a possibility from a favorable combination of circumstances
I didn’t need ROTC. But I did it, and I did it good, because my dad was pretty much making me. He’s one of those dudes who feels like there’s no better
opportunity for a black boy in this country than to join the army.
talk in a monotonous voice
“And I knew what he was trying to tell me: to get out,” Dad would
drone. “But I didn’t know where I was going to go or what I was going to do. I didn’t really do that well in school, and well, college just wasn’t in the cards.”
lacking spontaneity or originality or individuality
He was the
stereotypical green-eyed pretty boy with parents who spoiled him, so he had fly clothes and tattoos.
overly self-confident or self-assertive
But, unstereotypically, he wasn’t
cocky about it like you would think, which of course made the ladies and the teachers and the principal and the parents and even the basketball coach even more crazy about him.
a quick reply to a question or remark
“I don’t even have no girlfriend,” Carlos said. But that didn’t matter. Cracking a joke about somebody’s girlfriend—real or imaginary—is just a great
required by rule
He and Shannon didn’t have
mandatory basketball practice like usual, but were still going to the gym to shoot around because, well, that’s what they did every day.
state of uncertainty in a choice between unfavorable options
While I was trying to figure this out—decisions, decisions—the other person in the store, a white lady who looked like she’d left her office job early—navy-blue skirt, matching blazer, white sneakers—seemed to be dealing with the same
dilemma, but with the beer right behind me. And I couldn’t blame her. Jerry’s had every kind of beer you could think of.
fall down, as if collapsing
I thrust one hand down on the floor to save myself from a nasty face-plant, sending the bag of chips up the aisle, while she
toppled over, slowly, trying to catch her balance, but failing and falling half on me and half on the floor.
a facial expression of dislike or displeasure
“Yeah, he was trying to steal those chips!” the clerk interrupted, shouting over the cop’s shoulder. Then, fixing his
scowl back on me, he said, “Isn’t that right? Isn’t that what you were trying to do? Isn’t that what you put in your bag?”
an automatic instinctive unlearned reaction to a stimulus
My hands were already up, a
reflex from seeing a cop coming toward me.
the condition of ceding control to someone or something else
But before I could even get my fingers on the money, the cop had me knotted up in a
submission hold, my arms twisted behind me, pain searing up to my shoulders.
the power or right to give orders or make decisions
Need to learn how to respect
authority. And I’m gonna teach you,” he taunted, almost whispering in my ear.
shout loudly and without restraint
But they called her as soon as we got to the hospital, and when she got there, she gave me the third degree right there in front of everybody. Hell of a
willingly obedient out of a sense of respect
That was my role: the
dutiful son, the All-American boy with an All-American fifteen-foot deadeye jump shot and an All-American 3.5 GPA.
suffering from delusions of persecution or grandeur
It wasn’t far, either, but Ma and the Cambis were
paranoid about the two-block stretch between our houses.
a condition inferior to an earlier condition
But I loved the West Side. I’d lived here my whole life. What the hell did people really mean when they said the West Side was on the
strike, usually with the fist
But I knew enough to know that you stayed out of police business, plus Paul didn’t need my help because he was
pummeling the guy.
render motionless because of surprise, terror, or awe
So I just stood there, sorta frozen, just watching,
a crime less serious than a felony
The officer read the citations and explained that even though they were all
misdemeanors, I had been processed and would still have to appear in court.
draw back, as with fear or pain
“Ma,” I said, instantly
wincing. I could feel the gauze taped to my face, to my nose. It’s that same tight feeling my skin gets after swimming, after the chlorine has turned me into cardboard.
one of a number of things from which only one can be chosen
But I was okay. Hell, I was alive. And so the other stuff—well, the
alternative was way worse.
pose a series of questions to
“Were your pants sagging?” Dad
interrogated, now back over by the door.
“Were my pants sagging?” I repeated, shocked by the question. “What does that have to do with anything?”
required by compulsion or convention
First was the
obligatory mother hug. Spoony ran over to our mom and gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
determined and willing to face danger
That was just his style. That was pretty much his whole generation’s style. Nineties hip-hop,
gritty, realness. Wu-Tang. Biggie. Hoodies and unlaced boots.
a torn ragged wound
“Okay, so Rashad’s nose was broken, but we’ve already set it, so as long as he doesn’t bump it or knock it, it’ll heal just fine. The same goes for his ribs. There’s really nothing we can do about them except make sure that Rashad isn’t in any pain, but as long as they’re fairly stable, they’ll heal up as well. We did do an X-ray just to make sure there were no
lacerations to any of his organs, and there weren’t, so we’re pretty much in the clear with that.”
the set of facts that surround a situation or event
circumstances I would say that Rashad could go home tonight.” Ma stopped rubbing my hand. The doctor continued. “But this isn’t a normal
the striking of one body against another
He has some internal bleeding—hemothorax, it’s called—which just means there are some torn blood vessels around his lungs due, I’m sure, to the
move or arrange oneself in a comfortable and cozy position
My mother, small, had tucked her knees to her chest and
nestled into her chair—the only cushioned one—like a child.
a noisy riotous fight
I’ve seen ten guys from our school chasing four dudes from another school down a block and a stranger step into the
melee with a bat to protect the guys who were outnumbered.
a person without a home, job, or property
“Is this how you want the world to know you? Some kind of
derelict who doesn’t give a damn about his actions?”
turned or twisted to one side
She sat on one side of the little Formica table, steam from her mug of tea rising up to her face as she stared out the window to the Barrows’ house next door. The flask lay
askew beside the mug.
lacking conscious awareness of
He looked over at me and waved, totally
oblivious to the rest of the players and balls around him.
relating to or characteristic of a secret plot or agreement
Her hair fell in two blond-brown curtains around her face, and I could smell her shampoo as she looked up at me
conspiratorially, and when a girl looks at you like that, all you can say is, Whatever you want—I'll do anything for you—is there anything else you want?
move away from each other
Another cop car pulled up and then another, then all eight cops started asking the crowd to
disperse, only holding a few people back to ask questions.
having the attention diverted especially because of anxiety
I could tell Jill was as
distracted as I was, as if we both had private conversations going on in the back of our minds, and we used Willy, sandwiched between us, as the focal point of conversation.