Tuesday, January 18, 2005

life of buddy don, chaptur 130: how i cum by the nickname of docter

the hole strang of events gut started on a counta how me n emily jes couldnt see eye to eye bout money. we dint make much but even so, we wuz squirrlin away a lil now n then, a nuff to have over $1,000 in the bank n to make our land payments n rent n other eggspentses. we dint never once run out, but that dint stop us frum fussin n fitin lack crazy whenever we gut to whar she figgerd twuz too low to sleep on without a major wrangin of the hands. ifn i wuznt upset lack she wuz, it made her mad on a counta that meant i dint keer.

but i did keer jes as much as she did. i jes dint see why twuz so awful fer our checkin account to git near zero now n then. whut other opshun did we have? wurse time of all wuz when i paid virg our land payment on the 7th, witch twuz due on the 1st after all, a'leavin only $33 in checkin till the nex time we gut paid. whut a fite we had over that. she wuz deathly afraid we'd git cawt short with only the $33. i couldnt fer the life of me see whut wood happen to us ifn sumbidy knew we wuz so short? whut wood they do to us?

frum a more persunal n selfish point of view, i still couldnt afford to by inny of thevil weed n i half to say my friens n relatives kept me frum a'runnin out. corse thay wuz randy fox, who wood show up when ye lease eggspeckted him n give me a lil chunk of hash or a cuple buds of thevil weed. virg or brew or mj wood share whut they had growd thar ownself.

but the main reason i never run out wuz a new frien name of johnny mayhew, a feller who wuz takin the furst shakepeare class i had in grad skool. seem lack he add mired me frum day one n he gut to whar he wood hang round with me befor class or ast did i wont a cup of coffee after, witch i never had no money n he lacked that since he could say he wuz byin n my money wuznt no good. but tho we gut to be purty good friens, i hated spongin off im n he dint lack to here me say no so i gut to wontin a lil exter money moren ever.

so frum the day i started the secunt quarter of grad skool, i let it be known how i wood lack to make sum exter money. thay wuznt no opshun to do that at furst, but by my third quarter, i gut a chants at one thang n that led to a nuther till finely i had a few coins to rattle round in my pocket n a brand new nickname.

twzu back durin the sprang quarter of 1981 when i wuz still a g.a. or graduwait assistunt. i had ast fer a chants to pick up a lil exter money, so i gut assined to wurk in the ritin lab, witch ye had students n thar that dint have a chants to pass no reglar english class without lots of hep. i had to go down thar twice each week on tuesdys n thursdys twixt 3:30 n 5:30, witch that wuz latern i lacked on a counta i generly tride to have dinner reddy round 6 of a evenin. but they dint ast my pinion so i showed up n made do. sides, i made $4.50 a hour, witch that added up to near $20 a week, a nuff to make thangs a lil easier.

befor i even gut started, sam johns tole me how thay wuz manely three kinds of students in that thar ritin lab: yer jocks, yer bimbos n yer blacks. he made it lack twuz a joke but thang wuz, twuz mosely true. my furst day i noticed how tuther teachin assistunts a'wurkin thar divided up the students. the men tuck the bimbos, the women tuck the jocks, n the blacks sat amungst themselves in the back talkin.

i ast the prof in charge, miz jeffords, whut should i do, n she sed jes see ifn innybidy wonted inny hep. by time i turnt round, a feller helt up his hand n ast wood i hep him? he wuz on the football team n he wonted to talk about the game, witch so did i but i figgerd we wuz spozed to git a paper writ n he wuz kindly hopin i wood rite his paper but i tole im i luved them vols lack nobidy else but i couldnt do that so he ast me did i thank they wuz a'gone beat alabama finely after losin ten in a row n i tole im i hoped so but we needed to wurk, witch he dint lack that so he called a g.a. name of glenda over n she seemed rite happy to take over.

it dint seem lack nobidy else wonted no hep. them that wonted hep wuz a gittin it n most everbidy else wuz ritin or readin, witch they wuz spozed to cum thar n rite n raze thar hand ifn they wonted inny hep. i couldt catch the eye of nary a one of the black students, so i figgerd they mus not wont inny hep.

i checked my watch n seen i hadnt been thar but 25 mints, so i wunderd whut wuz i a'gone do with my time. ye could torchur a bidy lack me jes by sittin im down in a room with nuthin to do. i caint abide such boredom. i went up to the prof n ast her wuz it always lack this?

i checked whut tuther grad students wuz doon n it sprized me to see how, ceptn fer glenda, they wuz mosely wurkin on thar papers n waited fer sumbidy to raze thar hand fer hep, witch that mean they mosely jes wurked on thar papers.

