The #1 Song In the Country @ the time: Sweet Sensation, Sept 9th, 1990
The first and last day of grade school, junior high, High school and college are all highly regarded events for young parents with cute little kids. Anticipation, crisp fall air and possibility. Dreams intact bound hope to chance, tied preparation to progression all before reality robbed many of their courage Before we kids ruined everything there was hope.
The first day of first grade in elementary school for almost every parent in all of America is quality. Of course it doesn’t always last but at least on that first day of the first grade everyone was batting a thousand. Inside America say in Washington DC more than half of the kids that you start grade 1 with will never see the end of high school. Another large segment will never see college. And half of those kids won’t see their kid’s own graduation from a higher institution of learning. Of course if you were black and a product of the inner city these numbers skyrocket. In Astori it was just accepted that everyone matriculated unless as aforementioned you were black. Those were just the numbers although the METCO program had a solid record of placing students in college they just not my friends.
Understanding my own behavior and how quickly once promising school years typically soured, my parents always celebrated the brief moment of delinquent celibacy, I hadn’t a blemish on my years record. It was just like opening day of baseball. So much hope at Fenway Park for that first matinee. And it was the same for my school year. I hadn’t won a game but I hadn’t lost. Just like the phony pony pictures of the curtain family’s in the towns paper.
Throw in our next store seemingly perfect sisters Mercedes, Porsche and their brother John and on Dogwood drive, at least for that morning, the illusion had become real. After kick saving my Junior High career so late in the game my mother had a wide range of new concerns and serious doubts.
Junior High Flashback: “College?” She says it like Jim Mora while coaching the Colts in his classic sound bite, “Playoff’s?” “College, College.” Laughing to herself at the prospects before tossing out, “Carl your probably going to wind up serving prison time.” That would always get a good laugh out of her, my sister and father.
My mother was always supportive on the camera heavy first day of now high school. However just last night she’d mentioned how she had racked her brain fives hours yesterday and couldn’t think of one instance in my life where I had sat still. New clothes, your best gear, day one all on display, high school, the biggest deal yet in my life. I still had braces. I promised myself last night that toning it down was in our best interest. However looking down at my cane, new sneakers and skinny gold chain I stole from my sister five minutes ago it didn’t appear this was happening.
“Now Carl what is the very first thing your going to do when you get to school today?” My mother says gently but diligent seriously like a citizen of the world with a military background. And she said it in front of my three sisters Dana, Mercedes and Porsche, which made it the worst. We were all a year apart. Exhausted by the fact that we’ve gone over this a hundred times I’d muffle, “introduce myself to the nurse, tell her I’ll be back at noon.” “And make eye contact.” My dad dripped on eye contact for emphasis.
“Right Carl! That’s a good boy, wait, why the hell are you carrying a cane, your not going to school with that.” “Ma, my ankle hurts, basketball is my life, you can never be too cautious, it’s my career we’re talking about.” “I don’t know.” She rubbed her fingers together, suspicious. The cane had crashed her brain. During moments like that she knew in her quickest and deepest calculations it was a system crasher better to just move on and kick save the big first day. A Tuesday in the winter and we’d have something to talk about. Not on the first day. “Ok, whatever, give mommy a kiss, make me proud kiddo.”
So jolted by the dynamite fuel which is the end of my mothers first day of questioning I hug her off of her feet exclaiming sincerely “I love you! I’m going to knock em dead.” My dad looked over like a coach skeptically overseeing a young athlete getting ahead of himself “One day at a time bunky” he said with his hand on my shoulder of course citing yet another smart axiom. After the big concern of the day was dealt with, the “rents” got back to what this joyous day was really all about; pictures. Astori to me was all about pictures. We were very fortunate to have two “sisters” that lived next store to us to share in all our Mayhem and us theirs. However Twistisism in Astori, on paper, they looked perfect. I regularly had to beat down kids in Mercedes grade if they upset her. She’ s my kid sister bitch. I’d always had a violent allegiance to my three sisters based on the loyalty stemming from all of the time and days together watching General Hospital. We really grew up together. The cast breakdown on the age tip here was tightly laddered. Mercedes was the youngest; followed by me followed by Dana and finally Porsche. Next year we’d all be in high school together.
As an a
ttractive semblance heightens the tragedy it also accentuates the gold medal moment. It is of that consequence that pictures, flowed and bountiful hugs applied during the latest in our timeline of, first days of school. We had moved to Astori immediately after my accident with the riding lawnmower. And I was the kid that was run over by a riding lawnmower. I’d learned to revel in it rather than let it fuck with me. And my goal was to be known as a varsity basketball player and not a handicap.
Our first year in Astori we lived happily in a yellow split duplex until I almost burned the house down. I was playing with fire literally and soon, metaphorically. I set ablaze the green living room carpet. I cried and told my father who was for the one hundredth time in my life going to kill me, “I’m sorry dad I just scared to move again.” Even cognizant at nine years old that it was a pathetic line to cover up my own delinquency I still uttered without conscious. I was just satisfying my curiosity of matches and cleaning products.
The big man bought my desperate attempt at salvation hook line and sinker. Except that he made me keep the burned up rug from the old den in my brand new bedroom for the next fifteen years. It’s why we always loved at the end of Back to the Future when Marty Mcfly delivered this line to his then father at his senior prom which do to the miracle of Time travel he was able to attend.
“If you ever have kids and one accidentally sets fire to the living room rug, go easy on him.” Marty Mcfly “We’ll watch out for him, he’s got two older sisters.” Porsche placates mom. A remaining few congenialities and it was time to attend the one moment that I had looked forward to my whole life. Only Magic held an equal adrenaline rush because let’s face it, for everyone else it was still school. We’d been prepared in a different way.
