Cover Photo Courtesy: York Bound Publications
Latonya Reid is a bitch. Khadija Greene is a bitch too. Nothing personal, just facts. Meeting either one of them… is definitely in the top five list of worst things that has ever happened to me. Strangely, meeting Tanya and Khadija, is also very easily in the top 5 list of best things that has ever happened to me. Crazy, right? Let me try to explain this shit a little better….
The first time I ever laid eyes on Latonya Reid was exactly 27-years ago to this day. That’s probably one of the reasons she is so heavy on my mind today. Honestly, Latonya is always a thing that’s on my mind. She has always had this effect on me. Always! It’s been like this since the moment I first laid eyes on her on a breezy day in March of 1994. March 23, 1994 to be exact. That would be where I would start, if the story was simply about myself and Latonya. This story is about more than myself and Tanya though. There’s a third member of this, almost 30-year old party. Her name is Taliya, A.K.A “Trouble.” Oh, yeah, I almost forgot…..Taliya “Le-Le” Alexander is a bitch too!
Taliya Alexander…. Just thinking about her makes me smile. That has always been my baby! Latonya is my baby too….well, Latonya is my number one. Latonya has always been my number one. So, I guess that would make Le-Le my number two. Honestly, I don’t know what I’m saying! Never did. Clearly! When I was mad at one, I loved the other more. Stupid shit right? Man, you don’t even know half this crazy shit…….YET!
My name is Raymond Lathan Jr., but everybody calls me Ray. A little lame right? My nickname was just my first name shortened. I always wanted a cool nickname… like, “Cold Sweat,” or” Cool Breeze,” or “Cat Daddy”. That would’ve been the one right there! If my nickname had been something cool like “Cat Daddy”, my life may have been different, you know? I would’ve definitely loved to hear the ladies yell my name when they saw me coming. Hey, “Cat-Daddy!!” But anyway…. I met Latonya when I was 12-years old! I was born in a 2 story rowhome on 7th & Dauphin Streets in North Philly, but I was raised on 9th & York Streets. Latonya and her mother moved to Dauphin Street around late spring or early summer of 1992. Tanya was an only child. And she was the same age I was. Of course, we were quickly introduced. We literally lived steps away from each other. I lived in 639. Tanya and her mom’s addy was 643. Two houses away from one another.
Even at 12-years old, I knew it was a very bad idea to even think about "liking" a girl that lived so close to my house. And just my luck, the daughter seemed to be infatuated with me from the moment she laid eyes on me. I could tell Latonya liked me right away. The problem with that for 12-year old me, was that I was just beginning to be heavily into titties and ass. 12-year old Tanya was lacking severely in both departments. She was a cute little brown-skinned jawn, but she was a high ranking member of the "Itty-Bitty-Titty-Committee." There was no attraction there for 12-year old me. Tanya didn't make any friends on the block. She never played with the girls, and I noticed she seemed to be having trouble finding a place where she fit in. I've always considered myself somewhat of a "problem solver"........ so, one day when me and the fellas were about to go to the playground and play basketball, I invited Tanya to come tag along. The guys were mad at me for inviting her, but what was I supposed to do? She was sitting on her front steps, all alone, and that kind of softened my heart towards Tanya. Seeing her so vulnerable made me want to protect her. I know it sounds crazy, but it's true. Turns out, Tanya's little ass didn't need any protecting at all. You heard? Hell, most people needed protection from her! The moment we got to the basketball court, I discovered why Tanya never played with the other little girls. She was a hardcore tomboy. The strange thing about Tanya was that she didn't really look like it. She was a pretty little jawn, sis looked like she did not enjoy getting dirty or sweaty, or any of that. You know, a girlie girl, play with dolls and all that shit type. I quickly learned that looks can be deceiving. Tanya always reminded me of the real pretty brown-skinned jawn from En Vogue. The only difference was that sis from En Vogue carried the confidence of a grown woman. Tanya was cute, really cute, but she was no where near reaching her full potential of "beautifulness" yet. She was currently smack-dab in the middle of her awkward pre-teen years. You know, bad Acne and all that other pre-teen and teenage shit. BUT MY BABY WAS STILL CUTE THOUGH!
