In “Damaged Goods,” a book by Omar Persaud, Chris Smith is a young man chasing a life glorified by rappers. Smith is obsessed with the desire to live the life similar to what he sees in hip-hop videos. Money, women and sex drive most of Smith’s actions.
As a boy, Smith’s interactions with girls were sweet and innocent. But over the years, his curiosity grew and his views changed. Almost overnight, Smith went from dreaming about kissing the girl next door to dreaming about having sex all the time.
“My hunger was only intensified by media portrayed to me as a child,” Smith said. At the outset of the book, Smith experienced his first sexual encounter with an older woman, and soon after, he became obsessed with sex.
Throughout, Smith dabbles in and out of many women’s lives only to find himself digging a hole that won’t be easy to crawl out of.
He frequents the club scene to find women he can prey upon. After he gets tired of each woman, he goes on to the next. There were times when he would see up to five or six women at a time. Of all the women he was involved with, none ever satisfied him.
The rest of the book revolves around Smith’s dead-end relationships. Broken relationships and unhappiness lead Smith to settle down with one girl. Although he was faithful for two years, the greed got to him.
“One of the main problems with discovering the nature of love in my community was that love never existed there. It was overshadowed by a superficial mentality that was perpetuated in all aspects of my world.” He thought he was ready to become a one-woman man but he was not.
The end of his most heart felt relationship provides Chris with many occasions to ponder the role of love and women in his life, or its lack thereof.
“I spent a lot of time reflecting, trying to figure out why I was unhappy. I had a good career, making good money; I had two houses; and I was young, black, and single,” Smith said.
“Something was missing, though, and I couldn’t explain it. This time I was determined to do things differently. It was hard to crawl out of that wilderness alone. When I finally got out, I was blinded by a light I mistook for the sun, but now realize it was hype.
“I didn’t learn my lesson back then, because I was still wounded and lost, I just didn’t know it. I thought I could find myself in the club, but I was fooled by the faÃ§ade,” Smith continued.Fortunately, what has been a rather gently paced book becomes an urgent read.
It wouldn’t be fun for me to reveal how this happens, but I will say that Persaud wonderfully captures a boy transforming to a man.
“Life is always going to be a struggle, because there are people who will disappointment you or certain situations which you will not be able to overcome,” Smith said.
“I guess we’re all damaged goods, when it really comes down to it, nobody’s perfect.”