Tuesday, May 16, 2006

weekend excursions and observations, pt. 2

date: sunday, may 14, 2006
time: somewhere around 9 a.m.

place: my brother's old bedroom at my parent's house

the sun was blaring through the bedroom window with the invasiveness of a dimebag darrell riff, each ray reverberating from the walls and furniture like sound waves from plucked guitar strings. i'm sprawled out on the bed still half asleep, the other half of me curled into the pages of the book i've got in my hand. it's a halfway decent romance novel (yes, i'm a fiend for 'em), and i was just getting to the part where...nothing was happening. dad walks into the bedroom with a bunch of shit in his hands. wrapping paper, tape, scissors, and the stuff we'd purchased the previous evening. awww shit, i knew what this meant.

"so what's that stuff for?" i croaked as i feigned ignorance, hoping it meant he was just carrying the stuff for the helluvit. my mouth felt hot and dry, an attic where the air was stale and my tongue was peeling away from my gums like faded wallpaper. i scrunched up my face at the first whiff of morning breath hovering like a cloud of nuclear fallout in front of my nose.

sidebar: have you ever noticed how morning breath can linger in the air like a fart? i mean, i can leave a room, take a shower, come back and get butchered by it, like it was a murderer waiting for me to turn the corner right before it severs my nose from my face with a 'shank of lethal stank'. in fact, i don't even have to open my mouth. the morning breath finds a way to escape anyway, turds falling from my nose like clots of snot or a stench sweated from my pores like garbage juice. and it don't matter what i ate or drank the night before, my breath is gonna stink no matter what (although to be fair, the morning after drinking alcohol has a way of turning morning breath into mourning breath cuz it damn sure smells like a rotting corpse is in my mouth.) and anyone who tells you he or she kisses during morning sex is a gawtdamn liar (unless they get up extra early to brush their teeth and hop back in the bed again, which you know ain't nobody doing).

i waved my hand in front of my face trying to disperse the stench. meanwhile, i peep dad dropping the stuff onto the bed before taking a quick step back, his fingers pinching his nose as he got the beer face.

"what you doing that for??" i asked as i continued waving my hand in front me me, this time shifting the air so that it was moving into his direction, "you know my breath smells like a newborn's skin!"

he took some more steps back until he was framed by the doorway. "you're right," he replied nasally, "your breath smells like the skin on a newborn's ass right after it's taken a shit."

i threw a pillow at him as he retreated from the room. looking at the pile o'stuff on the bed, i deduced i had to wrap the gifts and fill out the cards. i won't go into detail about that shit. i wrapped the shit, signed the shit, and got up to brush my teeth cuz the air in that room was damn near asphyxiating my black ass.

after brushing the teefes, i gathered the gifts and cards and took them into the 'rent's bedroom.

sidebar: remember that episode of the cosby show when vanessa and rudy just busted up in clair and cliff's bedroom:

cliff: i want you go back outside, knock, and tell me who it is.

they go back outside and vanessa knocks.

cliff: who is it?

vanessa: who it is!

that's kinda like how i am with my folk. i bust up in their spot without knocking, which is why whenever the door is locked, i know they fucking. YUCK.

anyway, so i bust up in the spot, a sigh of relief passing my lips cuz the door wasn't locked. my mom's on the bed, a queen awaiting the shower of gifts from her loyal subjects. i hand her my paltry drizzle of presents and she gets excited anyway. i realize that no matter how old i am, no matter how crappy the gift (and believe me, there have been some really, really crappy gifts), mom is gonna get excited cuz it came from her 'mooka mook'. she unwraps her first present, which is a nina simone cd.

"oh! this is my nina!" she said excitedly while turning the cd to read the front. then she got quiet.

"wait...i've got this one...diane sent me a copy of this for my birthday..."

awww shit.

i look at dad with that accusing "why didn't you know mom had this one" look on my face. he shrugged in response, the "you picked that shit out" look on his face. i hoped i was giving him my "remember the crock pot incident?" look as i smirked back at him.

"i love it anyway, baby."

"i've got the receipt if you want to take it back, mom," i said eagerly, disappointed in myself for not having astounded her with my brilliant gift giving. no matter what the age, a son or daughter is always gonna wanna please mom with the gift and will feel like a failure if he or she doesn't. i reached over for the other gift and jammed it into her hand, a feeble attempt to make her forget the first gift ever existed. she unwrapped it and the smile on her face was so big i could have sworn the ends of it were carving grooves into the walls.

"OH!" she exclaimed, "i love them!"

she carefully pulled out one of the silver earrings from the box and dangled it before her, eyes wide as she watched it twinkle in the path of sunlight coming through one of the bedroom windows.

thank goodness!

i gave a silent prayer of thanks to god and expelled the breath i was holding she placed the earring back in the box. yeah, yeah...i'm still a kid wanting to please her momma, damnit.

