"Life eventually returned back to normal, and I was back to having fun with my friends again.
We liked to get together and take turns singing our favorite songs to each other and using one another for each other’s audience. The fun in it (for a few) was giggling at my TGGF-she sang the worse out of everyone and couldn’t hold a note if her life depended on it-lord knows she tried. For about two years already, she and I had been secret kissing buddies, so I secretly had her back-no matter her shortcomings, awkward ways or in spite of the fact that she did not fit in with my other friends; just me-outside of them…
In addition to taking turns singing, a life that was good and normal also included whipping out the tetherball and rope, then heading to the bottom of the street to wrap it around the pole and go at it for hours at a time. All who wanted to play, knew the rules: just take a seat at the end of the wall and wait your turn to step up to (me) the tetherball champ; whose forearms stayed red, swollen and welted so much that the pain eventually turned numb.
The only time I would get a break and some sit down time at the end of that line on the cement wall, was when big-corn fed Jasmine would bring her bodacious presence to the set. Her apartment was way up the street towards the top of the hill, all she had to do was step outside and look down the hill for a crowd, screams, laughter and commotion. She knew that we were huddled there and it was game-on. It was like she could sense the excitement in her body, so she would head down that hill to prepare us for her reign of terror. We would know when she was coming because we could practically feel the earth move under her feet. When she would arrive down to the bottom of that hill, she would change the energy of the whole game. It was one thing to be beating my friends in the game-it was challenging, but fun. We spent a lot of time laughing at everybody stepping up with their “A” game having told themselves that this time, they were going to sit me down. But when Jasmine would sit at the end of the wall, I would get annoyed from having to use up all my endurance; knocking that ball back and forth from playing with my mediocre-skilled friends, knowing full-well that I was going to need all the endurance I could muster up in order play Jasmine’s big corn-fed ass. Because of the tension, our laughter and fun of the sport would turn serious and quiet. All our brows would be frowned up, and we seemed to be fighting one another with the ball in between us-instigating the fight.
It was one thing for me to be kicking butt in tetherball, but she gave kicking butt in tetherball a whole new meaning. It was like, when she would hit the ball, if you weren’t quick and careful; she could wrap you around the pole with the rope and the ball. The tetherball had its own sound when she would hit that bitch. It sounded as though she would bust a whole in the ball each time she hit it. If you played her too hard, and she was forced to use both hands, we would pray that the rope was tied to the pole and the ball tight enough, because we remembered all too well, both flying off the pole and headed uphill a time or two or three.
Part of me hated Jasmine’s presence on the set because she didn’t have that kind of “respect-fear:” that fear of being defeated-not even possibly. It was almost like she knew she was going to beat everyone twice over but wanted to come down and interrupt the game just to stroke her own ego. I would sometimes hold the ball and rope in my hand, then glance over and scowl at her. I would fantasize about the rope being long enough to toss the ball out to swing toward her face, so I could say: “oops, ‘scuse me,” just so she could look me in my face before giving me a run for my money and sitting me down. The way she would sit there eating her barbeque potato chips and orange Jungle Juice, smacking all loud and paying no attention to other people’s game-totally annoyed me. She wouldn’t turn her head away out of fear or shyness, bur rather, sheer disregard-as if in her mind, she was saying: “I can beat you with my eyes closed.” She even disregarded her champion opponent at the pole-always. She didn’t give a damn who won, because she knew her big heavy handed ass was going to clear the set real quick after a round or maybe two, because nobody wanted to play against her with the exception of me and “If-You-Stop-Punching-Me-I’ll-Let-Go-Of-Your-Collar” [girl].
Watching big Jasmine and Collar Girl go at that tetherball would be like letting two beasts in the wild go at it in a game of survival of the fittest. It was always a treat and a long entertaining match to watch. Sometimes it would go so long that you would either forget which one won or you would be so tired from vertigo, and your head bouncing from left to right: Jasmine (then Collar Girl). Jasmine (then Collar Girl). Jasmine (then Collar Girl). Jasmine (then Collar Girl)…by the time the game was over, we really didn’t care who won.
Listening to the sound of both of them hit the ball was an experience in and of itself. Each punch sounded as if the air was trying to escape both their abuse, or like the ball itself, wanted to take legs and run. I could only relive the pain my head was going through while Collar Girl made her way up my steps and beat the crap out of me that one day-three years earlier. I wanted out of that ass-whipping: stat! It seemed like she had so much fun at my screaming and poppin’ her collar; that ever since that day, she only felt half alive if she wasn’t teaming up and starting trouble with another shit-starter nicknamed “T-Rubble.” Her nickname was fitting, because all she did was stir up riff-raff and trouble. The both of them would be doing their best to terrorize me, but I was a defiant little something. Nobody was going to bully me comfortably and easily. I had been there-done that in my little life-time years before this and refused to allow it to blossom and manifest ever again.
No matter how many times I sat outside on my porch, from four doors up where Collar Girl and T-Rubble would be sitting, a rock would always come flying down-hitting me upside the head. Even after screaming and nearly stomping a hole in my porch’s cement steps, and yelling at them both with the force of a good tetherball beating; you best believe I was coming right back outside to sit right back on my porch. Sometimes I would get fed up enough with the rock throwing, that I would run off the porch to go and fight back. And each time, I would run into Collar Girl’s fist.
No matter how many black eyes she gave me, I refused to let her scare me away to oblivion. I was not going to be forced in to staying in the house because of these girls. I had no shame, and besides, I was lived there first! I wasn’t going anywhere! Trying to bully me was a full-time job. I insisted it be."