Couldn't Be a Basketball Player

My friend parked right next to me and began talking in Bronx slang: "Yo, son, I'm ma' hungry. Whea' da' food at?"

The fountain behind my summer-dressed friend chased the humidity away with sprays of _fresh!_ Oh, the feeling of breezy drizzles of water quenched my skin's desire as I was already holding a bottle of Aquafina. The Aquafina was lonely and wanted the ever-prized New York falafel, a dish simply amazing with stir-fried lamb, veggies, and yellow rice.

So I granted the wish of the humble bottle. I boxed my way around the jabs of New Yorkers and popped up next to the street vendor working hard and sweating, but pleasing the taste buds of the hungry, hot, and tempered-steel people on line. I was fourth in line, with a well-noted, short-skirted, blue-shirted blonde and a black man behind me and an Anglo-Saxon right next to him. Huge bags swayed from both men's arms—one pair insanely muscled and ripped, the white pair long and lanky, matching the huge seven-foot frame to which they belonged.

The bags were marked with basketballs. Could it be? A seven-footer and a ripped black dude? Well, the African American was shorter than my six-foot stature, so...maybe not.

My friend parked right next to me and began talking in Bronx slang: "Yo, son, I'm ma' hungry. Whea' da' food at?"

"Hol' up," I answered. "I'm awn line."

Have you ever spoken a foreign language, and when someone else unexpectedly speaks the same language, you're, like, "You speak the same language as me!" almost as an uncontrollable impulse? Because, suddenly, the shorter one behind me asked: "Y'all frum da hood, man?"

Forget the Bronx—he'd just associated me with the "hood!" I was so cool!

"Yea, no dou' man. You too, ri'?" I replied.

"'Course," he said. "Frum whea'?"

"Brawnx, homie," my friend interjected.

"Das' werd," said the muscled dark-skinned man. And after many handshakes and some story swapping among the three of us (while the seven-footer laughed), we stood in front of the steaming metal monster of a food cart, our turn to order finally. Bigger than your average hot-dog stand and slightly caved in with a metal awning, it devoured salted meat, veggies, and rice and spit out a delicious dish. I ordered three platters, accompanied by sodas and standard nondegradable utensils.

My newly acquired buddies did the same, and as my turn to pay rolled around, muscled dark-skinned man pulled out a wad of bills—hundreds and twenties: "I gawt chu, son."

Drug dealer? Basketball logos on shopping bag, seven-foot-tall friend! Basketball player!?

"Oh, shit. Good looks, man!" I said, with a higher-pitched voice showing my giddiness. "What's your name?"

"Nate Robinson. Yers?"

"Riad. You a basketball playa or somethin'?"

"Yea, man. I jus' gawt drafted. Me an' him. We play for da Knicks," he said, pointing behind him to the silent giant. "Thas' wassup."

My tongue was tied. Nothing else came out. The ease of babbling became the difficulty of an impression. That was the end.


No comments yet, why not leave one of your own?

Leave a Comment or Share Your Story

Please Sign In. Only community members can comment.

SMITH Magazine

SMITH Magazine is a home for storytelling.
We believe everyone has a story, and everyone
should have a place to tell it.
We're the creators and home of the
Six-Word Memoir® project.