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hiyalla' wit' fat ankles pt. 1
by brock faucette

Among broken bottles uh Mad Dog an’ rain-washed remnants uh hop-scotch chalk, I achieve my ghetto fabulousness. My lips? Full, as though they’ve been inflated. An’ my skin? Fully melinated. Painted ta camouflage da night, I make straight coffee look like milk. An’ I like it dat way. Cain’t stand those hiyalla’ girls, standin’ on da corner, wearin’ holey hoes, laughin’ cheap giggles an’ walkin’ cheap wiggles. Naw! Hell, naw! An’, as I walk past, nose floatin’ high an’ chest out as though my ninnies are leadin’ da way, I can hear ‘em just a-hoopin’ an’ a-hollerin’. “Look at hu,” those hiyalla’ girls say, “struttin’ around like she cain’t be touched. But someone’s gonna touch hu someday, sho’ ‘nuff.” Shit. Let da mothafuckas try. Let ‘em try. I dare ‘em. My name is Nefali. An African name. Fuck Bobbi, an’ KoKo, an’ Janelle. Let ‘em try ta keep me down, light-skin niggas wit’ they department store fashion. I’ll rise like a mahogany phoenix in my Salvation Army feathers. Fuck ‘em. Today is da day I’s gonna kiss Willy C.
Hmmmmm. Willy C. Gorgeous an’ dark like me. Oh, it’s okay fo’ a brotha ta be dark. Ain’t nobody got anythin’ against all dat. Dat’s why he can be famous an’ on t.v. Yes, Willy C. Sweet thang, walkin’ funny like his pants is full uh somethin’ dat needs ta be worshipped. But whether his dick is da size uh my pinky finga or da size uh my forearm, makes no diff’rence. I don’t care what he’s got down dere. I’s just gonna waltz right up an’ get an autograph. An’ den—den—I’s gonna kiss Willy C. an’, dammit, he gonna kiss me.
“Where you goin’ lookin’ like dat, Natalie?” It’s ‘em, all right. I can smell they cheap perfume, like someone done pissed off a skunk on da street behind me.
“My name is Nefali. You know dat. It’s an African name.” I swing around so I can swivel my head at ‘em in true Nefali Brown form. Janelle got hu hair all up in some crazy elaborate style an’ it’s dyed platinum blonde. An’, boy, hu press-on finganails are out a mile from hu hand, curvin’ down like sloth claws. This starts me ta wonderin’ how she wipe hu ass? An’ KoKo still as big as evah. Ain’t lost a bit uh weight. Naw, she ain’t lookin’ too great. Fat cheeks hangin’ down off either side uh hu mouth, makin’ hu look like a bulldog wit’ braids. Oh. An’ den dere’s Bobbi. Miss Priss. She lookin’ alright—if you’re into dat perfect type.
“Well, Natalie, ya still ain’t answered my question.” It’s Janelle. She speak through hu tiny hiyalla’ nose. Unlike mine, which is nice an’ expansive, indicative uh da grand noses uh those who was lashed an’ hanged on my behalf so I could have da right ta strut in da streets like I’s doin’ right now. Oh, how I wish I could just turn around an’ bust hu one, right in dat nose. Make it swell up ta da size it should be. But I keep walkin’ wit’ my flats just a-clappin’ on da sidewalk, makin’ a nice rhythm a person could dance ta. An’ den come dat damn voice again, wit’ all its nasality. Janelle Jenkins. “I says ya still ain’t answered my question, Natalie.”
“An’ I says ya still ain’t called me by my name.”
“Where ya done get dat get-up you strollin’ around in? I ain’t seen a shirt like dat in ages.” Dat’s KoKo. Deep voice. Soundin’ only like a man can, even havin’ a man’s hands. I sometimes feels like rippin’ off hu britches ta see if she’s really packin’ koochie. Just cain’t believe she’s a real girl. “Dat shirt’s awful busy.”
“It’s called paisley.”
“I know. It’s ol’ fashioned. My momma useta have a blouse like dat. Now, she use it ta scrub da toilets.” Da girls take up ta laughin’, soundin’ like they bein’ stung by bees. But I give ‘em much uh nothin’ as far as my attention goes. ‘Sides. What do they know? ‘Bout fashion? ‘Bout style? ‘Bout a sense uh one’s self? They just got out an’ buy they FUBU an’ call it a day, wearin’ they jeans so tight, it looks like they was born wit’ denim legs. All they know is flippin’ those denim legs up in da air so any man can dive in. Prolly have more ‘an fifteen babies between ‘em. But me? I’s takin’ night classes. I can use fancy words they nevah even heard uh: mélange, holometabulous, subterfuge. ‘Cuz some words sound so beautiful when they roll off your tongue. But those hiyalla’ girls only know but one use fo’ they tongues.
