MAGAZINE WRITING TEST – PLEASE COMMENT   1 comment

I know some random people read these posts, and most do not comment. I have used an event over the past Christmas, a party I went to, as a sample for, I dunno… something. I write a lot, and I’m testing out a more interesting version of my non-fiction writing. So yeah. Comment. Do it. Do it.

– Marcus

“…I can’t believe this, even the guys here are being bitchy.” This came from my friend Jov, who was lamenting at the particularly stuffy atmosphere of a upper-Norbrook house party. Norbrook, like many affluent areas, comes with a certain level of tight-assed ness with some of its residents that was very subtle, and subsequently rather annoying. It is a close knit community—most people seem to know each other—and if you don’t know them, it is quite like not existing.

 

I’m in a very good mood, I’m particularly pleased to be in Jamaica, during a time when most of the people I know in Washington D.C are wrapped up in heavy garments, forced to forge out into icy winds to get their lattes, bags of groceries and late-night condom runs. I was standing near a poolside, up in hills of a party that was the precursor to one of the biggest parties of the year—Juciy.

 

There is a term that exists in Jamaica, and it is called “uptown”. After a few generations of post-colinial racial mixup after slavery was abolished, the British controlled the country and eventually left, a new caste of Jamaicans emerge who ranged from a delicate blend of chinese, white and Indian, commonly referred to as uptowners. These families, who for generations had access to better education, money and resources from other countires became a ruling class of sorts. Juicy was their kind of party.

 

I myself could regard myself as an uptowner in many way, despite my dark skin, head of shaggy hair and otherwise “regular” appearance. Jov had proclaimed the women at this party would be “ridiculously” hot and that more than its location predicated my reasons for attending the party.

 

Our journey began too early. Initially, the party (which was on a random street called Cedar Grove) was a needle in a haystack. I wanted to go to this party, which was part barbecue, part posing fest, but I only had an hour or so to stay there. My sister was arriving from the states and I had to pick her up at the airport. A few arguments later, parking in front of a large house (which drew constant stares from the tenants inside) and a frank discussion with a pizza delivery guy, we found the party. We rolled in three strong at a supposedly good time of 8:30.

 

No one was there.

 

My friend checked the facebook invite and told me at least seven times during the week that the party was from 3 p.m to 10 p.m, so 8 should be a good time to reach. But this was Jamaica, nothing starts before 12 in Jamaica, even a New Year’s party. The last time my cousin and I counted down to happy New Years, it was us and about ten other people.

 

A short, dark-skinned guy wearing large sunglasses floated past me. He oozed confidence, grabbed a slim, attractive girl at the bar and sat on a bar stool.

“What’s up?” I said.

“Nothing much.”

“Wow, I had a lot of trouble getting here. Cedar Grove sounds more like something from Lord of the Rings than a street address.”

He chuckles and then I find out it is his house. I quiz him about Juicy and its origins and get in his good graces within three minutes. This is good, because a short, bald fellow who was slightly overweight comes up to him and says loud enough for me to hear:”Do you know these guys? They cool?”

 

He nods, like a magician about to do a trick. “Yeah, they are cool.” He looks at me and flashes a bright smile. “Have some drinks, eat a little food. Enjoy.” The line sounds practiced and typical of a guy who knows everybody. Share my world, but you will never be me.

 

I head off to the airport with my cousin in a few minutes. During that time, I speak to one of six girls at the bar. Two are somewhat friendly, four I didn’t want to approach. This is another aspect of the uptown sprawl—association. All of the girls looked similar. They were all brown skinned, appeared to be from the meditteranean and were talking with each other. Not once did they look in our direction. I nodded at Jov and walked to the car. He would have to hold the fort until we returned.

 

An hour later, almost home fomr the airport, my phone vibrates. I have a text message. My cousin flips it open and starts laughing. He shows it to me. In large black letters on Motorola Razor’s LCD is displayed:

 

Tough crowd yow.

I laugh to myself, reinvigorated to return to the party. For a few minutes before we left, many of the promoters, almost drunk to the point of fainting, were singing freestyles to a one-drop rhythm. Thankfully, it passed. Adding to the usual small crowd expectations, a short, caucasian-Jamaica girl asked me, “You’ve never eaten here before? The food is always good.”

 

I raised an eyebrow at this. This was a person’s house, tucked away somewhere in the hillls of Norbrook. Of course I’d never eaten there.

 

When we returned, the crowd had increased by a factor of about 400%. There were many people milling about, eating food, laughing and drinking. Again, I noticed the effect of the sprawl. Many individuals were of ambigious racial makeup, standing mostly to themselves, not speaking and staring directly forward. My cousin and I strolled in like penguins wearing five-inch platforms. We were each carrying a bottle of Vanilla Vodka and a chaser. Not looking at anyone, we went straight to the bar and did shots, making lots of noise. This drew the attention of several girls at the bar. I recognized one of them, a short, hafl-black derivative with a face that deserved to be in some distorted Jamaican version of a teen-movie.

