Get y’all popcorn because I got a story.
Back in 2006, my job paid for me to start learning Spanish. If I became fluent enough to speak to callers who needed translation, it would more money and a promotion. I took those classes seriously because in addition to the fact that they were helping me obtain a marketable skill, I enjoyed them and the instructors praised how quickly I was picking up the language.
One Saturday I was doing homework. I’ve always been like somebody’s old auntie because I cannot stand a lot of loud noise. It was enough that my upstairs neighbors seemed to stomp through their apartment and the wood floors hid none of that sound. But that day, I’m focusing on writing a letter about my summer vacation to my imaginary friend Luis and I start to hear somebody playing bongos upstairs.
Yes, nigga, I said bongos in a fucking apartment.
Now if you’re from DC or have spent any significant time here, you’ll know that the bongos are a staple in go-go music. I recognized the sound immediately and had it not been so absurd, it would’ve been a bop because the nigga could play. But if I wanted a groove, I knew how to go to the go-go. I was not having that shit.
I go upstairs and knock on the door. Now I’m knocking hard because I need this nigga to know I’m serious. He comes to the door in the kufi I’d never seen him without and says, “Hey, what’s up?” Now mind you, my car and his had been broken into the year before, and while we were in the parking lot waiting for the police to make reports, he, his woman, my boyfriend and I talked. After that, we were pretty friendly for a while, but hadn’t talked in months. Still, we didn’t have any animus, so I didn’t see any problems with asking him to turn down the music.
“I’m studying and I can’t focus with the noise,” I said. “Oh, no problem, shorty,” he replied. I said, “Thanks,” and headed back downstairs. He stopped and that was that.
I forgot all about until a couple of weekends later, I was watching TV on a Sunday and once again, this nigga was playing the bongos. I’m thinking, “Did this nigga think I meant the noise was just unacceptable that day?” I hike up the stairs and knock. He ignores me this time. I go back downstairs and bang on the ceiling with the broom. He continues.
Monday morning, I hit the property manager who loved me and tell her, “Ms. Thelma, this motherfucker was paying bongos upstairs twice.” She said, “Who?” I tell her and she informs me — because you know older Black women always fucking spilling tea — that ain’t no man on the lease. It’s just his woman.
Manager calls a meeting with me, the leaseholder and their next door neighbor since she had apparently complained about his ridiculous ass as well. His woman brings him anyway. Now I neglected to tell y’all that in addition to that kufi which was well past its glory days, this nigga always had on a pair of sweat pants that hit just below the shin. He had a beard that showed all the signs of neglect and I’d never seen him without beads of sweat dripping down his oily ass face. He wasn’t particularly ugly, but he was a hot fucking mess.
We get into the meeting and I say plainly that it is ridiculous for him to believe that he can play drums inside an apartment. She says, “They’re bongos.” I say, “They’re fucking percussion instruments, and this ain’t no music festival.” The meeting devolved into arguing and I left. He never played the bongos again and they moved out a few months later.
Well, I also forgot to tell y’all that this man was around my mother’s age and one day when my mother came to visit, she saw him and they figured out they knew each other in passing from the neighborhood they’d grown up in. So years later, maybe 7, my mother calls me and says, “Shay, I saw Mustafa at the casino. He kept staring at me from the other table, so I waved.” I’m listening like, “Why she telling me about this nigga?”
BITCH! She drops the bombshell continuing, “Do you know he walked over and asked, ‘You the girl who used to live downstairs mother, right?'” Now y’all don’t know my mother, but just know I get my clapback skills and take-no-shit attitude from her. “You know that’s my damn baby.” This nigga proceeds to tell my mother, the woman who spent 66 hours in labor to push out my 9-pound, chocolate, cute ass, the woman who knows me better than anyone, “You know your daughter wanted me.” My mother replies, “Wanted you how?” Ol’ oily culotte sweats says, “Sexually.”
Baby, now I wasn’t there, but my mother told me and I believe she went in. From what I recall — and I called her before typing this to confirm my memory served me as well as it usually does — she told that nigga, “Motherfucker, my daughter wouldn’t touch you with somebody else’s pussy. She had a boyfriend then and he was her age and fine. The fuck she want witcho old bamma ass? Get the fuck on, Mustafa!”