Hmmmmm. Willy C.’s tongue. Girl, I done seen it in action, kissin’ all over my sista, Ndali. They useta be together, an’, shit, girl, ta watch ‘em kiss! Ta watch Willy C. kiss, his pink tongue slidin’ over Ndali’s! His full lips workin’ over Ndali like she was a pork chop! See, I know Willy C. ain’t got a thang against dark girls ‘cuz my sista is as dark as me. Darker, maybe. An’ people say we even look just alike, sis an’ me—if da light is dim an’ you squint your eyes.
Bobbi starts up on me next. “I like your blouse!” She say somethin’ nice, but I know she’s just bein’ sneaky. She’s da ringleader uh they trio. Da smartest one, an’ da prettiest one. An’ da most hiyalla’. May as well be white, an’ hu name don’t help. Not like Nefali. Sometimes, I think hu momma try an’ pass hu off as white so she give hu hiyalla’ baby a white name. Bobbi. Shit. May as well have name hu Bobbi Sue or Sue Ellen or Ellie May or some shit like dat. But no matter how light hu skin be, how straight hu hair be, or how blue hu eybes be, she black. Ain’t perfect, neither. Always wearin’ da same long dresses. Nevah shorts or mini skirts. An’ I ax’ed hu one day when we’s in gym class how come she always wearin’ long dresses. She got all embarrassed an’ tugged at hu dress so as ta make sho’ I couldn’t see what was behind it. “Oh, I just have abnormally fat ankles.” So dere, Bobbi. You ain’t perfect, is you? Now, she ax’in’, “Where’d you get dat blouse, Nefali?”
“None uh your bid’ness.” I just keep walkin’. Limit my talkin’. Thinkin’ about Bobbi McDonald an’ hu hiyalla’ gaggle cluckin’ in a line behind hu, plannin’ somethin’. I can tell. Hell, I can almost smell somethin’ brewin’, stinkin’ almost as bad as they cheap perfume. An’ Bobbi keeps goin’ on, actin’ like she really like my blouse an’ like she really like me as a person. Like we got somethin’ in common. Bitch must think since she got blue eyes an’ long straight hair, she can fool a nigga’. But I keep shakin’ my big ass as I go, makin’ quite a barricade between me an’ ‘em.
Hmmmmm. I wonder if Willy C. like a big ass? My sista didn’t have a big ass at all, but Willy C. don’t seem above dere bein’ a lil’ bit uh somethin’ extra in da caboose. In fact, I think he may just like it. Only one way ta find out. Yep, an’ I’s gonna find out, fo’ sho’. An’ dat’d give dese hiyalla’ girls somethin’ ta talk about. I can just imagine they faces if they was ta see da whole thing:
Me, walkin’ up ta Willy C., an’ he lookin’ down at me wit’ those big brown eyes. Den he ax’, “Hey, ain’t you Ndali’s sista? Ain’t you Nefali?” An’ den I say, “Uuuuuuuh huuuuh. You remember me?” tryin’ ta act all dumb-like. An’ den he say, “Uh course I remember you, girl. I always had my eye on you da whole time. An’ now, look at you. Grown up an’ all pretty!” An’ dat’d be da time when he would reach down an’ run his finga along my face, along my cheek—speckled wit’ da black freckles everyone say give me so much character. But da best part’d be when he take his hands an’ put ‘em behind my head an’ pull my face up ta his, an’ work those lips over me like he once did wit’ Ndali. Shit. If those light-skinned bitches be dere, it’d be perfect. Show ‘em bein’ hiyalla’ don’t always have its privileges. Bein’ hiyalla’ don’t always give ‘em they way, an’ they’d be just ate up wit’ envy.
