Sunday, October 11, 2009

24/7 Behind the Tussle for the Texas Instrument Pt. 2

1992. 29 Fort Greene Place. Brooklyn Technical High School. Stress level is at Defcon 1. Violence seems to be the item dujour. People I know personally are being shot and killed in and around my neighborhood, my friend’s neighborhoods, school, and every other random area you can think of. We as a community had graduated from Uzi’s in junior high to shotguns in high school lunch rooms. Concealed weapons were consistently revealed to the privileged few and almost robbed (lucky me). My commute back and forth to school sucked, my clothes sucked, my grades sucked, I’d convinced myself that everybody else on earth was boning and I was somehow the lone virgin, and I was dead broke (why didn’t I drop out of school again?) Basically, I was a teenager assimilating to life quite nicely. If that wasn’t enough, this guy refuses to give me my scientific calculator back. C’mon son! I got physics and trigonometry to fail later and I can’t fail properly without the necessary tools. I have yet to commit sine and cosine computations to memory and you are hindering my regression. Are we really gonna have to fight and maybe stab each other to death over a fifteen dollar calculator? Ok then, so be it.

All throughout high school, my friends and I had been having random altercations with a particular crew of dudes. I had a slap boxing sparring match develop into an almost altercation due to my heavy handedness. I was accused of closed fisting when all I did was cock back and introduce my five fingers to his face. We were separated and words were exchanged (I’m sure I likened him to a vagina multiple times). This led to a six on one, “settle the score” retaliation attempt several periods later where I was cornered and invited to fight all of his boys. As I respectfully disinclined to acquiesce to his request, the situation rapidly escalated into a failed robbery. Someone reached in my pocket, I grabbed his hand in a” WTF! Oh hell no” manner, everyone tensed up and it was about to be 7th grade all over again. The reasons I didn’t let this fool rob me wasn’t because I had anything of value (see dead broke) and it wasn’t because I was Braveheart either because rest assured, I was scared to death. However, we were governing under jailhouse conditions and if word got out that my pockets were available for conjugal visits, or that I was “fish”, a “herb”, a “vic”, “pussy”, or any variation thereof, I may as well tuck my developing manhood in a jar for the next 2 years and try my call again in college. Luckily, one of the six and I were somewhat associates and he had a sense of how unnecessary they were behaving so he diffused the situation with some parting words of “Chill, just don’t let it happen again”. My boys were also having unrelated run-ins and Texas stand offs with these dudes so it was only a matter of time at this point. Although never brandished, concealed hardware had been previously provided in my friend’s “misunderstanding” with them (knives, guns, bullet proof vests, etc), and from both parties, but only as “precautionary measures” of course. The Michigan Militia had nothing on Brooklyn in the 80‘s and early 90’s. I was living in an S.E. Hinton novel and I was about to be Ponyboy.

I played basketball with yet another one of these dudes the previous year and since we were “cool”, or so I thought, It seemed no be a big deal to loan him my calculator for whatever class I’m sure he was failing. As time progressed however, retrieving my own property grew more and more cumbersome. First I got the “I forgot it” spiel. Then the excuses graduated to “I gave it to this guy and he gave it that guy” nonsense. The individuals he implicated were part of the “party of six” that had tried to Malcolm X me the previous year (“Get your hands outta my pocket!) They also sat higher on the hierarchal bully chain so I guess the rational was that I would lay off the inquisitions unless I wanted a piece of them. My rational was that my parents sat much higher on the ass whooping chain and making another requisition for a previously purchased line item would have been met with more strife than I was willing to incur, especially since their belief was that all I needed to survive was a dollar and a dream. So once again, I was on my own.

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