Sunday, August 10, 2008

Growing up at the Expo: Where are they now?

These are the core friends of my son Jarim's (center--on cellphone) interesting group that I just want to publicly thank for being there from the 4th grade til today.

Although Jarim has four brothers, he chose these "brotherfriends."

Other than Duan, his cousin, (second from right) who he has been tight with since birth, the twins--Jemuel (extreme right) and Jamin were constant companions and visitors at the house. Brian, (back left), Robert and DeAndre (not pictured) and the twins were all friends Jarim met at Windsor Hills Math Science and Aerospace Magnet.

Duan is a career Navy man who just got back from an 8 month tour to Iraq.

We finally got the kids in the magnet in the 4th grade and Jarim and Jaaye (2nd grade) had to be transferred over from Wilshire Crest. Jarim, daunted by the new school, decided to bring "something" with him to help his introductions go smoothly. I learned about that "something" when I got a call at work, and was told my son had brought his hamster to school in his backpack. He was the talk of the campus.

Thankfully, that was the one and only call I ever got from that principal on Jarim.

The fellas all bonded and supported each other through state reports, toy inventions, comic book conventions, girls and first cars together.

The one thing in common they had was working at the Los Angeles Black Business Expo every year. Barbara Lindsey started that tradition, hiring all five of my sons, and Harold Hambrick continued it hiring their friends as well.

Jarim really absorbed the entrepreneurial spirit being around all those business owners with A-type personalities, and has been an exhibitor now for a few years.

He got his start when learning about how his Aunt Sherese's class made a load of money selling candy at the school fair. Jarim went to Smart and Final and bought a case of Snickers and Reese's Butter Cups. etc. and started selling candy on his way to school. Jarim always had money but I thought he was also spending it til the day we were at CompUSA. I was wistfully looking at the new computers. He said "Why don't you buy one?" I replied "I can't afford a Mac." And he said "Mom, why do you want a Mac? They are too expensive." Gesturing with his hands, he said "look at the tiny Mac section then look at allll of these PC's. Get a PC."

The boy was making sense, but I couldn't even afford a PC. Noticing my reluctance, he said "I'll loan you the money."
I sniffed, "Yeah, right $1100." Without batting an eye, he said , "Yes." The teenager had been saving his money.

And when we went home he pulled out $1100 (and had more to spare). A true budding businessman, I signed a repayment plan and a new world opened up for both of us.

At first, I taught Jarim what I knew, but before long I was asking him how to do things. And that is the day I started my PR business. It was a good thing, because my 9 year career at KACE FM was about to come to a close.

But back to the boys. They were cool nerds, but not in the traditional sense, because the girls loved these guys. But while our other sons were involved in sports or student government, they loved technology, gaming and comic books. And they engaged their brains.

When Jarim earned enough money to buy his first car, he picked up the twins and Robert and they went to the mall. When they parked they got out. As they closed the doors and checked their appearances in the smoky windows of the shiny Acura Vigor, Jarim asked them "Do you see any parents?" They replied, "No, do YOU see any parents?" Jarim said "No." And they all shared a heady laugh, welcoming their independence.

I never forget one year at the Expo when it was mild-mannered Jarim's job was to keep the front carpeted area clear. A lady let her son do cartwheels across the area. Jarim told the boy he couldn't do that and here comes the mother yelling and cursing saying "how dare you address my son!" She got so worked up, she pulled out her cell phone saying she was calling Johnnie Cochran. Luckily, I happened by at that moment to rescue him. Jarim was too through.

All these young men are doing well, and are still in touch. I love running into them out in the community doing good work, but I am fuzzy on the specifics. I do know Jamin (center bottom) moved to Hawaii and has been working there for eons. Jemuel is an accomplished video game tester. And DeAndre (El Prez) is still working on his rap career.

I am of course more familiar with what Jarim is doing: he enjoyed a long career as a popular DJ, now in early retirement (something he learned from Totally Entertainment, another Expo exhibitor). He went on to be the first African American advertising executive at Deutsch (Remember Donnie Deutsch--his company?). He now owns a home in Northridge (along with Duan) where he attended CSUN. He loves investing and that is what consumes his days.

With all being said about young men these days, I just wanted to remind you that your son's friends are a big influence on their lives, so welcome them into your home, give them rides and help guide them, because how they go, so will your son. Thanks guys! You make me (and all of us) proud.

Love, Mom.

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