[Editor's note: Rap pioneer and Geto Boys member Willie D answers reader questions for our sister paper, Houston Press. Something on your mind? Ask Willie D!]
Photo courtesy of Peter Beste
Dear Willie D:
Three years ago I was involved in a major accident that left me partially crippled. Recently I was awarded a large settlement for pain and suffering and to pay for medical expenses. Before I could go to the bank and cash the first check, my relatives and friends came at me with a barrage of requests to borrow money. Some of the people who contacted me for money I hadn't heard from in years.
I live modestly so the only big purchases I made were repairs to my house, and I bought each of my four siblings a new vehicle. In the first month alone I wrote so many checks to people borrowing money that I went through two checkbooks. None of the checks was for over $5,000, but I was writing them so fast I didn't realize I had already loaned out over $168,000.
That's money I know I'll never get back, but it's okay because it made me feel good to help them out. Even so, once I started telling people no, most of them stopped calling and coming around. I retained a lawyer to set up a trust for my kids and me, so we will have a comfortable future. But I'm wracked with guilt for telling my relatives no whenever they ask for money because I know they need it. How do I rid myself from feeling culpable for their financial distress?
Wracked With Guilt:
People are in the position they're in for a reason. You rid yourself of culpability by giving yourself permission to say no. It's okay to say no because you didn't put your relatives in the bind they're in. It's your money and you have the right to spend it how you want.
I used to have a problem saying no until I had to file for bankruptcy and couldn't collect on those outstanding family loans. Now I wake up in the morning, look into the mirror and practice saying no just in case somebody calls me begging for money.
If you don't remember anything else, remember this. If the banks won't loan your relatives money and they're in the business of loaning money it's probably not a good idea for you to do it. Don't confuse love for your family with exploitation.
MOVING TOO FAST?
Dear Willie D:
I met a very nice guy one month ago and married him yesterday; of course my family thinks I'm out of my mind for marrying him so quickly. My sister and mother say that I don't know enough about him but I disagree. I know that he loves me and he treats me very good. I feel it's right because we click. We are on our honeymoon at the moment. The reason I'm writing to you is because of a comment a woman made tonight.
We were at a show seated at a table with her and her husband. When I mentioned that we married within one month of knowing each other, she jokingly told both of us to have fun while it lasts. We laughed and blew her off, but the remarks are stuck in my head.
I expect query from my family members because that what families do but for a total stranger to say something like that I'm really starting to get nervous. What have I gotten myself into?
I need to clear my head. Any comments from you and your readers would be immensely appreciated.
First I'll give you the bad news. The divorce rate is astronomical for people who marry too quickly. One month isn't enough time to get the scent of your last boyfriend's cologne off your pillows, let alone get married. Of course there are exceptions. There are also those who dated for five years, got married and then divorced shortly thereafter. But in most cases the marriages of people who don't take the time to get to know who they're climbing into bed with will typically end much sooner than those who do.
Quick story: my oldest brother Warren was dating a woman and he told me everything was going great. He raved about how wonderful she was and how happy she made him. However, he said he didn't feel it would work because she was too perfect. As we sat in a booth at Church's Fried Chicken eating our lunch, as respectfully as an agitated little brother could be to his big brother, I told him to shut up and be thankful for the woman he has now.
The good news is you're still married and at this moment your husband hasn't shown you anything but love. Author Stephen Richards said, "Even though your thinking might not be right for others, just so long as it's right for you then that's all that matters." Hopefully, this helps to clear your head.
More Willie D wisdom on the next page.
ENGAGING STUDENTS THROUGH ASK WILLIE D Dear Willie D:
I'm a sociology professor at a major university. After reading your column for the past several months I decided to share one of your readers' story -- "My Ex Made Me a Dog" -- and your sagacious response. Your advice is a combination of sensibility, strength and tough love. My students were so engaged that many of them stayed several minutes after class was over to talk more.
Because your column is so informative and stimulating, I decided to give my students consideration for extra credit in reference to assignments related to Ask Willie D. Basically what I do is pick a subject from your column each week to discuss. Then the class examines your viewpoint and each student submits his or her own written response.
Since installing your advice column in the curriculum, I have noticed that my students are more engaged than before. Thank you for sharing.
The pleasure is all mine.
POLITICIANS IN SAME OFFICE TOO LONG
Dear Willie D:
I live in California and we have a politician that's been in the same office for over 20 years. The job he holds pays less than $90,000 per year but he spent over $800,000 of his personal money on his reelection campaign to stay in power. But that was crumbs compared to the $74 million New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg once spent to get reelected to a post that only pays $225,000 annually.
I smell corruption. So my question is, how does law enforcement and people who pride themselves on being so smart and astute observers of the political landscape allow politicians to get away with the crap they do?
Corruption runs so deep in the annals of American politics that people are just tired of fighting. It's obvious that many politicians are lining their pockets with back-door deals from showing favor to certain contractors, lobbyists and those with financial influence. When we vote, we vote for individuals to represent the people, not corporations, but our elected officials have sold us out. Bribes are illegal, and lobbying is no different.
If America wants to regain her integrity and trust in the world, I say ban monetary incentives for lobbyists, and put a 4-8 year term limit on all members of Congress. Oh, and when politicians violate the laws that they swear to uphold, send them on an iron vacation and force them to sit on the lap of a musclehead inmate named Big Frisky while he reads them a law book every night.
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If any of us ever want to experience a government of the people, by the people, for the people, that would be a good start.
Ask Willie D anything at askwillied.com, and come back soon for more of his best answers.