to present times, I realized I have lost homeboys to death, or now they have “bills n’ shit” according to Katt Williams.

So now I’m sitting here after getting the boot end of the smoke and boot from my nigga Phil, and I was deciding who I was going to visit—high as I was. The “smoke and boot” is when you fuck around and get high with someone who kicks you out before you can come down. There are many reasons for this, but Phil’s reason was that he was a pussy for his wife and since she was coming home in a half an hour, he didn’t want her to know he was still smoking. I was effectually a filler for a particular time slot in his day, and since he was no longer “bout that life”  I found myself in my car staring at the fluid level on the Glade brand travel plug-in attached to the air vent  wondering whether or not I was good to drive.

In times like these, I’d usually visit my grandmother whose CNN-filled rhetoric and “old-tymie” stories are a humorous pastime, and I’d knock off two birds with one stone since she couldn’t accuse me of not going to see her. But today was a different day.

I’m gonna visit my friend Jeffrey who just got released from the hospital and was squatting in a wealthy area of Potomac near Friendship Heights. Jeff is one of those “Vulpine” guys according to the Sex-o-nomics writers, a guy who rubs elbows with the upper echelons one minute and wasted with the dregs of society the next. I didn’t know exactly where I fit in in his social paradigm, but it was probably somewhere in the middle, since I was “privileged” enough to meet with both types of his friends. My mind is made up: visit Jeff. I dust off my pants and shit like Ice Cube in Friday, put the key in the ignition and turned.


Traffic on the highway wasn’t too bad for a Sunday afternoon an the sun was low on the horizon—threatingn to set in about three hours. I put on my favorite “cruzin’ high” tracks—“Let Me Ride” by Dr. Dre. Like most stoners, I have two favorite parts to the song. The first, of course, is the beginning where there is a woman speaking in Jamaican patois in a sexy-yet-gangsta tone. This part always gets played back at least six times—more when I’m high. The second, is the ending, where Geroge Clinton’s voice is heard saying  “Swing down—I wanna ride” several times as if he were singing a Negro spiritual at a church revival.  After my music and shenanigans, I made it to Jeffrey’s in one piece. I got out of the car, and in the tradition of Friday, or maybe just a bad habit I picked up from the show, I dust myself off again and head up to the door.


“Have you ever noticed that Mr. Sandman is about three times the size of Little Mac? Who the fuck set up the weight classes?”

I said as I maneuvered my eight-bit video game character out of the path of a humongous fist that threatened to cover half of his body.

Good ‘ole Mike Tyson’s Punchout!!  a game designed to give the little dude with heart the warewithal to slaughter behemoths by virtue of timing, speed, and a super power “uppercut” that you get when you land good hand combinations on them. I put the word uppercut in quotes because the punch just looked like a really good flying cross—or a “Superman punch” for you MMA fanatics.

“Yep this game always perplexed me.”

Jeff said as he tilted his head back and took a swig of brown fluid from the bottle. As he seemingly guzzled from the bottle, bubbles came up from the neck of the bottle. When he finished and handed the bottle in my direction, miniature bubbles that flowed back in the bottle settled on top of the rest of the liquor—backwash as it is rightfully called. Not to worry as alcohol is a natural disinfectant. No bacteria could live in a bottle of Jack Daniels.

I took the bottle from him and took a swig, as I was in between rounds on the video game. In addition to the high I had going, the whiskey gave me a warm, clean buzz feeling. I felt more jubilant and boisterous. The humidity in the house didn’t bother me as much. He was stuck in there incapacitated from a fight that he had, where he had been the “victor”. We were essentially stuck downing a bottle of whiskey and playing throw-back video games. Then I eyed one of my favorites The Legend of Zelda a classic game that made any kid want to grab a stick and walk through the woods pretending it’s a sword.

“You know, I’ve always loved Legend of Zelda. It was a game that when you had shit to do, you could play it all day and get a map—it’ll keep you entertained.”

“That’s for sure, I’ve actually fell asleep playing the game.  After a couple of oxys and some of this.” Jeff answered holding up the Jack Daniels.

