Chuck D was my friend Mikey Baylor’s older brother. No relation to Evan Baylor (although Chuck D and E.B. were homies). Chuck D’s real name was George Baylor. Charles was his middle name. Everyone called him Chuck D, like the rapper from Public Enemy. He explained the story behind his name to us one afternoon after school. We were all in Chuck D and Mikey’s parents garage smoking weed. Their parents ran restaurants and were never home till late. So their house was the perfect spot to chill at.
“They call me Chuck D so if some shit ever goes down at a party, no one knows my real name and can’t snitch on me to the boys.”
Chuck D was wearing a puffy black North Face, khakis, off-white Reebok classics, and a Seattle Mariners fitted hat. He was stocky, not fat, with black hair. His little brother Mikey was wearing a grey hoodie with a North Face jacket over it, khakis, and Reebok classics. Besides the Baylor brothers, it was me, Daniel Bond, and Tim Corcoran. We were all dressed pretty much the same as Mikey. All of us sagging. Daniel Bond had just had a growth spurt so he was sagging even lower than normal in order for his khakis to reach his ankles. His arms were too long for his baggy hooded sweatshirt. We all dressed in variations of that basic outfit most of the time.
Chuck D took a long pull off of the multicolored blown glass pipe. The weed glowing orange as he inhaled. He blew the smoke out his nose. He didn’t cough. He turned his attention to me and asked
“Why do you smoke weed, you look like you hate it. I’m willing to bet that five years from now you won’t even be smoking weed.“
“Nah, dog, I love smoking weed. I’m down for life, foo.”
I was lying. Although sometimes smoking weed was fun, a lot of the time it just made me paranoid. I was already high strung. Weed made me think about all the things wrong I was doing in my life. When I was high it was like this little voice in my head. The weed was saying to me,
“What the fuck are you doing with your life, Joe? Seriously, you’re such a piece of shit. You should be doing homework right now. Aren’t you failing two classes? Why the hell do you write your name on shit. You’ve already been arrested twice. You’re about to get in hella trouble. All those tags you did on 65th, yeah, those gold ones. They’re going to figure out that was you, and come arrest you. You’re such a fucktard. You need to get it together, you shouldn’t be here smoking weed. Oh fuck, did a cop car just drive by outside? They know. They know. Mikey and Chuck D’s parents are going to be home any second. You’re going to get busted, and they’re going to tell your mom what a piece of shit you are. FUCK. FUCK. FUCK. ACT COOL. ACT COOL. ACT COOL. Get your shit together. Don’t let these fools see that you’re freaking out inside your head, you fucking pussy…”
All of this went through my head before Chuck D responded,
“Whatever you say, Flojo. It looks to me like you hate it.”
“Fuck that, I fucking love smoking weed dog!”
Chuck D shook his head, and put the pipe to his lips and took another hit.
“Whatever you say, dog,” he said as he blew out the smoke.
Every Friday after school there was a keg at Magnuson Park in a clearing in the trees next to Kite Hill. The keg would be placed on the concrete foundation of a machine gun from World War 2. The machine gun was no longer there. We called it “Rock Spot”.
Everyone would park their cars in the parking lot next to Kite Hill and bump rap music and smoke weed and drink beers before and after the kegs. My friends and I were all freshman, and we weren’t girls (all the girls could get rides easy). So no one wanted to give us a ride. We would take the 71 to the entrance of Magnuson and walk the mile from the entrance to Rock Spot. Daniel Bond standing a solid foot and half taller than the rest of us as we walked along the side of the road into Magnuson. All of us still wearing our backpacks from school. Carloads of upperclassmen driving by us with all our homegirls. Sometimes my mom would give us a ride under the pretense of us going to play a touch football game at one of the fields in the park. She never asked us why we didn’t bring a football.
Keg cups cost three bucks, and were red or blue. You could fill it as many times as you could manage before the keg ran dry. Seth and I would talk about how many keg cups you had to drink to be a savage.
“E.B. drinks like 13 cups a keg, what a sav!” Seth said to me matter of factly.”
“Yeah, and he doesn’t even get that faded.”
Drinking in high school was a competition. Who could drink the most with out throwing up or passing out was considered a “Sav”. I decided right then and there that at the next keg I would drink at least nine cups. I wanted to be considered savage hella bad.
One Friday after school we were all in the Kite Hill parking lot. Older kids who sold weed were weighing out sacks of marijuana openly on digital scales on the hoods of their cars. My friends and I were fucking around with an Airsoft pistol that looked like a real 9mm handgun. Someone had painted the orange tip black. Mikey was pointing it at people, holding it sideways and saying shit like,
“Run yo shit, NIGGA.”
Mikey laughed. He thought it was a real gas. All of sudden Chuck D grabbed the Airsoft pistol out of his hand.
“ARE YOU FUCKING RETARDED, MICHAEL? I SWEAR TO GOD YOU’RE FUCKING RETARDED.”
“What fuck, Chuck? quit being gay. Give that shit back to me.”
“Real smart, Michael. Real smart. Some family walking their dog is going to see you pointing a pistol at people. They’re not going to know its fake and will call the cops, and that’s some heavy shit your pussy ass doesn’t want to deal with, dog. You’ll get everybody hemmed up.”
“You know what your problem is Mikey? You just ain’t got no character, dog.”
Chuck D stormed off, taking the Airsoft pistol with him and putting it in the trunk of a car.
We all thought that was the funniest shit ever and gave Mikey major shit about it for at least two more years. Randomly saying it to him to get a rise out of him when he least expected.
“Whats up, dog?”
“You just ain’t got no character.”
“FUCK OFF YOU HOMOS.”
We would all laugh. I was never the one saying it to him. Usually TIm or Daniel would do that.
