Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Protect Ya Bus

I’m standing there thinking, “Fuck.” That’s all I have time to think as Timmy Norton’s bony little fist collides straight to my jaw. I spit out teeth shards and he runs away. I think, “Fuck”. That’s all I can think as people are watching. That’s it for me. I can forever be known as the kid who let Timmy Norton punch him in the face or I could chase him down and hit him back harder. I regret it now, but I shouldn’t have chased him down. That was the first fight I’ve ever really been in, and the first time I’ve ever really won either. It didn’t feel good.

I’ve been in a fight at the bus stop before but it was less of a fight and more like my seven-year old cranium smacking against the asphalt. To this day the only thing I can remember is my sister chasing down that sonofibitch fourth grader with her right foot and some pretty nasty words. That’s when we got along, elementary school. The bus stop is the childhood version of the African Terrain. We were all predators in the making, picking the next gazelle to ruin and humiliate. Although a necessary growth in socialization, the bus stop was anarchy.

The bus holds a lot of firsts for me.

The first time I touched a boob. The Bus
The first time I spit in someone’s face. The Bus.
The first time I received a formal beating of the ass.
The first time I cursed someone out.
The first time I pissed in a water bottle.
The first time I gambled.
The first time I listened to music. The bus.

The bus was the first time I actually LISTENED to music. Yeah, my parents played tons of music growing up. A lot of interesting childhood memories spawn from hearing Bob Marley’s “Is this Love” and seeing my Dad throw a bar dart one-hundred miles per hour at something expensive and made out of glass. But I never really had someone say, “Listen to this track. Listen to it. It’ll change your life.”  As an eight-year old kid I wondered how much music could really change my life. So I listened.

I listened to a plethora of really bad music. Music my mom said I shouldn’t. Like Slipknot and Korn, and some sort equivalent of Justin Beiber from 1997, although I’m pretty sure my dad told me not to listen that one. And as I listened I fell into a prepubescent identity crisis. Everybody had their bands, their music, and their place in the social elementary world. They had clothes that corresponded with what they listened to. I had hand-me-downs and the idea that I liked Linkin’ Park. But I wasn’t angry enough to be one of the kids who liked Linkin’ Park. Linkin’ Park kids wore “faggy” Jinco shorts with a three foot-chain descending from their wallet. I never understood fashion. I never understood being in a scene. A social class. Truth is, I like Bob Marley more than Linkin’ Park. I could never tell anyone that of course. I was way ahead of my time, which fucked me in high school and college as well.

I went through this “Identity crisis” for many years. I had a punk rock phase that came and went somewhere between drinking my first beer and hearing “rock the Kasbah” for the first time, which also incidentally happened on the bus. My Mohawk lasted about as long as me getting jumped walking home from circle K, and the realization that I could never live in the eighties.

My identity crises lasted until about the age of thirteen.  Thirteen was the fateful day the bus finally did something I will never forget. It gave me music I cared about. Something I could get behind. Something I knew my mom would hate, but fuck her, this shit was too good to pass up.

Blaine sat next to me that faithful day. We never got along, his family was more dysfunctional than mine, and he could do a heel flip on a skateboard. I thought “Fuck” which is all I had time to think. But he never said anything. He just sat and nodded.

Time passed and he lifted his headphones and turned to me.

           “You listen to rap”


            “You ever listen to Wu-Tang Clan?’

             “No. They any good?”

            “They any good? Fuck your mother good. Here”

He hands me the headphones and I put them on. He smirks as I hear bass. Bumping bass and clinging. Indescribable amazing clinging. Noise. Lots of terrible, angry, exciting, new noise.

I smoke on the mic like smoking Joe Frazier
The hell raiser, raising hell with the flavor
Terrorize the jam like troops in Pakistan
Swinging through your town like your neighborhood Spiderman

I take the headphones off.

              “That’s cool man.”

              “I’ll burn you a copy if you want”

              “Yeah man that would be cool. What’s the song called?”

               “Protect Ya Neck.”

Whenever someone tells me that rap music is garbage and hip-hop is dead I smile and remember the time I heard Wu-tang Clan on the school bus. Hip-hop was the first music I got into by myself, because I liked it, and because it wasn’t allowed, and yes because I’m white and fuck it. Wu-tang clan did something to me that day. It made me think that everything is going to be all right. I realize the irony of listening to gangster rap shouldn’t have that effect, but the raw, terrible, angry, stupid hip-hop music became disturbingly consoling to my youth.

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