Monday, September 15, 2008

Street cred

"Yo, Miss Baader," said Maurice.  He was stowing his gym shoes in my cabinet on Friday, as he did every morning because he didn't trust people not to steal them from his locker.  "Did you almost get jumped yesterday?"

I looked up from my laptop.  Um.  No?

"You sure?  Nothing happened to you yesterday?"

Well, I considered.  I guess when I went grocery shopping some homeless guy asked me for some money and when I didn't have any, he cursed me out.

"That's it?  Nothing else?"

What are you getting at, Maurice?

"I was just wondering, you know, because Marvin and Dante said you almost got jumped in the parking lot."

Where?  Here at school?

"Yeah.  And they said that you didn't get jumped because you told them that you knew me and they let you alone."

Who left me alone?  

"I don't know.  Some gangbangers."

Some gangbangers.  So let me get this straight: Marvin and Dante told you that I told some gangbangers that I knew you and therefore they didn't jump me because of your street cred?

His face fell.  "Yeah.  I guess."

I could tell he was really disappointed, so I did my best not to laugh.  No.  I'm sorry, Maurice.  It didn't happen.

"Oh," he said, and lit out of my classroom, pretending to slam-dunk an invisible ball on his way out the door.

He didn't drop by my classroom this morning because he doesn't have gym on Mondays.  In fact, I didn't see him all day but at lunchtime I ran into Marvin and Dante in the lunch line.  

Hey, I said.  Did you tell Maurice that I almost got jumped?

Dante had turned the corner inside the lunchline and Marvin pulled him back.  "Say that again so Dante can hear you," he said.

I sighed.  Did you tell Maurice I got jumped?

The two of them exploded into laughter.  "He asked her.  I can't believe he asked her," Dante said, nearly crying he was laughing so hard.  "Hey Carl," he said, and pulled Carl over.  "Maurice asked Miss Baader if she got jumped.

The three of them fell all over themselves, they were laughing so hard.  Juniors, these three.  They've had three years to hone the sophistication of their practical jokes.

I've got half a mind to find the most popular girl in the junior class and tell her that exact story, make Maurice into a local hero.  All the girls will fall all over him.  

Payback.  Watch me, I'll do it, too.

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