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[1 of 5] Long Division, Book One, pages 1-49, Book Two, pages 166-172, by Kiese Laymon (2013) copy 01

Author: Kiese Laymon

Laymon, Kiese. “Book One, Pages 1-49, Book Two, Pages 166-172.” Long Division, Scribner Book Company, 2013, 2021.

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Apr-13-23 Wording change

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“Twice upon a time, there was a boy who died and lived happily ever after, but that’s another chapter.” —ANDRÉ BENJAMIN, “AQUEMINI”

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“I don’t wanna time travel no more…” —Erykah Badu, “Window Seat”

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—ANDRÉ BENJAMIN, “AQUEMINI”
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BOOK ONE

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ONE SENTENCE.

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Apr 14
Daeja D Daeja D (Apr 14 2023 8:02PM) : Chapter summary/ Satire more

Laymon makes fun of the media’s preoccupation with sensationalizing Black grief and tragedy through comedy. Additionally, he uses commentary to draw attention to the systematic racism in American education and how it feeds the myth of white supremacy. Overall, the chapter exposes the hypocrisy and injustice of American culture through a blend of humor and critique.

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(BOOK ONE, pages 1 – 11)
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LaVander Peeler cares too much what white folks think about him. Last quarter, instead of voting for me for ninth-grade CF (Class Favorite), he wrote on the back of his ballot, “All things considered, I shall withhold my CF vote rather than support Toni Whitaker, Jimmy Wallace, or The White Homeless Fat Homosexual.” He actually capitalized all five words when he wrote the sentence, too. You would expect more from the only boy at Fannie Lou Hamer Magnet School with blue-black patent-leather Adidas and an ellipsis tattoo on the inside of his wrist, wouldn’t you? The tattoo and the Adidas are the only reason he gets away with using sentences with “all things considered” and the word “shall” an average of fourteen times a day. LaVander Peeler hates me. Therefore (I know Principal Reeves said that we should never write the “n-word” if we are writing paragraphs that white folks might be reading, but…), I hate that goofy nigga, too.

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My name is City. I’m not white, homeless, or homosexual, but if I’m going to be honest, I guess you should also know that LaVander Peeler smells so good that sometimes you can’t help but wonder if a small beast farted in your mouth when you’re too close to him. It’s not just me, either. I’ve watched Toni Whitaker, Octavia Whittington, and Jimmy Wallace sneak and sniff their own breath around LaVander Peeler, too.

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Apr 13
Suhailah R Suhailah R (Apr 13 2023 9:15AM) : Overstatement (satire)
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If you actually watched the 2013 Can You Use That Word in a Sentence finals on good cable last night, or if you’ve seen the clip on YouTube, you already know I hate LaVander Peeler. The Can You Use That Word in a Sentence contest was started in the spring of 2006 after states in the Deep South, Midwest, and Southwest complained that the Scripps Spelling Bee was geographically biased. Each contestant has two minutes to use a given word in a “dynamic” sentence. The winner of the contest gets $75,000 toward college tuition if they decide to go to college. All three judges in the contest, who are also from the South, Midwest, or Southwest, must agree on a contestant’s “correct sentence usage, appropriateness, and dynamism” for you to advance. New Mexico and Oklahoma won the last four contests, but this year LaVander Peeler and I were supposed to bring the title to Mississippi.

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Anyway, LaVander Peeler has way too much space between his eyes and his fade doesn’t really fade right. Nothing really fades into anything, to tell you the truth. Whenever I feel dumb around him I call him “Lavender” or “Fade Don’t Fade.” Whenever I do anything at all, he calls me “White Homeless Fat Homosexual” or “Fat Homosexual” for short because he claims that my “house” is a rich white lady’s garage, that I’m fatter than Sean Kingston at his fattest, and that I like to watch boys piss without saying, “Kindly pause.”

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LaVander Peeler invented saying “Kindly pause” in the bathroom last year at the end of eighth grade. If you were pissing and another dude just walked in the bathroom and you wondered who was walking in the bathroom, or if you walked in the bathroom and just looked a little bit toward a dude already at a urinal, you had to say “Kindly pause.” If I sound tight, it’s because I used to love going to the bathroom at Hamer. They just renovated the bathrooms for the first time in fifteen years and these rectangular tiles behind the urinal are now this deep dark blue that makes you know that falling down and floating up are the same thing, even if you have severe constipation.

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Nowadays, you can never get lost in anything because you’re too busy trying to keep your neck straight. Plus, it’s annoying because dudes say “Kindly pause” as soon as they walk in the bathroom. And if one dude starts it, you have to keep saying it until you have both feet completely out of the bathroom.

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But I don’t say “Kindly pause,” and it’s not because I think I’m slightly homosexual. I just don’t want to use some wack catchphrase created by LaVander Peeler, and folks don’t give me a hard time for it because I’ve got the best waves of anyone in the history of Hamer. I’m also the second-best rebounder in the school and a two-time reigning CW (Class Wittiest). Toni said I could win the SWDGF (Student Who Don’t Give a Fuck) every year if we voted on that, too, but no one created that yet. Anyway, it helps that everybody in the whole school hates LaVander Peeler at least a little bit, even our janitor and Principal Reeves.

