Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do: A Novel

Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do: A Novel

by Pearl Cleage

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Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do: A Novel by Pearl Cleage

With the unique blend of truth and humor that made her first novel, What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day . . ., a huge bestseller, Pearl Cleage returns with an extraordinary novel that is rich in character, steeped in sisterhood, and bursting with unexpected love . . . and maybe just a little magic.

Depending on the time of day, Regina Burns is a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown or an overdue breakthrough. One shattered heart and six months of rehab have left her wary and shell-shocked—especially with the prospect of taking a temporary consulting job in Atlanta, a move that would allow Regina to rescue the family home that she borrowed against when she was “a stomp down dope fiend.” Her stone-faced banker has grudgingly agreed to give her sixty days to settle her debts or lose the house.

Returning to Atlanta is a big risk. Last time Regina was there, she lost track of who she was and what she wanted. There’s a lot of emotional baggage with her new employer, Beth Davis. Can she really forgive Beth for breaking up her wedding plans on New Year’s Eve because she just didn’t think Regina was good enough to marry her son?

Meanwhile, Regina’s visionary Aunt Abbie has told her to be on the lookout for a handsome stranger with “the ocean in his eyes” who has a bone to pick and a promise to keep. Then a blue-eyed brother appears on the streets of Afro-Atlanta wearing a black cashmere overcoat, flashing a dazzling smile, and lending a helping hand when Regina needs it most. But between falling for Blue Hamilton and dealing with Beth, secrets will emerge that will threaten to send her life twisting in surprising new directions.

Like a conversation with a good friend, Some Things I Never Thought I’d Do shares hope, love, and laugher. As always, it is Pearl Cleage’s unforgettable characters and her gift for dialogue that will earn this provocative new novel a place in the hearts of her growing family of readers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345478269
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/02/2004
Edition description: First Trade Paperback Edition
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 845,809
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.69(d)

About the Author

Pearl Cleage is the author of Mad at Miles: A Black Woman’s Guide to Truth, Deals with the Devil and Other Reasons to Riot, and her bestselling debut novel, What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day.... An accomplished dramatist, her plays include Flyin’ West and Blues for an Alabama Sky. Ms. Cleage lives in Atlanta with her husband.

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Read an Excerpt


I have really screwed up now. This man is actually sitting behind that great big desk telling me he’s going to take my house. The house I was born in! The house my mother was born in! He must be crazy.

I know I’m the one who borrowed against it. I know I’m the one who didn’t make the payments on time. I know all that. That’s the first thing they teach you in rehab, to accept responsibility for the stuff you did when you were a stomp-down dope fiend, and I do, but I never thought they would actually take the house. What good is trying to reform if you have to spend the rest of your life paying for the stupid things you did when you still got high and didn’t give a damn?

Of course, I don’t say all that to this little weasel-faced white man who probably has no life at all outside of this windowless office where he gets to bring up your file on his computer and then swivel it around so you can see all those missed payments and bounced checks, daring you to deny them.

He clearly does not want to hear my tale of woe. Having your heart broken and thinking cocaine can fix it does not qualify as an appropriate topic for discussion with your banker. I know this from experience, so I skip the explanations and start right in on the serious begging.

Please, I say, I’m okay now. I just got a good job. I’ll have enough to bring everything current if you can just give me a little more time.

He ignores me. He’s heard all this before. He knows the house has been in our family for three generations. He knows I was born there. He knows my grandparents got married there. He knows it is more than a house. That it is an essential part of our family history, our memories, our dreams. He knows it is a sacred trust passed from one woman in our family, to the next one, and the next one, and, finally, to me.

He knows all this because I have told him many times. I want him to understand that losing this place is not an option. I’m not going to greet my mama in paradise and tell her I snorted up her mama’s house because I wanted a man who didn’t want me. If I tell her that, I’ll have to tell her that during that same amazing eighteen months, I also lost my credibility as a journalist by sleeping with all the edi- tors I wasn’t doing drugs with, missing deadlines like it was a sport, and, in the last few months before I finally went into rehab, behaving badly at several important Washington social events, culminating in the unforgettable evening when I cussed out a congressman, spilled a drink on his wife, and wrecked my car all in one forty-five-minute period.

But that was then. This is now. I’ve been clean for almost six months, and as soon as I get paid from this new job, I’ll pay the weasel what I owe and he can go swivel his screen at some other poor fool. All I need is a ninety-day extension. Just three months, I hear myself still begging. I’ll be able to bring everything current. I promise!

