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To the Beat Y'all
1 LADIES FIRST
2 LET'S GET IT STARTED
3 PUMP UP THE VOLUME
4 DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE
5 THE BREAKS
6 WHAT A MAN
7 YOU CAN'T PLAY WITH MY YO-YO
Josephine is a stickler for time and hates it when I'm late for tea. Maybe I should call? On second thought, I'd rather not hear her mouth twice. I stepped off the curb at 140th and St. Nicholas and scanned the Avenue. A few gypsy cabs race back and forth, but they're all occupied. Not even the occasional yellow taxi is in sight. I'm thirty minutes late and these Jimmy Choos were not made for walkin'.
I check my watch, zip up my mink-lined leather jacket, and slip on a pair of oversized Jackie O sunglasses. Although the sky's bright and clear, looks can be deceiving. Today's crisp fifty-degree temperature is a reminder that March is a lot closer to January than it is to July. Mother Nature can be extremely unpredictable this time of year in New York, and tomorrow she could blast us with a dose of snow and freezing rain.
I think she does it just to remind us that she's still running thangs. Ahh, the power of being a woman. We can change our minds any damn time we please and nobody better say a word. Therefore, since Mother Nature tends to be hormonal, a girl must be prepared in the City at all times. Your Birkin bag has to be stuffed with extra amenities like a pashmina, flip-flops for an impromptu nail-shop drop, and a compact umbrella, amongst other necessities--baby wipes, tampons, perfume, hand sanitizer, and condoms.
My cell phone rings. I hurriedly fish through my bag to answer it (the downside to toting around all those lovely amenities). By the time I find it, the screen reads: Call missed. It was Malik. I hit redial, but I get his voicemail. To further irritate me, somebody just nabbed a cab with my name on it, barely two feet away, because I was too busy fussing with the phone. Shit!
My voicemail alerts me. I hit the message retrieve button.
You have one new message . . .
Malik: Hey, Mama. Shit's been crazy and I'm in DC in the studio, 'bout to head to Atlanta. I get back tomorrow. Hit me on my Blackberry. I lost my other cell.
I roll my eyes. The usual.
Identity: Malik (meaning "King") Sekou Jaru, aka hip-hop record producer and all-around music-industry power player. Godson of late jazz great Miles Davis. Son of famous jazz musician/producer "King" Jaru, founder of Jaru Note Records, whose producing resume is a who's who of greats in the jazz world.
Status: Single, probably for life. A sista's cool with that. Nice and simple is how we both like it.
Just the facts: Minimal Baby mama drama, gives the fierce sex-down, likes to splurge on baubles for Destiny, and his ice is always twinklin'. He has that hustler mentality that drives me mad crazy.
Hearing Malik's rugged voice did what it always manages to do . . . put a tiny smile on my face. We've been hanging out for almost a year, the longest time I've ever dated a guy. We aren't exclusive, I'm always going to keep me a couple on the side, but I guess I'd have to consider Malik my "main squeeze."
At last, a gypsy cab pulls over and I'm on my way. The sound of native tongues chanting faintly pumps through the car speakers. I instruct my soft-spoken African driver where to go and lean my head back, thinking about Malik's message again. I've told him over and over, we've got a good thing with no preset guidelines. Just have some respect for my time. When I see him tomorrow, I'm going to give him the biggest hug and longest kiss, right before I punch him for leaving town and not telling me.
I see The Uptown Tea Cafe just ahead at the corner of 118th and Madison. The rattle-rattle-thunder-clatter of the well-broken-in Lincoln Town Car slows to a stop, and I pass the driver six bucks and exit.
The Uptown Tea Cafe always gives me peace of mind. I try to get my fix of chamomile, controversy, conversation, and calm regularly from Josephine. Honey, Josephine Rosalita Williams-Eliott-Schultz-Sanchez, also known as Dame Josephine, is something else and summed up simply, quite a woman of the world. I want to be just like her when I grow up. Josephine is a pint-sized punch with a figure that's almost as good as mine. I said almost.
Much props to thirty-five. My body isn't as fabulous as my best friend Izzy's, that girl's got the metabolism of a twelve-year-old. However, it's pretty tight for a woman who's five years from crossing yet another major threshold where gravity, by all known reports, is likely to take a major stab at my self-esteem. I just have to keep my good eye on the carbs. A solid size eight is what I like to be. Since thick is the new thin, I'm definitely keepin' some meat on my bones.
Dame Josephine's creamy toffee-colored skin has that eight-glasses-a-day glow. She wears her hair in one long braid down her back. I've never seen a stitch of gray up in there either. The few faint crow's feet around her eyes and her bony, slightly wrinkled hands are the only giveaway that she's seen as many sides of life as she claims she has.
I met Josephine during my brief stay at NYU. One day Izzy and I stumbled into a cute little coffee shop and Spanish bakery in the West Village (hence the Sanchez, her fourth marriage). Josephine was cussing out her then-husband Mario right in front of all the customers and wasn't the least bit embarrassed.
After she finished laying him out, she turned right around and it was business as usual. I thought it was cool how this spicy woman, dressed in a flowing Spanish-inspired skirt and a T-shirt, and draped in a colorful shawl, wasn't taking any mess off her man. She became my instant surrogate mother.
