You could hear the beats. Every one of them. But especially on the two and the four.
On a summer Saturday, on what had been a sweltering day that turned into a muggy night, the beats just kept on coming, non-stop. Standing on the street, about a block and a half from the source of the pounding, I was hanging out with my friends, wondering what was going on. We decided to walk down the street to get closer.
Finally, we reached our destination. We stood just across the street from the sound; the beat hitting even harder now. But now we could hear lyrics. Even though we could guess what the song was, once we got closer, there was no doubt. I could only imagine what fun was going on inside as the jam was playing.
Adjacent to the building containing the music source, was another structure with wonderful smells emanating from its entrance. Through the door, people were going in and coming out constantly. Those coming out either had the satisfied look of people who had just eaten good food, or were bringing out plates, with pork chops or chicken legs in between slices of bread, some with a dash or two of hot sauce. Others came out with platters of fried fish with fried potatoes and cornbread, or chitterlings with collard greens and potato salad. Instantly, an inward growl made itself known in the pit of my stomach, but with no money there would be none of that good food going into my belly that night.
Still, I let my friends know that I was going into the restaurant. As I walked in I looked around and saw people sitting down, eating those pieces of fried chicken and fish and pork chops and sides. I stuck my head in and said hello to the cooks, one of whom I knew very well. Speaking to my acquaintance, I asked if I could get something to eat. The answer was immediate: absolutely not, unless I was paying. With no money, I turned away from the counter. You know it’s bad when your own mother turns you away and won’t let you have free food. Made me wish I hadn’t blown my money in the arcade earlier that night.
Turning to the left, there was a door that led to the place where all the fun was seemingly had. At this point, the music was louder than ever. I could almost smell the cigarette smoke and sweat and drinks. All I had to do was turn the knob and walk in. Unfortunately, I could only get as close as the door. Behind that door, though I didn’t know it, was a bouncer, making sure no one underage could sneak in from the restaurant. If I had known who he was, I might have been able to get in for a little while and watch. To see if what was playing in my mind was aligned with the reality.
At that point, I exited the restaurant and went back to the street with my friends. Just that close to the sound pulling me towards it. But I was just sixteen, and I couldn’t get in.