Tanya didn’t just know how to play basketball, she was just as good or better than most of us! Tanya was like Kobe (R.I.P Bean)…..she never passed the damn ball! But Tanya got buckets though! And you know the hood rules “with major buckets, comes major respect!” Tanya got all of that after the OG’s in the hood saw her skills on the court. I can’t lie, Tanya was beginning to look real different to me. Suddenly, that “Itty-Bitty-Tittie-Committee” shit didn’t mean much to me anymore. Tanya was bad… with, or without huge melons! I asked her to be my girlfriend right after we finished ballin’. She said yes!
Guess what happened the very next day? Ma Dukes told me we were moving. All the way to 9th street! The shit is really around the corner, but you know everything seems like a great distance when you’re 12-years old, and had never been anywhere. I was being forced to leave all my friends. Especially Tanya! I bitched and cried about “life” not being fair for a week straight, before we finally moved. Guess what? I began seeing my friends from 7th Street even more, after we moved to 9th Street! Or, at least it seemed that way. Plus, I made a bunch of new friends on York Street. Eventually, the two streets became allies thanks to my affiliation with both. That made me a little bit of a somebody in the hood, you know? Not a drug dealer, pimp, or major money getting dude, kind of “somebody”, but one of those dudes who goes anywhere and people be like “oh yeah, that’s bul from such and such Street. He aite”, kind of “somebody”. That was right up my alley! I didn’t care why, when, or how…..I just always wanted my name to ring bells in the hood.
Me and Tanya really began hitting it off after I moved. Well, sort of….. In any movie, this would be the part when they would’ve shown the couple hugging, holding hands, talking, and all that other puppy-love stuff. This wasn’t a movie. The second Tanya said “yes” to being my girlfriend, I was suddenly afraid to talk to, or even be around her. My baby Tanya led the way though. She was always good with things like that. She showed me what “going together” meant. Going together with Tanya definitely was not what I thought it was going to be.
I thought “going with” Tanya was going to be like going with any other girl. Tanya was not my first girlfriend, even though I was deeply in puppy-love with her after a few days. Tanya was such a tomboy in public, but when we were in private she always showed signs of vulnerability. Nothing major, but to me, it was apparent that she was showing me parts of her personality that she purposely hid in public. That made me fall even harder. It felt like I had to protect her. She had no brothers, and didn’t rock with too many people yet. So, being the good boyfriend that I am, I decided to introduce Tanya to some girls who she may have more in common with than the girls on 7th Street, my old block. All I knew about these girls was that they were from 8th & Jefferson Streets, and they played basketball. As a matter of fact, a few of them played in the summer league at Hartranft with the boys a few years ago. It was about four of them, but they were pretty known for traveling from hood to hood, looking for people to play. Probably for money. That’s what we did too sometimes, but this shit was a hustle for these girls. A daily hustle. There was no “WNBA” back in these days. College was always a dream for most people, but this hustling shit was a reality for a lot of girls who loved basketball, and lived around the way back in the day. That’s what these good ball playing chicks did, you know?
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
1984 will always be a special year to me. 1984 was the very last year that was considered B.C. in my neighborhood. Those two letters do not stand for “Before Christ.” This ain’t a Gospel book fam. Where I’m from, B.C. stands for “Before Crack.” Believe it or not, crack was not always a thing that was around in the hood. That shit seemed to appear out of the clear blue one day. And the shit spread quicker than Coronavirus. Crack users weren’t the only thing created when crack cocaine hit the scene. Crack dealers were also created. Don’t get it twisted. There were always people in the neighborhood who sold heroin, weed, and other shit. The difference between that and crack was…..RESPECT. Crack cocaine brought with it, an “I don’t give a fuck” attitude about everything. I watched that shit slowly transform people…..always for the worst. I became one of those “I don’t give a fuck” people at 13-years old. And I know for a fact crack changed my life for the worst. But, like I said before, crack effected practically everyone in the neighborhood’s life in a negative way. Especially Tanya’s.
Tanya’s favorite aunt Loretta messed around and became one of the early victims of the crack epidemic. Tanya always thought she didn’t have family nearby. After about a month and some change on 7th Street, Tanya slowly began to realize that her family was one of the biggest in the neighborhood. Sis had family everywhere…even on 9th Street! Tanya lived with her dad until she was about 10-years old. Mom was absent in the early days of Tanya’s life, for one reason or another. Loretta turned 16 right around the time Tanya turned 12. Retta was Tanya’s mother’s youngest sister, and word around the hood was that Retta had been a wild-one since she was Tanya’s age. Retta was 16-years old, but she hung out heavy with people in their early 20’s. The kind of people who were not so distant from high school age, but had already given up on life. They mostly partied and got high. People had jobs though. Getting high was mostly a weekend thing for most people, you know? Then came crack. People in their 20’s dived in head first, including Loretta. She went downhill quickly. I’m talking about Loretta looked like Beyonce last week…..the next week was a different story. Three (3) short weeks after taking her first blast, Loretta was turning tricks for money….well, crack. All bets are off at that point. There’s no more such thing as embarrassment, respect for one’s self, or respect for others. At this point everything is about…..crack! Even stealing from your favorite niece. Not just stealing, but robbing her blind. Tanya’s mom made the mistake of asking her youngest sister to watch Tanya while she went out of town for the weekend.