i didnt see how i could do that, so i give one of the bimbos a lil attenchun til she ast could i hep her, witch i figgerd out purty quick whut she wonted wuz fer me to dictate a paper to her. i wurked with her all one afternoon till she real eyesed how i wuznt a'gone rite her paper. the followin tuesdy when i cum in, she wuz a'flirtin with phil reiner, witch he wuz a phd student who had been thar ferever alreddy.

so i looked over at the black corner of the lab n a young man cawt my eye, mayhap by acksident, n before he could look away, i sed, 'how bout we git you outta here?' i musta dun sed it lack he wuz stuck in prison, witch it made the hole table laff, but i tole im that wuznt no reason to spend so much of his life waitin fer sumthin to happen when wuznt nuthin a'gone happen till he dun sumthin. he smiled whenever i sed that n stuck out his hand n sed his name wuz gerald. i tuck his hand n tole im mine wuz buddy don, but he could call me bud.

sum kinda way we hit it off n i wuz sprized bout how he had plenty to rite bout n knew verr well how to make his argument, but he was skeered to death of makin grammar, spellin, n punktuayshun miss takes. i tole im everbidy wuz a'skeered of that, so that dint matter. i gut im to make a lil outline, witch i tole im fer the outline, wuznt nobidy a'gone brang out no harbrace college handbook to mark it up, so dint matter bout the grammar, spellin n punktuayshun on that, witch he made im a purty goodn bout how ye could solve the welfare problem usin a verr simple practiss: make everbidy that gits welfare show up fer wurk n sit all day in a offus a'doon nuthin. i laffed when i red it. he had dun larnt a lot bout the suffern of sittin n doon nuthin, n he figgerd thonly folks that wood put up with such a thang wood be them that really needs the welfare.

then we tuck whut he had dun writ n wurked on gittin it to be 'formull english.' he wuz sprized how close he cum to that the verr furst time n whenever the prof graded the essay, he give gerald a b on it, witch twuz the furst time gerald had ever writ a passin essay. but he wuz rite proud of whut he had dun, so nex time i cum, witch twuz the verr nex thursdy, gerald wuz a'waitin n he had a frien who wonted me to hep too, so purt soon, i had four or five of them black students a'wurkin on papers all at once. turnt into a lil class n twuz verr intentsive since i wuz rite thar to anser inny questchun as quick as it cum up.

so i gut to lackin ritin lab jes lack twuz n seem lack everbidy wuz happy. fack is, miz jeffords gut to whar she lacked havin me round n gut me to cum in exter ifn i ever had the time. fack is, she sed i could cum in inny time atall since thay wuz always sum black students a'needin hep. then she sed, 'seem lack ye gut a way with em,' witch she meant with black folk i guess so i anserd i jes lacked keepin busy. but she woodnt let it go, trine to git me to add mitt i had a speshul way of a'gittin long with black folk. she wuz so impressd by it, she had tuck the liberty of astin round fer whar i could make even a lil more money n she cum on the idee of me tutorin over at the black cultural center or 'bcc' on volunteer bullavard. ifn i wuz innerested, i should go over thar n ast fer anthony p williams.

so i give it sum thought n figgerd i dint have no reason not to try it, so i went in n gut a innerview with anthony p williams. we gut on purty good on a counta how miz jeffords had tole him bout me alreddy. purty soon he had agreed to pay me $5.50 a hour to tutor a couple of students who had severe difficulties passin english. i gut a cuple students rite away.

one of em wuz a verr black woman frum memphis. she wuz so shy to whar she couldnt look ye in the eye but only stared at her hands whenever she wuz a'talkin, witch twuz lack pullin teeth to git inny wurds outta her innyway. but we tuck the same path i had used over at the ritin lab n gut her to puttin down her thesis n points as best she could, witch we wood go over the logick of the argument she wuz a'makin long before we ever tride fixin the english problems. she lacked that on a counta how she gut to git her points herd in sted of gittin 'crucified with errors,' as she lacked to put it.

tuther student, angela green, had a differnt problem, witch she had a verr bad attitude n wuz cunvintsed ever white person wuz out to git her, witch that made it hard fer us to git a'goin, but one evenin i cum in n found that i woodnt be doin no tutorin that day even ifn bof my students wuz thar. in sted, we watched a movie bout the underground railroad, witch i half to add mitt, i dint hardly know nuthin wurth knowin bout it till i saw that film. twuz awful to contemplate sum of the thangs dun by white people agin blackns durin slavery n thay wuz a conversayshun after the movie to discuss jes that. seem lack everbidy wuz glad to have a white person thar fer such a discusshun fer a change. sumbidy ast me whut i thought bout when i saw the movie, n befor i could cunsidder whut i wuz a gone say, i herd myself a'sayin it made me ashamed. i dint have nuthin else to add, but nobidy needed nuthin more.

