So in the interest of being a good citizen, I’ve been indulging in two great pastimes this week: jury duty and taking the bus. Both are thrilling experiences, but the latter gave me the best line I’ve heard in years.
Yesterday, I was sitting in my customary seat near the rear door, roaring down Manchester Blvd. toward Inglewood City Hall. Three rows back sat a young man in hip hop attire, placidly listening to music on headphones and not bothering anyone. Two girls, maybe 17 or so, got on and made their way to his row, plopping down and commencing to rag on him.
These were the type of girls who’d have been known alternatively as instigators (instagataz, if you prefer) or hasslers (hasslaz, I suppose) had they been Gompers students. I remember many of them from Mr. Shelton’s science class, the kind who always had both gum and big earrings.
“Hey,” one said, pausing to snap the gum. “Is you a playa?”
The gentleman answered that he was, in fact, a playa. The other one took issue with his contention.
“Has you got a pen?” she demanded.
He did, graciously handing it over.
“Shit,” the first said. “Playaz don’t have pens. How can you be a playa with a pen? Playaz don’t need to write.”
I believe at this point, she was using the Geto Boys logic of (forgive the profanity, I’m quoting from their critically lauded anthem “Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster”) “And real gangsta-ass niggas don’t run for shit/ Cuz real gangsta-ass niggas can’t run fast.” Under that framework, playaz need to spend their time hustlin’ and improving their game, thus they’d have no need for a pen.
So anyhow, she starts writing with the pen.
“Hey playa,” she asked. “What’s the date today?”
Now he was no dummy, he knew that engaging them in any way, even to help them out, was dangerous. So he played it off and offered a simple “no.”
“Aww!” the second girl clowned. “How can you be a playa and not know the date? Shit!”
At this point, he appeared to be having some sort of a conversation in his head. I had to surmise what came next in his internal monologue.
“Say, James,” his brain said to himself. “That girl’s sure giving you a hard time. How whack!”
“Yes, sir!” he answered, out loud.
“It’s ‘yes, ma’am,'” the first girl said.
“I wasn’t talking to you,” he said.
And I just rolled on to the courthouse.