Brakes don't screech when you're on the receiving end of half a ton of metal, gas and human feet that are too slow to respond to the brain that's giving them instructions. You hear the wind rushing away from you and washing over the thing that's approaching. The slipstream is loud: even outside a relatively-busy strip mall with a wall of blaring televisions.
As your hands slam onto the hood of the black four-wheel drive, you realize you’re still holding onto the brown paper bag from the store. The wind from the collision is gone: the breeze brings with it the audio version of the music video playing on the wall of TVs.
And you think: “I wrote that song.”
You don't see the look of horror on the man's face as he lets go of the steering wheel and pumps his foot harder on the brake. You do feel the sudden ripple of energy that goes through your torso – the point of contact – as the car’s biggest selling-point is stamped onto the skin you’re wearing under your black t-shirt.
Your eyes close as the laws of physics begin to (visibly) take over. You start to fall: backwards, to cross the path you had intended to take across the parking lot before the car’s brakes had thought otherwise.
And you don’t know when your body had flattened itself out, but you are definitely prone by the time you’re in mid-air.
And it keeps playing in your head: the sound coming from the TV sets. The song you wrote. The faint “whoosh” of the paper bag as it flies out of your hand. And those damn metal letters on the front of the car that hit you.
There’s screaming now. Not from you, of course. From someone – in plural – who’s witnessed the-
* * *
“Hold up,” the person watching me write the thing above protests, “this won’t work if you don’t take it seriously. I said ‘dramatize the experience of someone in a REAL music video’. This is NOT what happened in Georgy Porgy.”
“You’re wrong. I remember watching this in 2001 and it was a hit back then.”
“Liar! I know this song. I LOVE this song. And I swear that’s NOT what happened in the video.”
“Really?” I challenge. “Whats your version of it?”
“Eric Benet – I have to pause to admire his fine-ness – and Faith Evans are singing, writhing in close proximity and sniffing each others’ necks, the way REAL R&B ought to be represented.”
“There was some writhing,” I agree, “but the car accident DID happen.”
She is not amused. “You and your akili shikwerekwere!”
* * *
The person who tasked me with writing the dramatization is NOT a product of Kenya’s 8-4-4 system. And she hates it more than the smell of crushed cockroaches.
“They take your brains,” she said passionately the first time I heard her explanation, “smash them against the rigid gendered patriarchal capitalist self-hating blackness which ‘society’ wants ingrained into their children. Picture a cheese grater: with crosses, crescents and ‘KNEC’ cut into the metal. They take your beautiful brains, and rub them against that grater.”
“Colorful depiction,” I made the mistake of interrupting.
“UP AND DOWN,” she raised her voice, “with boring, repetitive tasks. ‘Memorize this’. ‘Write the answer EXACTLY the way I did on the blackboard’. ‘Your parents sold cows to educate a bigger one’. Grating for years, because someone did that to them and now it’s the only muscle-memory they have. And in every household, in every street corner, in every hall of parliament is the echo of that grating. And the sound it makes.”
“A grating sound?” There was sugar in my coffee. Sucrose and I do not get along.
“No,” she clarified: “more like ‘shikwerekwerekwerekwere…’”
* * *
“Akili shikwerekwere” is her label of choice when she encounters a mentally-deficient poser. It literally means “shikwerekwere for brains”.
I know what you’re thinking. “This is 2017. Let the internet solve your quarrel.”
Well...We’re both too cheap to use our phones to stream music videos and the electricity is gone: because rain drops. But she digs out her laptop, navigates to a folder filled with music videos – she has a nasty crush on Eric Benet, by the way – and shows me the one she’s downloaded.
We watch it together...and I’m stumped.
“NOT LIES!” She insists. “THAT’s the actual music video.”
The rain stops and we both have the same thought.
Java has free wifi.
* * *
The Truth Emerges.
My Doer of Things built a browser once. I will always appreciate search bars after the stress I saw them go through. I know it makes no difference, but I still enter terms with capitalized letters. Can’t help myself.
“Eric Benet Georgy Porgy music video.” And...there.
Youtube, being youtube, has the first search result and it’s the one she had on her laptop.
But DailyMotion has another suggestion a few results down, and it looks familiar. We let it load: this is public wifi and people are taking shelter from the rain, so everyone has some kind of internet-enabled device out. It smells like coffee and freshly-baked cake.
Aha! The video’s loaded! See you in 5 minutes.
The youtube version, which she had downloaded, was an edited version, possibly done by a fan who wanted more neck-sniffing and less vehicular assault. My competitor had a flood of memories when the video played, and is watching it for the fourth time.
So I won (thank you, DailyMotion!). And she’s paying for the coffee. HA!
Tags: Throwback Thursday
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