Retta sent Tanya to the store to buy them some groceries with some of the money Tanya’s mom left for food and other things while she was gone. Tanya’s mom had been gone for less than 10 minutes when Loretta put her plan into action. By the time Tanya got back from the store, Retta had cleaned them out. She had one of her crackhead friends bring a truck around to the house. If you don’t know, let me be the first to tell you. With the correct motivation (crack), a crackhead can make fuckin’ worlds move in minutes! That’s just what happened. Tanya and her mom’s world was cleaned out and gone in a matter of minutes. I can still remember Tanya showing up at her cousin’s house on 9th Street with tears in her eyes. Tanya stayed with her cousins for the weekend. I remember Tanya trying to tell me about what was going on. Can’t say I was listening, or really cared, but I heard her. With Tanya staying only a few houses from mine, the only thing I could think about was opportunity. I was so busy trying to get my grind on every time I was anywhere near Tanya, that I showed no emotion, sympathy, or even empathy for her or her current situation. I was not “good boyfriend” material at all!
Tanya ended up moving in with her cousins after her and her mom had a huge fight about Retta. Tanya’s mom got back from Atlantic City on Monday. She came home to see all of her things gone. She’d already known what happened because Tanya called her mother and told her, 10 minutes after it happened. Retta showed up at the house crying two days later. She needed somewhere to stay. Tanya’s mom believed family was still family. Even through thick and thin. She welcomed Retta back with open arms. Tanya was having none of it. There was no way in hell that she was living under the same roof with Loretta “the thief.” That was exactly what Tanya told her mother too. Tanya’s mom knew she was never going to see eye to eye with her daughter, and try to help her youngest sister fight the crack demon at the same time. I don’t know if it had anything to do with me, but Tanya told her mom she wanted to go stay with her cousins on 9th Street. Tanya’s mom told Tanya she would let her stay with her cousins for one year. Ma’ Dukes figured that would be more than enough time for her to get Retta back to her former self. Anyway, my baby Tanya moved to 2414 North York Street, with her cousins……three houses away from mine!!!
I was right about introducing Tanya to the basketball playing, hustling chicks. She fit right in. Tanya even started to slowly come out of her shell A.K.A – “That steel barrier she had built around herself as a form of protection from ever being hurt again.” That shit was cool at first. I was having the best of both worlds. I was able to get my alone time with my girl, without having her follow me around all day like a lost puppy. But, after a few weeks, I began to see some changes in Tanya’s behavior that I did not like. All LTanya began talking about was her new homegirls and how cool they were. And how they took “suckers” for money all over the city. I was jealous. She used to talk about me all of the time. Well, that’s what I like to think, whether it was true or not! It started to feel like these basketball hoes were more important than me. I ain’t like that shit! I ain’t like that shit at all! I let Tanya know it too, one night while we were walking home from my basketball game at 12th Street Playground.
“It seem like I’m not really all that important to you anymore.”
I said without even looking in Tanya’s direction as we walked. Tanya looked at me with genuine surprise showing in her eyes.
“You for real?”
“Yeah.” I responded dryly. Tanya raised an eyebrow as she stared at me like she suddenly hated me. Da’ fuck did I say? Before I had a chance to ask my question, Tanya had broken out into a power-walk. I was too tired for this shit right now. Me and my team just got finished playing in an elimination playoff game that took three overtime periods to complete! To make shit worse, we came out on the losing end of that game!! We lost on a fuckin’ buzzer beater at the end of the 3rd, five-minute overtime period!!! A freakin buzzer beater!!!!! By nut ass Skeeter “fuck-boy” Murray of all people!!!!! To say my night was already fucked up before this new bullshit, would’ve been a huge understatement. Tanya had me all the way fucked up, if she thought I was chasing after her gold medal winning in the power-walking Olympics, ass!