“So how long you gonna be in that cast?”

“A couple more weeks the doctor said.”

Jeff said as he turned his forearm around—partially smiling and glassy-eyed. I could tell his buzz was going as well. Jack Daniels was a good side dish for painkillers.

“So what about the other dude?”

“The paramedic said—and this is funny because I remember it as clear as day—‘the intensity and frequency of blunt force contact caused by the perp’s metacarpals lacerated the victim’s orbicularis oris with such profundity that we could see the depressor labi’s tissue junction’.”

“In other words, his face beat up your hand.”

“Pretty much.” Jeff chuckled. But I could tell towards the end of a couple of laughs, that this situation pained him.

“So you didn’t feel your bones breaking when you were hitting the guy?”

“Naw, I kinda blacked out with rage. It was one of those situations that I started out defending myself from a guy who was at minimum fifty pounds heavier than me who thought he had the right to get between Victoria and I when we had an argument. I didn’t want to fight him, but he kept making the comment ‘I wanna punch you in the face’ over and over again. So I was like ‘You know what? Let’s go’. That’s when we squared up. He didn’t land one blow. I hit him with a stiff jab and then slumped him with a cross. When I saw he was slumped, I didn’t want to take any chances fighting him standing up because he would have more weight behind his punches. I took him to the ground. We wrestled for a bit, but I passed his guard and wound up in a dominant position with his arm across his body and my weight on it. At that point I started punching away. Blood was flying everywhere. I just blacked out—I started punching him to subdue him, but then I found myself punching him for every time someone held me back, for the pain my ex Kaitlyn caused in my life, for her perception of me not being good enough, for my abusive relatives, for—“

Jeff halted. He threatened to get emotional.

“—you get the picture.”

“Yeah I understand. The dude started out as a viable threat, but ended up being the target of aggression—the hunter became the hunted.”

“Yeah. Pretty much.”

“You’ll heal quick.” I said, patting Jeff on the shoulder and smiling while I obviously eyed his oxycodone and bottle of Whiskey. We both laughed a little.

“So what about the other dude? Did he say anything afterward?”

“Yeah, he actually had the nerve to talk shit—what little he could after they were stitching him up. It was pretty gross—his lip hung off the side of his face and I could see his bottom teeth.”

“Eww—so you basically gave dude his very own cleft palate.”

We both started laughing.

“Yea he appeared as one of those kids off of ‘Save the children’ or some TV program like that.”

“And your foot? What happened to your foot?” I said eyeing the cast.

“I think he might of landed on my foot/ankle wrong when I took him down—it wasn’t a clean takedown, I didn’t realize until after the fight—after he was unconscious and my rage had subsided—that I had to hobble back to the house. The crazy thing is that all of the guy’s friends, the ones who taunted me and told me shit like ‘He’s gonna destroy you’ and shit were all in amazement when they saw him lying on the ground. His girlfried I bet was mad disappointed in him. But I guess once again they underestimated the little guy.”

“I guess.”

Jeff was the real live version of Little Mac. He was often put to the test by bigger adversaries often to their dismay. He appeared as a rugged version of a Calvin Klein model—an ectomorph with a sullen look. Jeff’s sense of humor often derived from dark mater and the idiosycracies of life—to which he has experienced much in his twenty something years that most have not been through in their thirties.

One thing that worried me was that his new girlfriend Victoria was pulling him down. When he had called me and told me he had broken his hand, I didn’t ask what happened, rather choosing to pick a day to visit him and get the full scoop. There were two things that came to my mind when he told me this: “fight” and “Victoria” and I was right on both.

Victoria was this skinny-with-big-boobs Russian girl he met who worked waiting tables at Champions. The actually hit it off when I was attempting to hook him up with this Chinese girl named Donna of the see-if-you-can-smash-her-cause-I-think-she-likes-tall-white-guys tip. Donna had juicy lips and an ass that seemed to pop out from her legs. While she and Jeff were hitting it off, Victoria made herself present and well known. Since Donna was one of those aloof-yet-receptive girls, maybe because she is a Libra, she didn’t give Jeff any clear signs. Jeff likes certainty, and with Victoria’s cleavage all in his face while he was paying his tab, he got to get her phone number in addition.

