With my new name came an identity crisis. When I met someone on the bus or outside McDonald’s I would tell them my real name. Went I met them at McDonald’s it was my new name. Aunt Fern & family knew the drill & would answer the person on the other line of any phonecall to me accordingly.
Well my worlds clashed one faithful day at McDonald’s. One of the youths that lived on the block saw me at McDonald’s and trying to get my attention called my name. I had tried to look away but I had already made eye contact. What do I do now? Do I go to the counter and talk to him to take a little control of the situation? Or do an acknowledgement wave and duck to the back? Damien nudged me. “That guy seems to be calling you by some other name. Do you know him?”
By now he was very animated in trying to get my attention so I had to go to the counter.
“Do you know him?” Damien repeated as I headed to the counter.
“Yes.” I replied.
“So why is he calling you that name?”
“It is my Pet name.”
“What’s a pet name?”
“A nick name”, I replied as I rushed to the counter.
Tim was already at the counter by the time I got there. “What’s up man? Didn’t know you work here.”
“Yeah. Can’t really talk I have to get back to work though.”
He beckoned me to lean over and he whispered in my ear.
“Bro can you hook me up with some fries?” he whispered.
“I can’t do that,” I responded as I looked up at him.
“Come on man. You know the cashier. Just ask her to drop some fries in my bag,” he replied.
“I can’t do that. I would get in trouble,” I explained.
“Awright man. See you around”, he said sarcastically as he slowly got back into the line. He was clearly upset. See he was upset that I did not hook him up. As he got back in line I could see him staring at me. I felt very uncomfortable. My cover was blown and I was only able to give an excuse to Damien. I wondered what the others may have thought. Mary-Ann was outside and had probably seen everything. I wondered what she thought. I had been close with her and I am sure she was going to ask what that was about.
As I walked back to my station Damien said, “Stephen, what that was about?” He was now calling me by my ‘real’ nick name in a teasing way. I did not know how to react. The day continued as normal. No one seemed to mention any thing about the name. Maybe I was making a big deal over nothing. Clearly Damien seemed to believe the nick name story.
At the end of my shift he said, “Bye Stephen.”
The next day I had a day off. As usual when I have a day off I would head out in the street and play either American football or basketball.
Today everyone was playing football. Tim was there. He nodded at me and greeted me.
“What’s up gee? Why you dis me yesterday?”
I replied, “That was no dis. If I had gotten you those fries I would be in trouble.” He just does not get it I thought.
Well it so happens today that Tim and I were on opposite teams. Like me he was always the Quarterback. He was good at that position. If he and I were on the same team I would defer from playing that position. He loved to trash talk and it was fun seeing him pick on the other guys. He never really picked on me. Today was different. I was called ‘island bumpkin QB’. He teased about me learning to throw by practicing with coconuts. The guys on his team went after me and it was more like slap football than touch football. I had ‘wails’ where they slapped me. They were killing our team. It was 50 to 0.
After the game he was still trash talking and was now in my face. I had no urge to get into an argument over some silly fries but he seemed determined to start something. I was close to cussing some ‘Bad wuds’ an tell im bout im parts but I knew it would result in something really bad.
The others start to tell Tim to calm down. His bigger brother finally came out on the street and told him to shut up.
I walked back home feeling relieved that a fight never started. The last time I had a fight was at a friend’s home in Meadowbrook. It was a silly fight over the best music video.
That night I slept well. I needed to forget all the troubles of the past 2 days.
The next morning it was back to work. My first job was the normal day. McDonald was different. As usually I was at work early and Mary-Ann was waiting at the usual spot. Our relationship had grown and was much deeper. We were not girlfriend and boyfriend but the magnetism was so strong we knew we were past a friendship. We never kissed or hugged but our eyes have connected on many occasions, in a way that was more physical than a kiss. As I walked up to the table she said, “Hi Stephen,” smiling but in a teasing way. I was a little shocked but tried to hide it. “Damien told me about your Jamaican pet name.” She was laughing.
“Why do you call it pet name in Jamaica?”
“I am not sure why.”
“Do you mind me calling you that?” she asked. I was not sure what to say. Then she said “It’s kinda cute.” That’s settled. “Yes, you can certainly call me that.” I was jumping for joy inside as I had a part of the real me back even if it was under my ‘pet’ name.
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