I pushed open the cafe's large, ornate antique doors and removed my sunglasses. The Uptown Tea Cafe had a cozy opulence with its mahogany wood interior and furnishings and plush velvet seating. I headed straight to the back of the room to a small round table that was surrounded by three low, stuffed chairs. It was on an elevated platform and enclosed by long velvet drapes that were pulled back.
"You're late!" Josephine said, entering the room from the kitchen. When somebody made Josephine mad, she let the world know with her no-time-for-the-pleasantries attitude.
Known Marriages: Four (my hero!)
Age: Unknown. She's got a secret hookup with the Fountain of Youth. I gave up trying to figure out exactly how old she was years ago, but concluded she must be in her early sixties, because she talks about participating in sit-ins during the Civil Rights movement, and the day Dr. King died, and working on the Poor People's Campaign.
Occupation: Spiritualist, activist, diva, and owner of The Uptown Tea Cafe. Life is her muse.
Dame Josephine flowed through the room with a youthful glide, dressed in her usual, what I call oasis glam. Today she was wearing a Japanese kimono-style top, loose pants, and sequined slippers. I was about to give an explanation, but I couldn't get my mouth open before she cut me off.
"I had decided that I wasn't going to speak to you, but then that Negro Abraham Paul decided to lose his damn mind and traipse around here like he was some kind of royalty. I almost kicked him square in the behind when he asked me if his ex-wife could come and stay with us for a while until she gets on her feet. Then he made some stupid joke about how 'Maaaarvelous' it would be to be surrounded by all the women he's loved. The nerve of him! I'm not his concubine!"
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Destiny Day is, as Chaka would say, “Every Woman”–smart, sexy, savvy, and the shrewdest, most ambitious sista walking around Manhattan in a pair of Christian Louboutins. She is calling her own shots in the seductive A-list nightlife world. Destiny is also strong and resilient, having escaped hardscrabble beginnings in the small Midwestern town she calls “East Boogie,” East St. Louis, Illinois. The questions that follow are designed to spark a discussion that is poignant and compelling. I hope that your reading group finds inspiration in her story as you discover who the real Destiny Day is, after the dj spins the last jam and the party’s over.
1. Destiny lives by the rule “Get in, get yours, and get out.” Discuss how she applies this philosophy in both her professional and personal life.
2. Prior to meeting Taye, Destiny has a string of men and manages to separate herself emotionally from all of them except Malik. What makes her so vulnerable when it comes to him? Why do so many women fall victim to this type of passive-aggressive behavior when it comes to relationships?
3. What is the significance of Josephine’s comparison of Malik to the main character in the children’s book Where’s Waldo?
4. In the chapter “Love Rollercoaster,” the laundromat scene is an important eye-opening experience for Destiny. Discuss the revelation she has after spending the afternoon with Malik at the laundromat.
5. Destiny’s mother, Juanita, appears in her dreams and reflections throughout the book. What is the significance of her presence?
6. Destiny begins to question the meaning of love. Discuss where in the book this occurs and her ultimate journey to discover love.
7. Destiny is determined not to be like her mother, Juanita, but in many ways she is. How is she like Juanita?
8. Josephine’s therapy is going to the Fairway Market, while Malik’s is going to the laundromat. What special places or activities provide “therapy” for you, and how?
9. Destiny has special connections with Rico, Izzy, and Josephine in terms of their life struggles. What is that connection? Discuss Destiny’s trust issues when it comes to friendships with people outside her small circle.
10. Spirituality plays a big part inJosephine’s character. Recount and discuss the chapters that reveal various revealing moments in the story for Destiny that eventually lead her to find her own spirituality.
11. When Destiny meets Taye Crawford, she quickly finds herself moving in a direction she never anticipated. Discuss the emotional challenges she is confronted with. How does he help her face her painful past and let go of fear?
12. Taye is able to break through barriers as no man has ever been able to do before with Destiny. What makes Taye so different than all the other men in Destiny’s life?
13. Josephine encourages Destiny to be open to something “shiny and sweet.” What does this mean to you? How do Rico and Izzy find that “shiny and sweet” gift in their lives?
14. Music plays a major role in Destiny’s life. She believes music can “unfurl a person’s deepest desires.” Explore and discuss how music is used in the story. What is its significance in Destiny’s life, and how does the dj’s presence metaphorically save her life?
Posted April 8, 2010
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I was REALLY excited to read another book by LeFlore because I LOVED Wildflowers. This book was a real disappointment. I tried to push myself to finish the book and I just could not make myself read the book. I would not recommend this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 29, 2007
This book was absolutely fabulous. It shows us how music is universal and how each one of us has a soundtrack to our lives. While reading it, I couldn't help but smile some of the songs made me think of such delightful times. I highly suggest every music lover to read this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 6, 2006
This book was a quick, fun read. Destiny Day definitely flips the script when it comes to handling her men and her business. Her 'I'm in charge' attitude keeps your attention to the very end.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 7, 2006
I loved this book, I read the first novel by this author Cosmopolitan Girls and I love the style of LeFlore's writing. She keeps it interesting and her characters show depth and believability... She's definitely a fresh new voice in Black Fiction.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.