Sitting on the steps of my brownstone, I looked around my street. We called this section of the neighborhood The Jungle because that’s exactly what it looked like. A bunch of random trees planted by the neighborhood’s Better Community Committee, and a gang of ignorant children running around like wild animals.
With the exception of me and my best friends, those animals included three boys that we know very well. Fife, Dontez, and his twin brother Tazmin.
Me? I’m Nadia, and my best friends are Tamara and Kani.
As usual, the boys took it upon themselves to sit on my steps and harass us, saying any and everything in an attempt to get us to go on dates with them.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like they aren’t cute. But the type of boys that these three are, it’s better if you keep them as friends if you don’t want your heart broken. What are they? Hoes.
“I feel like we should have a little talk.”
Tamara ran her fingers through her hair as she popped her gum before looking at Tazmin. “What kind of conversation?”
“About our friendship.”
I looked at him in total confusion. “Taz, who said we were friends? Tamara, Kani, and I are friends. You, Tez, and Fife are friends. WE, the six of us as a collective group, are not friends.”
“But we should be.” That was Dontez. He grabbed my hand and flashed a smile. Any chance he got to show that he no longer wore braces, he took, and he was always glad to smile in my face. Probably thinking that I care about whatever little feelings he might have for me.
“Come Nadia, you and I go all the way back to elementary days, kickin’ it in the sandbox and knockin’ ugly kids over.”
“Y’all were the ugly kids.”
“Shut yo ass up Fife.”
Fife flipped me off and focused his attention on Kani, trying to figure out why she wouldn’t talk to him. Truth was, any time any guy came around she’d stay as silent as a mouse. She was just shy like that.
“Come on Buddy, stop acting all brand new.”
He knows I hate that word. The definition of buddy to the male population of our high school and the smart female population are TOTALLY different.
“Don’t call me ‘Buddy’ Tez. I know that’s what you call all of the skeezers that let you hit.”
“Nooo, not at all.”
“So that’s not your definition of Buddy?”
The boys looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. “Tazmin, I remember you specifically walking down the halls at school saying ‘Tish is my buddy, she gives that good head. Dominique is my buddy, she know how to throw it back and twerk on a nigga while she ride. Veronica is my buddy, she ain’t afraid to put on a show and invite another buddy for me to play with.’ Do we need to run this down?”
“Shit yeah, let’s run some definitions.” I looked at Fife with his ol’ ugly, gotta prove a point ass. “I won’t lie, that is my definition of a buddy. A damn good buddy at that. If a girl is willing to be extra friendly, why not take advantage of it.”
“Spoken like a hoe.”
“I’m far from a hoe Nadia. My body count isn’t as high as Dontez’s.”
I jerked my hand away from his, unintentionally showing how mad that actually made me. “Ooo, Nadia feels some type of way. You might as well get with the Buddy System ‘cause we all know Tez is not about to give up any chick he messes with.”
“Shut up Fife. Nadia, don’t listen to this fool.”
“I know that fool ain’t lying. Anyway, what’s your definition of a buddy?”
Dontez took a deep breath, probably preparing to lie or try to throw some tired ass game my way. What he doesn’t know is I’ve heard everything there is to hear from a dog ass dude, and he won’t be getting any play this way. “I don’t have a definition for buddy. I’m guessing it means whatever De La Soul said it means.”
“Buddy means body, bodies of all kinds. Bodies that make you horny, bodies with fat asses. Bodies that feel good under my body.”
We all looked at Tazmin and he shrugged before Dontez continued. “I call you buddy because that’s what we are, buddies. Friends, we see each other around and we talk every now and then. We chill and we clown around. It doesn’t have to be anything sexual.”
“But you want it to be.”
“I’m saying, you bad as shit Nadia but I’m not gonna play you out like that. Yeah I do have a little system or whatever you wanna call it…”
“The Buddy System.”
“No Tamara…” He focused back on me and I arched one brow, waiting for him to continue. “I don’t call them my buddies. We mess around but it ain’t serious like I would be with you, Nadia.”
“So sweet to know I’m a nigga’s last choice.”
“You’re my first choice Baby, but you ain’t tryna give a nigga no type of chance.”
“And when y’all refuse to give us chances, we get other buddies.”
“That’s them fools; I’m not on that type of buddy system. But if you would stop playing around with my feelings, you could be my boo and I could be yours.”
I looked back and forth between Dontez and Tazmin before rolling my eyes.
Tamara popped her gum again before leaning back on her elbows. “Well I’m in agreement with Taz and Fife; I don’t mind having a little buddy or two. Hell, chasing Buddy is the fun part.”
“Thank you! Tam, what’s your definition Boo?”
“Any nigga that’s not you, Taz.” We all laughed and he rolled his eyes before moving down one step.
“Let me see, my buddy has to be perfect. Mm, light skinned.”
“D’aaah!” Tazmin threw his hands up and moved to the very last step. “Y’all love them old ugly ass light skinned clowns.”
“Hey, hey!” We all looked at Fife. “It’s not our fault that we’re the sexy ones and you black ass niggas can’t catch a break. Y’all went out of style with Wesley Snipes, get over it.”
“ANYWAY, as I was saying, he’s gotta be light skinned. Blemish free with brown eyes, nice juicy lips. Not too big though, I don’t wanna be kissing on no dry ass or super wet lips.”
