Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Post 23: Tales from the Smile Box, Part IV

You know I like my little smile box.

And since I've been working on my 40 posts goal, I've returned to it often, trying to decide what I want to use from it.

A few of my favorite scripture are in the box.

One of which I wanted to discuss today:

Proverbs 13:20 (Message Version)

To become wise, walk with the wise. Hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.

Yeah man, I like the Message version of that verse, as it is a swift kick in the teeth.

Seems simple enough, don't it? And you know it's true. I don't know about you, but I see it everyday.

If someone's successful, look carefully at the company they keep. Look at their friends, their mentors, and their influences.

If someone's unsuccessful, look carefully at the company they keep. Look at their friends, their mentors, and their influences.

Seems to me that one clue to the wisdom or idiocy of a person is the company they keep.

When I think of this verse, I think of a young lady I met when I lived down in New Orlea.ns.

And she's one of the most memorable people I've ever met.

Now, I lived in New Orleans from 1998-mid 2001. I was there doing a postdoctoral fellowship with the Department of Agr.iculture. I had an apartment in an area of the city known as New Orlea.ns East.

I lived upstairs from an interesting chick. She was about my age, had two children. She lived with her mother and her brother.

Her name was Bernadette. Very nice girl, but she was a little slow. Not much, but just a tad. You know, you can tell when folks are a bit slow.

But she was real nice nevertheless. I don't talk to you if I don't know you (one of my worst idiosyncrasies). And I would say hello in passing. That was the way that was for a year or so.

I know she use to hem my husband up outside, as he was always very extroverted and talked to anyone. I always told him that he could walk into a room full of non-English speaking Chinese, and as long as they had some beer up in there, he'd get along just fine.

And it was the same with this chick. She'd catch him outside, and talk his ear off. To the point where when he'd come in the house, he'd be like "Lee, why didn't you come rescue me? That girl know she can talk."

Now, I knew if HE said the girl was talkative, then she was talkative indeed.

Well, somehow, she started talking to me. I'm not sure how that happened. I think we may have been caught in the laundry room together. And we struck up a conversation.

I found her to be talkative, but she was SO full of hopes and dreams, for herself and her children. I'd never met anyone who thought about so much stuff.

I told her what I did for a living. She was so amazed.

I remember her telling people. "This is my neighbor, Dr. LadyLee. She's a Bayou Chemist!"


(Man, I don't even know what a bayou chemist is. I'm STILL trying to figure that one out. I never corrected her. Just let her run with that. Blogger Ali, maybe you can hip me to the "Bayou" thing, lo;.)

I thought she was interesting. Me and my ex- use to talk about her. "That doggone Bernadette is a trip. Always trying to do something, always thinking about stuff."

All I know, she liked me alot. When I'd come home from work, and if she was outside, she wanted to know about my day at work. If I didn't have a good day, she always came with the encouragement. She even spent time trying to think up different ideas about what I was doing. (Now that was interesting.)

I had 2 cats, so her kids immediately liked me for that reason. "Miss Lee, could you bring the cats outside?"

I could bring out Oscar-Tyrone. (Not my other cat, Jeremy. That sucker was very mean, and didn't like children.)

Oscar-Tyrone didn't care for kids, but I could bring him out and sit on the steps and let them rub him. The 3-year-old in particular really liked to seranade Oscar. The first time she asked if she could sing to him, well, I thought she would sing some nursery rhymes or something.

Nope, that little girl would stretch her arms wide and sing Sade's "Cherish the Day", loud and strong like she was on stage.

(Interesting. But we got use to that. Never seen a child that young so enamored with Sade.)

They were nice people. Bernadette didn't work. I think they were on Section 8. (I didn't ask.)

I wasn't around much, due to my working long hours and my marital isshas. But if she saw me, she was coming my way. One time she dragged me up to the local mosque, and I watched her debate with leadership about having to wear the traditional garb. Not sure why she wanted to be a muslim so bad, but she went to church with me one day, and my pastor talked her out of it. (Yeah, she talked that man's ear off, too.)

She saw that my car had messed up, and that my hubby's car had been repossessed, so she would let me ride with her whenever she ran to Wal-mart, if I needed to go. (She had a PHAT stereo system in her van. She was partial to the Hot Boys and Master P... And she would play some Sade for the children, of course, lol).