The weasel raises his eyebrows to let me know he doesn’t buy it for one second. He glances down at the screen again, and I mentally prepare myself to segue from begging to groveling. I’m ready to roll around on the floor and tear my hair, if that’s what it takes. I’m the one who messed everything up, but I’m also the one who is going to make it right. Starting with this house.

The weasel is still staring at the screen. He better hope whatever he needs to see there to give me my ninety days shows up in the next sixty seconds because I am this close to dragging him across that desk and whipping his smug little ass until somebody comes to pull me off him. This close.

Then he sighs deeply and looks up. Sixty days, he says, like it’s killing him. I’ll give you sixty days.

And I want to say, It’s not even your money, so why are you acting so shitty in a moment that is already shitty enough without your adding a single thing?

But it’s not his fault. I wouldn’t even be sitting here if I hadn’t done the things I did. The reason he’s acting like he’s doing me a favor is because he is doing me a favor. They could have taken the house two months ago, and no amount of world-class begging could have stopped them if the weasel hadn’t let me slide. Being mad at him is a waste of time, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that time is all you’ve got.

Thank you, I say, standing up to go before he can change his mind. He stands up and reluctantly shakes the hand I offer. He’s giving me that disapproving stone face like he’s Robert Young on Father Knows Best and I’m Kitten trying to hide a bad report card.

I’m at the door when he calls my name, and my first reaction is to keep walking like I don’t hear him, but that would be gutless, and courage is one of the things I’m supposed to be working on, so I stop and half turn back toward him. Yes?

Good luck, he says with a smile that’s almost human.

Thanks, I say, smiling back, even if he is my banker. I’m going to need it.

Table of Contents

Reading Group Guide

1. For years, Atlanta has been hailed as “the Black Mecca.” In Some Things I Never Thought I’d Do, author Pearl Cleage has created a new vision of an existing community, Atlanta’s West End, that is truly Mecca-like in that crime has been eradicated and the black men are playing some very positive roles in making it a safer place to live. Do you think visions such as Pearl’s can help build hope and possibility in our communities?

2. Regina is a smart, confident woman who was driven to cocaine abuse by a broken heart. Could you identify with Regina, or did you feel that she should have been able to cope with her problems without becoming an addict?

3. Regina’s late lover (and Beth Davis’s late son) Son not only helped his mother’s movement to empower single moms, but “wanted to start his own program for the brothers because he said it didn’t make sense to have a whole lot of enlightened women looking for love in the arms of a whole lot of unenlightened men.” Do you think that is a problem for black women today–not being able to find men with their level of education, achievement, or consciousness?

4. The theme of “movements” for community empowerment runs through this book. Regina, who is thirty-two, reflects on her parents’ generation of movement friends who “were still waiting for a leader to arise who would pick up where Martin and Malcolm and Medgar and all those unnamed martyrs left off.” Do you think that Black people today are looking for a leader or a movement? And is that the solution to the many challenges facing the African American community?

5. This is a love story that encourages us to keep hope alive. Hope in community. Hope in redemption. Hope in Black men coming into their own as positive, constructive warriors and protectors of women, children, and community. Hope of Black women finding the balance between achievement and softness. Did Regina and Blue’s love story give you hope? Did the vision of a healthy, whole, harmonious Black community give you hope? Why is it so important for Black people today to have a sense of love, hope, and possibility?

6. Regina and Blue knew each other in a previous lifetime. Did the theme of reincarnation affect the credibility of the story for you? Do you think a reader has to believe in reincarnation to enjoy this book?

7. Aunt Abbie has a vision of Regina marrying Blue, and she shares this vision with Regina early on. When they’re getting to know each other, Blue tells Regina of his three past wives and says that “I guess I’m a better friend than I am a husband.” Yet this doesn’t seem to deter Regina from moving into a relationship with Blue, and the book ends with her saying that it’s time for Blue to meet Aunt Abbie. Do you think Regina and Blue are headed for a happy ending? Or does such a thing exist?

8. How did you feel about Beth Davis as a leader of, and role model for, Black single mothers? How did you feel about her rejection of her only grandchild, Sonny Jr., and harsh judgment of the child’s mother, Madonna, the ex-stripper?

9. Beth had trouble letting go of her grown son and allowing him to live his own life, make his own choices. How common do you think this is for mothers in general and single mothers of sons in particular? Do you think this is one reason there seems to be a shortage of the kind of men portrayed in this book?

10. When Blue and Regina visit his beach house on the island, he kisses her and she says, “He didn’t touch me in any other way. He just kissed me smack on the mouth, and I kissed him back, and it felt so good and so right that I decided to stop worrying about past lives or next lives or anything except his mouth on mine . . .” Can a love story be romantic without the heroine being a little impulsive, and maybe impractical? Is it possible to be romantic and pragmatic at the same time, for either women or men?