I kept my word. I walked the rest of the way home solo. I wasn’t chasing after Tanya. What was I going to say anyway? I still didn’t understand what I said that made her so mad in the first place! I knew I was going to run into Tanya when I got around the way. Tanya now lived just a few houses away from mine……again. My dumb ass really thought I would be able to avoid her….at least until she cooled off, from being mad at whatever the hell she was mad at! Of course I was going to run into her eventually, that didn’t mean that my dumb ass was doing anything to prepare myself for what I strongly felt was going to happen next. As soon as I turned off of York Street to head down 9th, I could see Tanya sitting on my front steps. My house was all the way in the middle of the block, but even where I stood, at the top of the block, I could see by the look on her face, that Tanya meant serious business. I began walking as slowly as I could toward my house…..and Tanya. I had always been the confident person, and the one in control of everything, as far as me and Tanya were concerned. All of my confidence was gone right now. I had no idea what Tanya was going to say to me, but I knew it was not going to be anything good. I could feel my heart pounding as I slowly walked toward my house. It felt like I was walking the “Green Mile” on my way to the electric chair.
“DEAD MAN WALKING!”
Tanya broke up with me that night. Just like I feared she would. She gave me some lame ass excuse about “us needing time apart to see if we were really right for each other.” At 12-years old, this was probably the first time I was being broken up with….I mean, VERBALLY. At this age, your “girlfriend” usually just stops speaking to you, or starts “going with” someone else. That was what I knew a “break up” to be. Some very disrespectful shit, that you nerds gave a name in 2021. “Ghosting.” For some reason, I felt like ghosting me….well, she couldn’t ghost me. I was guaranteed to see my neighbor from time to time. But, I felt like Tanya telling me why she was breaking up with me was worse than her just stopping to speak to me at all. Like I said, this was my very first bout with being broken up with verbally, but even way back then, I knew a lie when I heard one!
Three days after she broke up with me, I saw Tanya walking down the Ave. with Puerto-Rican, Rico from Darien & Lehigh Avenue. The two were holding hands and smiling as they shopped together on Germantown Avenue. Hurt wasn’t a strong enough word for what I was feeling in that moment. My girl was walking with another dude! Well, my ex-girl, but either way, SEEING THAT SHIT WAS DRIVING ME CRAZY!! What was really pissing me off was the fact that I knew Rico sold drugs. He had money! That was a problem for me. I couldn’t afford to take Tanya shopping. How the hell was I supposed to compete with a 14-year old drug dealer? The answer was obvious, but still a little tough to swallow….I COULDN’T!. Tanya was gone. And there wasn’t a fuckin’ thing I could do about it. Why would she do this to me? Why would she make me feel this way? Because Tanya IS A BITCH! That’s why!
Latonya lived two houses away from mine, and miraculously, I had managed to avoid seeing her at all for a strong week and a half, after I saw her on The Ave. with Rico. The last thing I wanted, was for her to get the pleasure of seeing how miserable I was, or how the world seemed to play out in black & white instead of color without Tanya in my life to brighten it up, or how food literally taste like nothing now. Even baked macaroni & cheese, my fave. Ahhh yes! I grew to know this feeling very well throughout my life. My old nemesis “heartbreak.” Tanya was my first bout with heartbreak. I had no idea if it would ever end, or if the rest of my life would be this miserable. My breakup with Tanya taught me something else that I would carry with me throughout my life. The best way to get over one chick is to get another one!
Sheeit! I wish it was that easy for me. It has never really been that easy for me. If this was the 90’s, my solution to any “bitch related” problem would be money. No matter what you did or didn’t do, in the 1990’s, I discovered that money was the answer to all of life’s problems……..at least, this was true where I was from. But, this wasn’t the 1990’s yet. This was 1984, about to go into 85′. If there was one thing that I knew absolutely nothing about, it was bitches! How to get em’, and how to keep em’! 12-year old me had zero confidence in myself. Girls always called me handsome, that wasn’t the problem at all. Chicks have been saying I look like Eddie Murphy ever since “Delirious” came out in 83′. I was straight in the looks department. The smooth-talking shit was a whole other thing. I had a slight stutter back then. It only happened when I was nervous. And guess when it was that I usually got most nervous? Yup, whenever I was in the presence of the female species. I honestly never got nervous around Tanya though. During our “Summer Of Love”, I always felt like Tanya looked to me for the answer to everything. Or, she always followed wherever I led. Either way, my confidence was usually at an all-time high whenever Tanya was anywhere near me. She was perfect! And I took her for granted like a dummy! I’ll probably never find another……
“Excuse me. Is this seat taken?”