And there was much competition amongst the two of us toed to an eternal understanding that basketball success would bring good things to us. Crawling inside the Jeep I was hit with a coldblooded fact, everyone was wearing dope sunglasses except me.
Jesus fucking Christ
With little white signatures cursively crafted in a corner I suddenly felt lost about an outfit that seconds ago I was so sure about. Jumping into Porsches new convertible Jeep the last thing I heard besides Jane Addiction and barking dogs was my mother screaming, “Carl you forgot your books!” Away we roared. Anyway high school meant freedom. The girls so wrapped up in their appearance matched in the same played brown leather coats that they didn’t hear my faint mothers screams which was good because the books cramped my style and didn’t vibe with the doper cane I was about to pull out. The girls of course deaf in their focus of having just the right song on missed my mother’s final attempt to get the first day off on the right foot.
Brewing with energy I was entering a bare-naked jungle where Hayden legends long since removed from high school could only protect me in aura. “They’re all going to laugh at you.” Adam Sandler “Carl do you like this song a little bit?” My sister looked back and breezily asked with that sincere diplomacy one harmoniously exudes anytime one tries to push electric guitar on a rap lover. “This song lights ass. Did you hear me too Porsche?” I wanted them both to always be clear on my musical standings. The fact was I simply hated guitars and or being around white suburban teenagers when they were playing loudly on their car stereo. For some reason the way I saw it was if you liked Heavy Metal a soft affection for slavery wasn’t too far off. Both of them now officially tuned me out by placing their hands momentarily in front of my face.
“Talk to the hand.” early nineties term.
Taking our first left out of our cul-de-sac, Dogwood circle a moment was a moment as I turned my attention towards the next exciting thing. Picking up our neighbor Mike. We were there in under thirty seconds. “Let’s go freshman, junior in the driveway!” Porsche yelled out. Porsche was saying the type of gay stuff that her and almost all of her friends were constantly guilty off.
“He’s so lucky to be riding with us. He better hurry up.” My sister impatiently chanted. “Your brother better not talk like he’s black in front of everyone,” Porsche added. Rolling my eyes I can’t believe my sister is jumping in on this. Magic is trying to get out of the door but his mother like my own at times was very nostalgic and trying it seemed to crawl inside his backpack. “You ready for day one Mizz, High school baby!” My sister’s comments appeared to apply more to a rock show than a first day of school. However inside Astori that’s exactly what it meant to mean.
Magic eschews any of this chatter and before jumping into the back of the seat with me can only shake his head when he first lays eyes on me. He couldn’t believe I was going through with the cane on the first day. It was the kind of headshake that reminded me that he was six months older. It was the exact same incredulous headshake my father would make when in batting practice I would step in the bucket or as he liked to call it “a fucking pile of shit.” The bucket is what you stepped in when you didn’t step directly towards the pitcher when swinging. Typically this causes balls to be shanked and not lined right back at the pitchers face which my father always said was the goal of every swing. My favorite Baseball Bunch episode all-time was Ted Williams.
“Had to bust it all out day one, wait.” Magic stopped, stunned and said sounding like his own father, “your not walking into school carrying that thing.” Monetarily Michael and I came from very similar backgrounds, that of the middle class meaning most of our family fights revolved around money. New clothes in a Beverly Hills town were important to everybody but especially to us. He’d been famous I’d been infamous for years we had to let players know we rocked the fly gear to compliment our dope hoop games. “We talked about this!” He says with the frustration of never getting through to me. “Yeah well I don’t give a fuck. I couldn’t wait, I slept with it.” “You slept with it?” Mike gave me the huge “Bart” eyes. Mike’s big thing with back to school clothes was to wait a few days, go strong casual, but don’t show the farm therefore you could bust out your new shit after everyone had already, busted out theirs. Be a week 2 standout other than a week one same-o. It sounded great in theory but as I’ll say many times throughout this text ADD is a hell of a nurse. I never had patience.
“Fuck off ho.” I resented the Bart eyes, and besides the cane was my thing. “Your officially retarded.” Magic said in leveled finality, “Oh yeah? Watch this boyee!” “Carl sit down!” I was so hyper. “C, remember when our bus got shot right on this road?” Of course I remembered. The bus was evacuated and the culprits apprehended. Our sole daily highlight in Junior High was the bus ride home but most specifically the ten seconds everyday we drove right by the high schools famed student parking lot. Getting a real time peek of the student parking lot and its after school festivities was a daily boner. We knew what went on in that parking lot like Henry Hills parent knew what was going on at the cabstand. Our bus getting shot corroborated everything we knew and re-instilled our dreams of high school as truly wild and completely out of control. Turning into the high school the girls scramble as their song ended and they now have an injection of real panic. They don’t have the right song on for this the biggest part of their drive, the bend into the main drag into the belly of the student parking lot. Mike sensing a retarded play grabs me, half rolling his head heavily rolling his eyes and says, “We’re almost there.”
As Brooke scrambled Porsche was acting like her lost children were burning in a school fire fanning her on the arm with peppered smacks, “Hurry up, I don’t know Guns and Roses!” “That’s like so old.” “Put on Bobby Brown yo!” “Carl” In unison, “shut the fuck up!” is the last thing I heard as we slowly rolled over the last speed bump and unearthed ourselves into the heart of everything in life. The football field sized “students” parking lot, as Magic and I sit transfixed I can on the Luke Lei tip realize the anxiety in my sister’s mind. Not so much in Porsche but when magnanimity of a moment is at such a colossal order, senses become enhanced as if you had actually lost one.