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86 Tagging, Cullet and Hershey Squirts

Bruce Abel

yo, what's no potna," raps Jonathan, my 13-year-old fair-skinned, blond-haired, blue-eyed neighbour.

"Nothin' new. What's the word, homey?" I reply.

"Gimme a dap. I'll give ya one back," he says. We high-five.

Jonathan does a head-spin breakdance. His kangol flies off into the hedge. "Nice hat," I say, as I retrieve it from the bushes.

"Gave the mother ten dolla, he axed me for more bank," he answers, as he brushes his fingers through his hair to fix his high top fade. "Peep this, fresh dipped, dukey rope, khakis Timbs, rocking new Clarks," he says proudly. He accentuates each word with rolled shoulders, arm jabs into the air, and intricate finger movements.

"I see you're in style, wearing a fat gold chain, brown baggy jeans and new shoes."

"I'm smoothed out like butter, not no Parkay, not no margarine, strictly butter. Yo bag up, bag up, bag up. Really do, I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller. Yo bag up, bag up, bag up. Today, 1-2 checker around the way. Yo bag up, bag up, bag up. Cronkite got me bent like elbows. I'm getting myself some toilet paper cuz C.R.E.A.M. is butt. Yo bag up, bag up, bag up," he raps in a squeaky, soprano voice. The rolling shoulders and finger flashes continue even though he has stopped singing.

"While you're well-liked, really though you want action with girls and you're checking out the neighbourhood. The news makes you sad because Cash Rules Everywhere About Me, but you laugh real hard," I reply empathetically. "And school?" I ask.

"Ma thang, no diggety. Droppin' science and grippin' it on the other level."

"Great to hear that there's no question about school being your thing and that high grades give you much satisfaction."

"Bust this, my burner, it's stupid," he says, pointing to the wall of his house.

"I did happen to see that very large piece of bright and creative multi-coloured graffiti. What did your dad say?"

"Toy and 86 tagging," he sighs. Shoulders and fingers move in unison.

"Oh, too bad that he'll cover up your work and bans you from doing any more," I say.

"Summer nathan, the lime has no juice," he adds.

"No plans for summer and that's dull," I acknowledge.

"Yo, we be geese," he says, as he hip-hops off.

"Mercedes," I call out.

"Benz, homey," Jonathan says.

As I return to my house, a young woman runs across the street shouting, "Mr. A."

I must have looked puzzled because she adds, "It's me, Veronica, but everybody calls me V V."

"Oh. Ver. . . V V. I didn't recognize you. You've changed," I say.

V V, my eighteen-year-old neighbour, has returned from first year at the Ontario College of Art. A rose pink mop replaces long, mousy-brown hair. Freckles vanish under white, creamed foundation. Small, natural lips are now thick, glossy and black. Eyelashes thickened. Eyebrows plucked v-shaped. Fluorescent green, square-rimmed glasses without lens accentuate her flaming red eye shadow.

"How ya doin'?" I ask.

V V pouts and says, "I'm embrangled, I could defenestrate MM."

"Oh, you're feeling perplexed and want to throw MM out of the window," I empathize.

"MM, my lover, is digerati," she sighs.

"Ah, MM is a computer expert devoted to the Internet," I acknowledge.

"MM calls my art otiose. It is so pellucid, we're antipodes," she adds. "Most of the time MM sounds so. . . so borborygmus."

"MM sees your work as worthless," I say. "And it is clear that you two are diametrically opposite. And when MM speaks, it sounds like the rumblings made by the movement of gases in the stomach and intestine."

"Let me show you my latest work," she says, opening a blue garbage bag and proudly displaying a dozen or so cat food tins, still with labels, welded together, rimmed with bits of glass. "This is ‘Hallux.' Garbology is the essence of experience. Cullet is so symbolic."

"It does look like the big toe on the human foot," I say. "And, your medium is waste material with emphasis on broken glass ready for recycling."

Just then, Lawrence, the resident curmudgeon walks over.

"What the Sam Hell?" he asks, peering over his bifocals at V V's sculpture.

"Huh?" says V V.

"He's asking about your sculpture," I translate.

"Hallux," says V V.

Lawrence coughs out, "Well, cut off my legs and call me shorty. Useless as tits on a boar."

Huh?" says V V.

"He's amazed at garbology," I interpret.

Puzzled by V V's beaming smile, Lawrence asks, "Have ya splinters in the windmill of your mind?"

"Huh?" says V V.

Lawrence continues, "Did ya ever fall outta the stupid tree and hit ever' branch on the way down?"

Huh?" says V V.

Quickly changing the subject, I ask, "So,Lawrence, how ya been keeping?"

"Busier than a cranberry merchant but not as active as a three-peckered billy goat," he says and chuckles.

V V, seeing a good opportunity to go, says, "Chillax."

"Huh?" says Lawrence.

"She says relax and take it easy," I respond.

After V V leaves, Lawrence grunts, "If my dog looked like her, I'd shave its ass and walk it backwards down the street. Who is she anyway?"

"Remember little Veronica from down the street?

He replies, "Does a frog bump his ass when he jumps?"

"That's little Veronica all grown-up."

He says, "Don't piss on my leg and then tell me it's raining."

"Honest."

Lawrence says, "Gee wilakers! That really takes the cake! She's so thin that she'd have to jump up and down in the rain to get wet."

"So, how's ya health?" I ask.

"Had the hershey squirts and married the outhouse. I felt like a gunny sack full of festered assholes but the Lord willing and the creek don't rise, I'm not pushing up daisies, and I still rise before the crows pee," he replied.

"Say, that short kid that was here, the one who'd hafta stand on a brick to kick a duck in the ass, the one that jumps around like a fart in a mitten. Who is that?"

"Oh, Jonathan, the rapper."

Lawrence splutters and says, "Seeing kids dress like that makes my ass want to chew tobacco. And have ya heard him sing? He can't carry a tune in a bucket. Well, time to get my ass in gear. Gotta buy a lottery ticket, but I've as much hope of winning as a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest. Good to chat with ya, I'm off like a bride's nightgown."

Back in the house, Sandie asks me, "What's happening in the neighbourhood?

"86 tagging, cullet and hershey squirts," I reply.


Bruce Abel is a Guelph, Ontario writer and e-journal editor.

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