First, I ask you not to be confused by the headline here. Mary J Blige and I  have never met or even been in the same room. Although I know she is one of the most prolific songstresses in recent history, I probably can’t name four of her hits. Yet, I stick with the headline Me and Mary J. Blige because I saw her about a dozen years ago on the TV broadcast of “Ophrah’s Legends Ball. The camera captured her sitting alone in what seemed like a pensive moment.Her forlorn look made me wonder if she was thinking that maybe she didn’t belong. After all, some of the most accomplished women in the entertainment, literary, and business world were there. She was dressed as eloquently as any of the women there; she was the only one with such a visible tattoo. The look, the tattoo and how she was just a few feet from all of the festivities made her appear that she was questioning whether she belonged. It was painful to watch. 

Mary J’s left arm, adorned with this tattoo made her stand out from the scores of successful women attending the Legion’s Ball.

I watched and waited for someone to come by and sit with her, make her feel comfortable, and show that priceless smile. That didn’t happen. She sat alone and it was like a knife in the stomach.Who knows what she was thinking? Her look indicated her mind seemed far away from the goings on a few feet away. 

Maybe because I am old enough to be her dad, I wanted to move through the TV screen and take her by the hand and put her in front of the others; get a conversation going, and give her the sense not only was she was supposed to be there with the other luminaries but that she was welcomed. If I had been reading the television right and it was a look of an outsider, I wanted to help it disappear. Over the last decade, the TV image has popped up occasionally in my mind, generally when one of her songs came on my car’s radio

A few weeks ago that old stabbing feeling came back. News stories revealed that despite being one of the best selling hip-hop artists of all times she is millions of dollars in debt.  It’s not debt incurred from an exorbitantly lavish lifestyle or doling out cash to everyone from her Yonkers, New York neighborhood with a hard-luck story. No, it was trust that siphoned her would-be wealth.mary j blige – Bing images

Singer Mary J. Blige attends the Conde Nast Media Group’s Fifth Annual Fashion Rocks at Radio City Music Hall in New York on Friday, Sept. 5, 2008. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer) Fashion Rocks 200

She trusted her record label to do right by her. Instead they treated her like the windfall she was. The more success she had musically, the more money the label took and the less she made. Apparently, she had no business acumen and believed the gold and platinum albums were making her, not the label rich.

Then came the divorce. It was anything but drama free, and of course since it involved MJB, the split, the alimony request from her husband stayed in the news-month after month. It was a prime example of the adage hurt people, hurt people. Too many should-be-secret details were spilled. He took the win-at-all-costs route. That was a strategy she seemingly was neither prepared for or was particularly ready to deal with. Her kept her on the defensive. Obviously, my screaming at the computer monitor, the television, the radio or wherever the details of the divorce were being aired, were of no avail. I wanted him to stop. I wanted him to explain how he could and would deliberately hurt someone who had already been through so much all of her life. Telepathically, I tried to place myself between them, to absorb some of his bitterness and vitriol. Of course, that wasn’t possible.

Guess what? She didn’t need me. She handled her business in her way. I see she was damaged but not broken. That Oprah Legends scene will probably always be with me, but so will her resilience. Yep, Me and Mary Jo Blige!