As they spent time together, I noticed that Jeff started to disappear more and more. She had her hooks in him. The argument that he had with Victoria at the party was a catalyst for the collision of flesh and bone. His facebook pictures shown Victoria pushing him in a wheelchair with casts on his hand and foot, with all types of goofy star shaped, heart shaped, and Pikachu-shaped helium balloons tied to it. And in the background pushing his wheelchair was Victoria with a grin, lucky that she could get her man. The scenario reminded me of the song [Greenday song “pulling teeth”?] where they sing “I’m all busted up, broken bones and nasty cuts…” then they continue to say “she takes good care of me, just keeps sayin’ ‘my love is true’”.


Jeff turned to me and gave me a serious look.

“You know Reggie, I am glad that he didn’t press charges—I’m already on a leash with my probation.”

“Well Jeff, you know that he’s already humiliated himself in front of his girl—there is a code to starting shit and getting your ass beat then running to the cops–and at least he followed the code.”

“Yea, but I fucked him up pretty bad.”

“I know.”

“I mean, after I looked at myself and him and the bloody mess, I wondered, where is all of this coming from—like what type of anger or demons do I have raging inside of me?”

“Well Jeff, for the simple fact that you are contemplating where you went wrong shows that you aren’t a demon, just a human being that life didn’t always give a fair shake—like most of us. We’re just trying to deal with the cards we were dealt and play the hands we were given—and sometimes you gotta bluff.”


“That’s what the dude did. See one of my buddies told me that God is like a crazy card dealer. The people with good relationships and finances are because God dealt them an Ace, King or Queen in those areas of life. You might even see someone with good finances but horrible love life, and okay in something else. That’s when the dude gets a King in finances a 3 in love, and a Jack or a 10 in whatever else he’s okay in. The dude you fought was dealt a 4 in fighting and he was calling his bluff against a guy who had a King and didn’t know it. But he probably didn’t really want to fight you, but just punch you in the face because you punched him in front of his girl and he didn’t do anything then. He was relying on  his size and muscle tricking you into thinking that he had an Ace. What you essentially did when he bluffed is say ‘call’. He produced his card, and you punished him.”

“That’s very true—I wonder—I wonder if his girl will still stay with him after this—it’s gotta be pretty embarrassing to get your ass kicked that bad in front of your girl.”

“That all depends on her market value or level of compassion. He’s definitely not as alpha as she thought he was. Not even all of his friends who revered him before see him in the same light—you probably got all his friends who thought the dude was so tough thinkin’ ‘maybe I can kick his ass—he’s not so tough’”

“What do you mean her ‘market value’?”

“Well I mean what she can pull in the dating market if she leaves him. If her reason for being with him is because she thought he was an alpha and she felt safe because she thought he could kick everybody’s ass, she’ll have to reevaluate her boyfriend’s market price. Because you kicked his ass in such a way you lowered his status—you humbled him, causing his confidence and market price to fall. If after all is said and done and she determines that his market price is lower than her market value, she may leave him, and look for a stronger bruiser—maybe even you—“

Jeff chuckled then I continued.

“—but if she’s the compassionate type, this might even be an opportunity for him to solidify the part of their relationship that is built on being vulnerable and letting someone ‘nurse’ you back to emotional health.”

I put my fingers up in quotes as I said the word “nurse”.

The bottle of Jack is empty.


Jeff hobbled as he walked me to the door.

“So I guess you’ll be like Wolverine now that you got all that titanium in your arm.”

“Ha-ha yeah. But thanks for stopping by man, and putting things in proper perspective.”

“What are friends for?”

I gave Jeff a dap-hug and made my way out in the darkness to my car. I looked back to see Jeff’s shilouette in the doorway.

That’s a good dude—God, keep an eye on him.

I said to m’self.


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