Chapter 12: The Mirror Darkly

“Penthouse Pimping”

Fiction. Based on a True Memorial Day Weekend in San Francisco. 11 minute read

“It allowed me to feel what unconditional love feels like, where there might not be anything in it for you, but this person is experiencing a great life accomplishment and lifepath.”

-Jamee Kyson

“Penthouse Pimping”

Fiction. Based on a True Memorial Day Weekend in San Francisco.

by Mingjie Zhai

This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional. 

After his lasik surgery, he looked at her with a fresh pair of 2020 vision and sees her awkwardness manifest. Though they’ve only been dating for a few weeks, he’s already beginning to realize how different she is from the other girls he’s dated.

She sometimes just looks upon him, like one would a tiger trapped in a zoo. Perhaps her fascination with him is temporary—for every observer ends up leaving once they get bored of the exhibition.

He felt like an exhibition. This gave him anxiety. He needed sweets. While she was in the waiting room, sitting there with her bright orange dress, she had a few books out about business development. It ignited something in him…a spark perhaps…of his dreams to build his own business one day with a tinge of jealousy. He wanted her freedom.

He was frustrated, mainly angry, but kept it under control—with movies, music, and muscle training. This city, in all its technological progress, was socially backward. He found himself living in a strange dream at the penthouse in the heart of San Francisco, where he often would come home drinking, watching TV, and eating, listening to Jazz music, often alone, studying on cryptocurrency and keeping up with the multiple ladies in his life. 

There are things to do—tons of restaurants to choose from, enough extra income to plan his travels, and enough pussy to walk in and walk out of his bachelor suite.

This place is pussy paradise. And now he’s been getting a lot of it, he realizes that perhaps it’s time to settle down. That idea has been his greatest aspiration and his greatest fear. Could he be someone different than the man whom he used to resent? Identical in the picture, but different in aspirations. Could he have a different heartbeat than the beat that walks away from a family?

The idea of permanence intrinsically creates a knee-jerk reaction of flight. If he can’t fight a demanding woman because he knows she can’t ever win in a physical fight, his next natural instinct is to run away.

Running Away.

It seems like quite the theme of every African American man. The diaspora. It was bred into the blood bonded memories of only a few generations back when running away meant freedom. And the double edge to that revelation is that a woman could be heartbroken when he also runs away from the bondage of her expectations. A  black woman’s tears fall becomes torrents of spirit, and the strength of her spirit is the burden all black men must carry but most refuse the call. Leaving the black woman to absorb it all. That is why her skin is thick, full of melanin, and the more the pigments darkening, the more the strength of carrying—all those painful memories of an entire nation, plundered, through the broken spirit of the warrior, but she carries those memories, which is why when the Asian girl looks at him and says, “It’s really hard being a black woman.” He knows she means what she means.

The Truth.

“Even Lebron said that no matter how famous or how much money he has, he’s still a N in the eyes of the other,” he tells her. She wants to argue for the positive but she holds her tongue. She reminds herself that she must first learn how to empathize rather than criticize. In some ways, she can still feel the stigma of her being a female entrepreneur. She’s still a minority, she’s still a female, she’s still labeled with a mental “illness” in the eyes of the other.

“Is what’s beneath our skin tones, down to the tonal colors of our spirit, that matters,”  she says to her date, “but most people are asleep and base their judgments on eugenics. Even if they won’t admit it.”

She sees his spirit as magenta—a mixture of purple and pink because that is where his mind and heart meets. At the crown, where the heart comes to the mind and sings, on those occasions he’s depressed, which means he just took off the tight suit and had the courage to express what is wrong with the picture of the reality he sees.

And now, they’ve come to a time period where not only is a black man able to rise socioeconomically, but he is also able to attract other skin colors, from other socioeconomic classes, but he’s looking for the one, because at the end of the day, he knows it’s not really about skin color either. To truly see through spiritual eyes is to be aware that color is also a social construct, constricting our ability to see us for who we really are—the same soul in different disguises.  

The one who can see him not for his color, his clothes, and his pad, but one who could see him for the fat kid he was and still love him for it.  

The one who would protect him when that pedophile came running after him when he was twelve, chasing him up the stairs when he was running for his life, a mother who could have been there to hold his trembling heart while his dad would have come running down that staircase and beat the crap out of that perverted sick man who tried to emasculate him.

The one who would smile in healthy foods that she’d cook for the meal he would bring home from a hard day’s work. The one who would say, “I want it inside,” and he would keep giving her his seed until they bake three, and watch them grow, into a world unknown, but carry their memories when they both perish. The one who would encourage his voice to speak through the screens to enlighten the masses all the observations he couldn’t say in corporate America because, in this game, it’s about survival, a game he’s becoming better at playing each day, as the temptations keep chipping away at his higher walk.

The one who loves and adores him for his cracked teeth, his cracked skin, his cracked smile. Those cracks in the concrete from where he grew. The past he runs from but also what makes him unique. He cracks jokes when he was fat because that’s what fat kids do—he makes fun of himself first so other kids have no arsenal—a preemptive strike.

He is amazing.

Strong. Steady. Hungry.

He has already risen above so many hurdles–the stigma of being a Black man growing up in Southside Chicago who got his MBA and now lives in a penthouse in the heart of silicon valley is no easy feat. He explains how currency and cryptocurrency works. He has a book on surviving the game as an African American man.

It didn’t work out. He knew she was hiding something. She was still in love with Branson. He couldn’t wait for her while she’s waiting for him. He had waited in another lifetime. He had gotten his heart broken by a girl whom ultimately had chosen the other guy. He will never be someone else’s “filler.” Never again.

If she had tact like Branson, she would have told him to take his time, be chill, and he would have naturally gravitated towards her.

But she didn’t.

A few days later, she had left him a voicemail letting him know that she was going to hold out for another man.  He stopped answering her calls afterwards. He wasn’t interested in being her friend.

She couldn’t blame him.

She wanted him to trust his instincts.

Because they were right.

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