Mom wanted me to come along with her to the store after she got home from work one weekday. It was the normal, run-in and run-out type run, but I guess she wanted me along to talk to.
Mom worked as an admin assistant at a PR firm downtown. She worked eight hours, then spent another couple fixing other people’s fuckups. She’d come home, organize some stuff for the next day , and go to sleep. Pops said that she wasn’t physically tired, but things that happened weighed on her mind and she was dead tired when she got home.
I visited Mom at work a couple of times, on those “Take Your Kids to Work” times. I tried to help do what I could, but so many young women running around distracted me. I ran copies, found pictures for a Powerpoint, and helped move boxes while Mom sat at her desk and was harassed by these young women who, even though they looked nice, were dumb as fuck.
“Can you copy these for me? The client has to have them by the time they leave in three minutes. Thanks!” And they’d run off, stacking 20 disorganized sheets of paper on her desk. In the time they spent getting over to her desk, they coulda copied it they own gotdamned selves.
Mom looked at me and sighed. SHe didn’t say anything, but she didn’t have to. I was glad I was there instead of Ang; she was younger and didn’t get that some things you wanted to say but couldn’t, especially if the people you wanted to tell off controlled whether you got paid or not. Disrespect was rampant, but what really got me was their sense that someone owed these chicks something.
There weren’t a lot of guys who worked there, but most of the women were young, fresh from college, and pretty fucking stupid. They seemed to think Mom existed to do their shit while they were doing the hard work of calling a client between checking on their yippy dog and texting a girlfriend about how drunk they planned to get that weekend.
I didn’t understand that, but maybe I wasn’t supposed to. And after they had all gone, Mom would sigh, kick her shoes off, and try to take care of the stuff she couldn’t get to during the day. I would go get her some water, and we would sit and talk and laugh in an empty office. I really got to see the bullshit she had to deal with, and I appreciated her effort a shitload more than these chippy bitches who would leave before five.
There was some big project she was involved in at work, so I hadn’t seen her while fully awake in a while. So when she got off work in time to go to the store, I figured the project was done with and, as usual, she probably did most of the work.
I jumped into the car with Mom; Ang wanted to hang out with Pops as he started dinner. We drove along making small talk; how was school, how are classes, staying out of trouble.
When we got to the store, the questioning intensified. Was I seeing any trouble? Did I think Ang was in a bad element? Was I in a gang?
I politely and calmly deflected her questions: as far as I know, everything was good. I wasn’t in any trouble. Ang wasn’t either, and neither of us were really planning to get into any. I'd done this at some point with both Mom and Dad, because they weren't around a lot. They seemed to figure that they weren't around a lot while we grew up, and when they were home at the same time we were, they peppered us with questions.
Every time Mom would ask a question, I'd answer it and ask her something; about her day, about what brand of cereal we were going to buy, but she was too slick for that. Her and Dad both did that. SOmetimes they'd act like you weren't saying anything, the other times they answered your questions and responded back quickly with questions of their own. I hated that. Don't you understand I don't wanna answer that question?
After a nice parlaying of the question "Do you know a lot of boys your age having sex?" with "Man, that's a big bag of maxi-pads," Mom hit me with "Because I don't want you to go and get some girl pregnant."
I wheeled around, and I think I saw my mom flinch. "I'm not trying to get no girl pregnant!" I said angrily in a voice just below a whisper. "Why would you think I would?"
I didn't think you would, she answered, but that's what kids are doing nowadays, I hear. I don't want you getting into something over your head. I tell Ang that, too. Keep your legs closed! I say. Boys with pants down around they ass, ain't trying to be nuthin. At least pull your pants up! And so many girls running around with babies! Just kids themselves! She sighed and turned her attention to me.
I had known a couple of chicks who'd gotten pregnant, usually by smooth-talking dudes who were too stupid to use a condom and too insecure to shut the fuck up about the episode after it happened. These chicks were virgins, and the ordeal fucking destroyed them. One girl moved away, the other just dropped out of school.
What killed me was the fact that the cats who got them pregnant alternatively prided themselves on "getting them draws" and talking shit about the girls they insisted were hos for falling for their bullshit. I'd like to think people, in their minds, called them out for the their bullshit, but fuck, where else could these kids feel like they were men? They daddies did everything from military shit to being in jail, but I guess they didn't reach the duds to let them know what being a man was. Being a man to me was taking care of your shit. Rent, wife, kids, all of that kinda shit.
But Mom was asking me, and I looked at her dead in her eye and told her I wasn't doing anything to get girls pregnant. And I was telling the truth. I wanted to do everything BUT, though. I wasn't a home-run hitter anyway; I could just play the Tony Gwynn role and get singles and doubles and the occasional triple, you know? Because I wasn't about to be a babydaddy; fuck THAT.
I supposed I calmed her fears, so we turned our attention to shopping. I told her about B going out for football, and Christine's new love, and the book I wanted to write. She asked what it was about, and I told her I didn't rightly know. "It's about a brother who's not a hustler or anything. That's all I know." I didn't know if dude was going to be a hero, or a regular joe, but I knew he wasn't gonna be a pimp or a hustler, and he didn't carry around a gun and act all hard. Maybe he had regular problems. Maybe he didn't get the girl at the end. Whatever he did, I'd write it, and it would sit on the shelves next to these bullshit urban fiction joints with these hoochie chicks with they titties hanging out, waiting on Captain Save A Hoe to come take em out the ghetto. I was getting out the ghetto for sure, but if I was in the ghetto those books talked about , I'd want to get the fuck out, too.
Meanwhile, I wondered what else I needed to do to get out of this rut. I'm gonna pretend the red Kool-Aid part didn't happen. For him. Personally, I grabbed a couple of packets and threw em in the cart.