It was on one of those little rides to the store with her that I came across my New Or.leans church home. We had to drop her brother off at the church. It was a nondenominational church (which I prefer), a few minutes from our apartments. I'd never seen it before, but was immediately interested. I remember sitting outside that church, watching him walk in thinking, "God, if you help me get a car, I'm coming to this Church."

(I bought a car a couple of weeks later. Started attended that church. Loved-ed it! Hated to leave!)

Very interesting chick indeed.

But one day she told me something that truly truly amazed me. Something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

"LadyLee," she said one day when we were washing and folding clothes, "I decided some time ago that I would make it my purpose to make sure I'm around the right people. People who got goals and dreams, people who trying to do something positive with themselves. Because I've figured out, if I can just be in their presence, it will help me think big and think positive, for me and my children. I make sure I don't spend my time around people who aren't about anything. That's where people get into trouble. It's all about who you spend your time around. It's very important."

Now that was a paraphrase. That was the gist of what she said. She's a wordy chick, so I am sure she said more. I know before I left that laundry room with my baskets full of folded clothes, I understood fully what she meant. I even spent time writing about that in my journal. I thought about it for days on end.

And when I came across Proverbs 13:20 in my Message Bible, I circled it. I thought "THAT'S what Bernadette meant. That's what she meant right there."

To become wise, walk with the wise. Hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.

That is a truth indeed, and I've thought much about it over the years. I am fully convinced that if you have yourself a good set of friends, you solve 99% of your problems.

That's a bold statement, but you know it's true. We're all important, as important as the Queen of England. We all have entourages. If you have people surrounding you who can impart good advice that put you on the right path... Man, that's worth more than it's weight in gold.

And I truly understand the seriousness of such. I refuse to deal with people who act foolishly. It's not gonna happen. Friend or family or foe.

Not going down. And it's alright for those people to dislike me. Really it is. I don't want to fool with them anyway.

I tend to like and be attracted to folks who have dreams and goals. People who, if things aren't going well, then they hang on to and work their faith. I like people who are very different from me, and very different from the crowd. I like people who think in their mind "I must move forward. I must do better."

For they influence me, you see. And they influence me in the right direction.

So I am thankful for that little verse being in my smile box. It reminds me to be cognizant of who's in my environment.

I don't know what became of Bernadette. Our apartment complex was destroyed during the Storm.

I know one thing: she's still making sure she's around good wise people. For her own sake and for the sake of her children.

And she's someone who I'm glad came across my life's path.

I am thankful for the impact she made upon my life, for letting me know how critically important it is to be around great people.

Because she was herself a truly great person.


  1. Good point. I find that sometimes we go into situations thinking we can be a positive influence on the knuckleheads in our lives. You know, change them. Yet, more times than not it works the other way around. I wonder why that is.

  2. It's amazing how once "random" people come into our lives only for a brief time, but leave lasting impressions!

  3. Very true indeed.

    My told me something similar when I was growing up. I use to get mad at her b/c she wouldn't approve of me hanging around certain friends. Some of these friends were negative, grew up around negativity and that's all they knew. And guess what? Those people are still negative, causing argreements all on FB, and basically doing nothing with their lives.

  4. Its amazing how you remember the minute details of people that come in and out of your life. It's like your mind is always writing a story. At any rate, my Aunt used to do the same as Tracy's parents. I didn't know why, but now I see why. I do the same thing with Tyler. If I hear of a kid being a trouble maker, he ain't going to that kid's house. They can come over here b/c I'd get their behinds in line but he definitely ain't going over to their place.

  5. The Green Eyed Bandit1:24:00 PM

    Lee, I think you have heard me quote "People will either add/multiply or subtract/divide your life." Figure out what people are doing and cut those who are taking away from you being a better person.

    It is good to try to steer people on the right track, but if you are around more people you are trying to steer right, you will start drifting wrong.

  6. Great post, you know I'm still laughing at the "Bayou Chemist" It's a regional thing...with so many bayou's around, I guess it just gets to you.
    Bernadette saw something in you that was going to help her be a better person. She may have been slow but, she was wise indeed.

  7. I love your 40 day posts. I am learning a lot about, and thinking a whole lot about my life. Thanks, Ladylee

  8. Wow. You have the best stories!!

    I have been texting my son bible verses every few days. When I read this one here, I knew I had to send it. Usually, he doesn't respond back. But to this message he sent a "Thank you". So, I know it hit home for him.

    Thank you for sharing. I always take something away from you blog that I can use in my life. Always.


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