I was drinking a 22 ounce of Olde English. We were still waiting for the keg to arrive. Chuck D’s friend ‘Mal was drinking a 22 as well. We all were. ‘Mal, pronounced mall, short for Jamal, was a white kid named Jamie Gibson who was so deluded in his wigger fantasy that he had given himself a blacker name. Jamal. He was a bully. I was terrified of him. He sold weed and dressed “gangsta”. Polo hat pulled down low and to the side over his eyes. Black puffy down jacket. Khakis that hung low. Polo boxers showing. He was Chuck D’s age. ‘Mal walked up to me and said,
“Here ya go, little homie”
He tapped the bottom of his 22 on the mouth of my 22. It made a clinking sound. The amber liquid turned to white foam near instantly. Foam overflowed out the mouth of my beer. I was pissed. My beer was ruined. I was angry enough to throw caution to the wind and voice my opinion.
“What the fuck did you do that for, FAG?”
I instantly regretted it. Everybody stopped talking.
“WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST SAY?”
‘Mal was turning red. He grabbed me by the throat and slammed me against a parked car. I dropped the foamy 22 and it shattered on the ground. He was up in my face, the brim of his hat almost touching my forehead. I squirmed.
“YOU THINK IS A GAME FOOL? THIS AIN’T NO MONOPOLY LITTLE HOMIE! THIS AIN’T NO GAME HOMIE.”
“I didn’t say anything ‘Mal.”
“I JUST TOLD YOU THIS AINT NO GAME, HOMIE, I HEARD WHAT THE FUCK YOU SAID. NOW YOU BETTER APOLOGIZE TO ME BEFORE I WHOOP YOUR FUCKING ASS.”
He tightened his grip on my neck.
“I CAN’T HEAR YOU.”
“I said I’m sorry, ‘Mal.”
He let me go.
“That’s what I thought you little bitch.”
‘Mal spit on the ground and walked back to his friends. They were all laughing. He hadn’t even had to put his beer down and he had punked me. I wanted to bash his face in with a brick, but I knew that wasn’t a very good idea. Maybe it would have been. I didn’t have the balls though.
He yelled at me with a sadistic smile from his circle of friends.
“I TOLD YOU THIS WASN’T NO GAME, LITTLE HOMIE. I TOLD YOU THIS WASN’T NO MARINERS BASEBALL, HOMIE. IT ISN’T A GAME.”
All the older boys laughed. My friends didn’t laugh.
I would sneak out on weeknights and walk to the end of my block. Chuck D and Mikey would be there waiting for me. Chuck D’s white 1995 Jeep Cherokee idling with the lights off. I’d get in.
On this particular night Mikey was hitting a glass weed pipe. Eyes closed nodding his head to an E-40 song with his cheeks sucked in. Chuck D reached back and slapped my hand.
“Young Joey Joe, whats up foo?”
“Lets schmob from here.”
Chuck D put the car into drive and rolled off. Mikey blew the weed smoke out his window before acknowledging me.
“What’s up Floseph. what’s cracking with you?”
He passed me the pipe. We were driving on 65th. Mike D turned up the music. Then he yelled over the music.
“Wait till we get onto some residential streets before you hit that.”
I waited. He hit a right at 25th. Left once he got to the road that ran parallel to the Burke-Gilman trail which snaked behind the University Village. Left onto Sand Point Way and then right into Laurelhurst’s quiet streets. Once we were off the arterials I took a hit off the pipe before passing it to Chuck D. He was driving fast on the residential streets and he took both hands off the steering wheel to hit the pipe. Driving with his knees. This made me nervous. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want them to think I was a pussy.
Chuck D parked the SUV in front of a huge house, I hesitate to use the word mansion, but I guess that’s what it was. All the houses in Laurelhurst were nice. It was a wealthy neighborhood. I guess all our neighborhoods might be considered that compared to some neighborhoods; but Laurelhurst was the creme de la creme. Chuck D pointed at the house.
“You see that house, that’s ‘Mals house.”
“Really? That kid lives there?”
What I was really thinking was, why does that kid act so tough then? he’s obviously some fake ass pussy. I was still afraid of him. He was a lot bigger than me. I kept this new piece of information tucked into the back of my head in all future encounters with “Mal. It made me less afraid.
“Yeperdooski. That’s his mom’s house, his parents are divorced. She married some rich ass dude, his dad is a nut, and lives in Shoreline.”
I was starting to get paranoid. I asked Chuck,
“Are you sure it’s chill to be smoking weed parked here like this?”
“Are you kidding me, foo? Do you know how many blunts I’ve hotboxed parked right here. Laurelhurst is so CHILL. SO CHILL. Nothing ever happens here EVER. We could sit parked here all night smoking weed and probably wouldn’t even see another car, let alone the fives. SO CHILL. What do you think some cops are going to jump out of the bushes to bust some kids smoking WEED? NEVER!”
“OK, I’m not trying to get hemmed up.”
“You think I’m trying to get hemmed up? As if! You know what your problem is Flojo? You’re too tense, you need to relax dude, or you’re going to have a heart attack in your 20s.”
I nodded. Mikey coughed and said,
“You think he’s tense now, this fool THREW the joint in some bushes the first time he smoked. Thought a soccer mom driving by was the cops and shit.”
“Shut up foo, that shit was like 2 years ago.” I said.
“Like I said foo, you need to CHILL the FUCK out in general. Everything is fine,” Chuck D said.
“I never said it wasn’t. I just asked if this was chill, and you said it was, so, I guess we’re chill,” I said.
The rest of the night passed without event and when it was over Chuck and Mikey dropped me off at my house. Chuck D said to me as I got out,
“You’re a good dude, Joe, you just need to relax. Just remember shit’s not that big-a-deal.”