“Do you want a drink?” I said to her. She opened her mouth to answer, but I cut her off, saying”…But you’ll have to tip me.” She laughs, and I turn around. My cousin, Jov and a guy I recently met named Brandt do more shots. We are in full swing. I survey the crowd. As “uptown” as it was, I recognized a few faces, and saw a few girls I met in the time I had been in Jamaica, which was now approaching a week and a half. They were very friendly when I met them previously, but in this atmosphere, well… you never know.

I headed towards the dance floor, where more “unquestionably black people” were standing. A hands touches me on the shoulder. It is a girl I went to school with. I don’t remember her name.

“Marcus! What are you doing here?” she says excitedly. I chit-chat briefly and then a familiar riff echoes through the hillside. It is a clinking noise, quite like steel pan drums made completely by a software engineer. It was the Superman song. My cousin, a six-foot four bundle of energy, appears from nowhere. Something fascinating happens. He starts to do the superman dance, and then a bevy of girls follow him, as if magnetized and begin dancing as well. The party has officially started.

 

The rest of the night is a blur. I get rejected once, talking to a girl I observe for most of the night standing by herself staring at seemingly nothing. I find this highly amusing, particularly because of the alcohol in my system and go back to my friends. The party starts to become lame. The crowd is antisocial, only ten people were dancing. We decide to go to Wally’s.

 

Jerk chicken is the staple after-party meal for almost any Jamaican. Men with white drums expertly cut into halves with grills and coals in them to cook chicken dot the Kingston landscape like scattered bread crumbs. I have seen and eaten from many a jerk chicken man, but I am a die-hard customer of Wally.

I heard about Wally through Jov, who always raved about the quality of his chicken. He had an enviable location, just behind an Esso gas station in Manor Park, just below the foot of stony hill. Here the average person driving by would have more than enough disposable income to buy as much chicken as they needed. I was here almost every night. More than simply eating tasty chicken, Wally’s was our stop off point to discuss social issues, de-tox a bit and occasionally argue. 99% of our visits involved analysis the complex social behaviour of Jamaicans at whatever party we just left. It was always the most interesting and pertinent thing. Jov and I differed intensely on certain viewpoints. I was very apathetic to the needs of people I didn’t know, I was somewhat annoyed by people who isolated themself for no reason and I was a big bullish in certain approaches. Jov was annoyed by all the things I was, but had a sensibility about morals and people that I never always agreed with. We always had great Wally’s conversation.

Tonight was no different. With my cousin in tow, we were ready to head to Wally’s, bit voraciously into a well-cooked piece of chicken, and each delineate of their own series of circumstances throughout the night. Everyone was either drunk or very tipsy. Jov kept talking about a girl he wanted to marry. A girl who didn’t engage him in much conversation, and was there with another guy. I would be on the attack this time. We strol up to Wally, who is a short man with classic Jamaica features. A medium-sized nose and bright eyes. I rarely hear Wally speak, except when he asks the question every Jerk chicken man asks: “Ketchup an’ Peppa?”

I demand the largest piece he has, and Jov protests. As the driver, apparently i’m abusing my authority with chicken selection. I laugh and ignore him. I eventually regret it. My piece was large, but a bit tasteless. Before I ate, a grey SUV pulls up so close to Wally’s stand we almost get hit. A bald man with hard eyes looks directly at me, and then Wally. I feel a hand on my shoulder. My cousin’s.

“Yow, that’s Mavado in the car.” He says to me.

I look into the car and see Mavado, the gangster for life staring directly at me. Everything anyone has ever said about him is true. His face looks hardened and a bit sallow, complimented by striking yellow eyes and an fuzzy head of braids. I feel frightened.

“Yow, we want some fowl, fast!” he barks.

I almost laugh. The statement seems a bit too cliche’d to even be true, but it happens. Wally dips into his bin of pre-cooked chicken and my eyes widen. Two of the largest pieces of chicken I have ever seen are laid on the chopping block, to my chagrin. Immediately we laugh to ourselves. “First we are trumped by the girls at the party, and now Mavado. Its a perfect night.” Jov says.

I laugh heartily. I have to admit, it is almost so pathetic that its funny. As Wally is putting pepper on the chicken, Mavado barks again, in that telltale raspy voice that has already earned him millions.

“Put more BLOODCLAAT peppa pon di chicken! You tink a gyal you a serve?”

Wally freezes for a moment. His face remains the same, an expressionless half-smile that never waivers and then he pours more pepper onto the chicken. He hands the package to Mavado and his driver. “Yeah, stand up strong you know!” He says to us, the last bark from the wolf of the pack. We stare at the SUV dissappear up the road. It screeches to the right and dissappears . A pregnant pause followed, then Jov tuns around. He is beaming.

“Yow, that was so fucking hype!” Jov says. I agreed. Mavado hailed us up. It was like getting a high-five from Mike Tyson in his prime, or a hug from Jenna Jameson. The events of the night started to dissappear in importance. The stuckup girls, the odd crowd all dissappeard in a few bites of chicken and a red strip or two. We stood under the night sky and kept talking about how Mavado said hello to us. To anyone else we might look like losers, but it was a happy and fulfilling moment.

I had to buy another piece of chicken though.

 

/ends here

Posted January 22, 2008 by marcusbird in Uncategorized

One response to “MAGAZINE WRITING TEST – PLEASE COMMENT

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  1. favorited this one, dude

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