Screw the person who wrote that exposé about me. If Views Magazine thought they'd ruin this interview tonight with DJ Diaz, they're mistaken. Just goes to show that Marc's people, like him, are a bunch of hood-ass messes. To think that person, who wrote those words, drank champagne all night long on my parents' dime just to paint me as this catty and bratty bitch? Marc's ass would still be drinking Heineken in the hood if it wasn't for me. And yes, I am blaming Marc for that person’s one-sided view of my complex nature because…
I scrounge around in my clutch for my cellphone. Jeez, where the hell is my phone? Great. I just bought that damn thing, and I'm not even sure if my insurance—
“So, Rachel!” DJ Diaz screams at me and into the mic.
“Yes.” I pop up into attention. The music break is over. DJ Diaz has my book So, What If…? on the table between us. It’s showtime. And here we go…
“Welcome to L.A., love,” he says to me.
“You’re a San Fran girl.”
“But you live in La La Land now.”
“I do. I’m—”
“Are you married?” Well, that was abrupt.
“I knew that; just wanted to see what you'd say.”
“Of course, you did.”
“Rumor has it, you’re separated from your husband though.” What? Where in the hell did that come from? I steal a look at my manager/lawyer/therapist Adam, through the glass window. He’s standing outside of the radio studio looking in. His eyes grow wide as they look at me. He’s trying to tell me something. I look back at him.
Do I mention Marc or don’t I?
Oh wait, is he telling me not to look at him? Shit! He is! This is a satellite radio interview but, like most interviews these days, it's also being broadcast live over a podcast. People don't only hear me pause; they see me pause.
“Ok,” DJ Diaz says, “now I see you looking over at your manager or your lawyer or whomever he is. Dude who are you?” he asks a now smiling Adam.
I've known Adam since early this summer. I met him after I ended the school year, right as I was deciding to pursue my writing career full time. A mutual acquaintance introduced us at a comedy show Vivian, and I were attending, during one of my weekend trips to L.A. I can't remember who introduced us, I'm too important these days to remember names. Anyway, I told him that I was writer, he told me he was a lawyer and manager and that he'd love to see my work. Maybe he could help. And he did. He was the one who encouraged me to take this school year off so that I can travel on the indie and hood circuits promoting my book. Because of him, my book dropped last week and hit a few bestseller charts. Was I shocked? Hell yeah! Do I give Adam part of the credit? Hell yeah. He works with second-string athletes and B-List actors who tweeted my book and a picture of them reading it to their followers, before its release. Lo and behold, the day it released, it sold like hotcakes. Adam has my trust, and I'd love to see what he wants me to say about Marc and me. I just wish I would have told him about Marc and me. I suppose I neglected to mention Marc and my separation and the altercation we had earlier this evening, as I was rushing from the fight to get dressed for the interview.
“Listen—” I begin.
“Okay, this is the deal, baby,” DJ Diaz says. “We know your man is The Man. We get it. But quite frankly, we citizens in the hood, don’t give a shit about his job. Don’t get me wrong; him selling his antivirus software to the federal government is a big fucking deal. Okay?”
“Yeah, it is, I’m proud of him.”
“Yes, me too. Marc’s making a lot of money, and I respect that. He's getting paid. But this is the deal, we in the hood don't give a damn about antivirus software. You will never see motherfuckers in the hood walking down the street, wondering if their antivirus software is up to date. To us, Marc is the man because he's from the hood and he made it out in a big way. And he used his brain to make it out.”
“He did. Good for him.” DJ Diaz looks at me with comical confusion.
“Wait a minute now, you sound a little bitter right there! Do I detect bitterness?” And here we go with this bullshit.
“Oh okay,” he says, but gives me a look and a nod that says my tone showed up on his bitter radar. “So, like I was saying, I don’t know what people are saying about Marc on the national or local news because I don’t listen to that kind of news. I only listen to one kind of news: Hood News. And the three channels I get my news from is Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Those are the three major stations for me. And I watch Hood News religiously. So I don’t know if you and Marc are trending on the national and local level, but you’re damn sure trending on the hood level. Now, what I'm asking is, did you and Marc Isles fight tonight, as it's being reported by our freelance hood news reporters in the field? Tink-Tink and Lil' Nell and all dem.”
Damn! I just beat up Marc three hours ago, and already the story is making the rounds in LA.? Whatever happened to the days where a domestic dispute was under the I'm-Not-In-This law? Goodness, you can't even trust your neighbors anymore.
