“Ma, can I please go to the Homecoming Dance this Friday, please?” Sharlee followed her grandmother through the house from one room to the next as she collected the week’s laundry.
“I already told you Sharlee, I don’t know that boy, and you can’t go out with nobody I don’t know.” Momma Johnson pushed her Sunday apron down into the yellow clothesbasket.
“But, Ma, you’re going to meet him when he comes to pick me up.”
“Pick you up? Ha!” Momma Johnson laughed. “On what? A bicycle?”
“No,” Sharlee said as she rolled her eyes. “For your information—”
“Don’t you sass me, girl!” Momma Johnson rested her large fists on her hips and glared at her granddaughter.
“You’re not too big for me to throw you across my knee and whip your tail, you know.”
Sharlee hung her head and fixed her eyes to the floor. “Sorry, Ma. I didn’t mean anything by it, but Lukas’ parents are letting him drive their Range Rover.”
“Range Rover? You mean one of those trucks those soldiers drive in the desert? Is he planning on joining the army?” Momma Johnson laughed at her own joke.
Sharlee shook her head. “No, Ma. That’s a Hummer. A Range Rover is an SUV. It’s got tinted windows and rims and everything. Lukas looks so fine driving it.”
“How do you know? Have you been taking rides from that boy? I’ve told you about jumping in the car and riding around with people you don’t know. People might think he’s a drug dealer driving a fancy car like that. ”
“Oh, Ma, nobody thinks Lukas is a drug dealer. Everybody knows his parents have money. And I haven’t been riding with him because I know if nosy old Mrs. Thomas ever saw me, she’d be making a beeline over here to tell you all about it.”
“Show some respect for your elders, girl. Mrs. Thomas has lived in this neighborhood for over 50 years. She’s the eyes and ears of this community.”
More like the mouth. Sharlee could think of at least a dozen times when Mrs. Thomas hobbled across the street on her cane just to tell Momma Johnson the latest gossip.
“You should be thankful you have somebody in the neighborhood watching out for you,” Momma continued. “I can’t be here all the time and you know how the saying goes – it takes a village to raise a child. I can’t do it all by myself.”
“Yes, Ma, I know, but back to the dance. Will you at least meet Lukas before you decide? I can call him right now, and he can be here in ten minutes.” Sharlee pulled her phone out of her back pocket.
“Girl, I don’t have time to sit here and listen to some boy try and fast talk me into taking you out. I’ve got work to do.”
Momma Johnson turned her attention back to the laundry. She put whites in one pile, colors in another, and made a special pile for the Sunday clothes. She wiped the sweat from her brow and picked up one of Sharlee’s Sunday dresses.
“Dry clean only,” she read squinting at the label. She smirked. “Not for this iddy bitty grease stain.” She reached into her apron and pulled out a small bottle of cloudy liquid. She carefully squeezed three drops onto the stain and then gently rubbed the spot. Like magic, it disappeared. She shook her head, smiled, and then tossed the dress into the dryer with a dryer sheet.
“Please, Ma I really want to go,” Sharlee continued. “He’s not going to try to fast talk you. Just give him a chance. If you don’t like him, you can say no, and I won’t say another word about it. Please.”
Momma Johnson turned away from the piles of dirty clothes and looked at her granddaughter. It seemed like only yesterday she was licking the frosting out of the mixing bowl, and now here she was asking to go out on a date. The thick black hair that once hung twisted in pigtails now fell gracefully on her shoulders. Her once stumpy legs and pudgy belly had transformed into an hourglass figure. My baby is no longer a baby. Lord, give me strength!
“All right, call him over here.”
“Yes! Thank you, Ma.” Sharlee flung her arms around Momma Johnson’s neck and kissed her sweaty cheek.
“And he better act like he got some home training.”
“Don’t worry, Ma. You’re going to love him.”
“I seriously doubt that,” Momma Johnson mumbled.
