If you asked me what his childhood was like, I wouldn’t be able to tell you it was full of despair & neglect. Yes, he faced his share of adversity, but who hasn’t. He didn’t grow up an ugly duckling or deprived of any attention. He was a little boy; as a matter of fact, we were either that little boy or we can recollect knowing him. His mother named him Barrington, after her father, who Ms. Michelle never met herself, but due to all accounts from her mother she couldn’t help but admire his integrity and chivalry. After all who wouldn’t want their son to reflect the example of a pillar in the community.
It’s a given that parents want what’s best for their children but also want the best out of their children. And along with Ms. Michelle, Barrington’s father Mr. Elroy, wanted the best for his son; unfortunately, neither could mutually agree on what was best. Elroy left the household before Barrington could walk on two feet alone.
No Divorce, no separation.
He was born out-of-wedlock just like his two older sisters: Nikki and Monica. Their father never met Ms. Michelle’s expectations, but when her and Elroy were still together, he attempted to pick up the slack, and treasure this man’s negligence.
Elroy was once just a stranger that made some of the rarest of purest of eye contact with a young mother inside the university library. Although exhausted from a long shift as a full-time mother, this full-time employee for the phone company was unable to deny him the pleasure of knowing her name as he requested.
With the constant barrage of “shhhh’s” that were in response to the loud laughter they shared as he ignored his grad studies, she multi-tasked, naturally. He was the closest thing to prince charming at that moment, and it wasn’t near midnight, but she had to leave as abruptly as Cinderella would if she didn’t have two-step sisters, but instead, two daughters at her mother’s house.
“When can I see you again?” He inquired, nervously, approaching her car. You know a gentleman should always open the door for a woman getting in the car.
“Whenever you plan on taking me somewhere nice.” She responded gracefully, closing her car door receiving her last lung full of his cologne Drakkar Noir. His top button was loosened just at the tie he wore.
She headed home. He repeated her phone number to himself, in the same cadence from the melody of her voice so it would stick in his memory. He didn’t even bother writing it down. Whenever a man wants something, its extraordinary the power he attains, and in this case an unshakeable memory. Later that week he gave her a call and they agreed he would pick her up from her mother’s house.
Elroy’s intentions were to get to know a woman who he thought was beautiful. He had no ulterior motives, just wanted to continue what he experienced in the library: sharing a smile with this woman. He did what any smart man would do, he made sure that his first impression was met with approval from her mother. Objective met.
Time had passed, Nikki and Monica were telling their grandmother how much they liked Mr. Elroy because of how nice he was, and their grandmother would always reply, “Me too he’s a good man.”
Now ask yourself what merits a man to gain the status of being good. It can’t be him showing or spoiling a woman, but gifts are temporary. Would you agree that it’s all contingent on his actions? Does he have principles? What are they? Is he responsible? Accountable for his actions? Is he consistent? Ultimately, can you respect him of who he is? What merits integrity? It must be the sum of his actions to be representative. His intentions must be sincere and not carry any ulterior motives; at least, what is perceived.
Elroy sincerely loved Michelle.
He loved her two daughters and made sure they knew it. He continued to call her mother “ma’am” and occasionally would visit when Michelle, who was one year done with college, was at work. He was in love with an independent single mother and everyone believed that would never change.
But you can never say never, nothing is perfect, and forever isn’t always forever or even always. Seven years after her first, and three years after her last, Michelle just sore breasts, random nausea, and that monthly visit she usually received was more than a little late-she was pregnant. This was her third pregnancy. She could tell you word for word what it said in the ‘expecting’ book that every doctor recommends reading, but she couldn’t deny that she was nervous and scared.
Overnight she became an emotional cyclone: crying, shouting, and telling Elroy that he didn’t understand. The truth was that he didn’t, because she didn’t tell him she was pregnant. All he knew was that he was the recipient to her emotions and hormones, receptive to whatever shit she had on her mind. He was oblivious, but he had his pride and sometimes a man’s pride is stronger than his will.
Pride is like a gift and a curse with men. It makes us stubbornly principled or what we think is being in tune with our integrity. Truth is letting it go can be humbling and make us feel vulnerable. And that’s so hard for us to do because manhood, never comes with a manual just a bunch of social constructs that are unwritten but somehow set in stone.
She finally told him after three weeks of being scared, three weeks of not letting him touch her, three weeks of him thinking that she changed and wasn’t feeling him anymore. His pride played tricks on his ego, and he wanted answers. She finally told him the good news that the woman he fell in love with, was carrying his child and not a grudge. He was happy and caught bout of convenient amnesia, making everything else irrelevant.
Months past and after several visits to the doctor he finally knew the sex of the baby. “It’s a boy.” A phrase that kings and pharaohs prayed to hear. Elroy continued doing all the things that brought him this far with Michelle: treating her with respect, never alienating her daughters, and being a man in every capacity of how the world defines manhood. He was still in love with this independent single mother.
If someone is accustomed to working to take care of their own, all by themselves, never asking for help, it’s going to be hell trying to interfere with their independence. It’s their survivor skill. It’s the embodied verb of the same pride I described previously. It is to keep from being in a vulnerable state. Elroy wanted Michelle to quit working, marry him, and live happily ever after under his wing. She just had to enjoy the comforts of riding out the rest of the pregnancy at home. Or maybe I should say discomfort. She didn’t see it quite the same.
Her perception was that she still had two months until maternity leave, enough time to save up even more money for herself and two daughters. She wasn’t ready to get married and wasn’t willing to relinquish her independence a la to become dependent on Elroy. It’s hard to submit after you built yourself up after feeling torn down over the years. That’s was her internal conflict.
They would argue about it throughout the pregnancy as he rubbed her belly and kissed her naval all the way up to the time she said, “my water just broke.” And without him saying a word, he responded nervous and frantic. Just to preserve Elroy reputation for maintaining a calm and composed demeanor, I’ll fast forward a little bit to where there was 7 lbs and 6 oz of a blessed and healthy baby boy.
Months past, Barrington was pulling himself on the middle table and smiling. Elroy came home to his legacy and two step-daughters, from a long day of work. Due to mounting bills, and against Elroy’s wishes, Michelle started working again. This pulled at his ego and preyed upon his pride. All he could interpret from it all was that he wasn’t efficient as a father. Elroy and Michelle argued daily, she thought he was insecure but to defend his pride he couldn’t allow the world to see that he lacked being the head of the household. Those mixed signals led to them ending their relationship. However, this is an only introduction to his story, Barrington, the last of the gentleman.