#scintilla13: can't take her nowhere


I’m a cofounder of The Scintilla Project, along with my friends Onyi and Dominique, two whip-smart and artfully snarky women with beautiful hair. This is my response to one of the Day 14 prompts, Talk about the time when you were younger and you embarrassed your parents in public, the one that still shames you.We believe that your stories make you who you are and we’re asking you to share yours. Interested? Sign up at scintillaproject.com and follow us at @ScintillaHQ.

I wish my mother were still around because I would call her up and ask her for an answer for this prompt, because the truth is I’m not ashamed of any of the times I would have embarrassed her. This is not going to be a great prompt response, and no great truths are going to be unearthed within. That said:

I know we were shopping for back-to-school clothes. It was 1987, and we were in the shoe section of Horne’s, which was a department store in the mall—one of many that I think Macy’s bought out. I remember the shoes I wound up getting that day, two pairs of them: one pair of peach Chucks and another pair of Reebok high tops, the kind that didn’t have the dumb velcro strap at the top. The leather was a soft, grayish blue suede, and it matched a Georgetown sweatshirt that I loved to pieces that year. The soles and shoelaces were a contrasting gray, and there was not a bit of white to be seen on them. I don’t think anyone else had that exact variety and I so wish I could find a pic for you on Google. I fucking loved those shoes.

It was near enough to the end of the day that my mom had been carrying those huge bags full of clothes, the kind they keep at the clothes counter but are really made to hold comforters. It was the point of the shopping day when I’d start to feel guilty about how much she’d spent, especially when I usually got only one pair of sneakers a year and the Chucks were not exactly durable. (But peach, you guys, peach.) But those Reeboks were dream shoes, and I could picture them peeking out below just-slouched-enough denim in just the right stonewash. 

The saleswoman packed up the stray pieces of tissue paper and I put on my old shoes. I knew what was coming: another large total on the receipt, the way she would pull each twenty out of a white Equibank envelope one at a time to pay. More guilt! And then like the gods were saying it would all be okay, “Linus and Lucy” started playing over the Horne’s loudspeaker. And I danced.

She was probably embarrassed, but she laughed, and she didn’t tell me to stop. And years later, she would remind me of that day and laugh again every time she did. It’s still almost impossible for me to resist dancing to that silly, happy tune, and I’m warning you now that if you take me out in public it could happen at any time.