Dancing in the streets to a mostly white hip-hop cover band with my small group (to Will Smith’s Gettin’ Jiggy With It) has been one of the highlights of my year. While I wanted to scoff at the horrendous outfits, furry hats, and fake-gold chains bedecking everyone in the band that played… it didn’t take long before I, too, was sucked into the 80’s hits because of the joy these men got out of the evening.
We were at a local festival, pizza fest, where there were approximately three pizza vendors on a small stretch of the very same street I took video on almost exactly this time last year when a shooting occurred as I recorded. Sher and me decided to take the group out for dinner because of the festival just a few blocks down our street—we usually have tuna sandwiches or soup on Sunday night, so we all pigged out on pizza, fried sweet potato chips and funnel cake. I don’t think any of the guys had tried funnel cake before… like doughnuts. Right? If possible, worse for you than doughnuts, but that hardly matters.
Sitting around the table, we argued about the fact that I refused to use the port-a-potty, and, call me snooty if you want, I just would not do it. The McDonalds next door is barely an improvement, so I jumped up and away before I got heckled into giving into the smelly green boxes. After we ate our fill, we assumed the group would head out, but we had heard the next “band” was going to be good, so we decided to stick around to hear them.
Then a posse of posers hopped up on stage and danced and shook (I won’t mention what) and sang songs that everyone knows and loves if they listened to the radio at all in the 1980’s. It was hilarious and heartwarming to watch and eventually join in with our friends’ enthusiasm. The night was spectacular, the company endearing—some of the best I know.
As my time here in Uptown comes to a close, I will miss these guys. I will miss their long, drawn-out stories, their teasing, their hugs, their help, and their listening ears. Steve taught me a few new dance moves, and he was thrilled to have a partner. Melvin complained about the pizza, it’s just what he does. Anthony joked and joked about going to beer fest together, even if none of us had a drop of alcohol. Fine. We can go to beer fest and look for the funnel cake tent, OK?
Though none of these men are fathers, they have all played their part in fathering me this year, looking out for me, walking me home from the train, ringing the doorbell just to check in and share a wave from the window. We holler out the window to each other, we water the garden. We sit on the porch; we walk the streets of Uptown. And sometimes, we dance in them.
Thank you to my friends, my brothers, my adopted fathers who watch and protect, and who love. If only I could find a way to show my love for you all.