I was completely caught off-guard. I forgot I was on the trolley, on the way to my very first day at my new school John Wanamaker. I was so deep in thought that I’d forgotten I sat my bookbag in the empty seat next to me on the #23 trolley. The last thing I wanted, was someone with funky ass morning-breath sitting next to me and trying to talk to me, at 7:30 in the goddamn morning! Hearing a voice had startled me like a muthafucka, but I think I managed to at least look like I had regained my composure by the time I opened up my mouth to respond.
“Naw. Ain’t nobody sitting here. My bad. Let me move this stuff out of your way.”
I said as I reached for my bag.
The girl gave me a very welcoming smile before she sat down next to me. This chick was gorgeous! I mean drop-dead kind of gorgeous. And the best part was that she was the complete oppositie of Tanya’s weird ass. Oh, yeah, I almos forgot…Tanya was also going to be attending John Wanamaker Junior High School this school year too. That was why I was so deep in thought. I had only seen Tanya three times since we broke up in August. It hurt my heart every single time I saw her too. She seemed to be so happy without me in her life. How? Why wasn’t she walking around here sad like me? Anyway, my thoughts were about my concern that me and Tanya might have a class or two together. Da’ fuck was I going to do then? How was I supposed to resist staring at her for an entire class period? All that shit was pushed to the back of my mind when I snuck a peek at the girl sitting next to me on the trolley. I don’t think I had ever been more stricken with a bad case of “love at first sight” in my life!
“You on your way t.. to school?”
I managed to get out of my mouth, even though it was getting more and more difficult not to throw up all over this girl, out of pure nervousness! I wanted to punch myself in the face! I couldn’t believe I asked her that dumb shit! Of course she was on her way to school stupid! Well, I guess my awkward ass fucked this up!
She gave me a one word response as she pulled a book out of her bag and cracked it open. I nodded politely. I fucked it up, but at least she hadn’t cussed me out or teased me about my stuttering condition. I call this a draw! I’ve always been good with a tie. Some people hate ties, but for me, a tie is as good as a win. If it’s one thing I’ve always hated with a passion, it was being told no, or being flat out rejected. Honestly, that was one of my biggest fears as a teen. Being rejected by a girl in front of a huge crowd of people. That would be the most embarrassing thing that could ever happen to me. I hated attention. I also hated people in my business.
“I’m graduating this year. I ain’t got no time for games.”
I was staring out the window, feeling sorry for myself when shorty said that. I slowly turned my head. What I feared was actually happening. She was talking to me! Well, I didn’t exactly fear it, but this was one of those situations I hated. The type of jawns when you have no idea what to say. I was aware that she could’ve easily left the convo at “yup”, but she didn’t! Shorty was definitely on my dick!
“W-What school you go to?”
That was the first and last time I was ever nervous or uncomfortable in Le-Le’s presence. That was her name. Taliyah “Le-Le” Alexander. A name that would live in infamy in my life. Whatever the fuck that meant! Anyway, this Le-Le chick was gorgeous. Clearly out of my league. Yet, here I am. Honestly, that was probably the last time in my life I ever thought there was a female out here I couldn’t get. I have had many loves in my life, BUT Taliyah is the girl that introduced me to adulthood…….or what I thought adulthood was at 12/13-years old. For that reason (and many others) Le-Le will always hold a very special place in my heart. I say this because me and Le-Le shared something special. I didn’t know it at the time. Hell, Le-Le just admitted this shit to me a few months ago! We are both currently 42- years old. This special, life-changing thing Le-Le and I shared happened when we were 13-years old!
Me and Le-Le ended up having a conversation that surprisingly wasn’t all that painful at all on the trolley that morning. Guess where she got off the trolley at? The same place I did. She went to John Wanamaker too! She was an 8th grader though. My first tryst with an older woman!
Here’s some shit that’s going to confuse the fuck out of you, if you’re currently in your 20’s and from Philadelphia. Back in 1984-85, elementary school went from grades 1-6. There was no such thing as “middle school.” Junior High school was grades 7-9, but for some people it was 7-10. Shit was really weird back then, but my point is that, John Wanamaker went up to the 9th grade….at least it did for Le-Le. That meant she was 14, or about to turn 14, and I had just turned 13, two months ago on July 12th. We were only one year apart in age, but just listening to her talk, I could tell we were light years apart, as far as maturity and life experiences were concerned. Feel me?
