waggerlicious. That's the word that comes to mind to describe this dark-skinned cutie-pie standing in front of me with the gold fronts in his mouth, pierced ears, and an arm covered in intricately designed tattoos trying to get his rap on. Swag plus delicious equals
. Not that
a real word found in Webster's dictionary or anything. No. It's found in the hood. It oozes out of the music. It jumps out at you in the videos. It's splattered all over the pages of
and every other hip hop magazine there is. It's flooded in the pages of every urban fiction novel I've coveted over the last two years. It airs on
Love & Hip Hop
. Okay, okay, maybe there's more ratchetness than swaggerlicousness on those TV shows. Still . . . it's there. That hood swag.
And it's my guilty craving. It's my dirty secret.
I want it.
I ache to know what it's like to be caught up in the excitement of the fast-paced street life found across the other side of townâright smack in the heart of the hood, where I am not ever allowed to be. Where the streets are hot and alive and full of excitement.
God, my parents would have a full-fledged heart attack if they knew I was saying this, that I'm attracted to the hood life. Fascinated and intrigued by it.
See. I'm from the suburbs. Live in a gated community. And swag doesn't exist here. Not in my eyes. Not in my opinion. And definitely not in the way it lives and breathes in the hood. Or in the
as my mom would call it.
But I personally don't think there's anything
about the hood. I think ghetto is a state of mind as well as a state of being. And I definitely don't think everyone who lives in the hood is ghetto. But of course, my parents, particularly my mom, would beg to differ. Whatever.
Anyway, back to my quest for swag. I attend an all-girls private school. And trust me, swag definitely isn't there, either. Nope. I'm surrounded by girls whose only focuses are cotillions, prom gowns, graduations, sleepovers, shopping sprees, dating boys with promising futures, while preparing for the SATs.
Can you say
My life is swagless!
Don't get me wrong. I dress nice.
is more like it. Okay, maybe a little preppy. Still, I have nice things. And I am always nicely dressed nonetheless. However, sometimes I feel like a fashion loserâeven though I
it's all in my headâwhen I see a clique of girls stylishly dressed in all the hottest designer labels, strutting through the mall, yapping it up, catching the eyes of boys with a whole lot of hood swag.
That's the girl I want to beâthe girl with the sexy strut and a whole lot of sass. Not that there's anything wrong with who I am now. It's just that... I mean. I'm a cutie and all. And I have a nice body, from what I'm told. And lots of guys try to talk to me. Still . . . for the most part, I am a really basic girl. No lipstick. No eyeliner. Not a lot of fuss with my crinkly hair. Not much time spent in the mirror. Basically, I'm what my mother calls “low maintenance.”
Translation: Plain Jane. Nothing special. Ordinary looking.
Yup, that's me. Plain ole, ordinary-looking Kennedy, with nothing special going on in her life. Well, guess what? School is out. It's the start of summer. And if I have my way, a change is about to come. Soon.
“So, what's good witchu, ma?” Mr. Swag says, reaching out and touching my left cheek. He's about five-ten with a slim but muscular build. He kind of reminds me of a sprinter. Lean and trim. “You real sexy, babe.”
I smile. “Thanks.”
“You make me wanna do some thangs to you; real spit, ma. Who you out here wit'? I been checkin' for you for a minute.”
I blush. Tell him I'm here with my friend Jordan. This is like the fourth time I've
into him at the mall. The first time was a few weeks back. He was with a crew of guys all dressed in different color POLO sweat suits with matching snapback hats and limited-editi.on Nikes. They were all looking like they should be on the cover of the latest
magazine. And when he called me over to him, I felt my nervousness give way to excitement, like right now.
“Oh word? That's wassup. So how 'bout you 'n' me go grab a bite to eat real quick so we can get better acquainted while ya peeps do what they do?”
I glance at my watch. “I can't. I have to find my friend then get ready to go.” It's a bold-faced lie. Truth is, I don't date much. I mean, I do. But I only date guys who are parent-approved. And this fine boy right here is definitely, unequivocally, not someone my parents would ever allow me to go off anywhere with, let alone dateâeven if it is only up to the next level of the mall to get something to eat. Not that it's a date. Not that he's even asking me out on one or anything like that. Although I wish like heck he would. Then again, maybe I don't.
