Monday, December 11, 2006

I'll get up

So, I'm kind of a "street guy" and I'm kind of not. I'm kind of not because I'm very, very white. I act like a white guy, I speak like a white guy, and I'm interested in stuff that's traditionally the province of white guys -- like golf, classic rock and the exploitation of the indigenous. I kind of am because I grew up in a part of New York where not everyone had money, where "minorities" lived in real-time, and because I've seen crimes happen up close and personal-like. Not that "minorities" and "crime" and "the streets" go hand-in-hand or anything, but I think you can gather my meaning. I wasn't raised in New Canaan, in other words.

I take pride in certain things because of my status as a sort-of street guy. First off, I understand the language. When the slightly less polished break into their various raps and soliloquies on the streets of West Chelsea, I don't need an interpreter because I grew up with this shit. I speak "jive." I choose not to use it in everyday conversation, but I've been stuck in the middle of the real thing for my entire life, and I've never needed to consult MTV in order to learn a dozen new ways to say "jewelry" or "car." I don't find it necessary to throw such terms around simply to show everyone I know them.

Besides, I've spent the last thirty years or so trying to distance myself from my upbringing. There's enough fucking "contrivity" in the world. The last thing society needs is for me to start adding my share to the linguistic shitpile.

The best part about knowing what I know is that nobody I know thinks I know what I know. This is because I don't come off as though I know the things that I know. Truth be told, I've lost more "street cred" than most people will ever have -- or something to that effect -- but you'd never know this from listening to me speak. I despise the term, but I've accrued enough "street cred," in point of fact, to feel secure in making the world believe I have none. People get this perception because I choose to speak English "properly," a practice I've maintained consistently throughout my life. This, of course, renders me decidedly vanilla, but I couldn't give two shits because I'll just show you some scars if you don't think I've learned a few things about being poor and angry and taking abuse from the people in the captain's chair.

Even though I'm getting a bit long in the tooth for this sort of thing, however, I try my best to keep on top of the language so I'm not bamboozled at the door. When people start shouting things at me, I want to be able to understand what they're saying, particularly because it's nice to know when punches are about to be thrown or weapons are about to be drawn. If I'm on the sidewalk and someone starts shouting at me and all I hear is gibberish, I'm at somewhat of a disadvantage because I can't be sure whether he's about to mount a Guido Offensive.

Guido Offensives happen often in the bouncing business. The Guido, infuriated at some slight -- perceived or otherwise -- rips his shirt off and begins his journey. His journey will take him to some very fascinating places. Sometimes he'll be going to the emergency room. Other times, he'll end up spending a few nights on Rikers Island. Sometimes bouncers don't take this into account when we're safe at home, in bed, at five in the morning. We won't "spill some liquor" for the Guido whose weekend at the club won't be ending until he sees the judge and the bail bondsman. We forget, ofttimes, that there are some for whom the party simply refuses to end.

In fact, if you're reading this on Monday morning or afternoon, there are Guidos making bail right now. As we speak. Implore the judges, I say. They're Guidos, Your Honor. Just Guidos. They don't know any better, and they do these things because these things are the things that Guidos do, so don't set their bail too high because nobody likes jail. It's no fun. It's no fun sitting around in there for a week because Moms can't come up with a trifling fiteen-hunnert. That's bullshit, and every Guido in Staten Island knows it.

"I told him," said Ray, "he's gotta keep me up to date on this shit."

"I know."

"I said he's gotta fill me in on any of this new n----r shit as soon as it comes out, because I don't wanna be in the dark when I'm talkin' to these people."

"I'm saying it how he says it from now on," I said.

Who he is, is a legit street guy. It doesn't get any more street than this legit street guy I know. I don't give a fuck who you are, this guy is more street than you. What I'm talking about here is all the fake-ass motherfuckers on cable TV going to this guy to find out what they're supposed to say next. That's exactly what I'm talking about. Straight from the source. The shit this guy says takes six months to get airtime on 106 & Park. That's how real "kid" is.

"Yo, man."

Have you ever seen an IQ point? I have. I saw one fly out my eye and into my phone. Next time, I'll take a picture of one and post it here on the site.

"What's up, man?"

"Yo, ah...what time we got to be at work tonight?"

"Nine," I replied. "I don't think there's anything going on tonight."


"Yeah. I'm goin' in at nine, so if it's a problem, just tell 'em I told you to be there at nine. Nobody's gonna say shit to you if they know you talked to me."

"How you feelin'?" he asked. "You work all week?"

"I'm okay. Just takin' it easy and goin' to the gym and shit. How you been?"

"Aight. Jus' chillin' an' shit. Takin' some time off before I got to start up again."

"Cool, cool, " I said in the vernacular.

"Aight, man. I'll see you tonight."

"You got it, kid. Later."

"Aight," he said. "I'll get up." Click.

I had to call the guy back after that. Had to.


"What the fuck was that?" I asked.

"What the fuck was what?"

"What the fuck did you just say before you hung up?"

"I said goodbye," he replied.

"No you didn't. You said you'd 'get up.' What the fuck does that mean?"

"Yo, it means I'll get up. You know, like, I'll 'get up' wit'chu later, an' shit."

"So that's how you people say goodbye on the phone now?" I asked. "You say, 'I'll get up'?"

"Yo, what the fuck's this 'you people' shit, man?"

"You know, like ghetto minorities. I always like to keep track of what you're saying."

"Eat a dick, motherfucker," he said.

"Aight, man. I'll get up." Click.