Noah stands up so that he can make his point more emphatically to his schoolfriend, Malcolm. The two are sitting on a stoop at the corner where we wait for the school bus.
“That’s so not possible.”
“Well maybe not fifteen thousand. But they were really a lot and we were just our team, you know, on the uhm, uhm, on the field, you know. And the refs, too they were against us, man. Foul, they were always calling fouls on just us. I mean, you know?”
“But Malcolm, that’s not possible. The refs like they’re there to be fair and uh, yeah, and sometimes they really suck. But all the fouls against, uhm, one team? I don’t think so.”
“Well maybe not all…”
Noah slicks down the innumerable cow licks that sprouted during the night. He’s been doing that compulsively since yesterday’s haircut, courtesy of Melina, his adored 18 year old cousin. A perfectly slick, Ken doll, 8-ball look. Unfortunately, my family’s capillary DNA caught up during the night.
“You got a Bieber cut, Noah. Haha.”
“Not at all. I hate Justin BEAVER…haha. Good one huh?”
He really does hate Justin Bieber.
“Yeah, but you look like him.”
“Not at all… he’s got this cow lick just here.”
He mimics the singer’s signature front lock.
“Is it true that he’s like dating Selena Gomez?”
“Of course, geez Noah, man, they like, you know they been dating for years. You dunno dat?’
“I hate BEAVER.”
“Because Selena Gomez is hot.”
He slicks down with both hands. In vain, since the locks kick back up instantly.
“She’s old, man. I mean like she’s 21, man.”
“Yeah, but I heard she likes them young. Dad? What’s it called, a, uhm, a like, ocelot.”
“Ocelot? that’s a wild cat.”
“No, no I mean like when you say ‘she’s, uh, yeah, it’s like ‘she’s a ocelot’.”
“She’s an ocelot? I have no idea.”
“Yeah, yeah, dad, like when they say that about a girl, I mean a woman, like an older woman, you know when she likes, like the guys, you know?
“Oh, a cougar!”
“Yeah, yeah, that’s it.”
He slicks down again, turns to Malcolm.
“Yeah, Malc, Selena Gomez, like she’s a cougar, so yeah…”.
He pushes his hair back down with a move worthy of the Addams family patriarch. Malcolm looks at me as if to say, ‘who is this kid?’.
“Now, Katy Perry, now she’s really old. Right dad?”
“I have no idea.”
“Yeah, she’s like at least 27.”
If twenty something women are cougars, that makes me a Sphinx.
“Oh, Noah, Noah. Listen, man. I didn’t tell you the worse. Yesterday after da game, I took my bike and you know I got two flat tires on da way home. Two, man.”
Noah is trying to see himself in the reflection of a dirty window.
“It’s all true, man. Why would I lie. I mean…”
“Because it’s a better story? Because one tire, that’s nothing, but two? Huhn, gotcha, huhn, oh yeah, gotcha!”
He makes a sexy move while pointing at his friend. Shit! If I was Mlacolm, I’d punch him out. Instead, Malcolm shakes his head. My kid just takes too much energy to contradict. Especially for another kid. He’s a triple threat: dances and sings and mocks.
The school bus pulls around the corner. Malcolm moves forward to the edge of the sidewalk. Noah holds back.
“Dad, dad.” He grabs my arm and whispers.
“How does my hair look?”
“You mean your Bieber cut?”
“Daaaaddddd.” He pinches me, the little turd.
“You look great.”
He gives me a full-fledged rabbit smile.
“I love you dad.”
“I love you, my little big man. Have a great day.”
He waves as he disappears into the bus.