Sharlee raced up the stairs to her room. She scrolled through her contact list until she reached Lukas’ number and hit call. The phone rang twice, and then her ears were assaulted by a series of explicatives and a pounding baseline.
“What up? This is Luke.”
“Hey, it’s Sharlee.”
“Hang on a sec. Let me turn this down.”
Sharlee held the phone away from her ear until the music died.
“What’s up, girl? Are we on for the dance or what?” Lukas threw himself across the king sized bed and stared up at the ceiling.
“I think we can convince my grandma, but you have to come over and meet her right now.”
“Why can’t I just meet her when I pick you up on Friday?”
“I already told you my grandma is old school, and she has to meet you before she decides if I can go.”
“What’s the big deal? It’s just a dance.”
“I’m the big deal. I’m the last grandbaby in the nest, so she’s a little overprotective.”
“Is she going to get all CSI on me?” Lukas laughed.
“Of course, she is. She has to make sure you’re good enough to take out her baby girl.”
“You know they don’t make them any better than this right here,” he said rubbing the stubble on his chin.
“You might want to put away some of that cockiness and pull out a little modesty if you plan to score any points with my grandma.”
“I’m just messing around. You know I’ll turn on the charm. What time do you want me to be there?”
“I told her you’d be here in ten minutes, so hurry up!”
“All right, all right, I’m on my way.
“Remember to turn down your music before you get in the driveway. My grandma thinks all rap music comes from the devil.”
“What? Are you serious?”
“Yes, so no rap music.”
“All right, no rap. Jesus Christ, anything else?”
“And you can’t say Jesus Christ like that. She’ll say you’re taking the Lord’s name in vain.”
Lukas shook his head. “Your grandma is a trip.”
“She’s just super religious, so if you saying anything out of line, she might sic Meshach on you.”
“Hey you keep that dog away from me. You know I don’t like Rottweilers.”
“Meshach’s a sweetheart. It’s my grandma you need to be worried about.”
“I’m not worried. I haven’t met a mom yet that hasn’t fallen in love with me.”
“You haven’t met my grandma. Just hurry up.”
“I’m on my way. Text me the address.”
“Okay, bye.” She quickly texted Lukas the address.
“I can’t believe it, he’s finally coming over!” Sharlee squealed. As soon as the message went through, she hit number one on the speed dial.
“Hey girl. What’s up?”
“Carla, you’ll never guess who’s coming over!”
“Well, judging from how excited you are, I’ll guess Lukas.”
“Yes! Can you believe it, girl? Lukas McGhee is coming to my house!”
“So, you talked your grandma into let you go out with him, huh?”
“Not yet. But I did talk her into letting him come over and meet her.”
“Well, good luck, girl, ‘cause he sure is fine.”
“And all the girls at school want him.”
“They do, but he’s on his way to my house. Just think, I could be the future Mrs. Lukas McGhee.”
“Don’t get carried away now. How long have you guys been talking?”
“A couple of weeks. He’s so sweet.”
“I hope he doesn’t turn out to be a conceited jerk. With all the attention he gets at school, I wouldn’t be surprised. You know the type. They think they can have any girl they want.”
“He’s not like that, Carla. He’s only gone out with a couple of girls since he’s been here.”
“A couple that you know about.” Carla propped herself up on her zebra stripped pillow. “Just wait until people find out you’re going out with him. They’ll be hating on you for sure.”
“Let them hate. I don’t care as long as he’s mine.”
“Well, you go ahead and get ready for your man. You better call me as soon as he leaves. I want a full report.”
“You know I will. Say a prayer for me, girl.”
“I will. Bye.”
Sharlee opened her closet door and pushed through all the hangers until she reached the very back of the closet. The little black dress was still hanging under the plastic garment bag. I’ve been waiting for months to wear this. Please let this Friday be the night.
Excerpted from "Whose Am I?" by Angela Whitehead. Copyright © 0 by Angela Whitehead. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.