“Are you and Marc Isles still together?” DJ Diaz now asks. I give DJ Diaz a laugh as I shake my head. I’m not about to go into this. He looks at me with a raised eyebrow. “Can I take that as an “It’s complicated”? Isn’t that what they say on Facebook when you’re sleeping with someone, but you don’t hold hands with them in public?”
I look over at Adam for emotional support. Adam closes his eyes. I just messed this up. I smile wider and look at DJ Diaz.
“I'm married,” I tell him. It's the truth.
“But are you with your husband?” Let’s see if I can dodge this question.
“Yeah, he's in L.A. right now,” I say happily and full of bubbly charm.
“Uh uh, sista. You know that's not what I meant.”
“I'm married to Marc Isles. He's my husband.”
“But are you separated?” Well, not legally. But don't blame that on me, blame that on my subculture.
Marc and I have been—I guess you can say—illegally separated for three months. The only reason I haven't gone through a legal separation is because black people don't go through the courts to end a marriage; they just tell their partner to fuck off and then move on. It's not odd to learn at Uncle Todd's funeral that, though he was engaged to Aunt Joanne, he was still married to Aunt Sharon. And by the way—who the hell is Aunt Sharon? Has anyone ever met her? And will Aunt Joanne and Aunt Sharon fight over Uncle's Todd's death benefits? Because trust me, though Aunt Sharon hasn't seen Uncle Todd in decades, she still feels entitled to his social security and WHY THE HELL WEREN'T THEY LEGALLY DIVORCED!! It's been twenty years! Because black people don't divorce. But saying that may hurt my book sales because my book is about a couple from opposite tracks of life, making it work, and growing famous in the process.
My fictional novel is actually my factual autobiography; a collection of diary entries that document Marc and my love affair from college until the day after we married. Hood girls love the book for one reason: it proves that there are hood guys, with street cred, who can be good guys without being corny as hell. Because this is every black woman's innate fear. Hood guys love the book because it talks about a guy who came from nothing and ended up with everything. My book gives everyone hope. The fact that readers acknowledge that I based it on my marriage is why it's flying off the shelves. People want to know what's going on with Marc and me. They want to know our story. If I say I'm separated, what's the point of reading the book? It becomes nothing but a fairytale. If Marc and Rachel break up in real life, then Simone and Jax, the leading lady and leading man of my book, break-up after that fabulous wedding on Martha's Vineyard. No; I won't let Marc kill my book sales.
“My name is Rachel Isles,” I say to DJ Diaz.
“Mm! Okay, you heard it here first! Rachel said she don't care what the hell's going on with Marc, she still got his last name and always will, goddammit. She don’t care about you hood-hoes chasing her man around. She got the last name.”
No… that’s not what I said but, let’s go with it.
I smile but say nothing more.
“Now, your husband’s worth a lot of money. Last I checked, which is every fifteen minutes, he’s worth some millions, baby!”
“That’s a lot of money,” I say with a smile and laugh.
“It damn sure is! And you know what I like about him? And it's not that he's fine as hell because that's what all the ladies are talking about. ‘His fine dark chocolate ass.' Y'all ladies be killing me! Ya'll done made Marc the new Idris Elba and shit. But I'm not talking about his dick; I'm talking about his brains. His brains got him to where he is right now, and I respect him for that. I keep saying that because I mean it. I respect Marc Isles. Everybody in the hood knows that Marc's brother is a big-time dope man. And—”
“Trev isn't a dope boy,” I say to him. Let's get that straight right now.
“That’s not what I hear. I hear that Trev’s still ruling Elysian Fields, he’s just low key about it.” No; I’m not allowing this interview to go there.
“Listen,” I say, “I don’t want law enforcement to hear this interview and start going after Trev. Trev is clean. He owns a string of tires shops in Elysian Fields and around the rest of L.A. He works hard, he’s married, and he and his wife are on their fourth baby. Trev’s not a dope boy. He’s an entrepreneur.”
“My bad, I should have put ‘alleged’ behind that statement. You’re right.”
“No, it's not alleged.” I'm not budging on the Trev conversation. Trev isn't a dope man anymore, and I don't need this interview with me to stir up trouble for him. “He's not in the dope game.”
“Fair enough.” DJ Diaz gives me a small bow, surrendering to this argument. “Where I was going with this though, is that Marc was raised around questionable circumstances and yet, he chose to use his brain to get him a better life.”
“Yeah, Marc’s always been wicked with his math skills.”
“Well, he’s a genius. He is considered a genius, right?”
“He is; he’s a member of Mensa.”
