The nighttime chef at my restaurant is more hood than a pile of empty 40s and torn blunt wraps in the back of a stolen mini-van. He’s more hood than the Sunday morning ghetto noises of rusty church organs, wailing babies, thug music blaring from busted speakers, and toothless men sitting on stoops cat-calling passing women. He’s more hood than fried chicken doused in hot sauce served with Sunny Delight with a side of yo mama’s got a fat ass.
I’m not talking about the hood you hear about in radio-rap-pop songs, the ones associated with wasted white girls dancing in college…the ones where rich black men squeak their auto-tune nursery rhymes through diamond teeth while wearing tailored clothes and bright bling-bling, those lil johns, lil waynes, lil durks, young bucks, young jeezies, young dolphs…those little-young kids who sing their songs at nice burfday parties.
I’m talking about real hood, half a century of hood, 10 years in prison for manslaughter and nobody to help you or give you a record deal when you’re out…hood, working 2 minimum wage jobs, 6 days a week…16 hours a day in cramped, steamy kitchens…hood, can’t see your five year old son because your baby mama is blowing a guy who works for child’s services…hood, choked out on a subway by a police officer for looking at a white girl…hood, a lifetime of poverty, grinding with no end in sight, and oppression…hood.
That’s my chef. He’s real hood. We’ll call him Fred. Most of the time we get along quite well.
But Fred has his mood swings (10 years in prison for manslaughter mood swings). One moment he’s kind, friendly, and obliging…the next he’s screaming in my face (I don’t know why), convinced I’m racist, blind with rage, on the verge of attacking me, and storming out of the restaurant in his Tims.
I’m convinced he likes me, though. We’ve had many pleasant conversations.
Fred is 47 but looks like he’s 27 (black don’t crack…why? future blog post). I’m a curious person and when we take out the trash each night I like to talk to him about his life.
Fred has a wife who’s 23. One night I asked him, “How did you meet her?”
“At a trap house.”
“What’s a trap house?”
“You don’t know about trap houses?” Fred was appalled at my ignorance.
Before I give you Fred’s explanation, let me inform you that a trap house is NOT this:
This is that radio-rap-pop song trap house. “My trap house a waffle house.” Sure it is, Young Durk. But this is not real hood.
Even urban dictionary has it all wrong: “Term used to define a crack house, or the surroundings in which a drug dealer or (trap star) would use to make their profit.” Romanticism sometimes bastardizes truth.
When I later told Fred about this definition he laughed, “Yea, that’s the rap song trap house, the south trap house, in NYC it’s a whole different thing.”
In reality, or at least, in NYC, a trap house is a place where an older gentleman with money opens his doors for young people/partying people to come in and enjoy themselves with booze and weed. These young people get intoxicated and hook up until the sun rises. A trap house is a modern-day, ghetto salon.
When Fred got out of prison he spent a lot of time in trap houses. One night he went to a trap house and saw a young woman who was sitting by herself in a corner. She wasn’t “all up on the other men,” like the other girls. “That’s the one for me,” Fred thought. “I will make her my wife.” They blazed, discussed various topics, discovered shared philosophies, and fell in love.
Their marriage has not been easy. Fred’s wife, let’s call her Martha, is still a 23 year old woman learning about the world. Martha likes to attend rap concerts with her girlfriends. Fred doesn’t go. “Why not?” I asked. “You think I’m gonna waste my time at one of them shows? Give my money I sweat for to Kanye or Jay-Z? Hell no. What has any of those niggas ever done for me? Nothing. You think I’m gonna give my cash to those niggas and stand around while those niggas jump around a stage? Na.” Despite his mood swings, Fred has his own wisdom.
Fred also doesn’t go to the club with Martha. “I’m done with that shit,” he said. “I’m too old and tired for those games. It’s always the same shit. Females get drunk. Then they start flirtin’ with other guys. Then they men get angry. Then the men fight. Somebody gets hurt. Always the same shit.”
Sometimes Martha threatens to hook up with other men. Fred is 47 and has been around the block. “Look, Martha, if you wanna do that, fine by me, but I’m out. You know I can find my own pussy. I’ll go on backpages tomorrow and have 2 girls all up on me in no time. You think another man will support you like me? Pay your rent? Buy you shit? Na. Those niggas that givin you attention, they don’t care about you like I do. They goan sing you a song, tell you a story, bang you out, and kick you out the door the next day.” Again, Fred has his own wisdom.
What provoked this post was a conversation I had with Fred last night. Lately, after long shifts, I’ve been joking around with Fred and saying,
“After we close this restaurant down, I’m going straight to the trap house.”
“Haha. Crazy white kid like you in a trap house? They’d love you.”
So tonight Fred says:
“My wife and I were actually talkin’ bout the Trap House this morning.”
“Yeah, we was talkin about this video some niggas took of me and posted online. Shit was crazy.”
“What kind of video?”
“So it’s like 4am in the trap house, right? And everybody high as shit. This girl goes into the bathroom and comes out buck naked, “I want a nigga to eat my pussy right now,” she says, and sits on the couch. So I start eatin’ it and these damn niggas start taking a video of me. Then they posted that shit online.”
“Wait, were you married to your wife at this point?”
“Na. We was only talkin’.”
“And what’d she think of it?”
“She thought it was funny. She know I’m a freak.”
(Side note: Fred is a devout muslim who doesn’t drink.)
While helping Fred throw trash into a dumpster I start beat-boxing.
“Damn, that’s pretty good.”
“Practice.” Then I start to spit:
Quiet as a mouse
White kid sneakin’ into the trap house
He starts to beat-box
All the bitches drop (Fred chuckling)
Martha got a nice fanny (Fred: Woah woah woah)
Lookin’ for a pretty slut
Smokin till the sun comes up
While in the elevator Fred says,
“You gotta be careful, though, if you go to a trap house and start makin a scene like that.” (Fred often takes me more seriously than I intend.)
“Cause if all the girls start payin you attention, then the niggas will get jealous and try to fight you.”
Note to self: Do not beat box too enthusiastically when visiting a trap house.
Because this is not a rap video…
This is the hood.