Front Street

Friday, October 09, 2009

By Gigi

As usual, I was running late and impatiently waiting for the always packed, number 36 cross town bus. The bus stop was starting to get a little crowded. So I positioned myself to the approximate spot to where the bus might stop. As I continued to read my newspaper, I was approached by a handsome young man that I’ve seen several times before around the neighborhood. He murmured, “good morning”. And I responded, “hello”. I shook my newspaper slightly, turned the page and buried my face deeper between the pages. I was in a bad mood and really wasn’t looking for conversation to pass the time. But he took no notice of this and pressed on. “I’ve seen you around the ‘hood before. Um, my name is…” Before he could finish, I stopped him. I took a deep breath, smiled softly and said that I wasn’t interested. I went back to my paper, but felt his eyes on me. I asked how old he was, and he said, “twenty-five”. I smiled again but felt my lips spreading even further until I was practically howling in his face. “You are the same age as my son”, I stated. “I might be old enough to be your patient, more experienced lover, but I’m not desperate like Madonna to even phantom about dating a boy two and a half decades younger than myself, and I have too much respect for myself; never mind the fact that I’m still married…I waved my wedding ring in his face.

I looked at his attire and was mildly disgusted; so I felt that I needed to school him on some things; first if he wanted to capture the interest of an older, sophisticated woman, he would have to stop speaking Ebonics or what I call ghetto-ese. And next, for him to dress better or at least pull up his sagging jeans. He stated he like wearing them that way and he never received complaints before, that even his mother doesn’t say anything. I took a pen out of my purse and ask him to spell the word sagging on my newspaper…he spelled it correctly, but left off the ‘g’ at the end. Then I asked him to write it backwards, and he did; it spelled N-I-G-G-A-S. He was floored. I told him that the origin of the look that he was so fond of came from back during slavery. Slave owners demoralized the field workers by forbidding them to wear a belt as they worked the fields. The field workers resorted to wearing rope to keep their pants from falling down. Also, in prison, pants are worn low for when a prisoner is ‘spoken for’. But belts are forbidden to deter suicide and to prevent you from running away. I told him that as a young Black adult, his entire generation will have to effect.

The media has made a mockery of their generation and Africans from Africa don’t take them seriously either. They must start by pulling up their pants and hold their head up high; that can make such a big difference in the world’s perception of us. Then perhaps, maybe…they will get respect. I looked up and the bus was baring down Webster Avenue and stopped right in front of me. I smiled. As people stepped off the bus, I turned slightly and said. “We need to love and respect ourselves more; no one is going to do that for us. If you take nothing else from this conversation…well, you know the rest.”