“Wow! That's attractive to you, isn't it?” He smiles and winks at me and I already know what's he's attempting to do. He's trying to lure me into a sexual conversation about Marc, which is atypical for this type of interview. But this is the thing, I may be traveling through the hood circuit because this is where my career lies, but Marc's career is on an entirely different playing field. He's had a meeting with some big honchos over at the Pentagon recently. The president of the United States met with him last week. Marc is a software developer who just created the software that the United States of America will use to compete in the world's technological warfare. There's no way in the world I can sit here and talk about Marc's dick size.
“You know what’s really attractive to me?” I say to DJ Diaz.
“What’s that?” He says, full of expectancy.
“A woman who makes her own money. Because that’s who I am. But for some reason, from the moment I’ve sat down, this entire interview has been about the man beside me. Who, might I add, isn’t even here. So, with all due respect, if you want to land an interview with Marc, reach out to his lawyer, Sean. But if you want to continue this interview with me, let’s talk about the reason why I’m here. And that reason is the book I’ve created. Deal?”
“Oh shit, I think you’re mad at me.”
“No, I’m not mad. I just think you’re unqualified for this interview.” And now I can see Adam, in my peripheral view, moving his hands wildly from outside the radio studio. He's telling me to stop. Don't piss off the DJ. This guy has millions of followers. You'll be labeled a feminist, and they aren't trending right now. Plus, your target market doesn't understand feminism; feminists are women who are white, Ivy League graduates from Boston and Manhattan. They aren’t Tammy and Yvette from 46th and Row. Not only that, you may ruffle the feathers of the interviewer and start an argument on air. He may get the best of you because he's trained to be quick-witted. And please remember, after your airtime is over, his goes on. He'll continue to have the ear of the hood circuit. He'll talk about you like a dog; he'll call you a bitch. You'll ruin your career just as it's peaking.
Don’t ruin this, Rachel!
“You’re right,” DJ Diaz says to me.
Adam stops waving his arms.
DJ Diaz agrees with me? And he sounded sincere?
“I apologize,” he adds. Not exactly an ‘I'm sorry, ' but I’ll take it.
“So, let me tell you something about me,” I say to him with a smile.
“Oh, you’re taking over the interview now!”
“Do I have a choice?” DJ Diaz laughs. I smile at him.
I forgive you.
My career isn't about Marc, it's about me.
“So, Rachel,” DJ Diaz says. “Tell me…” And he drifts off into a question, but I’m looking at Adam because he’s wiping his face with a hankie. (And why is Adam, a guy almost as tall as Marc, walking around with a hankie?)
“Do you feel the same way?” I hear DJ Diaz asks. I immediately turn my attention back to Diaz. “Do you feel that good-girls, like Simone in your book, are infatuated with hood-guys like Jax?” Honestly, if Marc and I weren't going through a bitter non-divorce, I would say Jax isn't a hood guy; he's just a guy from the hood. I wouldn't want Marc to think that I see him as hood or uncultured. But, since Marc and I are on the outs, I want him to feel horrible about himself. I want him to believe that he is labeled according to where he's been, and not where he's headed. I want him to feel that there is no hope in trying to be or do better because it will never matter. So I don't correct DJ Diaz.
“Good-girls love hard,” I tell him. “And we tend to love the wrong guys even harder. Without giving the book away, I'd say that Simone—who is the protagonist in the book—should've fallen for a guy who smiles when she enters the room. Not someone who winks. Like Jax does.”
“Wait! I wink.”
“Never trust a winker!”
“Wait a minute; a woman can't trust a winker?”
“No. Absolutely not.
“I don't want to give the book away,” he says for the courtesy of his radio listeners, “but winking is what Jax does when Simone walks into the room. He's wink. And what you're saying, Rachel, is that winking isn't genuine.”
“Nothing's as genuine as a smile. I wish I could walk into Simone's story and tell her that.”
“Nothing's as genuine as a smile. I wish I could walk into Simone's story and tell her that.”
“Damn. I gotta switch my game up.” He laughs. “Because your manager, he's a smiler.” He points off camera to Adam. “You all can't see him but, her manager or lawyer or who over he is—what's your name, dude?”
Adam, Adam mouths.
“Adam—such a proper name—Adam is a smiler. Okay, you heard it right here, fellas. We need to be more like Adam.” I laugh at DJ Diaz on cue. He introduces a song that will serve as a break for me as he begins texting on his cellphone. “We’ll be back, my people!” he screams outs as he puts his cellphone into his pocket. I steal a glance at Adam.
I’m doing well, aren’t I!
But Adam’s frowning into his phone. Something’s wrong.