Tuesday, February 7, 2012

An Urban Slice

"I like coffee, I like tea.
I like a colored boy and he likes me!
So step back white boy you don't shine
I'll get a colored boy to kick your behind...."

We stood outside on the elevated train platform at 174th Street in the Bronx. 

The four girls were standing North, South, East, West facing each other playing the familiar handclapping game, their brown skin glistening in the sunshine, as their hands moved fast.

It was day camp and we were going to the pool today.

I watched as the long subway train came rushing towards us.

"Get ready, the train is comin!."  One camp counselor said.  There were about five of them and together, they worked to gather all of us kids, about forty between the ages of 7-10, in one close group.

"Cecily, girl, step your black butt away from the edge of the platform."  The counselor's tone was light and Cecily didn't take offense.  She just jumped back playfully, almost knocking into me.  Not that she noticed.

"Jamilah thinks she so cute," Ceciily said to another girl, Chrystal.  "Just cuz she got those new barrettes in her hair. I could get those!" 

"Me, too!" said Chrystal.

"I bet I could get even better ones.  We both could and look cuter than her."

Chrystal nodded, enthusiastically.

The train rushed before us, engulfing us in wind.  It stopped and the doors opened quickly.

We rushed in as a group, a few of the kids ahead of me scrambling for seats, their dark arms and legs, jostling all over the place.  As I moved quickly in I noticed the frowns of disdain on the people's faces that were seated already.

"Shoot, that's my foot!" Chrystal  whined.

"Girl, please, it's not like you was gonna fall," Cecily responded.

"I could've!"

 Cecily  sighed.  "Whateva!"

She rolled her eyes.

I sighed, not really looking forward to going to the pool.  My single mother put me in the neighborhood day camp during the summertimes while she worked days. 

As I moved along, rocking with the movement of the train, I thought, I'd rather be at home with Grandma.   I didn't always need to hang out with other kids.  

I kept quiet, not wanting to open my mouth because I wasn't in the mood to hear the girls tease me about how I talk "white".

So I just continued listening.

This piece is a slice of my life growing up in the Bronx.  It was inspired by a RemembeRED prompt at Write On Edge that asks write a piece of creative non-fiction in which turns of phrase, dialect, slang, or colloquialisms feature prominently.