An hour this goes
on, Michelle; inside I'm shakin', but how can I explain? Finally cop says,
"Probably some broad." Bingo! In my head it clicked—that's what they
wanted to hear.
say. "Me and my old lady havin' problems."
bitch," says the cop. And that was it, like now we were all on the same
And you know,
that's the way I got to be in public—I got to give 'em what they want so I can
protect what is mine. You've seen me, Shelly, I'm a man who likes to throw back
his head and laugh like he's bein' tickled—yoo hoo hoo, hee hee hee—and to
close my eyes and sing like an ol' hound dog—Don't you know I want you by my
side, wo wo wo, ow ow owwwww—but that's gettin' harder and harder to do without
people starin' at me, pointin' and whisperin', makin' your daddy feel like he's
wearin' no clothes. Bein' famous is a painful thing for a careful man like me.
What choice do I have? I got to disappear. That's right, child, there are ways
you can stand right in front of folks and disappear!
See, I hate it
when they watch me trainin', so I always pick out one song I really like, have
one of my men rewind it and play it over and over and over during my workout,
just as loud as can be. Once you memorize the beat, it's kind of like the
little girls on your street who can jump in on a jump rope that's already
jumpin'—you just hop inside the beat and disappear!
Then, when my
workout's done, I disappear again, a different way. Yes, ma'am, of course I'll
sign that for you. Anytime, sir, my pleasure, have yourself a good day.
Sometimes I hear them say it so often—oh, he's such a nice, sweet guy—I start
wantin' to throw up. Michelle, if only they knew! I mean, I am a nice guy, but
I ain't no shade tree. Don't shake me or touch me, and you're fine. But leave
me be; I got a temper. Everyone in my family's got a temper, but mine was
always worst of all; once I even threw a can of chicken noodle soup at my poor
sister's head. There's this crazy man inside me, but I buried him way deep
'cause I couldn't control him; listen to me, Shelly, he's in you, too, and
he'll eat you up alive 'less you can eat him first.
You don't believe
that can happen? Then you don't know the story of my lumberjack jeans with the
red flannel trim. Every day in fifth grade, rain or shine, those jeans were
what I wore, yeah, wore 'em till my knees poked through. See. I stuttered back
then and thought I was ugly, and I counted on them lumberjacks to get me by.
One day this girl in class walks up the aisle—hadn't told a soul, but I'd
fallen for her real bad—and just as she passes me, her legs get tangled, and
it!" she says, pointing at me.
didn't," I say, but before I know it the teacher grabs my leg and raps it
with her pointer, shoutin', "Yes you did, you with your holey pants!"
That did it, I couldn't control it, I ran out cryin' for shame and didn't come
back. Walked the streets cryin' for three days, angry at God and the world. And
one thing just sort of bumped into the next after that, it all got away from
me. I transferred to a different school, didn't do well there, then transferred
to a third school and lived with my aunt. I'd done all right in school till
then, but with all the switchin', I kept fallin' further and further behind. By
the time I reached 11th grade I felt so dumb and lost in school, I quit.