My lady, Yancey, changed my life. Sometimes I think she saved my life. My name is John Basil Henderson and I guess I'm what you call a former bad boy. I was the kind of dude who was getting so much play, I needed to buy condoms by the barrel. About two years ago, all that changed when I met Yancey Harrington Braxton the day before Christmas at Rockefeller Center while skating with my five-year-old nephew, Cade. Yancey walked right up and started a conversation while flirting with both Cade and myself. I loved her confidence. We were both smitten at her first hello. Yancey is, as the young dudes would say, a "dime piece" ... a perfect ten.
When I met Yancey I was in the midst of a pre-midlife crisis. I had just turned thirty-three and my childhood dream of playing pro football was already over. Wasn't shit going right for me. I was actually seeing a shrink, trying to figure out why I had such disdain for both men and women while, at times, being sexually attracted to both. I was spending too much time trying to get even with this mofo, Raymond Tyler who didn't even know how strongly I felt about him. For me, Raymond stood on that thin line between love and hate. There were so many things I liked--no, loved--about him, but I also hated feeling that way toward any man. It just wasn't right.
I had gone to the doctor to face my past--a past that included my sexual molestation by a much beloved uncle. I wrote that no good mofo a letter telling him how he had screwed up my life with his sick ass, but the mofo died before I could mail it. I was surprised at how writing shit down and talking out loud about how I was feeling helped me. But the good doctor wasn't excited about my relationship with Yancey, and when I disagreed, we parted ways. It wasn't as if he said, "If you continue in the relationship I can no longer see you, Mr. Henderson." I just stopped going and he never called to see if I was okay. I guess he didn't need the money.
There have been times in my life that were so painful that I didn't think I could share them with another living soul, but then that person walks into your life, and you don't know whether to be afraid or feel relief. You don't know whether to be afraid or feel relief. You don't know whether to run or stand still, That was the way I felt about meeting Yancey. When I told her how my father had raised me to believe that my mother was dead, which I later found out was a total lie, Yancey held me tight and I felt her tears on my naked shoulder. At times I feel as though I could tell her anything, and then I remember she is a woman and wouldn't understand some of the things I have been through and done. So, despite my bone-deep love for Yancey, I've kept some secrets about myself she just wouldn't understand.
My love for Yancey hit me hard. I guess that's the way real love works. I love the way she makes me feel like I'm the only man in a roomful of thousands. I love the way other men and women look at us when we walk hand in hand into some of New York's finest restaurants and nightclubs, or during our simple walks through Central Park. I love watching her perform on the Broadway stage and in cabarets, where Yancey charms both owners and patrons. I love the sound of her singing, not only on the stage but in the bathroom, while she sits at her vanity and brushes her hair.
But one of the things I love the most about Yancey is that she reminds me of myself. I guess both of us have taken so much shit from our families that we don't too kindly to outsiders. We are each other's best friend. To the outside world we're the diva and the dawg, but not with each other. Once I took her to Athens, Georgia, for a college football game. After the game we went to a sports bar for beer and chicken wings. The redheaded waitress with colossal breasts was diggin' me. When she served us, ole girl bent down so low I could smell her deodorant. Yancey definitely took note. So when the waitress did one more dip and looked me directly in the eyes and asked, "Can I git anything else for y'all?" Yancey stood up and said, "Yes, you can git them fake titties out of my man's face." That's my Yancey. Another time, shortly after we first started dating and I was still keeping a few freaks on the side, Yancey came over to spend the night. I came out of the shower expecting to see her lying in my bed wearing something sexy but she was fully dressed. When I asked her what was up, she told me, "I don't sleep in no bed where I can smell another woman's perfume or pussy." I got the message.
I had a gig doing sportscasting for a network, and when I became fed up with the way they were treating me, Yancey convinced me that I could do better. As we talked one evening while enjoying a late supper, I realized I wanted a business that combined my love for sports and making money. A couple of weeks later a former teammate called me looking for additional capital to expand his small sports management agency. I hadn't heard from Brison Tucker since the night the two of us went out and got messed up big time after we were both chosen in the first round of the NFL draft. Brison was injured after four years in the league, and had spent several years working in Canada as a scout. A couple of long dinners and months later, I was no longer a talking head at ESPN doing second-rate college games but a partner of XJI (X Jocks Inc.) one of the fastest-growing sports agencies in the country, with offices in New York, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, with over thirty employees. The agency is looking to add another partner and open offices in Chicago and Los Angeles.
Joining the XJI was the right move at the right time. I had made some decent money with Internet stocks and was looking for another investment. Instead of just handing over money, I joined the firm as a partner. This year alone, XJI has six potential number-one picks in the upcoming NFL draft as well as four NBA lottery picks. I personally signed three of the players. The agency also has a couple of NBA superstars who left their white agents and signed with us, as well as a couple of WNBA players and some track and field hardheads. I love what I do and I've rekindled some old friendships with my partners and made new friends with some of the players I represent. I feel a certain power when I make big-money deals for my clients, especially since the money is coming from wealthy owners who view the players as possessions. If these rich mofos want to play with my players, then I make sure they pay major benjamins.
As for me, myself, and I? We're rollin' like a bowling ball! I recently purchased a penthouse loft on Lafayette Street with twenty-six-foot-high ceilings and wood-burning fireplaces in both the living room and the master bedroom. I got a closetful of finely tailored suits and I could go months without wearing the same pair of draws or socks. Yancey and I take vacations in places like Jamaica, Fisher Island, and Paris whenever New York becomes too much of a grind. I'm doing better than I ever did when I was playing professional football.
Still, the biggest change in my life is the way I feel about women. With the love of Yancey and my sister, Campbell, I have come to view women differently for the very first time. I didn't know I had a sister until two years ago, just before I met Yancey. Turns out my mom had remarried and on her deathbed told Campbell she had a brother. She tracked me down, and suddenly I had two new women in my life. Before, I'd never have let women get that close to me.
In Campbell I see a woman determined to give her son, Cade, and husband, Hewitt, the best she has to offer. Sometimes I just like to watch her with Cade, feeding him french fries or making sure his coat is buttoned up before he goes out into the cold. I love the way she smiles and hugs him whenever he comes into a room, even when he's only been gone for a short time.
There was a time in my life when I had a lot of anger toward women. I put them in two categories: whores and sluts. The only difference is, a whore gives up the sex because she wants something material, whereas a slut just loves the sex. I have been with both, but I didn't like the power pussy had over me. Maybe my anger toward women happened because I grew up without a mother, or because I simply hadn't met the right woman. Now, thanks to Yancey and Campbell, I no longer view them as a resting place for my manhood but a place where I can rest my heart. Now don't get me wrong, I ain't whipped and I'm not ready for the choir robe and halo, I still got my tough-guy-swagger (when needed). The only difference between two years ago and today is I realize that a tough-guy swagger looks just as dumb as a robe and halo.
Excerpted from NOT A DAY GOES BY by
E. Lynn Harris
Copyright© 2000 by E. Lynn Harris. Excerpted by
permission of Doubleday,
a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt
may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.