"happy mother's day, mommy."

i drew in close and we hugged each other tightly. then i sat with her on the bed and we talked. i told her about the woman at the kiosk (mom was there when i bought my brother the bracelet so she knew who i was talking about.) then i headed downstairs to make her breakfast.

breakfast is another harrowing task for me when i'm making it for mom cuz she's like a ghetto gourmet chef. she got her culinary degree at le kitchen de bed stuy and it ain't no joke. i'm pretty skilled myself...except when it comes to grits. whenever i try to make them, they either turn out too watery or too gritty. i can count on one hand the number of times i've gotten them just right. in fact, it had been only one time previously, and that was five years ago. so with four successive years of me fucking up the grits, i was scared shitless about trying it again but i was determined to get it right for the second time in like twenty tries.

i get out the pot, threw in some grits, poured in some water (making sure the water came up to the second line of my middle finger...ya'll know ain't no measuring in black folk's kitchens), put a pinch of salt in it, a couple of pats of butter, and set it on the stove. i turned the fire up high and got to stirring. and stirring...and stirring...and yet more stirring. after god knows how long, i finally stopped stirring and freaked out cuz it looked watery.

gawtdamnit, i'm NEVER gonna get this shit right.

i turned down the fire before running across the kitchen to the counter with the container holding the uncooked grits and frantically contemplated pouring in more grits. then i remembered the last time i'd tried that shit. i'd ended up with an overflowing pot of grit paste, half of the grits had been undercooked while the over half had been overcooked. that year, mom hadn't even tried to spare my feelings. she'd tossed those grits out right in front of my face.

"mooka mook, just make me a bowl of cereal..."

yeah, adding grits wasn't the answer.

so i just stood there and watched the grits cooking in the pot, my hand nervously hovering over them like i could will them to cook perfectly. five minutes later they still looked watery and i had eggs to make and bacon to microwave so i reluctantly stepped away from my grit-watching post and prepared the rest of the breakfast. as i scrambled the eggs i checked the grits again. they were still watery. SHIT SHIT SHIT.

then i remembered my mom always putting a top on the grits while they were in the last stage of cooking. i rushed to the counter and flung open the lower doors, elated at the discovery of the missing piece to the puzzle (or so i'd hoped). finding that pot top was like finding the holy grail...it was like finding the 'g' spot...it was like finding that area on the tip of a penis that makes a brotha buck and squirm like a wild mustang when kissed with the lips of an experienced 'wrangler'.

sidebar: how come i always bring shit back to sex? i could be talking about the most mundane thing and suddenly i've got a metaphor comparing it to sex. i was talking to someone today about the game of chess and somehow i got to comparing it to sex. chess and sex? a nerdy guy with a pocket protector and glasses taped at the bridge...and sweaty sex...those images together do not normally compute and yet i was sitting there telling brotha chess was like "a sensual invasion...methodical plotting...a caress here and there that breaks down the defenses..."

i must be horny as fuck.

so i got the top on the pot and i stand there for about two minutes before i impatiently yank the top off to see if there was a change in the wateriness. the sight before me was the most beautiful thing i'd ever seen.

the grits were thickening....OHHH SHIIIIT!

can i tell you i was close to tears when i saw that shit? can i tell you i felt like i'd just figured out my purpose for living? can i tell you in my excitement over the grits i ended up overcooking the damn bacon??? *sigh*

i called up to mom, pride in my voice and shit.

"mom!" i yelled up the stairs, "you want cheese in your grits?!?"


yeah, nikki took the chance of adding an unknown element to the perfect grits. i was being brave...or stupid.

i straight up strutted to the fridge like a pimp, grabbed the cheese, and then strutted to the pot where i put in a couple of handfuls of cheese, stirring and tasting the grits as i went along to make sure i didn't upset the chemistry of my perfect pot o'grits.

they were still perfect as i scooped some up and put 'em on a plate next to the eggs and the second set of bacon i made after the overcooked set. i floated up the stairs with my platter of perfection, cheezing more than the grits.

when i opened the door to the bedroom (again, unlocked...*whew*), mom was propped up on pillows talking on the phone.

"oh, my daughter has made me breakfast, so i've gotta go," she said with a combination of smug superiority and pride. (you mommas got some kind of mother's day competition going on or something?)

she hung up the phone as i placed the napkin in her lap before setting down the plate. handing her the utensils, i stepped back and waited. her attention was on the grits as she took her fork and ran a furrow through them.

"these look good," she said, "everything looks good."

i did not relax. plastic fruit looks good too until you take a bite out of that apple and end up with a mouth full of man-made material.

it looked like she was fucking playing with her food as she stirred the grits...and stirred...and stirred. i guess she was stalling for time as she remembered all of my previous attempts at making grits.

eat the fucking grits damnit!

as the sun was setting hours later (just kidding, but it felt like it'd been that long)...eventually she got around to tasting the grits. the slow grin on her face as she savored and swallowed had me thinking she was digging the grits, but i wasn't sure.

"these are GOOD, mooka mook!" she said in surprise. then she turned to dad, "honey, the grits are good this time. you can have some."

i turned around and shot my dad the bird with my eyes. he shrugged with that "you know you make shitty grits" look on his face.

whatever, dude. just for that, you getting the other set of bacon.