I am inspired by the people that I meet. A stranger, or someone that I fall in love with, reguardless of their influences, they can inspire me. But what happens when a person you meet can make you feel like the scum of the earth? How do you become inspired by someone who can make you feel mute, disgusting and degraded? How do you respond when it is from the man who has been given the title as “the best rebounding forward in NBA history.” Dennis Rodman. 

I met Dennis on a rooftop balcony at a bar in Huntington Beach. Roped off from the rest of the public, Dennis, his manager, four other women and I sat waiting for our bottle of champagne.

Above us was the stunning moon. As full as can be, I was comforted by the moon and her gorgeous strength. I thought, “How cool is this, dude? You are rooftop chillin under this moon with Dennis Rodman?” 

The champagne began to pour and  I started to chug, forgetting that champagne is a “sipping” drink. I had an automatic headache but demanded for more. 

Dennis is animated, wearing designer everything. His jeans are ripped up, with patches of color and writing of “Von Dutch” in a large text down the back of his right calf. Hmm, is Von Dutch still a thing?  His white cotton t-shirt must have cost more than my entire outfit. He is wearing black sunglasses and a white ball cap that has Italian writing on the front. I am surprised that he covers up his face for someone who likes to be his own self. It’s almost like he wants people to know it is him yet, he wont allow for eye contact. Eye contact is a fundimental human experience for connection. He won’t allow me to connect with him, but he will buy me a drink. Hmm, interesting. 

Then a round of Jager bombs get passed around. The ladies, Rodman and I all bring our drinks in the middle to cheers. Like my grandfather influenced me to cheers, I say, “Cheers to the good life!” 

Dennis banters in his confused way,”ehhh yeah whatever.”

I’m throwing my drink to the back of my throat, trying to avoid the Redbull and jager to touch my taste buds. I quickly think, “okay, jezz sorry for cheering… asshole.”

I make my way to the left of Mr. Rodman and I swoop the seat next to him. I confidently hold out my hand and say, “Hi, my name is Danika! It is a pleasure to meet you.”

Confused and hesitant, he shakes his head and purses his pierced lip, “oh nahh, thats… okay, whatever.” Was this is first time for Dennis to meet a “white” girl without a customary American girl name? Or does he think that I am joking? Either way, he made me feel dicey for sharing my name and my hand.

He was smoking this beautiful Cuban cigar. I wanted it on my lips so bad. I quickly became obsessed of stealing a puff. As I sit and recognize this desire, I realize that all of theses girls want something from him as well. They wanted a picture for proof. I instantly felt a tidal wave of guilt build over me. Here I am, just like the rest of these “basic bitches” who are using this man because of his fame and entitlement in this world.

He embraces his arms and body to speak. His animation and change in tone of voice, are fluid and expressive. He reminded me of many gay men that I have meet. I can’t understand half of the shit that is coming out of his big mouth. It is like he is putting a bunch of cliche inspirational hooks together in the douch-iest of way and that is his structured sentences.

At this point, I am smoking Dennis Rodman’s cigar with him. Yes. Success. Holy shit, this is the best cigar that I have ever had! 

A voice from across the balcony yells, “North Korea!”

Dennis gets up from his seat, hands me the cigar and his trusty lime green BiC lighter and walks to the poor soul who had the balls to yell out to Dennis. He walks back after his opportunity to verbally bitch slap some drunk ‘Merican.

He gets the attention of all of us girls and he tells us his opinion. This opinion shaped my life forever.  

Pointing to each and every one of us ladies, he says, “Your pussy is nothing different from your pussy and your pussy and your pussy and your pussy.” 

I remove the tasty and wet cigar from my speechless and silenced lips. I exhale the smoke and my spirit is deflating as the smoke blurs my vision. 

I sit passively degraded and hurt as he keeps tainting my spirit. 

“You are insignificant because you are white and female.” 

Is this real? Am I actually being placed into a dark box surrounded by mirrors that reflect a white girl and only a white girl? Holy shit, I have just been insulted by Dennis Rodman, you know, the “best rebounder ever”. The man who had an affair with Madonna and the man who is currently BFFs with Kim Jong-Un. What the hell is going on? 

For the first time, in a very long time, I am void of emotion. My opinion as a person means nothing and I can’t seem to find the courage or strength to wake up and stand up for myself. 

It might have been the alcohol or I might have entered into a state of shock, I walk, like a zombie with him and his manager, to the DJ booth. Dennis says his last stupid-ass speech while the entire dance floor is recording his every move. I am completely appalled but brainwashed to not leave his managers side.  Attracted to what he will do and say next I want to be with him some more. He is my entertainment and I am drawn to him like a moth drawn to a florescent light. I am completely transfixed and brainless.  