Le-Le and I ended up getting off the trolley, and walking to the building together. We talked the entire time. She was mostly telling me the ins and outs of my new school, that I would be attending for the next two or three years. It really didn’t matter what we talked about to me, because this beautiful girl was walking with and talking to ME. Now that I was a little comfortable around Le-Le… after knowing her for all of 10 – 15 minutes, I was just waiting for the right moment to “cut into her”. (A.K.A) get my rap game on. I may have waited too long, because Le-Le disappeared into a sea of students right after she escorted me to my advisory class. I don’t know if kids still have this, but advisory was like a 15 or 20 minute class before you go to 1st period. You ain’t do shit in there. They just took roll-call. I never understood the purpose of that class. But anyway, I walked into my advisory class after Le- Le disappeared. My mind quickly shifted away from thoughts of Le-Le. I was excited about starting my new school, hopefully meeting some new people, and most importantly, coming a few steps closer to being done with this “12-Years A Slave” of school shit! My excitement was stolen from me immediately after I took three steps into the classroom full of my loud-talking peers, and looked over to my left. That heartbreaking ass hoe, Tanya was sitting right there! With her nut-ass, heartbreaking ass, holding hands on the Ave. with Rico. Ass. Whore! Fuck Tanya!
Sorry about that. Reminiscing got me a little emotional for a second. I guess I’m not completely over Tanya….even, 25 + years later! Anyway, “That Hoe Over There”, also known as Tanya, was in my advisory period. I was more than certain it was going to be a long ass school year, before it even got started….and I was right!
First off, Tanya and Rico were clearly still going strong. Rico didn’t go to Wanamaker, but he didn’t need to go here for everyone to see that Tanya was his girl. Tanya had Rico’s name one her nails, gold chain, hoop earrings, and she was wearing a shirt with a picture of them hugging. If you couldn’t see that she had a dude, and his name was Rico, it was because you didn’t want to see it. But, in case you did happen to miss all of the signs, Tanya was quick to tell anyone willing to listen, about how great her man treated her, how much he loved her, and blah blah blah. I tried to act like I didn’t see Tanya as she sat in the front of the classroom talking and laughing with her homegirls. As I sat there hating everything about Tanya, I couldn’t stop thinking about how good she looked. The worst part about it was that she had seemed to mature over the summer. She seemed older than me somehow, even though I knew we were the same age. It probably had something to do with Tanya seeming to have grown everything, and I do mean every damn thing, over fuckin’-nite! Tanya lived TWO houses away from mine. Yes, I had been purposely avoiding her ever since we broke up, but, it wasn’t like the last time I’d seen her was 20 – something damn years ago! It was more like 20-days ago! How in Fuck’s name had Tanya transformed from an ironing board to a Coke bottle, in 20-fuckin’ days!!?? Sis was super-bad now……. and I was super-pissed the fuck off!
Ms. Harris interrupted my little bout with my emotions when she stood up and introduced herself to the class, and welcomed us to our new school.
“Hello 7th graders and welcome to John Wanamaker Jr. High School. I’m Ms. Harris, your advisory period teacher. Since this will be your first time ever escorting yourselves to class, we will be issuing each of you a personal escort, of sorts. Your escort will be assigned to show you where all of your classes are at. Your escort is for today only! You’re on your own after that.”
Ms. Harris took a seat at her desk after she finished talking. An upper-classmen appeared at our classroom door moments later. Then upperclassmen seemed to start coming out of the woodworks. It looked like there were millions of them suddenly standing in our little classroom. Then she appeared out of the middle of the crowd. My baby from the trolley! Her face lit up the room like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. We were being assigned a personal chaperone for the day. My heart almost jumped out of my chest. What if she was assigned to escort me? My joy was quicky turning into panic as I listened to the teachers assigning an escort to all of us newbies. I heard my name called. Then I heard the name of my escort for the day. Taliya Greene. A name that would live in, I believe “INFAMY” is the word I’m looking for? (In my heart forever!) As great as meeting Le-Le was at the time, meeting her was something I kind of lived to regret. Me and Le-Le were “toxic” for each other way before that word was even thought of being used to describe an “unstable” relationship.
After they finished the pairings, we were finally set to meet our chaperones. They were all wearing name tags, so it wasn’t too hard to find the person you were paired with. I walked up to Le-Le and extended my hand for a shake as I attempted to introduce myself to my beautiful escort for the day.
