Tuesday, May 24, 2011


J was a latchkey kid. Yes, he did wear a key on a string 'round his neck. Something was always a bit different about J from the rest of us. He constantly had fresh gear, multiple satin Starter jackets, new Buffalo and Request jeans every few months. Almost every day, for lunch he would buy Chicken McNuggets, all white. That's like $3 a day, $15 a week, $60 a month. On McNuggets. How the hell could he afford that? I always suspected he had some kinda money despite living with his single mom in a bungalow on Victoria Drive near the 7-Eleven where our friend C stabbed a kid with scissors. J was a full-fledged member of the rough crew that I sort-of-maybe-sometimes wanted to be a part of, but I wasn't a fighter, nor was I Italian Greek Portuguese, nor did I wear head-to-toe denim (at that time) while moshing to "Enter Sandman". I'm rap and Chinese, and the only Asians in that posse were Indian, except for E the pale-skinned Chinese boy who seemed to get a lot of sex. J was more Too $hort than Metallica but still managed to be high up in the hierarchy, being a good-looking, funny kid who seemed to get all the ninth-grade girls. He always invited me to join him on his regular 12.10PM trek to McDonald's where I'd watch him drop dollars daily while I munched on my mom-made sandwich. He made me feel like a part of the crew of which I was a hardly-honorary member. He was a popular kid, and rolling with him gave this fourteen-year-old some confidence. I still have the Naughty By Nature self-titled debut that he lent me. He still has my Dre's "The Chronic", the first CD I ever stole from A&B Sound. I'd like it back.

Come to think of it, I too was a latchkey kid, but I kept my key in my pocket.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Sausage McMuffin. That's what happens when you're walking home at 5.52AM in the drizzle from a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend's house party, and the joint was full of young Latin people dancing to Latin house shouting "Hey, Macarena!" but I'm not sure if the song was actually a version of "Macarena" but I'm sure they know better than me, and the pound of coleslaw I'm munching from the 24-hour grocery store ain't filling me up near enough, and my night has become morning and the only thing open is McDonald's so I'm gonna get, what else, of course, Sausage McMuffin. I pay the teen my $1.46 and saunter to the side, awaiting my salty fat treat. I glance at the donation box in front of the cash register -- to help kids who need help -- and six pennies are scattered outside the box, their target missed. Now listen: I donate. I donate to earthquakes and tsunamis, public radio and polar bears, cancer and buskers. I give. And here are six rogue copper pieces absent from a child's happiness. I could have dropped those pennies into the box, I should have. I thought about it. But it's 5.52AM and I have a tub of half-eaten coleslaw and I'm too busy contemplating when the teen cashier's (Andrew's) voice will break. So I stand. In comes a gang of douchebags, ostensibly from the after-hours joint up the block. Five 'bags and a girl, rocking dress shoes and Christian Audigier, ordering McThis and McThat, one guy gets apple juice. ...It's all good, so did I, minus the apple juice. One of the dudes, without announcement nor show, casually, as if by habit of kindness, picks up the pennies and donates six times.