Hey Kid, How’s Your Aunt Wanda?
Lots of people in high school thought I was strange because I dressed and cut my hair like a boy, and I was tall like a boy. But I was nothing compared to my Aunt Wanda.
Wanda usually dressed in black and talked real tough. She used to say things like, “Kid, when I get cold, I don’t get goosebumps, I get tigerbumps.” Our standing joke was my reply, “Aunt Wanda, don’t call me kid, call me Tiger Boy.” I don’t think there was anything funny about that but it always made her laugh which would make me laugh because Wanda’s laugh sounded more like terminal hiccups.
One day we were walking down Canal Street. People were staring at us probably because of Aunt Wanda’s hair, (dyed blueblack and a foot high), and she got particularly ticked off when one Catholic lady crossed herself after having eye contact. Wanda went up in her face and said “whaddayathink lady, I got tha evil eye or sumpn”? That old lady ran, probably into the nearest church. A big black fellow saw the whole thing and said something cute, but crude, to Aunt Wanda. She never did know when to drop the tough act and said “Get outta here”. He said, “Lady, you some weird peesashit, chill out”.
This was bad. “Don’t you tell me to chill buddy, cuz when I chill I don’t get goosebumps, I get tigerbumps.” The guy looked at her dumbly, having no clue how to respond. A moment passed, I think he was drunk. I’m pretty sure one blow from him would have been the end of the story so I just spoke up. “Hey mister, and they call me tigerboy.” Well, Aunt Wanda’s mouth started trembling and then she let loose, just cracked up, and her laughter let all the air out of the balloon. This giant thought she was having a fit when he heard her hiccuping and he knew in New Orleans if a black man gets into a fight with a white woman, and that woman dies or even if she just has a fit, then that black man eats his next meal Chez Angola State Prison.
So he was the second person in a row that ran off from our weirdness. A crowd had gathered around by this time and when Wanda stopped laughing, or hiccuping, she looked at me and said, “We’re quite the team Tiger Boy, quite the team.”