It’s kind of weird being twenty-nine-years-old, almost thirty, and still living with your mom, going to school. But a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do I guess. This one morning I wasn’t really “feeling” school, and that morning I told my mom I was just going to play sick, stay at home, and chill. She left really early, with my little brother, to get to school on time. She’s a teacher and he, well he’s only ten, and he goes to the school where she teaches. It was still dark when they left.
I laid there in bed trying to get back to sleep but it became more and more impossible. And the more I thought about how badly I wanted to get back to sleep, the more awake I became. I finally decided to just get up and walk to the shop. I pulled some jeans on and just kept the shirt on that I had slept in. I didn’t think to take my wallet with me. Not sure what exactly I was thinking.
I walked out the door and was hit with the early morning chill, but it was crisp and refreshing. It was still dark out and the streetlights were still on. They made those spotlight-type beams in the foggy morning air. I walked on the secluded street, alone. There was no sign of life what-so-ever. It must have been around 5:00 AM. Then, somewhat out of the blue, I came across this kid on a bike.
I’m not sure what exactly got into me, but seeing that kid on a bike made me feel all nostalgic, and I decided I needed to go for a bike ride. It had been so long. I ran up to the kid, pretended to hold a badge in my hand, quickly flashed the invisible badge at the kid and said, “Police! I need your bike! Police business! Police Business!!” The kid, obviously a good citizen, jumped off of his bike and pushed it in my direction. I continued my “police-business-panic-mode” and jumped onto the bike. I shouted “thank you” to the young man as I frantically peddled away.
The cool breeze on my face felt amazing! I rode as fast as I could, until tears streamed out of my eyes, and across my cheeks. I went down one street, up the next, around that corner, down that hill…and then I came across these three guys in the middle of the street. Why on earth were they standing in the middle of the street before the sun was up? And why was the one guy dribbling a basketball, doing Harlem Globetrotter-type moves in the middle of the street?
They were African-American. In most stories race really does not matter. But It does in this one. And that’s why I clarified their race. As I approached them on the bike I decided, almost compulsively, to try and steal the basketball from the dribbling guy with the front wheel of my bike; I guess I spontaneously thought it might be cool to marry two sports that rarely have any contact…or maybe I just didn’t think. I peddled up to the guy and just as I turned the front tire, trying to swat the ball away, he did this amazing move where he not only dribbled the ball over my head, but he threw his entire self over me, flying through the air with the grace and skill of the love-child of Michael Jordan and Tinker Bell.
I couldn’t believe it! The other two guys just stood there and laughed, and the next thing I knew the guy, who had just jumped over me, jumped on the back pegs of the bike, and then somehow quickly climbed up behind me and sat on my shoulders. I just kept riding the bike. The other two guys just ran beside me and the guy on my shoulders was like, “Thanks for the lift man! I’m new to town and have been looking for someone to drive and show me around!” As much as he was making a joke, I could feel a bit of truth in his mockery.
I was coming up to a turn and realized I was not going to be able to make it with the extra weight on my back. And when I tried to brake the extra weight made the brakes useless. I saw a metal guard rail rapidly approaching. I put my feet down on the ground and pushed down as hard as I could. I could literally feel the heat from the burning rubber of the soles of my shoes.I think smoke might have even come out from under them. Fortunately, the bike stopped just before we crashed into the guard rail.
The guy climbed off my shoulders and his two friends ran up. It was still dark. Just as we started to greet and introduce ourselves, a car squealed around the corner, and then came to a screeching halt on the other side of the street. The driver’s door flew open and the car interior light came on to reveal an older white lady, with short curly grey hair in the typical “old lady” fashion. She looked at us with worried, suspicious eyes, and she held her thumb on the button of a pepper spray can. The weirdest part was she was all dressed up, as if she had been out all night and was just on the way home, and she swayed a bit in an intoxicated fashion. Wow, I thought, this old lady is a real party animal!
She continued to burn holes through us with her glare; the kind of look a person of darker complexion gets when they enter a shop and are immediately suspected of a crime they never plan on committing. We just looked at her, not really knowing what was going on. She drunkenly said, “What are you doing there in the edge of the Hoopers’ yard?” The guy who had just climbed on my shoulders said, “We’re just standing here.” The lady scoffed, and fake laughed, “Right!” she said, “Well, you’re not supposed to be there!” Her words slurred, most especially on the S’s. At that point I was not sure what was going on, but the words came out of my mouth, without the seeming ability to control them, just after she told us we were not supposed to be there for a second time. “Why? Cause I’m young, and I’m black, and my hat’s real low?”
Yep. I quoted Jay Z at her. And yes indeed, a totally random line about me being black. The lady looked at me for a moment without saying a word. Her head moved side to side in a drunken fashion. I was not sure what she was going to say to that. But I didn’t really care. The guys with me tried to hold back laughter. We waited for the lady’s response. She continued to glare, and then it seemed as though she was struggling to keep a straight face. And then, in an absolute miracle of an event, her face exploded in a smile, and she spoke, still slurring, in a shaky, laughing voice, “Well…yes actually.” I said, “I thought so.” And she said, “Ok then.” She laughed. I laughed, The three guys laughed. And then we all laughed together. It was a great moment. And then…unfortunately…I woke up. Dreams are so weird.