Tyra Banks

“You know Tyra Banks?” I asked.  Someone in the office had tipped me.  “I’m her aunt,” Gloria smugly replied.  You must be from the dark side of the family, I thought but for once thankfully kept my mouth shut.  Now I was embarrassed and not a little shamed.  Surely sitting just a few desks from mine Gloria’s heard my rants about male Negroes not being able to walk out of the house without committing a felony.  Damn.  And I be liking my Tyra.  Gloria never said much at work but noticed everything.  Know everything and say nothing.  A good policy if working for the county.  Wish I had learned it.  Might have saved me a lot of grief.  Maybe made a little mo money.

One night after work I saw a copy of Jet Magazine in a liquor store.  My girl was on the cover.  I picked it up read it and dropped it off on Gloria’s desk the next day when she was elsewhere.  A week passed before she found out I was the one who left it on her desk.

One day Gloria stopped by and this time dropped a note on my desk.  “Ty is going to be in L.A. at the Beverly Center for a book signing.  Go meet her,” she commanded.  On the note was the date and time and place.  “I’m not standing in line with a thousand screaming thirteen-year-old girls just to meet Tyra Banks,” I ungratefully said.  “Oh be a man and just go meet her,” she chastised me.

My whole life has been one long humiliation so what’s one more I thought.  On the big day I was in line at the Beverly Center with the other thirteen year olds.  Tyra shows up with a giant Negro bodyguard/chauffeur escorting her and the line quickly dissipated as Tyra began signing her new book.  I’m next in line to get my copy signed when black Goliath gently puts his hand on my left shoulder.  I get it.  It’s non verbal guy talk that only guys can understand.  That touch is him telling me don’t be stupid and do anything crazy.  While he was checking me out as a potential security threat I was checking out the scene for the same reason.  I’ve always been security conscious wherever I’m at.  Maybe it’s the latent cop in me or my study of the JFK assassination and its aftermath but I can’t go anywhere without doing my own mental security check.  I noticed black Tarzan in front of Tyra but she was exposed from the rear.  Any freak could appear from behind her and it takes only a moment for lives to be changed forever.  I don’t like it.  At least the bookstore could provide an employee to just hang out behind and near her during the book signing.  Later I would assure Gloria that security for Tyra was fine and she looked relieved.

Tyra in person is so shy.  The whole model persona must be a separate personality she has to adopt.  The professional Tyra.  I prefer shy Tyra.  So feminine.  Makes you want to protect her.  She asked me who the book was for.  I asked her to make it out to Chelsea, my niece.  Tyra took considerable time to think of something thoughtful to write.  I took the book back and started to walk away.  After a couple of steps I realized my rudeness and turned and said, “Thank you.”  She smiled.  I almost bowed and added, “Your cuteness” but caught myself.  Sometimes I need to keep my mouth shut and other times let it fly.  I should have let it fly this time but feared a slap down from Gloria later.

The next day Gloria asked me how it went and what specifically did I say and how did Tyra respond and I told her.  Gloria asked me what my address was and I gave it to her.  A short time later I received an 8’ 10” head shot of Tyra and she had written, Mike Calder – Best Wishes, Tyra Banks.  Right back at you doll.

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