Become a Fan
By Rayetta I McLaughlin
Saturday, March 09, 2002
“Morning mother!” I said as I walked into the blue and white kitchen.
“Morning sweetheart. How did you sleep last night?”
“Fine I guess.”
“ Are you ready for today?” she said as she leaned against the counter waiting for the cream of wheat to come to a boil.
“Yeaah, Ma! I’m ready.”
“ I mean; yes Ma’am.”
I started going through my bag checking to see if I had all of my homework. I looked at my mom as she placed the breakfast on the table and asked, “Will you come to my first meet?”
Of course, sweetie, just let me know ahead of time.”
Ok. Mom, can you do me a favor?
“Please, don’t call me sweetie in front of my friends.”
Mom smiled at me and then said, “I’ll try.”
The doorbell rang. It was my boy, Derrick from across the street. We’ ve been friends ever since he moved in the green house across the way. I must be running late because I’m always ready before ol’ slowpoke. While Derrick was eating my beacon, I began to wonder what my life would be like when I win a gold metal. It’s the Summer Olympics and I am representing the USA. As I take my final lap around the track the crowd cheering me on Jay-son! Jay-son!
“Jason, man snap out of it!” Derrick yelled.
I jumped in my seat then said,” My Bad.” I was dreaming that I won a gold metal in the Olympics.
“ You got to make it through High school first and we are going to be history if we don’t hurry up and get ta class.”
On that note, I stood up, grabbed my bag, kissed mom, and headed to class.
At the end of the day I headed down to the gym.
Man look at all these chumps. This is gonna be a piece of cake. While lacing up my cleats, I saw some seniors coming from the opposite direction.
“I know you ain’t trying out for the team? ‘Cause I don’t have time to teach no baby how to run.” David said as he gave me a harsh glare.
“What? Are you scared that I’ma beat cha? Or maybe I’m just too much for ya, huh?”
“Watch it, punk! David replied.
“You watch it. I’m here to do one thing and that win and maybe even take your girl.”
“David got closer and said, “Let’s see you back it up.”
“I ain’t got to show you nothin’.”
I should steal a punch right now! Naw! Mom always says that the bigger man is the man that walks away and that’s what I am going to do. I just walked away and ignored that dummy.
I was standing outside looking at how big the track was when I saw coach. He was a big dark skinned man who looked like he needed to run around the track a couple of times himself. The sun glared off of his baldhead and when he talked, his belly shook a lil’ bit. I bit my lip trying not to laugh. Coach sounded like a preacher preparing his congregation to go out and save some souls. I still had a few butterflies in my stomach, even though I ‘ve beaten some of these guys before. I hope that everything is going to be all right. My mother always says that running comes natural for me. I’m just going to pretend that I’m back on the block. Back in the day, we used to race to the end of the street just to see who was the fastest.
Make a big circle around me is all I heard. I must have tuned the rest out. As we began stretching, I looked at somebody running up to the circle. It was my boy, Derrick. Hmmm. I thought he didn’t like track much. He was always complaining about his allergies and stuff.
After the warm-up, coach had us all line up along the starting point in groups of five. We started off with the hundred meters then moved on to the two hundred meters. I tried to run in the first group so I could see my boy’s skills. He’s doing all right.
Then it was time to for my favorite: the four hundred meters. When we lined up, I noticed that this time Derrick was in my group. No biggie. As soon as coach blew the whistle, we took off. It was a very fast pace out of the blocks. I was in the second lane and Derrick was in the fourth. He was coming up fast. I didn’t know he had it in him. We were approaching the last stretch and at this point I was pushing myself real hard. Derrick and I were neck and neck. We stood next to each other afterwards and caught our breaths. I told him how surprised I was that he decided to run. He just laughed.
Once we finished all the events, coach stretched us out while writing on his pad. Derrick and I sat next to one another as we waited to hear the results. Coach said that he would call out the varsity members first and then the junior varsity members. The first couple of names didn’t bother me but when it seemed as if he had gotten to the end of the list he said, “Derrick Coleman.” I’m cool wit that.” The next words hurt my heart. Junior Varsity members- I was the third name called. What just happened here?
After practice, I was still in disbelief. I wanted to be on the varsity team and my friend who I thought hated running is now where I want to be.
Derrick waited for me by the lockers.
“Congratulations, man,” he said as he gave me a high five. “What’s up? You don’t look good.”
“D-man, why didn’t you tell me that you were going out for the team? I thought we were friends. You said that you had allergies. What’s up wit that?”
“Jason, all you talk about it track. I wanted to do this for a long time but my allergies kept messing with me. Then my Mom took me to the doctor and they put me on some new medication. So, I decided that if my boy, Jay, can do it so can I,”
“Yeah well, ya know I held back on ya because I was scared that you might have an attack or something.”
“Please, you were scared alright. Scared of getting left in the dust.”
“I thought I had it all in the bag, then you show up.” Just then a huge smile came across Derrick’s face and then he said to me, “I knoooow.” We both fell out laughing.
