Don’t Touch


Usually, it’s ‘don’t touch my shit,’

Adults are home.


We are the last generation of Latchkey Kids

We spent our afternoons alone listening to music

Songs we couldn’t play loud with adults around

In 1993 I was eleven, he was fourteen

Too cool for me in public

Best of buddies at home

Stolen from Sam Goody

Slid into his baggy jeans that sagged in public

He’d pull them up once he got home.

Daddy had a TEAC stereo that we weren’t supposed to touch

Don’t touch my shit, he’d say.

But we did anyway

Vaun came home one day with something new

A black and yellow W on the cover

Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers

Protect Ya Neck, Bring da Ruckus, C.R.E.A.M

The first album that wasn’t made by Whitney Houston that I listened to without skipping a song

I loved that album for a million reasons, but my favorite

Was that he shared it with me

I didn’t always understand Da Mystery of Chessboxin’

But I made sure I could sing along with him

He’d quiz me, who are the members?

ODB, Method Man, Ghostface, Rza, Gza, U God, Masta Killa

When he’d leave the house he’d tuck his CD into a giant book

Hide it under the bed and tell me,

Don’t touch my shit.

Yeah, sure, Vaun. I won’t touch your shit

Don’t cuss. It’s not cute when girls do it.

Once he left, I touched his shit

I’d lie on the floor, listening

Reliving the memory of him dancing along

Sometimes I’d try to dance like him

And even though no one was watching

I still felt embarrassed.

Twenty-Five years later

I still listen

Alone, without him

I can still see him dancing along

Hands in the air

Boxers showing under his baggy Girbauds

Pulling them up because it’s not allowed at home

Explaining to me the significance of the numbers

Making me feel cool

Grown up, like I knew something important that no one else my age knew.

Most importantly, that he chose me.

We shared a secret that no one else understood

The only thing we understood together

So now, eighteen years after he left

An album drops every year

When I’m feeling nostalgic

I always am

Every last one is right at my fingertips

To remind me


Of those days in the living room

I’m lying on my stomach, reading the lyrics from the book in the CD case

He’s dancing in his Wu Wear shirt that he begged our parents for Christmas

Then too soon, always too soon

He leaves.

Reminding me

Not to touch his shit.

But we both knew I would.

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