11. Pearl’s descriptions of the characters and community were very vivid. Can you look at a community like today’s West End (and so many other African American neighborhoods), which she describes as “plagued by crime, drugs, homelessness, and unemployment” and envision the world in this novel? Did this story make you feel optimistic about the potential for positive change in the relationships between Black men and women and in our communities? Do you think it is wise, dangerous, or a waste of time to envision and hope for something better?

12. Is it the responsibility of today’s African American writers, musicians and artists to portray the world as it is, or as they hope it can be? Does a single novel, a love story, have the power to provoke positive change? What might it inspire you to do?

13. There are no explicit sex scenes in this novel. Why do you think the author made this choice? Which approach do you prefer in a love story–detailed lovemaking scenes or a more subtle approach?

14. Regina’s Aunt Abbie is described as a “visionary advisor” and seems almost kind of psychic, at least when it comes to Regina’s life. Do you have an Aunt Abbie-like person in your life? If so, what role do they play? And what would you think if they told you that you would be meeting a love from past lifetimes?

15. What do you know about Regina from her relationship with Son and her growing relationship with Blue? Could you identify with her and the romantic choices she makes?

16. When Regina “looked at the TV in time to see the second plane hit the World Trade Center,” she gave up cocaine, started praying and checked herself into a rehabilitation facility.” This was before she knew that the love of her life, Son Davis, had died in the attack. Why do you think the events of 9-11 provoked such a dramatic reaction in Regina? Did you or anyone you know make a similarly life-changing decision as a result of 9-11?

17. What role does forgiveness play in this story? Why was it important for Regina and Beth to forgive each other? For Beth to forgive the mother of her grandchild?

18. At Beth’s request, Regina takes a job helping Morehouse College put Son’s papers together into the Legacy Project. Would Regina have taken the job, working for the woman who destroyed her life once before, if she hadn’t been absolutely desperate to save her family home?

19. Pearl writes that “One of the problems Black folks have is we’re usually so busy making history that we don’t take the time to record it. We keep forgetting that the one who shapes the story defines the hero, and the hero defines the best of what a people can be.” Why is it important for Black people to write and record their histories? Who are today’s heroes for Black people, and will history record them as such?

20. If someone, even a trusted relative or friend, predicted that you would meet someone from a past lifetime and hook up with that person, how would you react? Would you be skeptical? Eager to meet the person? And if the prediction came true, would you be happy? Frightened? How would you handle it?

21. When Aunt Abbie first tells Regina that her past-life love has blue eyes, Regina expresses some alarm, assuming he’s a White man. How would you react if someone told you that your soulmate was someone of another race? A White man?

22. Do you think that the fate and the future of Black people depends upon Black men and women staying together? Do interracial dating and marriage threaten the future of Black people? With so many Black men dating interracially, do you think that Black women should do the same? What might the consequences be?