“Hi, I’m Raymond, but everybody calls me Ray.”
I attempted to approach this older woman as maturely as I knew how. Le-Le smiled at me before grabbing me and pulling me in close to her, for a friendly hug.
“You forgot who I was already? Wow, you must have a lot of girlfriends.”
Le-Le gave me a devilish looking grin as she spoke. To say I was completely dumbfounded by the things that were coming out of her mouth, would’ve been an understatement. Why was she asking me if I had a girlfriend? Did she like me too? Hell, I didn’t even know the girl’s damn name!
“Naw. I ain’t forget.”
I said with an uncomfortable laugh. Le-Le stared at me with that devilish-grin shit again, as she smiled before she opened her mouth.
“What’s my name?”
Le-Le folded her arms and stared directly into my eyes as she awaited my answer. She wasn’t smiling. She wasn’t exactly frowning either. I just stood there with my mouth open and not saying anything. Le-Le bust out laughing and slapped my arm.
“I’m just playing. I’m Taliah. So you ready to be escorted, fresh-fish?”
I raised a curious eyebrow as I inquired.
“Yeah. People who are new to the school we call fresh-fish. We usually stuff them in the lockers on the first day of school.”
Le-Le smiled at me before she grabbed my hand and led me down the hall. This was 100% the weirdest conversation I’d ever had in my young life, but this would end up being far from the weirdest conversation me and Le-Le would ever have with one another in our lives!
You ever had one of those times where things just seem to keep going your way for some strange reason? I say “times” because I’m talking about more than one, or a few days. After being paired with Le-Le on my first day of school, things changed for me….for the better! That was good right? Wait. It gets better! As good as things were going for me during this little stretch, things were going equally horrible for Tanya at the very same time! It was like my prayers had been answered, and all of my dreams were coming true! I was 12. The world is really small to a 12-year old. What the hell else did you think I was dreaming about?
Me and Le-Le hit it off right away. We even ate lunch together that day. Le-Le showed me around the place on the day she was assigned to, but Le-Le stayed around for some extra credit as she taught me the ropes around the place….every single day. After a few days, me and Le-Le were almost inseparable at school. I don’t think I was completely in the “friend zone” at the time, but I knew that was where I was headed. That shit was as clear as day. Le-Le treated me more like a little brother, or admirer than anything else. That fucking sucked because I had no idea how to change things without possibly chasing her away. To Tanya, seeing me and Le-Le together every day for a few weeks straight probably looked like love. Tanya was heated! Her and Rico had broken up three days after school started. Rico snatched him up a little Puerto-Rican jawn at his school. He was around the way with her all the time. Just walking around holding hands and shit. Just like he used to do with Tanya’s nut-ass….before he broke her heart (lol). Sorry, that was childish of me. But, anyway, Tanya clearly forgot not to sign a pre-nup before her and Rico officially became a couple. Rico took all of his shit back. Without all that gold and shit, Tanya was regular-degular like a muthafucka’. There was something else I learned about Tanya too. She was jealous! Tanya was jealous of me and Le-Le, and me and Le-Le weren’t even a couple! Like i said before, life was looking great for 12-year old me around this time!
Thursday October 17, 1985, was the very beginning of what eventually became “the end of the line” for me. Thursday started off as a normal ass day. By this time, Le-Le and I were catching the trolley to school together every morning. Le-Le was from up 12th & Huntingdon. They used to call this area Iraq or Baghdad back in the day. I can’t remember which one they called 12th & Huntingdon, but I do know they did not lie. My hood was fucked up, but 12th & H looked like a third world country for real. And the body-count was way beyond “counting” on that side of the tracks. Feel me? But all of that wasn’t enough to keep me away from Baghdad/Iraq. Le-Le lived around there, I had to approach the danger. You know? Da’ fuck was I supposed to tell her when she asked me to come to her house before school so we could walk to the trolley stop together? And what about after school? Le-Le always asked me to escort her home, because dudes tried to holla’ at Le-Le all day. Every day! She hated that shit. So…..since we’re talking 1985, Le-Le did what most people today do when they don’t want to be bothered by other people. Act like they’re talking to someone on the phone. I was Le-Le’s cell phone. Every time a guy even attempted to approach her, she would grab on my arm for dear life, and pretend that I was the funniest, and most interesting person on the planet. That shit usually worked for her too. Dudes did try to get out of line, and holla’ at Le-Le while I was with her sometimes, but a few dirty looks usually chased the “thirst buckets” away. But, one morning as Le-Le and I stepped off the trolley, this older dude, who likely went to William Penn High School, was pressing Le-Le something serious for her phone number. Even while I stood there with Le-Le’s arm entangled with mine. This joker was beyond disrespectful, as he approached me and Le-Le…completely ignoring my presence the entire time.