As he exits the stage he takes my right hand and gently kisses my white skin. He then rubs my hand on his cheek like I am a the product of a soft blanket. Slowly, I start to gain my senses. I think to myself, “What in the fuck are you doing, man? You just insult me and now you are praising me like I am queen or something?!” I am so confused, as I am escorted through the kitchen with Dennis, his manager and one other girl.

Suddenly in a parking lot, he asks for us ladies to go home with him. No. Hell no.

I am thinking, well yes, because I need to know you more but I can’t put myself in a position to be taken advantage of. He then lectures me again about how I am insignificant. Angry that he doesn’t understand me, I raise my voice at him and intentionally tell him to eff off. 

A crowd of people swarm to him. I walk away from the man who tore me apart, and I speak up to say that Dennis Rodman is a “Lost spirit. He has no soul.”

As I walk away, I am franticly searching for my lipstick in my purse. I pull out a lime green lighter. Oh my goodness, I forgot to give that asshole his lighter back! I laugh at myself and think “HAHA take that Rodman! You won’t get your precious lighter back.”

I couldn’t believe this man. He has placed a lasting impression in the NBA forever. For goodness sake, he is my brothers favorite basketball player. Kyle, my brother, would mimic Rodman on the basketball court.

It is astonishing how Dennis Rodman disappointed me and influenced me at the same time. Apparently, he is a great teammate and when the walls break down, he is a soft and genuine person. 

I understand that he has to be an asshole at a bar, to protect himself and because that is what we want to see. But hot damn where does insulting a new friend fit into that equation? 

Today, two days after my encounter with Dennis, I learned about his successes and his personal life as I read his Wiki page. I became moved to tears at learning about this broken man. He stated that he was suicidal in 1993, instead of killing himself, he decided to kill “the man who he doesn’t want to be”. Tattoos, hair color and piercings later, he killed Mr. Nice Rodman and created the man that he wants to be. He created the monster that I met on saturday night.

I appreciate Mr. Rodman for embracing himself and not abiding by societal expectations. He is his own person and I respect him for that. Where I don’t appreciate him is in his lack of understanding. He lacks the capability to uplift others.  

I don’t give a damn about how many championships that he has won. Maybe that is why I didn’t care about getting a photo with him. I don’t want to prove to everyone that I met THE Dennis Rodman. Maybe I wanted to share that cigar with him because I wanted to share a moment in time, to talk, understand his views with him. You can’t learn or grow from someone, or experience them by gaining a low resolution selfie. I wanted something more, I wanted to share a moment in time with someone who has publicized an amazing life. 

I shared a moment with Mr. Rodman. I shared one of the most shattering moments of my life. I, Danika Miller, a decendent of George Washington and Swedish royalty, am a proud Danish- American. However, I have to check the box as caucasian. I am white, and I am proud of my heritage. I am a woman, and I am proud of being a woman. I hold a lot of power in my skin.

Yes, my race defines me. Yes, my gender defines me.

At this moment, I am helping an old volleyball player, that I coached, in her decision to retire at 16 years-of- age. That is not an easy decision. The only thing that I can do is uplift her to see and understand the beauty in her decision and the opportunity that life has for her. 

Dennis Rodman inspired me to understand that not everyone is going to agree with me and to be more wholesome in my acts of kindness. I hope that when people meet me they can share a positive moment in time, look back and remember that whatever it was that they shared with me, was special. 

A shared beer in the backyard.

A shared night on the roof starring at the moon.

A shared laugh.

A shared lifetime or a shared second.

Whatever shared, I hope it is sacred and specially placed in the hearts of those that I meet. As for today, I want to live and love fearlessly. Dennis inspired me to understand that that is how I want to be remembered to others. I don’t want to hurt and break the spirits of others, I want to uplift people. I can confidently say that I uplift someone better than Mr. Dennis Rodman. 

To him, I am nothing but a basic “pussy” who will amount to nothing. 

To me, his opinion is invalid because I see myself as strong and worthy of changing lives without the pride of holding five National Championship titles. 

It may seem silly that I have his lighter. I find it symbolic. He doesn’t have the option to spark a light for himself or for others because I now own his source of fire. Sure, he can buy another lighter but I have this one. This lighter is special because we used it in the same moment when my spirit drifted away. 

Rodman, thank you for stomping on my spirit. You have directly helped me to be stronger than you are right now. I can’t wait for the moment, when you are sitting your old ass on your couch, reach to turn on your high resolution television, and you see me. I hope that I can inspire you to love fearlessly as much as you live fearlessly. 

 

 

 

 

 

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