Book Feature: Womanish: How She Survived by Angelia Vernon Menchan

I am quite excited to share an excerpt from Womanish: How She Survived by Angelia Vernon Menchan with everyone this afternoon. I have heard excellent things about this book and it has been added to by TBR list. This is definitely some “grown folks” reading!!!

What is WomanIsh? It’s all the things women go through. The day to day Ish, the man Ish, the raising kids Ish, the I earn lots of money but still want to be cherished Ish, the I’m more than my womb Ish… The what you mean I’m old Ish… Sound familiar? Every Woman Has Ish… 

WomanIsh is born of choices women make and how similar yet different our lives can be. Several women share Fictionalized Truths of sections of their lives. They are bold, honest and even raw and their only intent is to share in hopes another woman can perhaps learn what to do or not to do by observance without having to experience it. 

He Was Mine First: A Story of Justification

Her feet were on the coffee table, a can of beer beside her feet. Marcel curls covered her small head and she was clearly feeling no pain. There had been the consumption of several twelve ounce cans of beer. The room smelled of women, black women; that scent of perfume, mixed with the sweetness of hair grease and a curl of smoke from a cigarette. 
“I didn’t want to marry him, so he married her. I got married and moved away but when I returned free, he became mine again.” A couple of the women nodded but one woman asked ‘the’ question.
“What about his wife. He’s been married to that woman for years. Doesn’t she matter?”
Picking up her beer can, she took a sip, squinting at the audacity of the younger woman to question her. Placing the can on the table, she sat up, removing her feet from the table and squaring her shoulders. The younger woman flinched internally but didn’t look away. She really wanted to know how the other woman felt.
“He was my man first…” She said emphatically as if that was the only answer necessary. Yet for the next answer she told her story, their story. 
He walked in the bar and I noticed him immediately. He was tall and handsome and very well dressed with dark skin. All the things I like in a man. I knew who he was. He was arrogant and brash and though it was 1947 he had money. I never thought he would approach me, I was dark skinned, short with no curves to speak of but I had nice big breasts and my legs weren’t bad. I also wore thick glasses but they were stylish. I was dressed though, always dressed. That night I was wearing a gold straight dress with satin heels and my lips were red. When I saw him stroll towards me, I turned away and picked up my glass filled with beer. 
“You saw me…” He said and I felt his breath on my neck. He smelled like a man of spicy cologne and lifebuoy soap. I didn’t turn to him but continued sipping my beer. 
Walking around me, he took my glass from my hand and sat it on the counter before lifting my chin with three fingers. 
“You saw me and you know I saw you. Come on let me take you for a ride.” 
He said. I didn’t say anything but I picked up my beer and my purse and followed him. He drove to the Pimbleton Hotel, a nice hotel for Negroes. I looked at him and he assured me I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to. After several hours in his presence I did everything I wanted to and he wanted me to. I was twenty six and enjoyed men but no man ever touched me like that. He told me that night he was my man and I was his woman. He was widowed. His young wife died in childbirth. He also told me he had other women. He said it like it was normal and it was. I had never known a faithful man, not even my father. 
For six years we did what we did how we did and he asked me to marry him. I asked if he would still be him. He said he was offering me the house, the car and him but also what we already had. The women wouldn’t stop and I would just be Mrs. So and So. No thanks. 
He married someone else and I married another. For years we were apart but one night almost thirty years later we ended up in the same place again. He was still married to her and I was divorced from him. As if no time passed we were together again until he died twenty years later. He never stopped being married to her. The house he purchased me was two streets over from theirs and we knew who the other was. She ignored me and I ignored her. When he died I didn’t dress in black or attend his funeral, he had a wife for that.
In fact I sat on my porch in a gold dress, the same color I wore when I first met him and watched the procession drive by. I knew she was in the limousine behind the hearse that carried his body. I was now in my seventies and had long stopped drinking beer or painting my lips red and could not bop or lindy hop any longer. In fact the last five years of our time together was spent sitting and talking. The love was still there but all the fire that had once consumed us was banked. He was her husband but he was mine, first. That was how I felt.


In her 84th year I sat talking to her and asked if she regretted her time spent with another woman’s husband. She squinted at me in that way she had and didn’t answer directly at first. She did ask me a question. 
“Have you ever been a fool for a man?”
“Yes ma’am. But as soon as I realized I was being a fool I stopped.” She nodded smiling.
 “I know. We often talk about you. We are proud. But I didn’t stop being a fool for him because I loved him and felt he was always mine even when he was married to her. He married her because he couldn’t marry me. You see I could be his woman and accept the other women but I couldn’t be his wife and accept it. That part didn’t make sense to me. What I said probably doesn’t make sense to you. But I’ll say this, if I were twenty seven now I wouldn’t settle for any of that; even if I met him first. You and a couple other young women taught this old hen that. Yes you did.”

Buy Womanish here!

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