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When LaVander Peeler and I tied at the state Can You Use that Word in a Sentence contest, the cameras showed us walking off the stage in slow motion. I felt like Weezy F. Baby getting out of a limo, steady strolling into the backdoor of hell. In the backdrop of us walking were old images of folks in New Orleans, knee-deep in toxic water. Those pictures shifted to shots of Trayvon Martin in a loose football uniform, then oil off the coast drowning ignorant ducks. Then they finally replayed that footage of James Anderson being run over by those white boys off of Ellis Avenue. The last shots were black-and-whites of dusty-looking teenagers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee holding up picket signs that said “Freedom Schools Now” and “Black is not a vice. Nor is segregation a virtue.”

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The next day at school, after lunch, LaVander Peeler, me, and half the ninth graders including Toni Whitaker, Jimmy Wallace, and strange Octavia Whittington walked out to the middle of the basketball court where the new Mexican seventh graders like to play soccer. There are eight Mexican students at Hamer and they all started school this semester. Principal Reeves tried to make them feel accepted by having a taco/burrito lunch option three times a week and a Mexican Awareness Week twice each quarter. After the second quarter, it made most of us respect their Mexican struggle, but it didn’t do much for helping us really distinguish names from faces. We still call all five of the boys “Sergio” at least twice a quarter. LaVander Peeler says being racist is fun.

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It kinda is.

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Anyway, everyone formed a circle around LaVander Peeler and me, like they did every day after lunch, and LaVander Peeler tried to snatch my heart out of my chest with his sentences.

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“All things considered, Fat Homosexual,” LaVander Peeler started. “This is just a sample of the ass-whupping you shall be getting tonight at the contest.”

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He cleared his throat.

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“African Americans are generally a lot more ignorant than white Americans, and if you’re an African-American boy and you beat not only African-American girls but white American boys and white American girls, who are, all things considered, less ignorant than you by nature—in something like making sentences, in a white American state like Mississippi—you are, all things considered, a special African-American boy destined for riches, unless you’re a homeless white fat homosexual African-American boy with mommy issues, and City, you are indeed the white fat homosexual African-American boy with mommy issues who I shall beat like a knock-kneed slave tonight at the nationals.” Then he got closer to me and whispered, “One sentence, Homosexual. I shall not be fucked with.”

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Apr 14
Alexandria T Alexandria T (Apr 14 2023 2:13PM) : Satire (Irony) more

It is ironic that LaVander is sharing this opinion about African Americans when he himself is African American.

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Apr 14
malyia j malyia j (Apr 14 2023 4:05PM) : I feel the same I feel like certain things he says about black people makes it seem like he isn't or he hates his own people
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Apr 26
Angel A Angel A (Apr 26 2023 12:09PM) : Satire more

Isnt he african American?

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LaVander Peeler backed up and looked at the crowd, some of whom were pumping their fists, covering their mouths, and laughing to themselves. Then he kissed the ellipsis tattoo on his wrist and pointed toward the sky. I took out my brush and got to brushing the waves on the back of my head.

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It’s true that LaVander Peeler has mastered the comma, the dash, and the long “if-then” sentence. I’m not saying he’s better than me, though. We just have different sentence styles. I don’t think he understands what the sentences he be using really mean. He’s always praising white people in his sentences, but then he’ll turn around and call me “white” in the same sentence like it’s a diss. And I’m not trying to hate, but all his sentences could be shorter and more dynamic, too.

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Apr 13
Suhailah R Suhailah R (Apr 13 2023 7:15PM) : Satire (use of humor?)
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The whole school year, even before we went to the state finals, LaVander Peeler tried to intimidate me by using long sentences in the middle of the basketball court after lunch, but Grandma and Uncle Relle told me that winning any championship takes mental warfare and a gigantic sack. Uncle Relle was the type of uncle who, when he wasn’t sleeping at some woman’s house and eating up all the Pop-Tarts she bought for her kids, was in jail or sleeping in a red X-Men sleeping bag at my grandma’s house.

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What Uncle Relle lacked in money, he made up for in the way he talked and taught the ratchet gospels. The sound of his voice made everything he said seem right. When he opened his mouth, it sounded like big old flat tires rolling over jagged gravel. And he had these red, webbed eyeballs that poked out a lot even when he was sleeping. I could tell you crazy stories about Uncle Relle’s eyeballs, his voice, and his sagging V-neck T-shirts, but that would be a waste of time, especially since the detail you just couldn’t forget about, other than his voice, was his right hand. The day after he got back from Afghanistan, Uncle Relle lost the tips of three fingers in a car accident with our cousin Pig Mo. Now, he had three nubs, a pinky, and a thumb. You would think that if you had three nubs, a pinky, and a thumb, you would keep your hand in your pocket, right? Uncle Relle always had his right hand out pointing at folk or asking for stuff he didn’t need or messing around with weed and prepaid cell phones. He told everyone outside the family that he lost the tips in Afghanistan.

