Ask Jeannie: Advice from Jean Grae for April/May 2020 - Believer Magazine
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Ask Jeannie: Advice from Jean Grae for April/May 2020

A Bimonthly Column
by Jean Grae
Illustration by Kristen Radtke

Ask Jeannie: Advice from Jean Grae for April/May 2020

Jean Grae
10 Snaps

Hi Jean,

My boyfriend’s becoming a sneaker enthusiast in his mid-thirties, which is surprising, given his lack of interest in this subculture up until this point. For his birthday, I really wanted to get him some super-rare deadstock Jordans, but I just didn’t have the money. This is shameful, but I bought a fake pair and found someone to customize the shoes so they look like the real thing. He loves the sneakers, but I’ve been feeling really guilty about lying. Should I tell him the truth? Also, the fact that he can’t tell the difference suggests to me that he needs to study the culture more, and sort of justifies me copping a fake pair. After all, if he can’t tell, why should I pay three hundred–plus dollars for a pair of shoes that cost two dollars to make? Am I being petty or practical?

Tamla

Cough Cough, MN

Jeannie responds:

Tamla.

This is fucking hilarious, sweet, caring, loving, and amazingly deceptive. I both cringe at and applaud your sneaky craftsman ways. You’ve done a lot—does it not seem like a lot? It was a long road to take in order to arrive at this moment in time.

Some may say… too much. SOME. I said: some.

[whispers] Tamla. Too much.

In one of my former lives, I was a sneakerhead. I love fashion, but I think my particular brand of sneakerhead-ism was driven purely by my competitive nature. I do not like to lose, Tamla. Nay, I like to win. Win hard. Being on rap tours with men who like to win is also a very particular brand of winning. Not only did I want to win, I wanted to destroy. Classic Jean. My sneaker destruction was served on a delicious bed of unavailability. I seasoned it with the factor that appeared to contribute to my inevitable failure: not being able to purchase men’s sneakers that were “popular,” due to sizing. I have very small feet for my height. They’re quite like hooves. We’ll discuss that another time.

Anyhoo, this factor didn’t thwart my winning. It opened up doors of possibility. Children’s exclusive sneakers. Women’s exclusive sneakers. I showed up in them casually, instead of announcing them loudly like the losers did. Perhaps a lengthy leg-cross, or a foot wag in the morning tour bus entrance. People was big mad. They knew those sneakers because they couldn’t have them. I studied hard to know which kicks were available only to me. Which were knockoffs that I might be roasted for. Which would make people the most big mad. The stare, get up, and throw something mad. Glorious, it was.

Tamla, we’re getting to it. I swear.

If at any point I had slipped up and purchased a pair of bootleg-ass kicks… I can’t even imagine the infinity roasting that would have occurred. This was twenty years ago, and I can tell you that they would definitely still bring it up anytime they saw me. Please don’t let that happen to your boyfriend. Oh, fuck. There would be levels of embarrassment seen only in high school or the CW network’s teen lineup. Nineteen-eighties-movie-bully levels of shame.

This whole entire lengthy answer is to tell you that I disapprove only because of the impending doom linked to fakery discovery. I guess there’s the whole thing that you can’t build your relationship on a platter of lies, and if you don’t have honesty and transparency, what are you even doing, blah, blah, blah, blah. OK, yes. I see now that that is the most important thing.

Yah. Tell him about the shoes, honey.


Jeannie,

I hate football for all of the familiar reasons: it’s politically retrograde, dangerous, and the in-game action is slow as fuck. My partner loves it, though, and routinely spends all day Sunday watching it. I usually go do my own thing on Sunday to avoid catching any of the games, but recently he’s been asking me to watch with him. Should I compromise my beliefs to watch with him, or should I stick to my guns and potentially alienate him?

Dean

Phoenix, AZ

Jeannie responds:

Hallo, Dean.

Your partner needs to respect the fact that you fucking hate football and find someone else to enjoy it with. It is football. I am very sure there are a lot of people who enjoy football. I have heard it’s pretty popular. If he’s trying to force or guilt you into participating in something that goes against your beliefs, that’s not fucking cool at all, and that’s way bigger than just football viewing. The only way I can see this being all right is if you haven’t voiced your feelings about the sport and he has been assuming that you just have Sunday Funday?

Y’all don’t have to love all the same things. Separate activities and passions are good and healthy. My husband loves roller coasters. I think they are deathtraps attached to hellscapes. We will never go on them together. Ever. This is understood and respected. I will wave from the ground below, stuffing my face with funnel cake. He will soar through the sky like a fucking fool, searching for some sort of death-wish thrill that he needs.


Jean,

My friend’s a performance artist, and sometimes I can’t tell whether she’s being herself or her persona. Is there any way to tell the difference?

Althea

Baton Rouge, LA

Jeannie responds:

Althea,

Well. What a fascinating conundrum. In my mind, I have decided that her performance art is that of becoming Papa Smurf. I don’t know why I chose that. It’s the one that popped into my head first. Then I imagine you sitting there as she attempts to give you wise advice. In a Smurf voice. I suppose that negates the part where you can’t tell if she’s being her alter ego. ’Cause of the voice and all the blue paint.

What if… what if she normally just has that voice and IS blue to begin with? How would one tell?

[shakes fist at sky] Yeah, you gotta talk to her about this shit. Or face the fact that you don’t know her actual personality at all. Or—hear me out—start Smurf performance art?

That’s just for me.


Hi,

I’d like to start my own YouTube channel, where I’m hoping to gain a following by lifestyle vlogging. The problem is that there’s a market cornered on every type of vlog: beauty, pranks, unboxing, cooking, shopping, relationships, et cetera. I really don’t know where to begin. Is there a YouTube niche that hasn’t already been exploited, and if so, what is it?

J

Illinois

Jeannie responds:

Hey J!

Congrats on starting a thing! Always good. Always important. Every time I think of a new angle on an idea, I get excited. YES, the market is flooded. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any new angles or new ideas. My suggestion is always to focus on what things seem relatable to you that are MISSING. Not what already exists. Search in your feelings for the open spaces. Does that make sense? Look in yourself for the voids. I can see how that sounds dark, but it’s real.

I mean, hey. There’s a thing. “What is missing in my life that would make me FEEL better, day to day?” Is it a smell? A color? A walk?

Oh, shit. Pretend I didn’t tell you that. COPYRIGHT COPYRIGHT TM TM TM TM.


Hey Jean,

Natural deodorant is a big trend now. It’s supposedly healthier than conventional antiperspirants, but in my experience, it doesn’t really serve its purpose. In other words, when I was using it, I reeked. I went back to my old brand, but my wife is still using the natural stuff. She smells pretty ripe, all the time. How can I tell her it’s not working, without hurting her feelings?

Carter

Somewhere in Los Angeles

Jeannie responds:

Carter,

If I was ripe as fuck and my husband did not tell me…

I…

I don’t have the words to explain how angry I’d get.

I think that situation provides more hurt feelings than being up front.

You had me out here in the world being ripe as fuck?!?!?

Absolutely, you must tell her she’s ripe now.

Sorry.

Right now.

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