“My dad was a pimp.”

The following is an excerpt from I Got There by JT McCormick:

During the 1970s, the car of choice for any black man, especially a pimp, was a Cadillac. My dad fit the part to a tee. He drove a red Eldorado Cadillac, with candy-apple red leather seats, red carpets, and a red exterior.
He loved that car, and when he picked you up, you were barely allowed to breathe on the seats. You couldn’t touch anything, and your feet had to stay on the carpets.
I remember one time when Dad was driving me, two of my half brothers, and one of his women. We had just left the fast-food place Wendy’s, and the woman was holding a bag of burgers and fries in her lap. My dad and the woman started to argue. It got heated quickly (which wasn’t a surprise).
Dad barreled down the four-lane highway, weaving in and out of traffic, and zipping by cars. As their voices rose, they started talking faster and faster, and got angrier and angrier. My eyes darted from the traffic outside my window to the front seat.
Suddenly, the paper bag crinkled as the woman reached inside, snatched a burger, and flung it as hard as she could at my father. The burger ricocheted off the side of his face and plopped onto the seat between them.
I held my breath and tried to keep from laughing as I thought, Oh damn! You got stuff on Dad’s car? I can’t believe you did that! That’s game over!
Recalling this memory, it’s sad that what raced through my mind wasn’t that the woman dared to throw something at my dad. No, it was that she dared to get my dad’s red Eldorado Cadillac dirty by throwing a greasy hamburger at him.
As I said, I don’t think my dad loved anything more than he loved his car—not his kids and certainly not his women. Even more heartbreaking was that as a young kid, even I knew this truth about him.
My laughter disappeared when my father slammed on the brakes and jammed the gear stick into park in the middle of the lane on the busy highway.
My half brothers and I glanced at one another. I saw the same nervousness in their eyes that I felt in myself. We watched our father get out of the car, walk around to the passenger side, yank the door open, and drag the woman out of the car by her hair. He then beat her, Rodney King style, as cars whizzed by on the busy highway.
When he was done kicking and punching her, he grabbed her purse and dumped everything in it over her head. Then he leaned back into the car and grabbed the bag of Wendy’s and dumped the food on top of her, too.
Satisfied, he casually strolled back to his side of the car, slid behind the wheel, and popped the car into drive. As we drove away, leaving the woman crying in the middle of the highway, he glanced over his shoulder at the three of us.
“So, where do you boys want to go to eat?” he asked us, as if nothing had happened.

Get JT’s book I Got There on Amazon.

Listen to JT’s interview on Author Hour.

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