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Grandma said Uncle Relle lied about his nubs because he wanted everyone to know he was a damn survivor. In private, she said, “A real survivor ain’t got to show no one that they done survived.” Grandma was always saying stuff you would read in a book.

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“Lavender Peeler,” I told him while brushing the sides of my head and looking at his creased khakis, “Oh, Lavender Peeler, my uncle and grandma thought you would say something white like that. Look, I don’t have to consider all things to know you ain’t special because you know ‘plagiarize’ is spelled with two ‘a’s,’ two ‘i’s’, and a ‘z,’ not an ‘s,’ especially since if you train them XXL cockroaches in your locker, the ones that be the cousins of the ones chilling in prison with your old thieving-ass brother, Kwame, they could spell ‘plagiarize’ with ummm”—I started to forget the lines of my mental warfare—“the crumbs of a Popeyes buttermilk biscuit, which are white buttery crumbs that stay falling out of your halitosis-having daddy’s mouth when he tells you every morning, ‘Lavender, that boy, City, with all those wonderful waves in his head, is everything me and your dead mama wished you and your incarcerated brother could be.’ ” I stepped closer to him, tugged on my sack, and looked at Octavia Whittington out of the corner of my eye. “That’s one sentence, too, nigga, with an embedded quotation up in there.”

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Apr 13
Suhailah R Suhailah R (Apr 13 2023 7:18PM) : Commentary more

Commentary on culture, “talking white”

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“So.”

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“And your fade still don’t fade quite right.”

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Without even looking at me, LaVander Peeler just said, “Roaches cannot spell, so that sentence doesn’t make any sense.”

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Apr 17
Amadou D Amadou D (Apr 17 2023 9:58AM) : "satire"making jokes
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Everyone around us was laughing and trying to give me some love. And I should have stopped there, but I kept going and kept brushing and looked directly at the crowd. “Shid. Lavender Peeler can be the first African American to win the title all he wants, y’all,” I told them. “But me, I’m striving for legendary, you feel me? Shid.”

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Even the seventh-grade Mexicans were dying laughing at LaVander Peeler, who was closest to me. He was flipping through one of those pocket thesauruses, acting like he was in deep conversation with himself.

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“Shid,” I said to the crowd. “I’m ’bout to be the first one of us with a head full of waves to win nationals in anything that ain’t related to sports or cheerleading, you feel me?”

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Apr 13
Suhailah R Suhailah R (Apr 13 2023 7:23PM) : Commentary on culture (social) more

I think this is connecting or introducing the idea that black people only win big in sports

Toni Whitaker, Octavia Whittington, and Jimmy Wallace stopped laughing and stared at each other. Then they looked at both of us. “He ain’t lying about that,” Toni said. Octavia Whittington just nodded her head up and down and kept smiling.

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The bell rang.

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As we walked back to class, LaVander Peeler tapped me on the shoulder and looked me directly in my eye. He flicked his nose with his thumb, opened his cheap flip phone, and started recording himself talking to me.

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“I shall not stomp yo fat ass into the ground because I don’t want to be suspended today, but this right here will be on YouTube in the morning just in case your fat homosexual ass forgets,” LaVander Peeler told me. “I do feel you, City. I can’t help but feel you. I feel that all your sentences rely on magic. All things considered, I feel like there’s nothing real in your sentences because you aren’t real. But do you feel that a certain fat homosexual is supposed to be riding to nationals tonight in my ‘halitosis-having daddy’s’ van? I do. All things considered, I guess his mama don’t even care enough to come see him lose, does she?”

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LaVander Peeler got even closer to me. I smelled fried tomatoes, buttered corn bread, and peppermint. I held my arms tight to my body and counted these twelve shiny black hairs looking like burnt curly fries curling their way out of his chin. I scratched my chin and kept my hand there as he tilted his fade-don’t-fade down and whispered in my ear, “You know the real difference between me and you, City?”

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“What?”

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“Sweat and piss,” he told me. “I’m sweat. All things considered, sweat and piss ain’t the same thing at all. Even your mama knows that, and she might know enough to teach at a community college in Mississippi, but she ain’t even smart enough to keep a man, not even a homeless man who just got off probation for touching three little girls over in Pearl.”

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Apr 13
Suhailah R Suhailah R (Apr 13 2023 7:26PM) : Juxtaposition
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LaVander Peeler closed his flip phone. “One sentence,” he said, and just walked off. “All things considered.”

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Apr 13
Olasubomi O Olasubomi O (Apr 13 2023 7:31PM) : Laymon's Use of Satire more

Kiese Laymon employs satire to criticize how modern media is shallow and influences individuals’ thoughts and actions. City, the main character, is engrossed in a viral video frenzy that holds no significance, serving as a representation of the vacuous consumerist society that he resides in. By ridiculing this trend, Laymon highlights how people’s attention is diverted to insignificant content instead of engaging with substantive issues. Laymon implies that media’s trivialization perpetuates a shallow culture that can’t contemplate on essential concerns. By doing so, he stresses the need to re-examine the impact of the media on society.

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ALL CLEAN.

