New Years Eve, 2005
“You can always learn something from the neighborhood drunk”
I visited my sister yesteday. When I walked in, I could sense something was wrong.
She said, “I’ve got some bad news to tell you about Tu-Tu.”
Tu-Tu is her grandson; my great-nephew. I sat down, feeling my heart flutter.
I’m thinking, “Please don’t let Tu-Tu be hurt, be shot…..be dead . . .”
A million ideas are running through my head.
Finally, my sister says, “Tu-Tu is in jail.”
Now, being that I have been accustomed to hearing much worst news in the “hood” I’m actually relieved at hearing this news. I’m feeling a sense of relief. Ahh. . . . I can exhale.
I look at her in an evident display of relief and ask, “What’s he locked up for?”
“He got caught with a gun,” she replied.
“A gun, what’s he doing with a gun?”
“We don’t know how he got it. He was pulled over while riding with a friend, and the police checked him, and found a gun.”
My response, “Oh . . .”
Now mind you, Tu-Tu is only 15 years old. The same age as my son. My next thoughts were, “Boy, I’m glad Sammy wasn’t hanging out with Tu-Tu.”
During the next hour or two, everyone’s talking about the mechanics of the situation; how Tu-Tu’s best friend was killed about two months ago while walking down the street in broad day light, where Tu-Tu may have found the gun, or how he might have obtained the gun, and on and on.
Soon, the conversation became slightly amusing to most of the people in the house. Incidents of this nature have become like second nature; they don’t carry the seriousness that you would expect such bad news to carry, because it’s not as bad as it could be . . . Events of this magnitude happen all too often, and we’ve become somewhat immune to it all. We are used to hearing information much more dreadful; so this was like a drip in the bucket. I’m serious.
Then, in the corner, neighborhood drunk Tyrone looks up at everyone and says, “Ya’ll are talking about this shit like it’s a f….king joke.” “Ya’ll always pacifying that boy.” “This sh..t ain’t no god damn joke.” He starts cussing and giving Tu-Tu’s mother, sister and grandmother a piece of his mind.
Ok. I’m thinking the same thing; but I wouldn’t dare say it. Not to his grandmother and definitely not to his mother. Especially, not after the damage is done. What’s the point. I should have said it a long time ago. Tyrone has been saying it for a very long time, at least everytime he got drunk; and that’s damn near every day.
So, my sister gets really angry at Tyrone. She tells him to get out of her house if he has to say anything bad about her grandson that she loves so much. She screams, “You never liked him anyway. Get the fu..ck out my house.”
Ok, I’m thinking, “Somebody put some music on; let’s squash this shit.”
My daughter quickly puts on some music, and the conversation started to flow back to normal voice tones; everyones laughing and socializing like always.
Ok. Today as I sat contemplating on calling my sister to ask her how the arraignment went, I’m thinking. . . .
You know, Tyrone, the drunk, is a good, good friend to my sister. We often times dismiss Tyrone the drunk, because he stays drunk so much. But mind you, he may be a drunk, but he’s the only one, from family to friends, who has been speaking the truth to my sister.
Everyone else has been hush hush about these types of situations. We don’t want to cause any trouble–we don’t want to rock the boat; and we don’t want to start an argument. But, had we stepped in some time ago and given some advice in a sober, caring and truthful manner, then Tu-Tu might be a free young man today.
And so it’s like that so often in life; we keep closed mouth to that which we should speak up about–simply because the situation does not effect us directly, we are afraid, or we don’t want to get in other folks business. We watch our neighborhoods go from sugar to shit, because it’s not our child, not right in our block, or we may even be afraid. Or, it only happens on the other side of town. We watch our young people doomed for failure; but since it’s not our sons or daughters, we don’t bother to intervene. Since it’s not happening right out side of our doors, we don’t stick our nose in it. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we would be puting our lives at risk. Or worst, we believe we can’t make a difference, so why bother. What a shame.
Shame on me.