“Sittin’ with your friends as y’all reminisce about the days growing up and the first person ya kissed. And as I think back makes me wonder how the smell from a grill can spark up nostalgia.” ~Will Smith
Saturdays in May in the ghetto. Philadelphia loud and heavy with mood. The base booming from a car sitting on blocks at the curb, grills set up all around it. And the folks, oh the folks, decked out in fine attire like short shorts, crop tops, tiny t-shirts, and pajama bottoms. Cuz none of it matter up in the ghetto. None of it means a damn thing when we can smell summer creeping in and we don’t mind scaring it.
Streets blocked off with crime scene tape, the irony of it lost on us. Cars honking as they can’t get past, but I always thought they was just jealous, haters always hating what they can’t have. We sit out on our porches and stoops shooting the breeze, smoking our menthols, and drinking forties. It’s not a party until dude shows up with forties. Never know where he gets ’em from, and we never really care, so long as they arrive. And then it is on.
Sun beating down, shades come out, and the music, oh the music. Old school, new school, and everything in-between, as long as it can be, and then cranked up some more. Always somebody screaming along loud and out of tune, but don’t nobody care cuz we all moving to the beat. Some dude always breakin’ open the hydrant at the end of the block and everybody gettin’ wet. We stand under the spray lettin’ it wash over us in waves, the youngest to the oldest, no matter what clothes we got on or what clothes we left behind.
And don’t nobody care because in May, in the ghetto, on a Saturday, it’s not about startin’ something. It’s about being one big family. Grills set up outside every house, every man standing behind it like he a DJ, and the meat is records he just mixing. Smoke rising into the blue sky, testament to us having been here, in this place, at this time, chillin’ on the block. Kids walk by barefoot and soaked to the skin, but smiling just the same. Old folks gather on the porches and the stoops eating hot dogs and sauerkraut and reminiscing about their own block parties.
But that was back in the day, and this is now, and this party ain’t stoppin’ til 6 in the morning. You know, if you can keep up. Philly streets move fast, especially when they ain’t lookin’ behind.