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Apr 14
Daeja D Daeja D (Apr 14 2023 8:04PM) : Summary and Satire more

City and Lavender frequently debate one another about each other’s appearance or the qualities they like and dislike about one another. Knowing his mother and informing City about the history of many students who made changes was something Miss Reeves had to do. Brenda Travis, a high school student from McComb, just up the road, was fifteen years old, according to Principal Reeves. "Fifty years ago, that young woman canvassed these same streets with the SNCC’s voter registration volunteers. The girl was given a year in the state juvenile prison for the crime of ordering a hamburger from a white restaurant, and she led students like you on a sit-in.
Satire and commentary are used from City and Principal Reeves’s conversation.

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(BOOK ONE, pages 12 – 20)
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Turns out LaVander Peeler commenced to tell our principal, old loose-skin Ms. Lara Reeves, that I called him a “nigger”—not “nigga,” “negroid,” “Negro,” “African American,” or “colored.” I figured it was just LaVander Peeler’s retaliation for someone turning him in two months ago for calling me an “f-word.” I know who snitched on LaVander Peeler, and it wasn’t me, but after he got in trouble for calling me an “f-word” he started calling me a “homosexual,” because he knew Principal Reeves couldn’t punish him for using that word without seeming like she thought there was something wrong with being a homosexual in the first place.

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Apr 18
Amadou D Amadou D (Apr 18 2023 1:29PM) : satire and political commentary more

Kiese Laymon uses satire to highlight the ridiculousness of contemporary culture and customs. He utilizes this to highlight the lack of accountability displayed by many black boys in the modern world. For instance, consider how many children acted courageously in the past to influence change. Today, however, they are denigrating the black community and engaging in argumentation while using racial insults.

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May 26
Mason W Mason W (May 26 2023 9:52AM) : Long Division - Without ... more

Kiese Laymon employs the use of satire as a tool to shed light on the absurdity of contemporary culture and traditions. Through this approach, he aims to draw attention to the absence of responsibility exhibited by many black boys in today’s society. Laymon contrasts the present with the past, where numerous children demonstrated bravery and determination to bring about change. In contrast, the modern-day black youth indulge in debasing the community and engaging in heated arguments while resorting to racial slurs. It’s intriguing how LaVander Peeler altered his comment from using the “f-word” to a more socially acceptable term. Despite this transition, his sarcastic tone and offensive nature remained intact.

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Apr 19
Jade P Jade P (Apr 19 2023 7:06PM) : Satire (Irony/sarcasm) more

I found it ironic how LaVander Peeler changed his comment. When he originally used the “f-word,” and switched to using what can be seen as a more “acceptable” description. He did this to avoid getting in trouble but still used it sarcastically and in an offensive manor.

I guess you should also know that no one else at Hamer or in the world ever called me an “f-word” or “homosexual” except for LaVander Peeler. I’m not trying to make you think I’ve gotten nice with lots of girls or anything because I haven’t. I felt on Toni’s bra in a dark closet in Art and she twerked on my thighs a few times after school. And I guess I talked nasty with a few people who claimed they were girls on this website called WhatYouGotOnMyFreak.com, but really that was it. Truth is my sack stayed dry as hell, but I don’t think you’re supposed to feel remedial about sex unless you make it through tenth grade with a dry sack. The point is that even if LaVander Peeler caught you watching him piss once, I don’t think that should really qualify you as a homosexual.

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Anyway, I sat in Principal Reeves’s office waiting to tell her that I didn’t call him a “nigger,” but that I did bring my wave brush out after lunch by mistake.

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In Principal Reeves’s office, next to her bookshelf, was a poster with a quote from Maya Angelou. The backdrop of the poster was the sun and in bolded red letters were the sentences, “Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean. Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

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Apr 27
Allison L Allison L (Apr 27 2023 9:42AM) : Maya Angelou poster more

The Maya Angelou poster is probably a reflection of Principal Reeve’s personality and why she pushes CIty to be more socially active

I hated sentences that told me that my emotions were like something that wasn’t emotional, but I loved how those red words looked like they were coming right out of the sun, red hot.

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Ms. Lara Reeves had been a teacher since way back in the ’80s and she became the principal at Hamer about four years ago. The worst part of her being the principal was that she was also my mama’s friend. My mama was known for having friends you wouldn’t think she’d have. Mama had me when she was a sophomore at Jackson State fourteen years ago. She’s old now, in her early thirties, so you would expect her to have only Black friends in her thirties, but she had old Black friends, young African friends, and super-old friends like Principal Reeves.

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Mama taught over at Madison Community College and Principal Reeves took a politics course from her. When I first heard that my principal was my mama’s student, I thought I’d get away with everything. But it was actually harder for me to get away with anything since whenever Principal Reeves didn’t do her homework or answered questions wrong, she liked to talk to my mama about how I was acting a fool in school.

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On Principal Reeves’s desk, you saw all kinds of papers flooding the bottoms of two big pictures of her husband, who disappeared a few years ago. No one knows what happened to him. Supposedly, he went to work one morning and just never came back. If you looked at pictures of Principal Reeves back in the day, you’d be surprised, because she looked exactly the same. She had the same curl at sixty-two that she had at thirty-one, except now the curl had tiny rays of gray.

