Amid what’s taken place lately in the media with all these men in positions of power being accused of various forms of misconduct; it has made me reflect upon myself and place my own behavior under the microscope. As an adult, I can say I’ve never compromised myself with placing a woman in an uncomfortable position. With that said, I’m not perfect neither. The recent climate of male sexual misconduct that’s been brought to light is damaging. I sincerely have empathy for the victims, women/men. And I hope there’s merit to their claims. On that note, I’d like to bare my truth with you.

Not all life lessons are taught by a teacher. Most of our valued lessons are learnt by experience. Whether it’s from someone’s example or the most important one, your own. Self-taught lessons can come from mistakes in which we better ourselves to avoid future pitfalls. My first major self-taught lesson came when I was a sophomore/junior in high school. Running late for homeroom, I was racing down the hallway when I dropped my Aiwa Walkman. As I picked it up, I looked at my wristwatch, I had two minutes left before the bell rang. I saw my homeroom teacher, Ms. Aidoff (a short, twenty-four-year-old white woman with dirty blonde hair from the Midwest, her second year employed with the NYC public school system) dead ahead with her back turned towards me, standing outside the entrance of my homeroom door. The hallway was still crowded with students, so I was in the clear. As I approached the doorway to my homeroom, listening to a Dj S&S mixtape in my Walkman, I started dancing behind Ms. Aidoff’s back. My body wasn’t touching Ms. Aidoff’s body, but I was doing the freak. The students in the hallway were egging me on, yelling… “Go-Go-Go-Go!” The hallway sounded like Chubb-Rock’s, “Treat’em Right” song being played. As soon as Ms. Aidoff caught on to what was taking place, she turned around. Before she completely turned, I immediately stopped dancing and acted as if I was just walking into the classroom. Everyone in the hallway was laughing, seconds later, the bell rung, and the hallway was cleared. After Ms. Aidoff completed roll call, she requested me to remain seated after the first bell. Once the bell rang, the whole class stared at me before running through the classroom doors. I tried to lose myself in the rush out, but Ms. Aidoff yelled my name so loud, I swore my mother at work must of heard it. I stopped dead in my tracks and went right back to my desk. After I sat down, Ms. Aidoff approached me.

“I saw what you did. You think I didn’t see you?” I was coy and told her I didn’t know what she was talking about, then asked her if I could go. She replied, “There’s a mirror above the teacher’s restroom door next door. I saw you. Do you have anything to say for yourself.” I looked at her with a blank face. “You’re excused, go to class” she continued.

As I exited the class, I looked up to verify if there was a mirror by the teacher’s restroom. As sure as the sky is blue, there it was; a circular mirror attached to a metal arm holding it outward. I was busted!

My third period English class was with Ms. Aidoff. Everything was fine in her class, but after fifth period it was a different story. I was pulled out of class by school security and brought to the principal’s office. In route there, I saw a few cops in the hallway leading to the principal’s office. I was confused as to why I was called, but once there I knew why. When I walked into the office, Mr. Andrews, the principal, and Ms. Aidoff were seated in front of him on the other side of his desk. Mr. Andrews told me to close the door and have a seat. I was scared shitless sitting next to Ms. Aidoff. Mr. Andrews asked me to explain what took place earlier during homeroom. I replied ‘nothing.’ Ms. Aidoff turned her head so fast and looked at me with a Superman death stare. By my reply, I could feel the steam from Ms. Aidoff’s pale red face. Mr. Andrews corrected himself and questioned me again. “What took place before the homeroom bell rang?

“Now before you answer Mr. Lake, I need you to be clear and honest with me.” I quickly thought about the police I had seen earlier, then proceeded to spill my guts. I told Mr. Andrews I was playing around, dancing behind Ms. Aidoff’s back.

“I was having fun. I meant no harm and nothing by it. Everyone saw me. They thought it was funny. I didn’t touch her at all Sir.”

Just then Mr. Andrews interjected, “See Ms. Aidoff, there was nothing behind it. Although Mr. Lake executed poor judgement on his account, it was an innocent mistake.”

After Mr. Andrews finished his statement, he looked at me with a stern look. I quickly looked at Ms. Aidoff and apologized. Ms. Aidoff thanked me for my apology and left the room. I was about to do the same, but Mr. Andrews told me to remain seated. Once his door was closed, he continued.

“Son, do you know how serious this could’ve gotten?” I shook my head from left to right. Mr. Andrews continued, “Ms. Aidoff said you sexually assaulted her. Do you know what that means?”

Again I shook my head no. Mr. Andrews explained that Ms. Aidoff claimed I conducted a sexual act/jester on her without her consent. At this point I was scared and thought I was going to jail. Mr. Andrews said he spoke with a few students and two faculty members who were present when the incident occurred, to verify her/my story and to get to the bottom of it. I apologized again to Mr. Andrews for my actions. Before leaving his office, he hit me with two days of detention.

From this incident I learned a few valuable lessons that I apply to my life to this day:

* Never place myself in a compromising position.

* When dealing with someone of authority, their word can over power mine.

* People’s perception of things will not mirror my own.

* Always show respect for women.

* Watch who you’re fooling with (especially with white women).

*****

Are the men in your life reevaluating their past sexual conduct?

Renaissance man from The Bronx, NY, Vincent “VJ” Lake creative career started in fashion, and expand through fitness and the military. Vincent is also an entrepreneur with his own active-wear lifestyle apparel brand; “PURESPORT ATHLETIC aka PSA”. Currently, he is finishing up his first non-fiction book of short stories titled,”I’ve Had My Share.”  The book is scheduled for release in early 2018.

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