See, all girls have always wanted a piece uh dat boy. Don’t even try ta be coy, runnin’ ta him an’ half rippin’ off his clothes, all a bunch uh triflin’ whoes. Even worse, now dat he on some t.v. shows. First, he had been on a beer commercial playin’ volleyball wit’ all dese fake lookin’ white girls in bikinis. Da whole idea behind da commercial was all dese pretty people on da beach havin’ a good ol’ time an’ drinkin’ ‘cuz they was on spring break from college. All da folks around here had a big laugh about dat ‘cuz we all know Willy C. nevah got past da tenth grade. An’ den Willy C. got this job doin’ reenactments on this show called United State’s Most Wanted Fugitives or somethin’ like dat, but he quit dat in not long ‘cuz he got tired uh bein’ da bad guy. Oh, an’ Willy C. also signed up ta be an extra in this documentary about Motown on PBS, but he was nevah actually in da final production. Got himself fired when da director caught him smokin’ weed wit’ da guy dat holds da boom mike. I don’t know what no boom mike is, but all I do know dat soap opera people must not care much whether Willy C. smoke weed or not. Some white woman snatched him up no sooner than he had gotten his pink slip from PBS, an’ now, he starrin’ in There’s Always Tomorrow, which I always thought was a stupid name fo’ a soap opera. Ta me, sound like a bunch uh lazy people puttin’ things off, but all da people in da show is millionaires so they cain’t be too lazy, can they?
“She prolly goin’ ta get hu hair done,” say KoKo.
“What hair? She practically bald,” laugh Janelle, makin’ fun uh da way I wear my hair nice an’ short. Like da women in Africa. Shaved close. An’ Janelle keep goin’ at it, wit’ dat fuckin’ voice where she sound like someone be pinchin’ hu nose.
“Y’all, stop messin’ wit’ Nefali.” Now, Bobbi is steppin’ in again, tryin’ ta act like she da good guy, an’ I just cain’t take it no longer. I swing around an’ get all up in they faces. Da disgraces they is, they need a good callin’ out.
“If y’all must know, Willy C. be expectin’ me.” An’ all da while, I’s all smile. “Called me right up an’ say he be comin’ ta town ta sign autographs at da mall. Want me ta be dere. Remember me from when he dated my sista an’ told me how he be thinkin’ uh me evah since. Gonna kiss me, sho’ ‘nuff. See, he like his black girls black. Not like y’all hiyalla’ asses. Why have Karo Syrup when you can have molasses?” I cain’t believe I lie so well, ‘cuz Willy C. ain’t nevah called me. It sounded good, though. An’ I think they almost take it, but naw. After a few seconds, KoKo an’ Janelle get ta bein’ they usual hyena selves.
“Leave hu alone, girls. Damn.” Bobbi be lookin’ at ‘em, an’ she roll hu eyes like they clear gonna fall outta hu head. She really startin’ ta piss me off good, actin’ like she a princess. Actin’ like she don’t pee da same color as da rest uh ‘em. I just have ta say somethin’.
“Dat’s right. Why don’t you all just leave me alone? Especially you, wit’ your act? Actin’ like you tryin’ ta be somebody’s best friend, when, in da end, you just tryin’ ta tackle me wit’ da rest uh ‘em. All uh y’all can kiss my black ass, but especially you, miss shit-don’t-stank-goody-too-shoos. Thinkin’ you perfect wit’ your light skin.” I see Bobbi gettin’ all shaky, like someone is really hurtin’ hu feelings. But cain’t nobody hurt somebody’s feelings if dat somebody ain’t got feelings ta hurt. “But you ain’t perfect, is you? ‘Cuz you got fat ankles!”


When Brock was in 3rd grade and learning the basics of grammar, his teacher approached him, asking him what part of speech the word "boy" was. He replied, " 'Boy' is a verb." Of course, she cackled like the witch she was and proceeded to question him on why he ever thought of "boy" as a verb. Sheepishly, he told her--along with the class--he felt "boy" was an action moreso than a tangible object. Don't get me wrong. Lil' Brock wasn't being profound. He was just really stupid.

more about brock faucette


hiyalla' wit' fat ankles pt. 2
by brock faucette
topic: writing
published: 12.30.99


adam kraemer
7.15.02 @ 11:24a

I think "her" should be "huh" instead of "hu" - I was pronouncing it "hoo" for a while.

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