"Feels alright (sweeter love). Feels too good (sweeter love)" - Blue Six, Love Yourself (Basti & Vincenzio Remix)
Negro Please: The Blog will be retired on or around January 22, 2007. This is a trip through the archives. If you're still hankering to read my writing, you can do so at VOX. Fair warning: it's much different than my writing in this space. I encourage friends and family to register at VOX to get past the velvet rope of my privacy controls there
They tell me I rarely cried when I was a baby. I was born with an afro just like most black children in the seventies. I started talking early and reading early. My aunt, the aspiring teacher at the time and current Board of Education member in Omaha, made me her little project and got with the instruction just as soon as I showed some kind of recognition and understanding. This is what they tell me. It is how my lore begins.
What I remember though is going to the hospital for drinking too much orange soda, crying my eyes out when they had to put Queenie to sleep and this: my first memory.
I fade into this like any good story, in the middle of the action. I am sitting in the passenger seat of my grandmother's car. I don't think I'm in a safety seat. They probably weren't very big in 1978. The interior is red, the car is white and I'm talking. Just yapping away. I imagine this is why all the grandkids love grandma. She talks to you like you're a human being. None of that baby talk nonsense. She asks me about my day, I ask her about hers and we converse. She doesn't talk at me even though she's as opinionated as everyone in this family. She listens. She shares.
We're driving back to our house from the grocery store. I can smell the oranges in the bag. Fresh, bright, sweet. Grandpa has given us the best of his current lots. I understand that he runs that place and is proud of it. Its his store.
We're on our street and I'm yammering away about what some boy did to some girl and they blamed me but it wasn't my fault and I didn't get graham crackers and I had to take an extra nap and I don't like Miss Judy and can't I just stay home? Those kids can't read anyway.
*thump* The car rose a bit as we went over a lump in the driveway. We bounced a bit as we slowed to a stop. Grandma was silent. I turned to her and said, "OOOOOOOHHHHHHHH!"
"Now, Jay, I don't know what we hit. Maybe it was just a rock. Stay in the car." Now, I'm 3 years old and small for my age. This seatbelt might as well be a straightjacket for all my ability to escape it.
"Grandma, I think you hit a cat. OOOOOOOHHHHHHHH!"
"I didn't hit a cat. I think it was a rock," She replied, not very convincingly.
I twisted around in my seat and peaked through the back window.
"OOOOHHHHH, Grandma look, Grandma look. You killed a cat. I told you you killed a cat. Grandma's catwoman cuz she killed a cat. And I'm Batman. duh duh duh duh duh duh Batman!!!"
Grandma went to the back of the car and saw that she did, in fact, destroy a poor white cat. She sighed and opened the trunk and began pulling out grocery bags. She tried to keep my mind off the cat by asking, "So, who's your mom?"
"She's Batman's mom except," I whispered, "she didn't die."
"Okay and so who's Grandpa?"
"And your uncle?"
"Robin. Uncle Mike's Robin. Duh duh duh duh duh."
"So, I guess that means your Auntie is Batgirl?"
"No, She's The Riddler."
"He's a bad guy. Why's your aunt the Riddler?"
"Cuz She's always got questions. I hate that shit."
"Jay! Hush your mouth with that talk."
"Okay," I said and paused, "Catwoman! Duh duh duh duh duh duh!!"