I almost missed the stop for the Rent’s street thinking about the changes that could happen now that I have turned I turned 17. I guess all young guys think that every year older will make a big difference in their life. Street kids are no different. I’m one day closer to being 18 and maybe free. Even though I got emancipated at 16 it seems not to make that much difference for some things. Almost every adult treats me like a kid still. I say almost because of my clients. They treat me like a young man in his 20’s, but only because most of them don’t know how old I really am. I can think of a few that would lose their noodle. “Lose their noodle”, I heard someone say that the other day and I laughed so hard because I could imagine a brain made of noodles and it slithering away and getting lost. But it’s a strange enough phrase that I may use it for a while. I like to throw odd phrases in every now and again. Being 17 will be nothing more than another year, I bet. I told everyone that I didn't want a party or any kind of celebration. I said, “Save it until I turn 18. I’ll want to party for the whole month then.” That has seemed to work for most people so far. I’m going down to see my mom the day after just to side step any surprise parties. But when I get there my stepfather Robert Hamilton aka Bobby said she was in New York and would be back in a week. I asked how he was doing to be polite. Then I went down into my room to see if she left me a present or something.
Hold up, Wait a minute!!! –
There is a pile of presents on the couch in the corner. I look through the tags; cousin, + 15, Uncle Max, Uncle John-John, Uncle G, Uncle Eddie, Uncle Bobby- Cliff, Uncle Ronny, Uncle Benny, Aunt Lynn Rose, Aunt Daisy, Aunt Ronica (I’m the only one who can call her that), Aunt Patty Cake (she’s signed that name as this as long as I’ve been alive), Aunt Goergie Ann, Aunt Maryanne, Aunt Ruthie, (play) + their various wonderful spouses and families, Sister Dimeetra, (play) Sister Anna, (play) Sister Michele, (play) Brother Green (I can’t believe he came to my parent’s house. He must have been scared to death.) I look at all the packages and there were a few from Lynwood High, my other high school. My cousins Antoinette, Antoinéé and Antoine must have brought them from school.
I love my family most of the time.
OK I see nothing from my mom.
The door opens and it’s my stepfather Bobby.
“So you weren’t around for your birthday?” He says looking at the Parliament Funkadelic poster on my wall.
“Naw remember I said I didn’t want any kind of celebration this year.”
“Well sometimes the party is for the other people and not the person who it’s for” He said kind of quietly.
“I know but I couldn’t handle it. You know this family, we can’t do anything small” I said trying not to feel guilty about my decision.
“Well some of them came over anyway. Your Uncle Ben seemed a little hurt you weren’t here. You should call him.”
Why is Bobby being sensitive? He always acts like he can take or leave my extended family.
“Yes sir I will call all of them to thank them for whatever is in these boxes.” I said remembering to be respectful.
“Did my Mother leave a card or anything for me?” (I would never ask Bobby Hamilton for a birthday present. That would be like asking the devil for a warm hug.)
“Here boy, Happy Birthday” He said handing me an envelope.
I tore it open the find a card and a check for $200.00. I read the card and then I knew it was from him not her. She always writes a bunch of junk about me being her son and how much they love me and then she signs his name. I know my mother signature like I know my own. It was signed by my stepfather. The same guy who broke my jaw (8), arm (11) and knocked out my tooth at 14. Why would he do this? I almost gave it back to him. But I wasn’t here to fight.
“Thank you this is very nice but way too much, Sir,” I said holding the check up.
“It’s not from me it’s from your Momma,” he said looking away.
“Oh really, please thank her for me, when she calls,” I said trying even harder not to start something with him.
I knew he was lying. He knew I knew.
“I will, I’ll talk to her tomorrow night.”
I turned away to my stereo and pushed play on the cassette and out of the speakers came –“Dr. Funkenstein"
They say the bigger the headache, the bigger the pill, baby
Call me the big pill
The disco fiend with the monster sound
The cool ghoul with the bump transplant”
As the music played Bobby stepped back and closed the door.
I started dancing and the tears ran down my face.