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Principal Reeves also kept a real record player in her office. In the corner underneath the table were all these Aretha Franklin records. Mama loved Aretha Franklin, too, but she only had greatest-hits CDs, which she’d play every time she picked me up.

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I invented calling Principal Reeves “Ms. Kanye” behind her back because even though she asked a lot of questions, you really still couldn’t tell her nothing. She asked questions just to set up her next point. And her next point was always tied to teaching us how we were practically farting on the chests of the teenagers on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee if we didn’t conduct ourselves with dignity.

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Apr 18
Ebenezer L Ebenezer L (Apr 18 2023 9:41AM) : they are too comfortable with their langauge more

I get that they are saying jokes, I make some myself. But at a certain point these characters need to conscious of what they are saying and who it is insulting.

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Apr 13
Suhailah R Suhailah R (Apr 13 2023 7:29PM) : Commentary on Culture
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Before Principal Reeves stepped her foot in the door of her office, she was saying my name. “Citoyen…”

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“Yes ma’am.”

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“I’d like you to start this test,” she said, and handed me a piece of paper. “It might take you the rest of the year to complete it but we have plenty of time. Don’t look at me with those sad red eyes.”

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Apr 18
Ebenezer L Ebenezer L (Apr 18 2023 9:44AM) : Satire more

This principal reminds me a lot about Mr. Johnson he is caring and overall different. one main important factor is how unconventional they are in showing their love for their students.

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Apr 13
Suhailah R Suhailah R (Apr 13 2023 7:23PM) : Satire (overstatement)
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At Hamer, they were always experimenting with different styles of punishment ever since they stopped whupping ass a few years ago. The new style was to give you a true/false test with a bonus that would take you damn near a whole year to do if you messed up. And the test had to be tailored to what they thought you did wrong and what you needed to learn to not mess up again. The craziest thing is that it was usually harder understanding what the test had to do with what you did wrong than taking the actual test itself.

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I was shaking my head at that bonus question, thinking about how many months it would take me to write those three stories, when Principal Reeves got all serious.

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Apr 18
Ebenezer L Ebenezer L (Apr 18 2023 9:46AM) : Understand more

I would be pissed as well if I had to write three stories over something that I really didn’t do. He’s a better man then me cause I would’ve said no.

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“Citoyen, do you know who the great Brenda Travis is?” she asked me.

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“Umm…”

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“No. You do not know. Brenda Travis was a fifteen-year-old high school student from right up the road in McComb,” Principal Reeves said. “That young lady canvassed these same streets with the SNCC voter-registration workers fifty years ago. She led students like you on a sit-in and for the crime of ordering a hamburger from a white restaurant, the girl was sentenced to a year in the state juvenile prison.”

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“Just a regular hamburger?” I asked her. “Not even a fish sammich or a grilled cheese? That’s crazy.”

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Apr 14
Alexandria T Alexandria T (Apr 14 2023 2:17PM) : Satire (Jokes) more

City says this after being told a serious story of someone going to prison for having a sit-in. He’s joking about a little detail.

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Apr 27
Allison L Allison L (Apr 27 2023 9:10AM) : Satire? more

Principal Reeves is telling City about activist movements and he responds with sarcasm towards justice issues that Reeves feel has to do with him

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“That contraption holding your teeth in place, that’s the problem.” Principal Reeves sat at her desk and started riffling through the tests.

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“I don’t get it,” I told her.

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“Today is the biggest day of your life, Citoyen. You want to waste it calling your brother LaVander Peeler a ‘nigger’ and using a wave brush on school property?”

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The problem was that at Hamer, you used to be able to use your wave brush until the second bell at 8:05, but ever since Jimmy Wallace beat the bile out of this cockeyed new kid with a Pine wave brush during lunch, you could be suspended for something as simple as having a wave brush on school property.

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Apr 19
Jade P Jade P (Apr 19 2023 7:17PM) : Satire more

My middle school didn’t allow us to bring combs to school for a while after some girl threw her comb at a teacher and it hit their eye.

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“LaVander Peeler ain’t my brother,” I told her, “and I didn’t think I was wasting it. I’m ready. You’ll see.”

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Principal Reeves just looked at me. I tried to look away toward the bookshelf so I wouldn’t have to look at her face.

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“What’s that?” I asked her. “That’s so crazy.”

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“It’s just a book,” she said.

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“I thought you said we were never supposed to say ‘just a book’ about a book.”

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Principal Reeves made that rule up last year. She had every book in her bookshelf placed in alphabetical order, but on the floor underneath the shelf was a book called Long Division. There wasn’t an author’s name on the cover or the spine. I couldn’t tell from looking at it if it was fiction or a real story. The cover had the words “Long Division” written in a thick white marker over what looked like a black background with all these pointy blues, some wave brush bristles, a thin slice of watermelon, a cat sitting real regal, some clean Nikes I’d never even seen, and some sticker bushes. The three dots that generally sit on top of the “i’s” in “division” were missing, but there were three dots under the word instead.