“Hell nah.” Tamara and I slapped hands before she continued.
“He’s gotta be tall, at least 6’0”. He’s gotta have a deep, dreamy voice, and he’s gotta be intelligent. He’s gotta be fit, athletic. Y’all know I love football players. If he had a six pack for me to rake my nails across, I wouldn’t need anything else.”
“Don’t forget, he needs a job and his own car. If he still staying with his mama, he’s gotta have absolute privacy.”
“Yaaaaaaaaaas!” We slapped hands again and fell out laughing at the way the fellas stared at us.
“Well damn Nadia, since you seem so upset about Tez having buddies…”
“Nigga, shut up. Nadia, what’s your definition of a buddy?”
“I don’t have one Fife because sleeping with multiple people is pointless to me. Why tell one person that you’re committed and then turn around and lie to them and others?”
“There’s no commitment! That’s the beauty of being buddies.”
“Ain’t nobody got time for that. I might be young, but when I’m in a relationship I’m all in and if a dude can’t be faithful then he don’t get what y’all out here tryna get from these dumb broads that’s okay with being treated like a hoe.”
“I wouldn’t treat you like that Nadia, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you for two years.”
“You’ve been trying to get the cookie for two years and Tez ain’t shit you’ve said worked yet.”
“If the cookie was all I wanted from you I would have given up two years ago. Come on Buddy, you know I got real feelings for you. You just break a nigga down like he’s nothing.”
He pouted his lips, trying to give me puppy dog eyes but I mushed his face. Poking her in her side, Kani finally took a deep breath after I asked her to give her definition.
“As the only virgin in the group, I don’t know nor do I care about this buddy and friends with benefits bull.”
“Who said anything about friends with benefits?”
“Nadia, that’s basically what these dumbasses are saying a buddy is to them.”
“Kani gets it!” We all watched Fife as he stood up and did some type of praise dance. “And since I see you kind of serious about what goes on with your V-card, I’m gon’ leave you alone.”
“That would be best Fife, before you and your Jimmy meet some type of harm.”
“Mm, be careful Kani, I like ‘em violent. Damn that turned me on.”
I shook my head, jerking my hand away from Dontez again. “Would you stop touching on me? I don’t know whose body your hands have been on today.”
“They’ve been on my own body.” He smiled wide and I shook my head, feeling so disgusted.
“I’m real sick of you. Stop coming to my house.”
“Don’t do me like that, Buddy.”
“Don’t call me that!”
“Okay, Baby, don’t do me like that.”
“I’m not your damn baby!”
“Not yet Nadia, not yet. But you know it’s only a matter of time before you and I become more than friends. I’m just waiting on you.”
“Boy, whatever. As long as you screwing around with them sluts we ain’t gon’ be nothing more than friends.”
I gasped, realizing what I’d said. “Ooooooooo, Nadia got feelings for Dontez!!!”
“Forget all of y’all.” I tried to get up to head in my house but Dontez grabbed my hand, standing up with me. Leaving the four of them to their conversation, he stood with me next to the front door of my brownstone as I leaned against it and folded my arms.
He rubbed my arms before smiling. I won’t lie, the only thing I wanted to do was run my finger tips through his hair. And I won’t lie, Dontez’s cocoa brown skin would look so good next to mine. “I don’t have time for you or the games that you be playing.”
“I don’t play games with you though Nadia. I’ve always been honest with you. Now let’s be real about this for a second. We both got some strong ass feelings for one another but we don’t act on it because you assume that I would treat you the way that I treat these girls I don’t care about. And I kind of feel you’d treat me the same way you treat the dudes you do mess with, the ones who do use you and add you to their lists or body counts.”
“You don’t know what I think about you.”
“I know you like me, as more than a friend, and I like you too. I really don’t see you the way that I see these other girls. You’re one of my best friends, but I think that’ll make a relationship for us even better. If you gave me a real chance, it’d just be me and you, Tez and Nadia.”
“And what would we be?”
“We’d be buddies, boyfriend and girlfriend, and confidantes. One day we’ll be lovers, and hopefully someday you’ll be my wife. You’d be my everything and more.”
“Aye, I bet you like it though.”
Dontez leaned forward and kissed me, pulling me closer as I leaned into it and wrapped my arms around him.
“Oh shit! Tez finally got her!”
I wiped my lips before flipping Fife off. “Hey, hey, this is my baby so keep your childish ass comments to yourselves.”
“Yeah, me and my buddy don’t like that hating ass shit.”
“Oh, now she wanna be somebody’s buddy.”
“We’re not on that hoe shit like you and Tamara though.”
“Girl, have fun with that monogamy. I’m too young to settle right now.”
I shook my head as they continued discussing what buddy and friends with benefits and all of that other crap meant to them.
I guess I can give Dontez and I a real try. He’s right, we have always been friends and I have always felt that he’d treat me like a hoe. But I guess we’ll just have to see how our friendship and relationship goes from here. “I have one stipulation to this Tez.”
“What’s that Nadia?”
“Don’t call me Buddy.”
“Fly Buddy, don’t you know you make me go nutty.”
“Oh God.” I sat with my head down, listening to the five of them as they started rapping the De La Soul song word for word. Why can’t I have normal friends?