“What’s up shorty? Can I holla’ at you for a minute?”
“No, thank you. I’m fine.”
Le-Le said to the guy with a smile. I could feel her gripping my arm tighter. She was beginning to dig her nails into my skin. It was like she was having an anxiety attack or some shit. But, why? I was pretty sure that Le-Le had to be used to being hit on everywhere she went by now. Bul pressed on, even after being rejected at the rim on the first dunk attempt.
“Oh, it’s like that?”
Bul put his hands up and looked toward the sky as he spoke. Just as quickly as he’d done this weird shit, his hands quickly came down from the sky and landed smack dab on Le-Le’s ass! Nut ass bul was standing there laughing his ass off! Still completely oblivious to my presence. That was the part that was bothering me the most. Dude was acting like I wasn’t even here. If he didn’t think I was her boyfriend, how did he know I wasn’t her brother or cousin? And this nigga still smacked her ass like he was in a fuckin’ strip club?! This wasn’t about Le-Le anymore, at least… not as far as I could see. This dickhead clearly saw no threat in my dumb ass standing here locking arms with Le-Le! She looked horrified after dude smacked her ass too. That had me hot, but this weird-ass nigga disrespecting me?…. HAD ME SEEING RED!! I slowly untangled my arms from Le-Le’s and prepared to steal-off on this dickhead while he was preoccupied with admiring his own wittiness. As I stepped in closer for my sneak shot, someone ran right into me. Next thing I knew, I was standing there locking lips with Tanya! What the fuck had just happened?
THIS TOWN AIN’T BIG ENOUGH FOR BOTH OF US!
The shit that Tanya pulled on the morning of October 17th, 1985, was the first battle in a long, long, war that I’ve since named “The Battle Of The Bitches.” Mind you, this was just the first shot fired in a very long war. This war has been active since ’85, and believe it or not, the war is just as active today! By the way, today is July 17th, 2021. Real shit! This long war had many, many participants throughout the years, but…this….this shit right here……this is where everything began!
Time seemed to stop when Tanya laid that kiss on my lips. It felt like the entire world had stopped and every single person in the world were watching me and Tanya kiss. My very first, by the way. Tanya stepped back and folded her arms after she kissed me, like I was the most important person in the world. She just looked at me. The look on her face was saying that it was my move. Choose….Right now…Her or Le-Le?
I chose Tanya, without hesitation. I think Le-Le was lowkey hurt. This incident officially goes down as the very first time I fucked Le-Le over. There will be many, many, many more times in this little story that you will read about me fucking Le-Le over for another chick. Don’t look at me like that! The title of the book is “Bitches, Right?”, I never said I was a good person, I simply said…Bitches, right? Anyway, I want you to try to keep track of how many times I fuck Le-Le over in this story. Maybe it will help you understand why Le-Le did what she did to me, years and years later. But, for right now….let’s get back to me and Tanya. We had some serious shit to discuss. The problem was that Tanya was my queen. I had this chick on a pedestal that was so high in the sky, that J.C (Jesus Christ) himself couldn’t reach that muthafucka’! You feel me? Tanya was my everything! I was terrified to even think about losing her again. The very last thing I wanted was an argument, that could easily lead to a break-up. I had to say something though, this shit was getting ridiculous. I lost, what was at least looking like it was going to be a good friendship. And for what? It didn’t even feel like Tanya liked me, let alone anything else. Lately, Tanya had been spending most of her time bragging to anyone who was willing to listen to her….again! What was her big ass mouth self bragging about this time? Taking me from an upperclassmen named Le-Le. She did this around the way, at school, and anywhere else she thought someone who MIGHT know Le-Le hung out at. Tanya seemed to really have it in for Le-Le. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why though. Tanya broke up with me, remember? She was the one who wanted to “gallavant” around Germantown Avenue with the weird ass bul Rico. Yeah, he was getting money, but that didn’t mean he was not a fuckin’ weirdo. A lot of weirdos were getting major money in the 80’s. A lot of weirdos are getting major money in 2021. That’s just life sometimes. Not every nigga with a fat pocket is a “Thoroughbread.” Facts….