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Apr 18
Ebenezer L Ebenezer L (Apr 18 2023 9:48AM) : woah more

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a book mentioned inside of itself.

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“Who wrote that book?”

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Principal Reeves ignored my question and just looked at me.

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“Please stop looking at me, Principal Reeves.”

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“I’ll stop looking at you when you start looking at you. You’ve got to respect yourself and the folks who came before you, Citoyen. You.” She paused. “Didn’t your mother, you, and I sit right here before the state competition and talk about this? What did your mother tell you?”

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Apr 18
Ebenezer L Ebenezer L (Apr 18 2023 9:49AM) : Satire more

a way to give off the message that they need to look inward

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“She said, ‘Your foolishness impacts not only Black folks today, but Black folks yet to be born.’ But see, I don’t agree with my mama…”

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Apr 19
Jade P Jade P (Apr 19 2023 6:55PM) : Satire (Irony) more

Making a comparison to my own personal teachings, specific things from my grandmother. She always tells me stories about how she grew up and when things began to change around her, regarding drugs and gun violence and how it only got worse as time went on. Even though the ones who had seemed to be the root had either been arrested or were dead, they only passed it onto the next generation.

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“There are no buts, Citoyen,” Principal Reeves said. “You are history. Kids right around your age died changing history so you could go to school, so you could compete in that contest tonight, and here you are acting a fool. The day of?”

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“Is that a question?”

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“Fifty-one years ago, Black students took responsibility for the morality and future of this country,” she said. She was so serious. “They organized. They restrained themselves. They put themselves in the crosshairs of evil. They bled. And when the cameras were on, they were scared. But they stepped up and fought nonviolently with dignity and excellence, didn’t they?”

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I just kept looking down at Long Division and started to smell the french fries coming from the cafeteria.

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NNever mind that book, Citoyen. Is it too much to ask of you to respect those students today?” she asked. “Look at me. Those that are still alive are watching. You know that, don’t you?”

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“You mean tonight?” I took my eyes off the book and looked at Principal Reeves. “Tonight, they’ll be watching?”

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“Yes. Tonight they’ll be watching, along with the world. But they’re always watching, so you must behave and compete accordingly. This is just another test. I’m not gonna suspend you or tell your mother. However, if you act a fool one more time this semester and fail to complete the test, I have no choice but to reach out.”

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I hated when folks used the word “however” in regular conversation. You knew that the person you were talking to was so much wacker than you thought as soon as you heard that word. “I know,” I told her.

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“One more thing,” she said and closed the office door. “Two things, actually. First, I don’t want you to come back to school until you finish the test. Second, I hear from LaVander Peeler and a few other teachers that you’re spending a lot of time alone in the bathroom stalls.”

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I looked down at the wet stains on my shoes.

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“Have you been—”

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“What?”

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“Touching yourself inappropriately at lunchtime?”

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“Lunchtime?”

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“Yes. I’ve heard that after many of the boys go into the bathroom to yell ‘Kindly pause,’ you have a tendency to… listen. We don’t want to halt natural human functions at Fannie Lou Hamer, but that activity might be better suited for home, possibly before you go to sleep or maybe even when you wake up.”

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I raised my eyes to Principal Reeves. “I’m good,” I told Principal Reeves. “You’re telling me not to get nice with myself on school property. I hear you.” I started walking out of her office, then turned around. “Wait. Can I borrow that book? I’ll bring it back tomorrow. I just never really seen a book with a cool title like that and no author before.” Principal Reeves slowly reached down and handed me the book. “I haven’t finished it yet,” she told me. “Be careful with that, Citoyen.”

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“Why?”

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“Just be careful,” she said. “See if it can help you with your test. If not, leave it alone. Some books can completely change how we see ourselves and everything else in the world. Keep your eyes on the prize.”

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“I’m good,” I told her before walking out, folding up my test, and placing it inside Long Division. “Don’t worry about my eyes. And that prize is minessss, with all the ‘s’s.’ ”

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At 3:15, LaVander Peeler and I waited on the curb for his father to pick us up. I had Long Division in my hands. LaVander Peeler had on these fake Louis Vuitton shades and he kept looking down at my book.

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“What you looking at?” I asked him.

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He asked me if I had figured out the difference yet between sweat and piss. I looked up at LaVander Peeler and noticed two continent-sized clouds easing their way through the sky behind his fade that didn’t fade. I thought to myself that a lot of times when you looked up at the sky, you’d see nothing but bluish-gray shine, and a few seconds later continent-sized clouds would slowly glide up and take every last bit of shine out of the sky.

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I didn’t like the drippy ache in my chest that I was starting to feel, so I opened up Long Division and read the first chapter while LaVander Peeler and I waited for his father, LaVander Peeler Sr., to drive us to the Coliseum.

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Apr 13
Olasubomi O Olasubomi O (Apr 13 2023 7:32PM) : Laymon's Use Of Satire more

Laymon continues to use satire to comment on the absurdity of certain cultural practices. The portrayal of the beauty pageant, which City’s girlfriend participates in, is a commentary on the way women are objectified and exploited for their physical appearance. Laymon also critiques the way black people are commodified and marketed in popular culture, as represented by the fictional “We Global” music label.

