The voice seemed to come from inside my head. It was that clear: “Man, you can’t be crossing the street like that around here, son.”
I stepped up on the curb and looked over at the bench at the bus stop. Two college age kids, a boy and a girl, were watching me and shaking their heads in my direction.
“You guys talking to me?” I asked, hoping I wasn’t inadvertently copping a De Niro-esque attitude.
The girl laughed. “Yeah, white, boy.” She took off her sunglasses and that made me relax a little. “You the only one I see carrying a bag of groceries with a stick up his ass.”
Before I even realized it, I had set the bag down and took a few steps forward. “I don’t walk like I have a stick up my ass.”
This made both kids on the bench as well as the older Asian woman standing by the bus stop sign howl with laughter.
“Oh, yeah,” agreed the Asian woman, “I can totally see it now. Huge stick up his ass.”
I should have just picked up my bag and finished my walk home. I did actually have somewhere important to be in an hour. But I didn’t pick up my bag. I knew I had possibly walked into comedy gold and I was extremely curious to see if it could pay off.
“Okay, smartasses,” I began, like every stereotypical white guy in history. “How the hell should I walk across the street?”
The boy stood up. “You know what? You made me laugh so damn hard just
now, I’m gonna help you out.”
“You must remove the stick,” the Asian woman offered, and proceeded to pantomime the action.
I smiled because I don’t feel comfortable telling the elderly to fuck off.
“Listen up,” the girl said. “We gonna show you how we do in Inglewood, all right?”
I nodded and did a waving motion as the boy walked past me to the crosswalk. “Please,” I said. “Enlighten me.”
“Check it,” the boy said and started across the street. Other than a slight swagger, head bob, and having his hands in the pockets of his sweat shirt, I didn’t notice anything outlandish.
The girl stood up and cheered. “Yeah! That’s how we do! Work that shit!”
When the light had changed, the boy called me over. “Okay, man. Show me what you got, son!”
I started across the street. I attempted a swagger and head bob and I slid my hands into the pockets of my jeans. “Like this right?” I asked as I got close to the curb.
The boy was leaning against the lamp post. He was laughing so hard he had tears in his eyes. “Oh…my…god…” He took a deep breath. “Man, you can’t do it like that? You ain’t black, all right? That was way too loose. Be normal and shit. Just, you know, not such a tight ass.”
I spun on my heels and waited for the light to change. I looked up and noticed the girl and the Asian woman were on the other end, mock-cheering me on.
“Come on, stick ass!” the Asian woman cheered.
The girl took out her cell phone. “This time I’m ready. Uptight White Boy. You gonna be famous!”
I could hear the kid behind me gulping in air. He was eating it up.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I decided to act like I wasn’t in a hurry and that I’d just heard the world’s funniest, dirtiest joke. I felt a smile break out on my face. Then I started walking.
I didn’t look directly across the street. I gazed up to a billboard and thought about climbing up to it and taking a piss from the top of it. Before I knew it, I was already across.
I turned slowly and looked at the two women. The Asian lady’s mouth was hanging open in surprise. The girl was smiling widely.
“Man, I forgot to even record. That shit was fly, white boy. You some kind of actor or something? It’s like you’re a different person now. I mean…holla…” She took a step towards me.
I felt the boy’s hand on my shoulder seconds later. “Man, don’t be smooth talking my girl!”
I turned around and he removed his hand. I leaned over and picked up my bag. I put on my sunglasses and stepped back so I could see all three of them together. “That was fun. You all have a nice day.” I smiled and started walking home.
Behind me I heard the boy yelling. “Oh, it’s like that? Five minutes ago you think he’s some uptight white boy and now you wanna fuck him?”
The girl laughed a little. “Don’t make me laugh. I’m gonna talk to whoever I want. Ain’t nothing you can say about that!”
“Bitch, I’m gonna rip that weave right off your damn head!”
The last thing I heard before I turned down my street was the Asian woman saying something like: “No fighting! Not yet! I can’t find the record button on my phone!”