Posts Tagged ‘when the lights go down in the city’

‘Appreciate Your Muskas’

May 22, 2021

“There’ll never be another Muska,” the old man said again, louder this time.

His tone made it sound like some prewritten remembrance posted too early by an errant algorithm, it wasn’t, and the man understood this. He cleared his throat. “Not like he’s gone, I mean. You know?”

The kids looked away. Neither really had looked at him in the first place, only half acknowledging his advance on the park’s chain-link perimeter, then hooking in his fingers, scanning back and forth and bobbing his head if some trick looked close. One stepped onto his board and began heelflipping.

He said a few times he used to skate, there was no reason not to believe him. Squinting you could imagine a chin under the salt-and-pepper beard, the gray wisps black under the lightly sweat-ringed hat, embroidered with a throwback baseball team logo. Probably there was a tattoo somewhere.

“He’s not gone, obviously.” The sun was low and the old man didn’t look at the two kids as he blinked. “He’s still out there obviously, and shit, he’s still got it. You saw this right?” He fumbled with a phone, pushing his fingers across it this way and that, murmuring about crooked grinds and parking lots and inspirational quotes, the ones that left him quietly embarrassed when he thought of them and they felt weighty and meaningful.

One of the kids glanced at the screen the man held out, nodded and looked away again. The other heelflipped.

“I’m talking more about appreciating. You know. When he was doing all that stuff, in his prime, ‘The Muska’ and Shorty’s, we all thought he was corny.” The phone jammed back between denim folds and the fingers hooked once more into the fence. “He was, for sure, in a way. You know, the rap album, his boombox all the time, and then he wore these scarves… you know, he would’ve been great with no gimmicks, is what I’m saying. I mean, look at the TSA video. T-shirt and jeans, pretty much. You know?”

There was a lengthy pause and the man decided to endure it some, swigging from his iced tea, a tall can.

“We were all up on a high horse about it kind of, and basically missed out on appreciating him in his prime, his prime, is what I mean. You know?” He didn’t look at the kids. “Should’ve really embraced it like, this dude is going crazy right now. Kind of hard to explain. People took stuff super serious then, sort of.”

The one kid nodded again, still looking away from the man.

“It’s like, appreciate what’s in front of you. This dude, then, he was a legend in the making. With somebody like Reynolds, or Rowley, you know, that was easy, it was clear, there wasn’t all the rock star stuff, but man, you know? Muska was gnarly. We knew it, you know, we watched the videos and everything, I just mean, we didn’t really appreciate what he was doing, at the time. And in a way you kind of miss out. Or we did.”

Two long blares of a minivan horn, and his fingers released the chain link. It shook and the man straightened.

“So you know, think about it. Who are your Muskas? KB? Nyjah? Anyway.” He reached for his phone but took his hand back out of his pocket and half turned away. “Make sure you see them, appreciate them. You know? That’s all I mean.”

The horn blared again and the man was gone. The kids took out their phones, running their thumbs from bottom to top, over and over.