after that, angela seem lack she warmed up a bit more to me or at lease to given whut i wuz a'trine to teach her more of a chants. so we gut goin too, n frum that, i had me a nuther purty good job.

corse, the money jes went into the same account, but whenever it cum time to argue bout the last $33 in checkin or sumthin, i could always say that twuz a good thang i had that exter wurk on a counta twood be empty otherwise. n thay wuznt much emily could say, even ifn she wuz still verr unhappy bout it.

long in the sprang of the furst year of grad skool, witch that wood be sprang of 1982, the english department gut em a softball team up n johnny mayhew figgerd we should join up. twuz a lotta fun. johnny wuz a odd frien. he wood praise me in publick ever chants he gut. he started cummin to group n hepped the idee that i wuz the leader by the way he ackted. he even sed he wuz too intimidated to rite nuthin, but i kep at im n eventually he dun it.

he wuz a verr good frien. he gut me to wurking out with weights, witch we dun that frum the time softball started n kep it up fer a few years. i gut my weight up to a lifelong high of 162 pounds, but i couldnt hold it. still, i wuz in better shape than ever n havin a real good time playin softball n wurkin out. life wuz verr busy, but also verr rewardin.

whenever the fall of 1982 cum around, anthony p. williams ast me did i know how to play basketball. fack is, daddy had hung up a backboard over the garage whenever we eli n me gut to be bout 11 or 12, so we had played a million games of horse n one on one or two on one. i dint know much moren that, but i had a cuple of shots i could use in horse lack a long set shot n a pure hook, witch ye dont hardly see nobidy take hook shots no more. innywho, whenever anthony ast me, i tole im i had played a lil. he ast did i wonta be on the bcc team. i figgerd ye wood half to be black n ast him dint that matter? he sed he dint see why since everbidy else on the team wood be black.

so i joined. we practissed a nuff to whar anthony tole me he dint need me to be drivin the basket much, though twuz nice how i drove to the left. he n brother john, as tuther main player wuz named, wood take keer of that. twuz odd since i wuz tallern eethur one of em, but i couldnt jump the way they could n twuz amazin how they could cut through a pile of folks n cum out with the ball in the hoop. turnt out ye had to have three players n that wuz jes whut we had, so i gut to play all the time.

fer the most part, i was the outlet guy, witch whenever thangs gut too tough inside, they wood throw me the ball n i wood be able to hit a set shot or a hook (ifn innybidy wuz guardin me, witch mosely they dint waste time guardin me). purt soon johnny gut wind i wuz on such a team n that gut him to wontin to see us play. so i tole im when our nex game wuz n he cum.

twuz one of them games whar ye caint do no rong. brother john couldnt make it so we had us a tall skinny kid frum detroit who sed he dint know how to play, witch that meant he wuz our outside threat n anthony had me trine to pick n roll with him n all. lack i say, twuz one of them games whar everthang went rite fer me. my passin wuz crisp n fooled the defents. i sprized em time n agin by drivin to the left in sted of to my rite lack everbidy else dun. n i started makin layups n such to whar tuther team gut so mad that one of em threw me to the ground whenever i had lef my feet to make a jump shot. amazingly, that shot went in.

meanwhile, johnny mayhew wuz rootin lack thay wuz no tomorrow. purty soon, we ast did he wonta take the spot of the tall skinny kid, witch he dint wonta play nohow n only dun it sos we woodnt half to forfit. so johnny joined the game n then i could here whut he had been a'shoutin bout me, a'callin me 'docter b' after julius erving, witch he wuz known as docter j. purt soon that turnt into 'the docter' or jes 'docter.'

fer years dint nobidy much call me nuthin else. folks wood cum to group n ast me whut wuz my docterut in n thay wuz sprized whenever i sed i dint have no docterut n dint have no plans to git one.

we wood go play miz pacman a lot in them days, speshly after a group meetin. twuz sumthin that made emily mad, but since i wuz makin the quarters, she dint feel lack she had a rite to objeck to how i mite spend four or five of em sum evenin. ifn i wuz havin a lucky nite, i mite pay the furstn n then the challengers wood pay after that. on evenins lack that, johnny wood be crowin bout how 'the docter is operatin.'

i wuz rite prouod of that nickname. i figgerd the way i gut it sed a lot bout how ye move frum one way of life to a nuther, how yer needs lead ye into sum good thangs n all. i dint real eyes how in gittin that nickname, i gut a glimpse of my futchur, much moren i ever coulda real eyesed at the time.

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