Caution as relinquishment of freedom: management of life’s equations.

Back when I was a young man, back when I still possessed virility, and hence, thoughtlessness, back in the 80s, mid-80s to be exact, I hung around with a buddy who was bad news, worse news than me. I hear he’s straightened out his act, which is good, because if he didn’t, he would be dead by now.

Back then, we both acted like idiots without regard for mortality.

I suspect I tempted fate more times than I want to consider. One wrong turn, wrong look, wrong twist of fate, and I probably wouldn’t be writing this stuff.

He liked Black chicks, raunchy fat, oily fat Black chicks with the hardest ghettotudes. He was a rough guy and he began dating this skank from South LA. She and I hated each other. But since he didn’t have a California DL, I was entrusted with driving him to the hood so he could mack with her on the dark front lawn.

The residential streets in South LA are dark (not just cause of the people) and feel like they can kill you simply with the threat of hidden murder lurking in the branches. That’s not a very PC thing to say, but it felt that way to the uninitiated from this wonderland that is East LA.

So one Saturday night my friend had me drive him down to this shithole so he could make time with his “nigga” ONS and I was so scared I sat in the car and locked the doors while they stood in the front yard. I couldn’t take my eyes of the mirrors and I was fucking positive some crazy-eyed mother-fucker was going to stick a pistol in my face and shoot me just cause.

Greater people have been killed for less, and my murder would not have shaken the earth.

There are things you do that tempt fate.

You either choose to be smart and prudent and minimize the chances (realizing that the chances are never truly extinguished, especially living in this large scumswamp that is LA) or you bluster your way into the detours of fate and do really stupid shit because it’s your right.

Back in the 80’s, I belonged to that latter group.

I didn’t think I was invincible, but I just didn’t care about my life like I do now. As you age, life becomes precious. This is a natural progression, I suppose, because old age is unnatural and a recent evolutionary commodity. We don’t know how to handle it, mentally and culturally. Youth culture, anyone?

Today I would never drive and park on a dark street in South LA. Wouldn’t do it. Admittedly, I might very well be shot dead walking down the street any day, but the point is, as you get older, you start to calculate equations in your heads, life equations, and you steer your existence toward those avenues of least resistance or danger. I play my cards as safely as possible, although I admit I initiate some consternation by saying shit I shouldn’t to people, but still, I try to stay out of harm’s way, and I would think someone like Calvin Williams would have done the same.

After Calvin Williams was wounded in a walk-up shooting in Watts five years ago, some thought he wouldn’t survive.

Williams, who fell into a coma for three months after the June 2009 shooting, slowly recovered. He still had trouble using his right hand, and he walked with a limp, but he had come a long way.

In the past, Williams had been arrested. After the shooting, he tried to stay out of trouble. He briefly enrolled in school to become a mechanic, and he took more of a role in caring for his four children: Calvin, 12, Kayla, 9, Kilin, 8, and Kelvon, 4.

He spent the evening of May 9, 2014, a Friday, with his girlfriend, her sister, and Kelvon and Kilin. They ordered pizza. Around midnight, Williams was in in the alley behind the home when shots rang out.

Bold is my own because I would hope that a 38-year-old man, after eking out survival from a near death shooting experience, would shower himself in tame prudence.

Tame prudence would involve not standing in an alley at midnight in South LA’s Nickerson Gardens. This is called “asking for it.” Whatever, I’m not here to judge Williams. It is sad that he survived a shooting in 2009 and returned to face the same fate, with a less joyous outcome, in 2014.

But I feel that his choices should be called out and his fate tempered with realism, because his aunt, Patricia Mosely, skirted the issue:

“Let this be an example that you never know what the next day is going to bring.”

True, but you do have some control over the opportunities you hand to ill fate and you can rehearse the day’s offerings up to a point by your cautious actions.

This lack of control is what differentiates the haves from the have-not’s in the United States.

Caution is relinquishment of freedom.