Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

News & Features » June 2020 » “Afro-Puff Daddy” by Nkosi Ife Bandele

“Afro-Puff Daddy” by Nkosi Ife Bandele

Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.

This week, “don’t touch my hair!”

Afro-Puff Daddy
by Nkosi Ife Bandele
Three-year-old daughter

Granted, my three year old daughter looks adorable in Afro-Puffs. Which makes comments inevitable. “Sassy,” “Soul Train,” “Black Princess Leia.” Making matters worse, white folks seem to consider my family and me approachable—“clean” is the way former Vice President Joe Biden once described former President Obama (and his clan presumably). By which I suspect he meant not black and ornery.

When the elderly white woman slipped behind my daughter and gave one of her puffs a playful twist, I processed slowly. I knew that I didn’t appreciate the presumption, though the woman—who ducked afterwards in what seemed to me a good-natured attempt to play hide and seek—seemed okay more or less, and so I resolved to let whatever pass.

However, before my daughter could make heads or tails in effect, my wife snapped back, “Ma’am, please don’t touch my daughter’s hair!”

The woman appeared bewildered, the most stupid look overtaking her face, like when you’re not paying attention and almost get hit by a car. I could not tell what prompted her reaction—sudden awareness, irony, or fear (of the angry Negro!)—but anyway she looked so ridiculous.

A moment later, the maître d’ called my family by our surname and led us to our seats, all the while my wife glaring at the woman who had appropriately modified her hide and seek game by looking in the distance.

Due to the regular inappropriateness of white folks, our somewhat typical conversation ensued before we settled in even.

“They get on my nerves!”

“…touching her hair!”

“They make me sick!”

I eventually added, emphasizing the irony of my statement via my tone, “I certainly couldn’t touch her daughter’s hair!”

My daughter’s eyes widened when she received her complimentary box of crayons and immediately began doodling on the paper placemat/activity sheet laid before her. She remained focused on it as my wife and I tried to keep her engaged in our current dilemma.

“Nobody is allowed to touch you, you understand that, right?”

“Yes.”

My daughter nonchalantly responded to my wife, who glanced at me before pressing further.

“I mean, nobody, do you understand?”

“Yes.”

My daughter continued doodling. You could feel her ho-hum.

When I further added that the woman had been wrong to presume, my daughter looked up, the bewilderment on her face similar to the woman’s stupid expression. Both clueless!

“What woman?”

After that, I buried my head in the menu and anguished over the choice of a Belgian waffle with berries, or steamed organic eggs.

Such a tough choice, I failed to acknowledge my wife’s nudge underneath the table.

It took my daughter’s startling plea of “Daddy” to arrest my attention.

After hovering above us for a moment too long, the woman suddenly fell to her knees and directed her attention towards my daughter.

“Hi,” she offered in a teasing way. “I’m so sorry to have touched your hair. I should have asked you first.”

As my daughter hesitated to respond, the woman appealed to my wife and me.

We deferred to each other.

Finally my daughter’s ambiguous “Okay” ended the standoff, and that appeared to be enough for the woman who shot my wife and me a satisfied smile before returning to from wherever she had come. She gestured toward my daughter but instead opted to tap the table top before leaving.

I wanted to take off then but knew that would never fly with my wife. She always stood her ground.

When I refused to eat, my daughter sharply reminded me that I had claimed to be really hungry before.

“Aren’t you hungry, Daddy?”

I didn’t know how I felt at that point, but I decided on an americano to put my daughter, as well as my wife, at ease.

***

NKOSI IFE BANDELE tells stories. He writes for periodicals, stage, TV, and film. His latest novel, Scott Free, chronicles the life of Scotty Snow, a New York City aspiring filmmaker who via $99 Greyhound Special shoots for the stars in Hollywood but lands down and out in San Francisco, literally on his knees scrubbing the toilets at a vintage residence hotel. Hence, the nickname “Scott Tissues.” Scott Free is Nkosi’s third novel following his debut novel, The Ape is Dead!, 2016, and his second novel, The Beast, 2017, all of which are published by Crimson Cloak Publishing. His short fiction include his hilarious “Fuckity, Fuck Fuck, Fuck,” “Fuckity Fuck Fuck Fuck Part 2: Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit,” and “Itty Bitty Titty Committee.” These are also published by Akashic, and can be accessed here. He has been published under the pen names Easy Boheme, Eshu Bandele, and skoo d foo, da bom! His website, including his blog THAT N-WORD’S CRAZY!, is eshubandele.com. Visit his Facebook Fan Page here and his Amazon Books Author Profile Page here. He’s also on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

***

Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jun 22, 2020

Category: Original Fiction, Terrible Twosdays | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,



Featured: Black Interest