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        Terrell's Take on Things

A Saturday morning sticky as lemonade sugar,
and inside the rickety storefront that houses
Terrell's Afrocentric Barber Shop,
Fade Palace and Wild Style Emporium,
already there is the world to be dealt with.
Willie Franklin, boy from down the street --
you know, he was raised in that brick shack
right next to Fred Warren's TV repair place --
well, that boy refuse to cut that Jheri Curl
outta his head -- that stuff older than free at last,
and here he come with them big oily spots all up and
down his back. Look like one of them fools trying to be
gangster, and nerve enough to have a gold tooth, too.
His foot ain't in the door hardly before Terrell starts in
on him: "Damned shame if you ask me, damned shame.
Man, it's 1993 and ain't nobobdy got no time
for that grease trickling down they neck,
'specially hot as it is out there. C'mere, lemme
clip that shit down, Willie. Let them naps grow out.
Couple o' weeks, I'll hook you up with a fade.
The sisters don't like putting they hands in that mess
and did y'all see that chile 'Retha onstage at the
President's thang, trailing all that fur like she
Queen 'Lizabeth and all that fat unnerneath it?
I ain't never seen no black woman with money stay fat.
Damn, that gal can't pass up no part of the chicken --
see her coming even the bones get scared.
That chile will eat a spaghetti strap. What that song
she sang, Ain't No Way? Well I guess it sho' aint.
She got one chance, though -- stay alive long enough,
time make you skinny. I just don't know if she got
that much time. Oh yea, oh yea, look out the window
y'all, there go that gal I was telling y'all 'bout,
got enough ass to balance a drink on. I'm gon' get
some o' that, mark my words. I'm gon' be knee deep
in that shit come Saturday night or my name
ain't Terrell Anderson Jr. and I ain't got my hand
tussling in your nappy head. Man, she don't know me yet,
but she will. I bet she done already heard 'bout how
my lovemaking done put a few sisters on crutches,
bet she done heard how I done drove one or two
outta they minds, how I whipped some o' this nature
on them and now they drooling and barking like dogs.
Hell, y'all can laugh if y'all want. Thomas, you ask
your sister. And you over there, ask yo' mama.
They say size don't matter, but it do if it's this size,
man. I have to bind this shit to my leg or it would
scare all y'all outta here. Come Saturday night,
you can ask that gal y'all just seen. She be passing
by that window in a wheelchair. Mark my words.

Thomas, speaking of women, one too many times
I done see your wife over there cross the street
all up in that butcher's face, and the meat
she asking for ain't what makes it to your table
for dinner. Man, she spend all day in there, going
behind the counter like she all of a sudden
interested in the butcher business. What she interested
in is the butcher's business and you better start
asking yourself why. You better start taking care of stuff
at your own home, my man, 'fore she get a taste
of that sausage he selling, then you be up in here
crying about she gone, she gone. Man, I don't care
how old a woman get, you can't be taking her
for granted, climbing up on top of her poking
like you got somewhere else to be in five minutes.
And there you is, every Friday night, up in the
Continental sniffing all up Deborah Ann's young butt
like she want something from you besides that
money you always waving around. Man, anytime
you see flies buzzing around a sister and it ain't
summer time, time to move on to another sister.
Damn, your wife got some nice legs on her, too,
if that butcher don't take her up on it
I might get in line. Better keep those home fires
burning man, and didn't I hear you say your
oldest boy was in the army? I sho' hope he don't
run himself into none of them sissies
Clinton trying to put in there. You know some
of them sissy boys turn you out smooth,
you never know what happened, pretty soon
you be turning your butt toward some brother
talking about go ahead baby, fill it up.
They better just keep those pretty boys
in the church choir where they belong, keep 'em
in them beauty shops and away from real men
who ain't got time for none o' that pansy stuff.
One of the chillun come in here to get his hair cut,
sitting up in my chair talking about my man this,
my man that, I just had a fight with my man.
I be scared to put my hand on the boy's scalp for
too long, scared he might start feeling all warm
and crazy. It ain't natural, it just ain't natural.
If man was meant to lay down with man, wouldn't have
to force the equipment, know what I mean?
Edward, your boy kinda fresh ain't he, I mean
he damned 40 years old and no woman
in sight. Could be he just ugly, though. Other night
I heard a blind woman turning him down, said she
could just imagine how ugly he was.
Y'all hold your horses, just keep your heads here,
I gotta pee. Now don't talk about me while I'm gone."

And Willie sit and Thomas sit and Edward sit while
inside the tiny bathroom, Terrell yells, "Pee at lat,
pee at last, thank God Almighty, I'm peeing at last."
Nobody laughs. That's what he always says.

Come out with something else on his mind. "Y'all heard
'bout that boy got shot over on Madison Street the other
night? Well I heard that was John Greenley's boy
Samuel, heard he 'bout close to dying too. Hell, Lord
might strike me down, but I was scared of that boy myself,
heard he was on that crack, didn't think nothing 'bout
stealing from his mama or robbing folks on the street.
Steady talking 'bout the Vice Lords this, Vice Lords that,
like that gang he was running with meant more than his
mama or daddy. I swear man, I don't see how folks let
they kids get like that. That boy needed a few good
ass whuppings when he was little, that's all. Heard
they shot that boy in the head, that he near 'bout
blew up. Don't know what they keeping alive over in
that hospital, and I ain't seen John to ask him.
I'm just thankful I done made it this long, thankful
the Lord done seen fit to just let me make an honest
living, cuttin' some hair. Glad he leaving me here to
stir it up a little longer. And Willie, stop asking me
about that curl, talking 'bout some activator.
You need to activate your head under this razor
and lemme cut that shit outta there. This the
'90s, man, black man free now, Superfly done flew.
Been doing this 40 years. Bring that head over here."

--Patricia Smith