Stir It Up
A flash of Mulenga
Published: October 12, 2011
As usual my pal Mulenga Harangua didn't answer the door when I tapped on it. I couldn't even peek in because a couple of boards covered up where the window used to be. I heard some noise from the back of the house, so I went around, and there he was enjoying some late-season sun and lounging on a duct tape-wrapped lounge chair that he had scavenged from somewhere. He wore a pair of blue skivvies and an old, gray football helmet. Flesh bulged out all around the tight briefs.
"Hey, Mulenga, wake up."
His eyes opened slowly and he scanned his surroundings before focusing on me. A smile drifted across his face as he arched his back and stretched like an oversized, self-satisfied feline.
"Hey, baby, what's happening?" he said in his high, slightly nasal tone. "Good thing it's you. I wouldn't want anybody else to catch me like this."
"What's with the getup? Are you auditioning for that Full Monty calendar?"
"The Full Monty calendar — some guys who belong to the Unitarian Church in Framingham, Mass., published a calendar with 12 of the church's oldest men, ages 64 to 87, posing nude, although their nasty parts were covered up, as a fundraiser. The 87-year-old retired minister said the 'older, aging body has its own elegance.'"
"Hmm, elegance," Mulenga said, standing up and doing a little twirl to show off his assets. "I need to get in line for that one. They could use a little of the Harangua vibe. I bet they don't have any brothas on that calendar do they?"
"Well, mmmm, they all seem to be white guys, but I don't think you're old enough to run with that crowd. And one of the pictures has a guy with a banjo covering up his crucial parts. I don't think it's your kind of thing."
"Banjo! That's why they needed me on that, so they could represent the banjo properly."
"What do you know about banjos? Nobody plays them except a bunch of bluegrass and country music players."
"See, they done pulled the wool over your eyes just like everybody else. The banjo is an African instrument." Mulenga twitched his fingers around as though picking the air banjo. "Well, not quite African. The first banjos were made by enslaved Africans in America as facsimiles of stringed instruments they played back home. They got a display about that over at the Carr Center in Harmonie Park. That's to inform wrong-headed brothas like you who don't know your own history and let whitey co-opt it."
"OK, so I don't know twang about banjos. But what's with your getup? It's a little racy."
"It's for a couple of things. One, it's in solidarity with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the guy they call the underwear bomber."
"I call him the panty bomber."
"Whatever you call him, the young brotha needs some solidarity. Ain't nobody standing with him. Especially that jury they got — 12 white people, three sistas and an Indian woman. Not one black man up there. Whatever happened to a jury of your peers? The one Nigerian woman among prospective jurors was dismissed."
"I'm not sure these people aren't reflective of the community or if that rule even applies to foreign combatants. The kid is Nigerian."
"Well, he's getting railroaded. Based on what I've heard, the kid ain't thinking straight and doesn't understand the legal system. Somebody filled his head with a bunch of crap."
"That may have been Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Queda guy they killed with a drone attack in Yemen a bit ago."
Mulenga tapped his helmet. "That's a good reason to wear protective headgear. You never know when explosives are going to rain out of the sky on you."
"And it's good protection for when I decide to smack you upside your hard head. But really, why are you wearing it. That helmet can't be comfortable."
"Well I found it lying in the alley the other day. Since the Lions are doing so well this year I thought I show a little Lions pride and wear it."
"It doesn't have a Lions logo on it."
"But it's football. I don't care what it's got on it. You should have seen all the people out there for the Monday night game. I wandered through the crowd and made a little money humming that 'are you ready for some football' song on a comb and paper kazoo I made."
"You know that song got kicked off 'Monday Night Football' because Hank Jr. compared President Obama to Hitler."
"Yep, and ESPN has every right in the world to have whoever they want on their broadcast. At the same time, Hank was way out there on that one, but he has a right to his opinion. I ain't mad at him. I think somebody should ask him in what way exactly Obama is like Hitler. I think the ensuing conversation would put that shit to rest pretty quickly. I mean, killing 6 million people is incomparable. It puts you in a class all to yourself."
"I can't believe you're defending the panty bomber in one breath and Hank Jr. in the next. That seems incongruous."
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