I eye the thick chain hanging from his neck, wondering if it's silver, stainless steel, or white gold and if the diamonds in the cross dangling from it are real. My gaze shifts down to his half-laced Timberlands, then back up. I swallow. My mouth waters at the way his sagging jeans hang off his narrow hips, showing the waistband of his POLO boxers. He has on a Gucci belt.
Hmmm. Yes, that's him. The expression used to describe someone who has lots of swag and loads of confidence. It's in the way someone walks, and talks, and carries himself. And it's a word I would never, ever, be caught dead using in front of my bestiesâor worse, my parents.
No scratch that. They'd kill
first. Then die.
How dare I want to use such street slang? How dare I want to toss away thousands and thousands of dollars' worth of my parents' hard-earned money they've spent to send me to the best private schools in order to shield me from such atrocities. I'd be damned to hell for eternity, roasting a hundred deaths, for shaming them.
Okay, okay. I'm being facetious.
I'm overexaggerating; just a little.
Still . . . they'd probably want to lock me away until my twenty-first birthday if they even thought I was standing here contemplating ditching my bestie to go off with this guy who I've only been talking to forâI glance at my watchâseventeen minutes and thirty-six seconds. He could be a stalker. Or worse.
I want to laugh at the absurdity.
Rule number one: No hoodlums allowed. Rule number two: No profanity. Rule number three: No street slang.
And already I'm breaking two of the three parent-enforced rules. Standing here cavorting with the likes of a potential hoodlum and allowing the word swaggerlicious
âto enter my mind. Oh, this is grounds for a long, drawn-out lecture on how irresponsible it is to keep company with someone like Mr. Swag. And how catastrophic using such vernacular is. How unfitting it is. How improper it is. How unladylike it is. Blah, blah, blah.
Well, guess what?
I don't see anything wrong with it. Swaggerlicious. Swaggerlicious. Swag. Ger. Licious. There. I've said it.
And this guy right here reeks of it. Okay, along with the marijuana I'm sure he's smoked right before coming into the mall. I glance up at his ear and notice he has a Black & Mild cigar tucked behind it. But that's neither here nor there.
Point is, I'm tired of fitting into everyone else's box of expectations. I'm tired of being proper and politeâ
the time. Why must I use proper English all the time? Why can't I take a leave of absence from
white, just once?
I want a sabbatical from my life, just for the summer. Is there anything wrong with wanting a change of pace? No. I don't think so.
I'm sick of being everything everyone else wants, expects, me to beâ
the time. The sixteen-year-old, college-bound, soon-to-be junior who gets straight A's in school; the high school varsity cheerleader who executes every floor routine with precision; the daughter who always listens to her parents and never breaks any of their rulesâno matter how ridiculous I think most of them are; the little sister who has had to constantly live in the shadows of her three overprotective, overachieving, academically and athletically gifted brothers.
“You have some sexy lips, ma. I just wanna lean in 'n' kiss 'em.”
I blink Mr. Swag back into view.
Did he just say what I think he did?
I ask him to repeat himself. He does. “I wanna kiss you. Word is bond.”
“You don't even know me like that.” I try to stay cool about it and act like having some random guy telling me he wants to kiss me is an everyday occurrence when it's more like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I am about to blow.
“Yeah, but I can
to know you like that.” He steps in closer. “If you let me.”
I am feeling light-headed. And right now. Here's my dilemma: I've never, ever gone against my parents. I'm the perfect daughter, the perfect friend, and the perfect little Miss Goody Two-shoes.
In a nutshell, my life is
But, like I said already, the school year is officially over. It's the start of the summer. And I want to have fun. I want to do something exciting. I want to live on the edge a little. Be daring. Be adventurous.
Instead of living vicariously through the characters in some of the hoodâoops, I mean, urbanâbooks I read, I want to be the girl exploring the world outside of the one my parents have given me. I want a little taste of the wild side.
A little slice of the hood pie.
Just a little.
I glance over my shoulder quickly to see if anyone's looking over at us. Then look up into his smoldering brown eyes, stepping closer into him.
One kiss won't hurt. Will it?