Driving down Mt. Eden with William and Kwame. We were tailgating Max’s car for ages, he was taking us to a house-party somewhere as his plus-ones, or rather as his plus-threes. We all could’ve fit in Max’s car, but Kwame and I didn’t wanna ride with Max’s other friends who we weren’t too familiar with, and William couldn’t trust Max to sober-drive us back home too.
We picked up Sandith on the way. He smelled like expensive cologne, and brought a large bag with him of what I assumed was liquor. He always dressed like the streets were his runways, and the boys and I always teased him about it.
Tonight was no different. “Ooh, kill ’em, Sandith. Why you dressed up so clean and fresh for?”
He hopped in the backseat with me. “I just wanna style on these women tonight bro. Gotta dress to impress, ya’ know?” He replied.
I was doing something similar with my clothes for tonight too, but to be honest; I always thought Sandith’s fashion taste was just a subtle way for him to deny the social-class we were from and tell the world “Hey, I’m not a broke brown boy anymore. Bitch.”
Maybe it was the way he acted so pridefully and gracefully about his appearance too? The way he could articulate himself and dress sensibly seemed to intimidate a lot of people. I know it intimidated most of my friends when I first introduced them to him, and vice-versa. Regardless of our underlying fashion-motives or ideals though, one thing was certain: we never took any hand-me-downs. Since we all started working; Everything we ever wore, and everything we ever purchased, was bought with our own money. Kwame, William, Sandith and I were on the same boat. Our whole families were on the same boat.
Fuck that. The four of us all knew what it was like to grow up with an acclimated-taste to Budget-brand ingredients and shady Asian-supermarket brands. We all grew up learning how to make the most with just a little. We learnt to ignore the stains on the clothes our dads got us from thrift-stores. We never hosted Christmas-gatherings at our houses; we went to our richer family-friends’ homes instead. Our parents taught us how to pretend we weren’t hungry when someone offered us food. We grew up in small houses, and we shared our bedrooms with our siblings and God. And when we all turned 16: we didn’t get a trip to AA for our driver’s license test — no, we just turned 16.
William parked us opposite to St. Mary’s School in Ellerslie, and we walked the rest of the distance to the house-party somewhere along the same road. Max introduced us all to the host and his other friends there, but a couple of minutes later; William, Kwame, Sandith and I would end up hanging out together in the driveway.
Kwame turned to the fence and carelessly threw his can of VB over to the neighbours’ house. “G, this party is fuckin’ boring.” He said.
The rest of us nodded simultaneously in agreement with him. “Yeah, what the fuck is this shit bro?” Sandith asked.
We looked out to the living room from our view in the driveway, and saw a bunch of dull, high social-class, white boys act like fools around girls who were equally as dull and drunk as them. We saw Max and his friends surfing around the same crowd too. Sandith and I laughed about it and sparked a little bit of banter between the four of us, trying to find a bit of humor about our misplacement in this uninviting party.
A few minutes later; the four of us walked back to William’s car without saying our goodbyes and thanks to the host or anyone else. We drove away to Lunn Avenue for some drive-thru food, Max chose to stay back in Ellerslie with his other friends though. We caught up with Christian and his brother, and we played basketball with them for the rest of the night. Turns out Sandith had prepared a spare change of clothes in his bag instead of liquor. William had some spare clothes for me in his car’s boot, and Christian had some clothes for Kwame to play in too.
Involuntarily feeling the coldest breeze of the Auckland’s winter through the open windows of William’s car, all because he didn’t wanna use the car’s heater so he could save gas and money. We bought a ton of $1 hot-chocolate from McDonald’s to try compensate though — I’m lovin’ it.
I wonder if those guys from that party will ever know about a night like ours’ and a life like ours’. I wonder if they’ll ever feel truly desperate and worried about the financial consequences of student-loans, overdrafts, losing phones, bad credit-scores, delinquent bills, car accidents, and being unemployed.
I wonder if they finished school with a feeling as if they’d beaten the goddamn system.
Fuck the way the world treats Minorities. I hated being fucking broke.