All The Brothers Shopped At Roos Atkins
Lafette had the finest clothes in school. Lafette did all his shopping in Reno at the Park Lane Mall at Roos Atkins. This was the ‘70s, so the styling was over the top. Laffette had this fancy flowered shirt that I coveted, so I went to Roos Atkins, but they were sold out.
A while later, my dad brought this fancy, fancy shirt home from his work. To my utter surprise, it was the very same type of shirt that Laffette used to wear. I tried it on and the dang thing fit. Only problem is that it had a whole in the left arm pit. “Oh well,” I thought. “I’ll wear it and get Mom to sew it later”. In my excitement to wear this boss shirt, it never did cross my mind that this could very well be Laffette`s shirt cause he hadn’t worn it in quite a while. I waited a month or so to make sure it was safe to wear, as this was standard practice to wait to wear something that dad brought home from his work, so whoever threw it out would have time to forget about it.
I went to school and was hanging around all my fancy black brothers before school started, fitting right in, when all of a sudden, Laffette came in the door. I began to sweat right now! I needed to find the bathroom. I looked away when he looked my way. I knew a confrontation was inevitable. Hawthorne people never let pass an opportunity to humble a brotha. Laffette said “Jimmy, where’d you get that shirt? I said, “Roos Atkins.” He asked, “When?” I said, “Last week.” He said, “I had a shirt like that, but my Mama threw it in the trash ‘cause it had a hole in the left arm pit. I sweat even more. Without saying a word, I knew that I was in deep, deep trouble. I began to turn red. I started getting light headed. I was sure that there was a big red blinking sign above my head that read “I AM WEARING LAFFETTE`S SHIRT. HIS MAMA THREW IT IN THE GARBAGE CAN, AND MY DAD IS THE GARBAGE MAN, AND HE GOT IT OUT OF THE GARBAGE CAN AT LAFFETTE`S HOUSE AND HE GAVE IT TO JIMMY, AND IT HAS A HOLE IN THE LEFT ARM PIT, AND JIMMYS DADDY IS THE GARBAGE MAN.
Everything was now going in slow motion. I prayed,” If there is a God, please kill me or Laffette right now. Preferably, Laffette.” After my prayer, neither of us was dead. I was in many fights in high school. Laffette told me to lift up my left arm. I did better than that. I lifted my left, and then followed it with a right cross, and down he went. I got on top of him and began to pound on him. After a good whoopin’, Laffette gave up. I was defending the honor of my daddy’s profession. I then lifted up my left arm and looked and sure enough there was a hole in the left arm pit. I hit Laffette again and said, “And that’s for ripping my shirt.” I wore that shirt with dignity after that.
Author’s note: If the truth be known, we lived at the top of the food chain. It just so happened that our food and clothes and toys got to us after they made it to the bottom of the food chain. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.