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BOOK TWO

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SPECIAL GAME

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Apr 14
Daeja D Daeja D (Apr 14 2023 8:05PM) : Summary and Satire more

The relationship between City and Shalaya Crump is very interesting especially they way they talk to each other. City really likes her, but her mind is more in the future like 2013. She has captured City’s attention, and he cares a great deal about her welfare. City learns about the history of racism and oppression in the South through his quest to save Shalaya, and he also develops a deeper understanding of his own identity and position in the universe.

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(BOOK TWO, 166 – 172)
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I didn’t have a girlfriend from kindergarten all the way through the first half of ninth grade and it wasn’t because the whole high school heard Principal Jankins whispering to his wife, Ms. Dawsin-Jankins, that my hairline was shaped like the top of a Smurf house. I never had a girlfriend because I loved this funky girl named Shalaya Crump. The last time Shalaya Crump and I really talked, she told me, “City, I could love you if you helped me change the future dot-dot-dot in a special way.”

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Apr 19
Jade P Jade P (Apr 19 2023 6:46PM) : Satire (Humor) [Edited] more

This line reminded me of a photo that I saw with a picture of a guy from a movie with a “Smurf House” headline.

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Apr 26
Ebenezer L Ebenezer L (Apr 26 2023 7:16PM) : Humor more

I like the language and casualness of the authors ways of expressing himself. He is able to create somewhat real dialogue

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Shalaya Crump was always saying stuff like that, stuff you’d only imagine kids saying in a dream or on those R-rated movies starring spoiled teenagers on HBO. If any other girl in 1985 said, “the future dot-dot-dot,” she would have meant 1986 or maybe 1990 at the latest. But not Shalaya Crump. I knew she meant somewhere way in the future that no one other than scientists and dope fiends had ever thought of before.

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Apr 18
Amadou D Amadou D (Apr 18 2023 1:37PM) : satire( more

City’s love for a girl named Shalaya Crump. Shalaya is different from other girls, and City loves her because she makes him feel like it’s okay not to know everything. Shalaya talks about the future in a unique way that fascinates City, and he wants to find a way to be special to her and help her change the future. The passage also reveals the cultural references and slang used by City and Shalaya, reflecting their experiences growing up in the American South in the 1980s.

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Apr 19
Ebenezer L Ebenezer L (Apr 19 2023 10:55AM) : Humor more

They are cooking each other for no reason at all. :)

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May 26
Mason W Mason W (May 26 2023 9:57AM) : Satire more

The paragraph describes City’s affection for Shalaya Crump, a girl who stands out from the rest due to her unique personality. City is drawn to Shalaya because she makes him feel comfortable with not knowing everything, something that is not common in a society that often values knowledge and intelligence. Shalaya’s perspective on the future is fascinating to City, and he is eager to find a way to make a difference with her and help shape the future together. The paragraph also highlights the cultural and linguistic references that both City and Shalaya share, which reflect their experiences growing up in the American South during the 1980s. Through the use of slang and cultural references, the paragraph captures the essence of their upbringing and emphasizes the importance of their shared experiences. Overall, the paragraph presents a touching story of two individuals who are bound by a deep connection and a desire to make a difference in the world.

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Shalaya Crump lived down in Melahatchie, Mississippi, across the road from Mama Lara’s house. A year ago, before we moved to Chicago from Jackson, she convinced me that plenty of high school girls would like me even though my hips were way wider than a JET centerfold’s, and the smell of deodorant made me throw up. The thing was that none of the ninth-grade girls who liked me wore fake Air Jordans with low socks, or knew how to be funny in church while everyone else was praying, or had those sleepy, sunken eyes like Shalaya Crump. Plus, you never really knew what Shalaya Crump was going to say and she always looked like she knew more than everybody around her, even more than the rickety grown folks who wanted other rickety grown folks to think they knew more than Yoda.

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It’s hard to ever really know why you love a girl, but all I know is that Shalaya Crump made me feel like it was okay not to know everything. You could feel good around Shalaya Crump just by knowing enough to get by. That’s what I loved about her most. Sometimes, she asked these hard questions about the future, but she didn’t treat you like chunky vomit when you didn’t get the answer right.

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It’s hard to explain if you never been around a girl like that. It’s just that no other girl in my whole life made me feel like it was okay not to know stuff like Shalaya Crump did. The worst part of it is that I still have no proof that I ever made Shalaya Crump feel anything other than guilty for leaving me with Baize Shephard. I’m not just saying that to sound like a brokenhearted white boy from New York City in a dumb novel in tenth-grade English. If you want me to be honest, everything I’m telling you is only half of what made the story of Shalaya Crump, Baize Shephard, Jewish Evan Altshuler, and me the saddest story in the history of Mississippi. And it’s really hard to have the saddest story in the history of a state like Mississippi, where there are even more sad stories than there are hungry mosquitoes and sticker bushes.

