Doubleday, E. Lynn Harris, Kingett Reads

Kingett Reads “Basketball Jones” Chapter 8

In chapter eight of Basketball Jones there’s a lot of characters that demand to be discussed. They make me feel so many feelings that thoughts spurt from my brain like gushing floods of water. This, in turn, causes me to relive memories I never thought that I would ever experience again, and even get political and preachy. You are not prepared. You are really not prepared. Intrigued? It’s time for Kingett to read Basketball Jones.

I’m not jumping into this today, because I’m totally diving in. Oh my god! Mo! I have so many feelings about Mo that it’s unreal. You are not prepared at all.

The last time that we have seen Mo, also known as Maurice was in chapter two, but it was a very brief phone call. Now, however, this chapter is focused on Mo, centrally, telling me the backstory of why he is the way that he is and what he’s planning to do for himself.

A good portion of the chapter is AJ talking on a cell phone next to a mailbox, with Mo telling AJ what he as in mind to become the next hot gay black thing this side of all gay black things, and AJ tells us, me, a lot of things about Mo.

There are a lot of things that a lot of people don’t know about Mo, AJ included. I’ve seen many people like Mo, and I know a few of them personally, but who’s Mo, exactly?

AJ makes an observation at the beginning of the chapter that beneath all of the hard shell there’s a really good guy. Mo has seen the darker side of the LGBT community, and that’s something that I am able to sympathize with without question.

I can almost determine who Mo was like at a younger age. He always had an optimistic thought to his smile, among many other things. His jubilance came in abundance, with the drizzle of positive energy gushing from him like a flowing fountain. He grows up, though, and meets a black guy by the name of Cullen, and things take a turn for the worse.

When Mo began dating Cullen things were smashing, until one night.

I wasn’t totally surprised when I found Maurice sitting in a dark house at his dining room table, candles flickering, drink in hand, distraught because after spending all day preparing a two-month anniversary dinner Maurice discovered that all Cullen’s things were gone. He had been told by another friend that Cullen had moved in with a local television anchorman who was a little better looking than Maurice and had a fatter checkbook. Making matters worse, it was Maurice who had boasted to the television personality how great Cullen was in bed and how blessed he was.

AJ and I know that Mo changed that night, and that makes me want to jump through the pages and give him the best hug in the entire world.

As fictionalized as this story is, the above is not fiction; it’s happened before to about a dozen gay men. There’s a common myth that the gay populace are some of the friendliest of people, and there’s also a bigger myth that gay people know how to have a relationship.

The LGBT community, as far as relationships go, are behind on everything. Why? Because we didn’t get a chance to express who we were at a young age. Everything happened later on in life for us, and that includes first dates and the like. Most gay men have their first date when they’re 19 or late teens, early 20s, whereas straight people are dating earlier on in life and thus, exploring who they want to have and who they don’t want to have at a younger age, and get past all the beginning drama quickly, and sooner, in life.

The many men I have dated, and I, in some aspects, are just getting our feet wet, but still, that’s no excuse for some of the things that I have seen happening, such as partners cheating, and the like. A similar situation happened to me a few years ago, and reading about Mo made me unsure about the justifications of everything.

I had been going out with this epic guy named Chris, Chris was my everything, and we even shared ice cream in the park when I was back in FL. As the time with each other grew, my affection for him grew as well, into something that I perceived to be something genuine and heartfelt. He would send me periodic texts throughout the day that would ask how I was doing, and I could tell by the replies that he really read every word I typed, every letter I punched out, and he understood the meanings and the implications. He’d congratulate me, say he’d call me after the day was done so he could console me via telephone line, even occasionally come over to my house and be with me as I paced in my living room with thoughts that could shift gravity.

Things kept growing, as we continued to be there for each other throughout the day’s, and even nights. What I didn’t know, however, was he had met a guy online and was planning to move.

All of a sudden, one day he just sent me a text saying that he was on a plane, going to Los Angeles—one hour before a big event I was going to take him to—and propose to be his boyfriend after a year of doing what we had been doing. The next day, his family confirmed that he had moved in with a model in Los Angeles. I didn’t know what to think, and that was my first slap in the face out of many, from gay guys who just didn’t want to keep something that was smooth and steady. Even though I didn’t have a car, I didn’t have a mansion, and I had a limit on my credit card, I thought that the good feelings we shared were keeping him happy. I didn’t understand why it didn’t, and I didn’t understand why he immediately jumped for some rich person without even giving me a hint beforehand.

