I am exhausted. Yesterday proved to be a much longer day than I anticipated. Granted, my weekend got off to a rocky start as I stayed up too late writing my review for Serenity, which made Saturday morning arrive that much sooner. We decided to take the boys down to see the Circle City Classic Parade, by “we” I mean myself, my wife, and my sister. Our plan was to arrive an hour and a half before the parade was to start in order to get good spots. Good in theory, but a lot of folks had the same plan. We ended up sitting in front of a row of ladies who kept screaming at the “names” as if they’d just found their baby’s daddy. I love black people.

Speaking of, the police were out in full, courteous force. This had less to do with the 100,000 or so black folk being downtown and more to do with them continuing to do damage control to their image. Following the July 2002 Summer Celebration, there were widespread complaints about what was thought to be racist behavior by the Indianapolis Police Department. Now, the Indiana Black Expo (for the record, IBE’s web site address is now www.indianablackexpo.com. Apparently, someone told them that IBEonline is not the best statement regarding black folks and the Internet) and the Circle City Classic represents millions to the city each year, so, yeah, the mayor banged some heads. Mayor Bart Peterson to Black community: “I care about black people.”

Black people, come here for a second. Can I ask you something? We all family here: why can I not even go a parade without brothers rolling up on me trying to sell me fish sandwiches, T-shirts, and bootleg DVDs? For real, it was like I was at the barber shop, and I know better than to go to a hair style place the week of either Black Expo or Classic weekends.

And ladies, you need to buy lighter weaves. It’s like that great philosopher, Sinbad once said: you can’t go from having no hair to hair down to your butt over night. You have to give your neck muscles time to build up for that. I thought at one point that if I had some hay or sugar cubes, half of the hairdos would’ve taken off down the street. For that matter, I’d like to have a moment of silence for all the horses that gave so much of themselves for so many black women to look so good (though my sister assures me that many weaves are actually from dead people’s hair, though her’s is completely synthetic).

As always, the highlight of the parades was the battle of the bands. This year, Tennessee State and North Carolina A&T; duked it out, but there were plenty of other bands, drill teams, roller skating crews, and stars to work things out. However, don’t think that it went unnoticed that you kept putting the fat girls at the end of your crews. I ain’t mad at you: we ain’t afraid of a thick sister, let me tell you.

We were so hyped by the parade, that we decided to make a day of it and go to the Greek Stepdown that evening (skipping the game, because, well, a brother’s between pay days). For the uninitiated, stepping is a tradition of black Greek organizations dating as far back as the 1900s. Step shows combine stomping, clapping, dancing, chants and music and tell the history and values behind the fraternities and sororities (and to promote and enhance their fraternity and sorority’s visibility). These affairs feature members of the “Divine Nine” (the nine historically black fraternities and sororities). Now, my sister and I served as ghetto passes for my wife and a friend. We weren’t worried about the show selling out: as long as we were on time, or heaven forfend, early, we knew the place would be half empty. You know how we do: rolling in any old time after an event is supposed to start.

My first problem is that as the day went on, the crowd got younger. Grown folks went to the parade and the game. Younger folks, college age-ish (I thought that I considered myself part of the “ish”), went to the Greek Stepdown, and by the time we left, teens and (what had to be) pre-teens (unless I’m getting that old) were flooding into the Convention Center for the after parties. I came to a realization: I’ve learned that either I’ve become old, or I’m out of step with my culture. I need an air brush T-shirt with a portrait of my face on it and a marquee belt that continually scrolls my name. I’m also getting too old for most rap music. I’m past the point where I can listen to songs with that many instructions in them. And while I appreciate vanity as much as the next overly vain person, I can’t get away with writing a horror story and repeating my name every other paragraph.

Did you hear the one about how we went to the Greek Stepdown and a gospel concert broke out? Don’t get me wrong, black folks can have church anywhere, but it helps when Kirk Franklin makes a surprise visit.

Now, I love black women, but some of you sisters need to invest in a better brand of support bras cause there was several times that I was about to trip over your business. For that matter, halter tops are not everyone’s friend. I appreciate the effort, Lord knows I appreciate the effort, but there comes a point where you have to leave something to a man’s imagination. I also can’t convey to you how shrill the calls of a couple of the sororities are. Let me simply say that at one point, I felt like an ornithologist observing the mating calls of Deltas (Loudnegrofemalicus deltus) and Alphas (Annoyingnegrofemalicus alphus). The show was a little weaker than when we went a couple years ago. Let me just say for the record, that if you have props or a dramatic entrance, you better bring it. I hate to boo a brother, but some groups made us want to turn the Convention Center into the Apollo Theater Midwest. This year, the sisters held it down. You can’t be mad at anyone who uses the theme song from Reading Rainbow as part of their routine.

All told, though, it was another perfect Classic weekend. In fact, when I came in from work this morning, one of my young neighbor regaled me with tales of him just getting in from the after, after parties. Then again, he also reminded me of why I’m learning to hate the young: earlier this year he asked me if my kids were my grandkids. I ain’t forgot that mess.

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