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Apr 19
Jade P Jade P (Apr 19 2023 7:25PM) : Satire (Cultural Commentary) more

It’s similar to when you hear someone saying that you “act white,” it’s like certain emotions, forms of speech, or body language is often geared toward white people. So, when a black person does any of those things they are “acting white,”

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It really is.

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Shalaya Crump claimed she could love me three months ago, depending on how you count. It was January 4, 1985, the last day of my Christmas break. I was about to leave Melahatchie and head back to Chicago. We were sitting under a magnolia tree in a forest we called the Night Time Woods, sharing the last bit of a can of sardines. I was just tired of not saying all of what I wanted to say to her, so I licked the sardine juice off my fingers, picked up my sweat rag, and asked her what I’d been waiting to ask her the whole break.

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“Shalaya Crump!” | said. “Can you break it down for me one more time. What I gotta do to make you love me?”

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Shalaya Crump laughed and started digging into the red dirt with her dark bony thumbs that were covered in these Ring Pop rings. Right there is when Shalaya Crump wiped her greasy mouth with the collar of her purple Gumby T-shirt and said, “Why you gotta be so green light lately, City?”

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“Green light?”

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“Yeah, you never stop. All you do is spit game about ‘love this’ and ‘love that.’ I already told you that I could love you if you found a way to be…” Shalaya Crump stopped talking, looked me right in the eyes, and grabbed my fingertips. “City, just listen,” she said. “Look, if we could take a spaceship to the future, and we ain’t know if we’d ever come back, would you go with me?” Shalaya Crump was always changing the subject to the future at the craziest times.

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Apr 27
Allison L Allison L (Apr 27 2023 9:12AM) : City and Shalaya more

What is Shalaya so afraid of? Why is she worried about liking City so much?

I swear I tried to come up with something smart, something that would make her think I could be the skinniest, smartest boy she’d ever want to spend the rest of her life with. “Girl, in the future,” I told Shalaya Crump, “when we take that spaceship, first thing is I think that Eddie Murphy is gonna do a PG movie. And umm, I think that Michael Jackson and New Edition are gonna come together and sing a song at our wedding, but ain’t nobody at the wedding gonna care because everyone at the wedding is gonna finally know.”

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“Uh, finally know what?” She stopped and let go of my wrists.

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“Finally know, you know, what that real love looks like, baby.”

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“City! Why you gotta get all Vienna sausage school bus when you start trying to spit game?” She paused and actually waited for an answer. I didn’t have one, so she kept going. “Just stop. You stuck on talking about love but I’m talking about the future. Can we just talk about that? What happened to you? One day you were just regular and we were playing Atari and hitting each other in the face with pine cones. Then, just like that, you get to stealing Bibles to impress me and wearing clean clothes and talking about love and getting jealous of Willis whenever we watch Diff’rent Strokes and asking me all these questions about which senior I have a crush on. Can’t you just be yourself?”

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Apr 19
Ebenezer L Ebenezer L (Apr 19 2023 11:05AM) : humor more

What on God’s earth does this sentence mean?

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“I am being myself,” I told her. “I don’t like how you look at Willis.” | knew that making Shalaya Crump love me wasn’t going to be easy, so I didn’t let her little speech throw me off. “You talk all that mess about me, but you the one who didn’t always talk about the future like you do now.” | looked in her eyes, but she was looking at the ground. “No offense, girl, but you talk about the future way more than I talk about love.”

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“But I’m not just talking.” She wiped sardine grease off my lip. “That’s the difference. I’m asking about what you’d do with me in the future, like in 2013. For real! Would you come with me if I could get us there?” I just looked at Shalaya Crump and wondered how she could say I was being all Vienna sausage school bus and all green light when, seriously, she was the one always wondering about life in 2013. No kid in 1985 admitted to thinking about life in the ’90s, and definitely not in 2013, not even while we were watching The Jetsons.

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“Never mind,” she said. “You don’t get it.”

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“I do get it,” I told her. “I get that I might not be the one for you. In 2013, I’ma be like forty-three. When I’m forty-three, you’ll still think my hairline is too crooked and my sweat’ll still stink like gas station toilets.” | looked up and hoped she would interrupt me. She didn’t. “Anyway. You could never love me even if I was the skinniest, smartest boy in the South. I truly know that now.”

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Shalaya Crump finally laughed and looked me right in my mouth. “City, I’ma ask you one more time to stop being so Young and the Restless. Don’t never ever say ‘truly’ around me again. Never!”

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Shalaya Crump was the queen of taking a show or a person, place, or thing and using it like an adjective. No one else in Jackson or Chicago or Melahatchie or on TV could do it like her. If she told you not to ever use a word around her, you knew it was a word that should never have come out of your mouth in the first place.

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Shalaya Crump took her eyes off my mouth and started looking at my hips. “Look, City,” she said. “I could love you the way you want me to, really. I could if you found a way to help me change the future in, I don’t know dot-dot-dot a special way.”

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“Dot-dot-dot? I thought you were done with that read-your-punctuation style. You don’t think you played that out last summer?”

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“Just listen. I need to know if you’d come with me, even if we couldn’t ever come back.”

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