As the years passed, whenever I would date men, they wanted something better, whatever that something was. They had huge dreams, and while that’s a slap in the face if they don’t realize that they don’t want to have something sooner rather than later, it’s what’s common among gay men, I believe, so I definitely know how Mo feels, and this makes me want to hug him even more.

A lot of the blame is in the closet. Because many people can’t experience things until later on in life, this makes gay men look shallow. We’re not, we just had to grow up and try things later than most, and that makes our drama happen later on in life, even when men are 30 years old, when straight people have lived past that and then some. In a way, they mature a lot faster than us, and I’m glad this display of the LGBT community is in here, as well as this example about the LGBT populace and “parties”:

In spite of his harsh remarks and the mean-spiritedness behind them, a small part of me actually sympathized with where Maurice was coming from. I’d never made the A-list either, and there were times when it felt as if these lavish parties were thrown to make ordinary people like Maurice and me feel like shit for not having made the grade. Make no mistake: I wouldn’t have participated in those events even if I had been invited. The self-ordained movers and shakers of the black gay social circuit held about as much interest for me as a rodeo. But for someone who’s as closely aligned with gay culture as Maurice, the sting of exclusion was clearly felt more sharply. What I couldn’t sympathize with or fully grasp was the lengths to which he’d go to right whatever wrongs he may or may not have experienced. When it comes to Mo, it’s impossible to know what’s for real.

Gay people definitely discriminate among one another, and this is even more evident today. I’m glad Basketball Jones portrays this, but it’s shocking how much common sense it has become in my mind. The LGBT community will definitely discriminate.

Let’s take HIV and people who live with HIV. There’s a myth that anyone who has HIV doesn’t want to be careful, and they just want to infect other gay people because they want to share the misery. That isn’t true, but I won’t even begin to say some of the mean things that I see on gay dating sites and the like, about people who are feminine, about people who are transgender, about people who don’t have six pack abs; there’s hatred here in our community, and Mo understands that fully, and I know why he understands it because it happened, it happens, and is happening, even as you read this.

To make up for this small blunder with Cullen, Mo wishes to throw a big party, basically, and try and be someone to ensure his subconscious that he’s someone great, not someone who deserves to be destroyed on a very special night, hence why he’s going to try and out-party this activist.

I could picture the nasty grin that had to have materialized on his face at the mention of Jackson Treat. Jackson was a tall, ruggedly handsome philanthropist who was widely respected for his work against AIDS in the African American community. That he was also a principal heir to the largest black tabloid in America only set ol’ Mo’s teeth further on edge. His green-with-envy rivalry with Jackson, who was too much the gentleman to be pulled into a catfight with the likes of Maurice, was a one-sided battle. Although I wasn’t in the mood to listen to more dirty gossip, the clownish spectacle Maurice unwittingly made of himself always had enormous entertainment value. This new gambit promised to top everything, and for once I was curious to learn to what new lengths Mo planned to go to unseat his imaginary rival.

For starters, Austin, too, was local black gay royalty. He was a rich entrepreneur who had been featured in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Black Enterprise, and Ebony, when they’d done an issue on black millionaire bachelors. The story in Ebony had been the source of endless conversation at cocktail parties since Austin was sweeter than a pair of Hostess Twinkies and didn’t care who knew about it. Naturally Maurice loathed him for his accomplishments, in fact, taking each of Austin’s newly publicized feats as a personal affront. That resentment was compounded every year when Austin failed to invite the very obviously social-climbing Mo to his very obviously nouveau-riche party.

 Do I believe that Mo is crazy? Definitely, but I can understand his need to be seen as someone important because that one incident mulled his personality, even if it doesn’t show on Mo all the time. The fact that he tries so hard to be the most noticed, influential gay black person in the town tells me that he’s torn deep down inside and this makes me want to hug Mo forever and ever!

The chapter, though, moves on to Jade coming over to AJ’s house later that night, and she asks to be his assistant. I don’t think that she should be because I don’t trust her enough to even think about throwing her somewhere, but AJ doesn’t even bat an eye when she asks. He doesn’t answer the question either, so he serves her wine and the chapter ends.

I’d never thought that this chapter would spark so many feelings within me, and would allow them to be shared like this. I hope that I see more of Mo, because perhaps I want to see him throw the best goddamn party this side of the LGBT world, because it will be a statement, even fictional, that there’s a small chance that everything will be okay.

Chapter nine next week! Stay tuned!


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