Don't Tell Me What To Do: A Spiritual Memoir
Just kill me now, LORD! I'd rather be dead than alive, because nothing I predicted is going to happen. – Jonah 4:3

Back Where I Belonged - 1959-1965

This is a preview to the chapter Back Where I Belonged - 1959-1965 from the book Don't Tell Me What To Do: A Spiritual Memoir by Ron Alexander.
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I was nine years old when I arrived back in Philadelphia. My mother had moved out of Mama’s house into her own large, six bedroom house with her new husband, who had his special way of greeting me with a jubilant, “Hey Ronnie,” that beamed with a big grin on his face every time he saw me.

When my mother began to coax him into disciplining me, I retaliated by telling my father. My father reacted by storming into the house one day, unannounced.

“What's this I hear about yo’man beating on my boy!”

“What do you mean,” she shot back. “I can do as I please in my own house!”

“Yeah, you can do anything except telling yo' man to beat on my son!”

She shrugged her shoulders. “You're carrying this 'daddy thing' a little too far, don't you think? You and I know the real deal here.”

“Sure, I know what it is, but I thought you understood the role I'm playing here. Don't play games with me!."

They argued. I listened. I observed. They whispered loudly and screamed at each other even louder until my father leaned forward and put a finger in her face. “I'll kill'em if he puts a hand on him again!” he said with finality, turning, stomping out the house, slamming the door behind him.

Every so often, mostly on weekends, company would come would come over to the house to drink and play cards. It was during these lively house parties that I grew familiar with the R&B and jazz artists they played on the hi-fidelity record player. There was dancing, drinking, trash talking in the hazy, blue-lit living and dining room. Moms Mabley would be telling dirty jokes from an album playing on the record player, her crackling, scratchy voice denouncing “washed-up geezers” and anointing young men as her sexual preference.

My mother’s husband, tipsy and loud from drinking, would spot me stranding off in a corner by myself and add me to Mabley’s funny jokes. The laughter turned from Moms Mabley to me. “This here boy’s head is as long as a football field,” he would say about me. He would grip an arm around his stomach, leaned back into a chair and laugh the loudest.
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