They say every story is a love story. In the case of Michael Gonzales, long-term soulhead.com contributor, this is one of his love stories. Wriiten for Cuepoint, a production of Medium, this piece “Mahogany and Me”, this small bildungsroman looks at life in Baltimore in the 70’s from the perspective of a teen boy and the girl next door. But here’s is where this love story becomes unconventional; their relationship is platonic, but their love for Diana Ross is deep and abiding. Here’s an excerpt to this well written piece, illuminated by timeless photography.
A day after my sixteenth birthday on June 23, I walked the two blocks to the office located inside a renovated row house. Inside, the walls were painted blue and overhead rows of fluorescent lights gently hummed. Slowly walking to the front room, an overweight light-skinned woman sat at a paper-cluttered desk.
My mom sent me, I blurted.
The lady looked me in the closely and smiled. Your mother? Who is your mother?
Frances Gonzales. My name is Michael.
Yes, yes, I remember her, she said. Her voice was heavy, but not mean. She reached into a stack of papers next to a black telephone and handed me a few sheets. Here, fill out these applications. Shy by nature, I was a little scared, but also excited. Quickly finishing, I handed the forms back and was instructed to return to the office the following Monday. And dont wear anything fancy. Youre going to be doing some real work.
On my first day, after an hour orientation covering the tedious rules and regulations, the crew was assigned to clean the streets. Mrs. Carter broke us off into groups of four, and supplied us with brooms, shovels and black plastic bags. The leader of my group was a cute girl named Virgie. Later she told me, My real name is Yvonne, but everybody calls me Virgie.
While short in stature, she was tall in attitude. Besides a little lipstick, Virgie wore no makeup. Like the rest of the bunch, Virgie usually wore t-shirts, jeans and sneakers to work. Below her neatly trimmed Afro, there were gold studs in her ears and her smooth skin was the color of pecans.
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Mahogany and Me – A Reflection by Michael Gonzales