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Some Things I Never Thought I'D Do 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
LIV2read More than 1 year ago
I've read this book twice, once when it came out and again for my bookclub. I thoroughly enjoyed it both times, and felt I gleaned even deeper nuances and meaning the second time around. Ms. Cleage has a certain style that makes her books so easy to read, and I found myself smiling and feeling good about the characters she really brings to life.
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tchrldy10 More than 1 year ago
The characters seem so real, and they are people I can relate to in my community. I am now looking forward to reading other books by this author.
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LadyJ24 More than 1 year ago
This story had the potential to be really great but I was left wanting a bit more in the characters and story development. I was left thinking perhaps there was to be a continuation of the story in another book. It is difficult to explain without giving away the story completely.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
An African-American Fiction Novel Things to come in life Cleage want you to look at life and how it can change so dramatic. A lot can go on in one person life and change the next. Just as the pass can come into life. Regina Burns is a good example of a life changing person in the world. This significant character is developed as a person who went down hill and became a better person by herself inside to outside. She better herself with people, work just life it self. After she better herself, she finds out that she may be the key to changing the world outlook of woman and men relationships. The setting in D.C and Georgia supports the story to the significant meaning of life. There so many corrupt and missing things that come to life that has to be solve in the neighborhood. The death of Son and mystery of his secret life. The secret of Blue true meaning of being in th world gives Regina a lot to think about to put together. Regina try to fix the problems before they become difficult to do so with a little help close friends and evidence. Cleage use flashback more in the beginning of the story to show where the character is coming from. She foreshadows characters with life and similar meaning. She is a more accomplished Playwright and use to teach playwriting at Spelman College in the past. In the sequences in the story there is Suspense, because there a lot of things going on that you don't know what can happened and makes you want to keep reading to see what gonna happened. There is hard hitting realism to what is true in reality. â¿¿I know I'm the one who borrowed against it. I know I'm the one who didn't make the payments on time. I know all that. That's the first thing they teach you in rehab, to accept responsibility for the stuff you did when you were a stomp-down dope fiend, and I do, but I never thought they would actually take the house. What good is trying to reform if you have to spend the rest of your life paying for the stupid things you did when you still got high and didn't give a damn?â¿ Regina Burns realize the main things of life and it isn't easy thought it. Regina try to take the learn back into the world with her and make her own lessons on the way. Her mistakes of the pass make a big influence on her and her future. 1st person is a better view so that the supporting characters wouldn't give out the ending of the story. If the point of view change the story would have to be set up a different way to set a successful plot. The cons of the story is that it was short and leaves you wanting more. The pros of the book is the rhythm, the inspiration,engaging and attention-grabbing, well-written, humorous, and a fast read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Some Things I ....was a delightful and fun read, with more twist than I'd thought there'd be. It's refreshing to read postive stories with people of color. Still there has to be some drama mixed in, yet it's not overly laced throughout the story. The book is richly woven with some colorful characters, like Regina Burns, Blue Hamilton and small group of others you won't soon forget. Based in Atlanta, the story sends you on a journey you won't soon forget either. Kick back and enjoy yourself!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was my first american english book i´ve read-and it wass great.the story made me think about some things i never thought about before.i will read the following book,-baby brother´s blues -too,because i want to know the end.greets kathrin
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I find myself longing for a Blue Hamilton of my own. Don't miss this one. The characters come alive and I often found myself reading aloud. The ending had me in tears. Hope all who read this book enjoy it as much as I did.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved all of Pearl's other books, but was somewhat disappointed in this one as the story line is difficult to follow.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The author is on a success high with this book. Great characters, storyline and it was so easy to relate. She brought it home for me and I enjoyed living through her words of the familiar territory. It makes you look at life and feel her words. Loved it!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Talk about fabulous! This novel is a breath of fresh air in a stale world of cheesy sex and poorly done street novels.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I truly love this author. I've read all three of her novels and they just keep getting better and better. Regina, becomes a girlfriend of yours.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i enjoyed this book. makes you want to take a chance and believe that your life is already predestined
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this one. The author is an excellent storyteller. Few writers could blend past and present as well as Ms. Cleage. The characters were very well developed, believable, and likable. The air of mystery was the icing on the cake.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've never wished I were someone else...but, just for a moment, I'd like to be Maya Angelou so that I may string together words worthy of PEARL CLEAGE! I devoured Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do, shared it with friends and have been talking about it ever since. What Looks Like Crazy on An Ordinary Day had me laughing AND crying out loud....I just finished it last night and I swear I dreamt about Ava! WOW! Much like Ava found the love of her life after already living a long life I've found my new favorite author!! Bravo Mrs. Cleage and THANK YOU!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book speaks to me on so many levels. I am glad that we have talent like this to take you where you can't go. My Mom had a stroke several months ago, I am her caregiver. I told Mom about this book and I wished she could read it too. This is the kind of book with the author's use of words that you can paint your own pictures. I was thrilled with my 'trip to Atlanta'. I loved all the characters and could easily see some of them as my new friends. Regina is a lady that overcomes some odds and finds love because she is willing to take a chance. This book is both entertaining and thought provoking. If you want a good read about real people, pick this up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ms. Cleage pens a compelling tale in SOME THINGS I NEVER THOUGHT I'D DO. The heroine, Regina 'Gina' Burns is a recovering cocaine addict. Having come to her senses, she is trying her best to correct mistakes she made while under the influence. Needing money to save her family home from being taken, she goes to work for her former charismatic boss Beth Davis, the mother of the man Gina loved but lost due to Beth's domineering ways. 'Son' Davis died in the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Now Beth wants to do a tribute to him at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Gina is obliged to go through his papers in order to make certain he didn't leave behind anything embarrassing. Gina has to swallow her pride more than once, but keeps her eyes on the prize: Not losing the family home. Ms. Cleage must be a true child of the sixties. She is socially conscious throughout, especially where a black man's duty to his people and specifically to his woman is concerned. I was delighted with the secondary love story between Gina and Blue Hamilton. Picture Brian McKnight with aquamarine eyes. This is a story that uplifts everyone, especially black women. I think there should be neighborhoods like the one Gina finds herself living in once she returns to Atlanta all over the world. But I guess there are just not enough Blue Hamiltons to go around.