Arvin Mitchell is the black, male, Lois Lane who I met at The Second City. We had some of the most ridiculous things in common. And if he hadn’t been so “tan” I may have thought us to be separated at birth. Don’t get the wrong idea about the racial shit, either. He knows he’s black, and I’d bet money that I am his favorite cracka from the city of Chicago. (Okay, favorite might be a stretch.)
We both attended the course to hone our comedy writing skills and learn to be more concise, while being as funny as possible.
Besides the obvious, both of us are left handed. We grew up with people saying left handed people had the devil in them. I guess being a leftie is supposed to bring out the inner-Satan according to religious zealots of yesteryear. We were encouraged to write with our right hand, which neither of us complied.
We brought the same type of notebook to class the first day. The only difference between the notebooks was the color, kinda like us. By now you may be thinking, “Wow Lois! That’s amazing! You MUST have been separated at birth!”
Okay smart asses, I’ve got more, hold your horses.
To try to prove how different we are, Arvin said, “Yeah but I bet you don’t start writing in a new notebook from the back page.”
I told that silly soul brother of mine to pick up my notebook and take a gander. I only wrote my directions to The Second City in the notebook, which incidentally were on the back page.
He offered up a little grin and nod. We were joined at the hip for the rest of the week. Every time something stupid happened or someone odd walked by, he and I made eye contact as if to ask without speaking, “Did you see that?!?” We had a lot of those eye contact conversations, even during class.
At one point during the week, we were standing outside and spotted a pregnant woman, wearing a dress and running out of a shoe store. Her bellybutton was poking through her dress like a turkey eye, declaring the goose was cooked. She was ready to pop pregnant, and probably shouldn’t have been running. We gave each other that familiar look and then busted up laughing.
She apparently was trying on a pair of gym shoes and wanted to take them for a test run.
“See, that? Black people don’t do that kinda shit,” Arvin said.
“Well that’s because the store clerk would have jumped her ass for trying to steal them.”
“You got that right. Ain’t no one in a million years gonna believe a sister was only trying them shoes on to see how fast they go.”
We decided she had no idea that she will later spend years running after that kid of hers, and should save her energy while she can. We almost told her but we got sidetracked talking about differences between black people and white people. We learned that our mothers were both the disciplinarians and beat us with any item they happened to be holding at any given time.
Somehow, that turned into a conversation about families passing things down through generations.
Arvin said, “You guys pass down houses, and businesses. And black people pass down shit like curling irons and…”
“Sickle cell anemia?”
“Yeah! Now that’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout.”
We got sidetracked again because Arvin likes to mess with people. He said it’s one of his favorite things to do. As we walked through downtown, even if we were in mid-conversation, if he saw someone walking a dog, he would stop talking to bark. He riled up every dog he saw. If they barked back, he barked louder. Most dog owners gave him a fake smile. A couple offered up a dirty look. To save himself from getting his ass kicked or mauled, he put on a smile nobody could get mad at.
When a cute girl walked by, he gently brushed her arm with the back of his hand. And then, when she gave him the “What the fuck?” look, he lied and told her she had a bug on her. I nodded as if confirming his story. As soon as she was out of ear-shot, we laughed our heads off.
In the classroom, he wrote notes and turned his notebook toward me. He was so much like that friend you had in school who could get you laughing at the most inopportune times. It was great.
I know I’ll see my soul brother again soon. We’ve already got plans to hook up in St. Louis, when I help my in-laws move there in about a month.