“Lil mama learn game. And learn it young. Get it down so good that niggas can’t even shake you wit it. Learn game like you learned to breathe; make it a habit. And never pull your cards. Aces only win when they played right.”

This is something a girl I used to run with used to tell me all the time. She was older than me, a big sister of sorts, that took it upon herself to teach me the things I missed out on from not having an older sister. She used to repeat it all the time like scripture, her inflection never changing, the same intent glare always trapping my eyes to hers.

“Learn it like you learned to breathe; make it habit.”

I was fairly manipulative in high school. I never outright lied, I was just a master at redirection. She taught me that too. Well, her and some other well placed influences in my life.
“Mystery is like a rope,” she used to say. “You give ’em enough and they’ll hang themselves. All you gotta do is cut em down when you’re through.”

I was young and in need of guidance so I listened, mastered her ways and crafted them into techniques that could suit my own needs. I controlled my boyfriend. I ran my mouth and never got into fights over it. I kept a second string of niggas on the roster just in case my man messed up. They went over and above for me even though they knew I had a man. Because I had them like that.

But I didn’t like me much.

“Aces lil mama. Pull your aces,” she used to tell me and I perfected it. Reading people, watching them, saying the right thing at the right time, watching their confidence waiver. Aces. I always pulled the right card at the right time. They’d be in awe of me. Wondering how I’d read them so well so easily. Who was I to “get them”? Mystery is like rope…

My timing was impeccable.

But I didn’t like me very much back then. I wanted someone to do things for me, not because I’d manipulated them into it but because they wanted to. So I stopped. And just started to be me. No subtle manipulations, no subconscious persuasions. I just let me be me and dealt with whoever came on that honest level.

But sometimes I think honesty can only get you so far. Because many times when you’re honest, about who you are, about your faults, about your fears, some will hold it against you like a knife at your throat. They’ll exploit your fears, blame situations on you that have no bearings on the truth you’ve presented them. Many times, they’ll use this truth against you, convince you that your feelings are void because of your fears, blame their failures on your faults.

Not all, but some.

At least when I had control over things, I wasn’t getting hurt. No, not hurt. Devastated. Well timed aces cut cards, never get cut.

“Learn game like you learned to breathe; make it habit.”

I’m thinking on it. I’m learning the ways of people.

And I’m getting better everyday.

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