The first thing I did when I got home was drop my books in the chair by the kitchen table and started looking for something to eat. I fixed myself some cereal hoping that it will last til dinner. Mom’s car pulled up.
“ Hi Mom, how was things at work?”
“Fine, Sweetie.” She said as she locked the door then came over and kissed my forehead.
“ I want to hear all about your day as soon as I come from freshening up a bit, okay?”
“ There’s not much to tell, Mom.”
When she came from downstairs, she started going through the kitchen trying to decide on what she was going to make for dinner.
“Okay, So what happened? Did you make the team?” Mom said as she sat at the table.
“ I did.”
“You don’t sound too happy about it.”
“ I wanted to make the team but I really wanted to make the varsity team.”
“I thought you had to be a junior or a senior to be on it.”
“ You do in most cases but I just wanted to be an exception. And to top it off, Derrick made it instead of me.”
“You mean your lil’ friend from across the street!”
“Yeah. I am sort of happy for him but I really wanted to make varsity this year so I could smoke those seniors.”
“But I thought Derrick had bad allergies. And Honey, your time will come soon enough.”
“Well Derrick is taking some new drugs to help with his allergies. I just wish that it was me on varsity.”
“ Now Jason, You will have your chance to shine. I know you won’t be JV for long. Just continue to do your best and listen to your coach and in the meantime help Derrick. He needs you. You could be like his part-time coach.”
“I don’t think so! I mean I just feel stupid for feeling like this.”
“ Baby, Don’t feel that way. Every body gets a little jealous at some point in life.
“ Thanks Mom.”
The next couple of weeks time past fast. Even though Derrick and I were good friends, we started seeing less of each other. He hung out more with the seniors on the varsity team and I hung out with my new friends on the JV team. We always walked to school together, but things were different now. Sometimes he would act different towards me when the varsity members were around. I didn’t mind much. Besides, he deserves to be happy. But sometimes I get the feeling that he be trying to avoid me. I guess we aren’t as close as I thought.
Today is the big day. Varsity and Junior varsity are going against one another at Foster’s field. They just don’t know. We have been training real hard and once again it’s on. We are going to do a 440 relay and I am the 2nd leg of our four runners. The fastest guy is running last, just in case he has to close any gaps. The sun was setting and there was a cool breeze that made me feel good about the whole thing. Mom had made it just in time to see us start. I’m so glad that she didn’t call me sweetie in front of my friends. There was a good amount of people that came out to see who would have bragging rights.
“Runners take your mark, get set,” the man said and then he fired the gun. Derrick ran first leg for his team and then did the hand off to his 2nd man. They had a small lead on us by the time I got the stick but I was able to pass their guy with no problem, because I was relaxed and in the zone. Now it was all up to our last two men. The third man maintained the lead for our JV but anything can happen on the fourth leg and we put all our hopes into Iron man Aaron, the last leg. He has amazing strength. He always goes the extra mile by giving 110%. He is the strongest mentally and physically on our team. I got to give him his props.
It looked real close; too close, if you ask me. The last guys were running neck and neck at the finish line. We all held our breath even though the varsity had already started celebrating. All of a sudden it got very quite and all you could hear is the crickets making noise. When the announcer said that we won first place I could have cried. But you know I didn’t.
I walked over to Derrick. We exchanged hugs and I said,” You did good, man.” My Mom came out of the stands and gave us both hugs then said that she will be waiting at home for me.
“Yo Derrick, what the hell are you doing with that punk.” David yelled.
“Ah, man chill out you know that’s my boy.” Derrick replied.
“Yo David, who are you calling a punk when you just lost.” I yelled back.
“Jay, just let it go man, he just mad.” Said Derrick as he tried to stop me from walking towards David but of course; he couldn’t because I ain’t like that fool from day one.
“Hey man, the track is clear why don’t you show me what you got now.” I said.
Derrick started walking off the track and told us that we both were stupid.
Well, I don’t know who was the dumber him or me. We had decided that we would race each other early Sunday morning at seven am sharp.
That morning I rushed out of the house. I was still pissed at Derrick for just leaving me like that. He didn’t have my back at all; he just left me hanging. Anyway, I don’t need him to smoke David’s sorry butt. As I got to the gate, I didn’t see anybody. I jumped over the fence by the entrance. While walking pass the bleachers, my eye ran straight into a fist. David had caught me off guard but I thought that I could still handle him. Besides I ain’t no punk. I tried to go toe to toe with him but he was wearing me out. Next thing I know he went down. Out of nowhere came Derrick from behind. He hit David in his lower back. Now who’s the punk?
After we were through with him we took off running. Once we got a good distance, we started walking.
“Jay, now that was the fastest that I have ever seen you take off. We ought ta call you superman.” Derrick said between breaths.
“ Naw, we ought to call you superman. Where did you come from and how did you know what the deal was?”
“ David was always talking how he wanted to beat you down if he had the chance. So I just followed you and hoped that you two were just going to race.”
“ Then what took you so long?” I asked.
“Man, Don’t even trip, you know I’m always late. You still my boy?”
“I’m always ya boy!”
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