THE C.R.E.A.M. OF THE CROP

"Cash, Rules, Everything, Around, Me, C.R.E.A.M., get the money, dollar, dollar, bill y'all!" —The Wu-Tang Clan "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…" —Romans 12:2 He always heard that if he stayed in school and got his diploma that he would average more money every his lifetime then someone who didn't. He always heard that if he got a college degree, he would make even more money over his lifetime. In fact, he not only heard the PSAs, but he also saw them. There was a billboard in black and white that he would always read when he went to a certain corner sometimes to meet his connect. For some strange reason, he got a kick out of counting his paper every time he was at that corner, even though he knew better. It wasn't as if he didn't go to school. In fact, he was only a year and some change from obtaining his high school diploma. And it wasn't the case that he was stupid. He was quite intelligent, even though sometimes he camouflaged it to blend in when he was with his boys in the urban jungle. But he knew better than doing this and most of the time he didn't. He thought of himself as his own person. Plus he had already had their respect, so he thought. Still, he didn't do well in school, except when he really wanted to. A lot of times he would "drop-in" to school, meaning he stayed long enough to be officially counted as present. After that, he simply left campus. There were so many students in his high school that he knew no one would hardly notice his absence. He didn't do this all the time though. Sometimes the subjects in class actually interested him, or he had a test, or there was a "dime" whose number he had to get. Despite all of this, he wasn't failing. Maybe he had been promoted through high school. Maybe not. Because when he put his mind to it, he could do really well on his tests, although physics was a problem. In fact, he had a hard time with physics partly because he couldn't understand how it would help him get a job or how it was useful. He also thought the same way about Euclidean geometry. But he didn't sweat it. If he got the answer in school good; if not, then good too. No body seemed to be volunteering to show him why these subjects were relevant. He really didn't have time to think about these things. He wasn't going to be in class a lot this week because he had several pounds to move that his associate was bringing from North Philly and he had a couple of keys to flip as well. Although last week was a good week, he wasn't sure about this. In the back of his mind, he was always insecure as to whether he was built for the game. But so far he was stacking his paper, which had a funny way of bolstering his confidence. Or maybe it was just giving him a false sense of security. He was smart enough to know that this was not the way to become something. He didn't buy into that garbage of being Tony Montana or "the biggest boss that you've seen so far." He knew a little but more than his boys what the consequences are. But yet in a way he did buy into it. And honestly he liked it. He could always have money or at the very least, know how to get it. Busted. He got caught for missing too much school. He would have to spend time in detention and participate in a program. The woman speaking in the program was going on and on about they need to stay in school and get their diploma. She kept going on and on about the need for them to prepare for the "real world." He listened. Finally, he said to himself, "Bump this!" and got up to leave. "Son where are you going? You need to be here. Don't you understand how important this is?" "Yeah." "I know who you are. You're better than this or can be better than this. You need to be in school, get your education, if you're going to get ahead…" "And make money, more money in my job…my profession, then out there?" "Well, yeah, that's right, too. Absolutely right!" He proceeded to count twenty one-hundred dollar bills in front of her face. And then he said: "If school and getting a piece of paper is just about gettin' money, gettin' paid, I got that now. Let's keep in 100, y'all talk about getting a good education, but it's all about gettin' money, gettin' paid so you can get up out of here. I'm remember something from my government class about a rational decision, rational actor. Well, if I'm a rational person, why should I wait twenty or forty years to get money when I can get it now? You probably say be patient. But what do y'all teach about patience here. By the way, keep the 2 Gs." The woman was taken aback by the display of money, his articulation, the whole thing. The other teenagers were voicing their approval—instigating really—not so much that many of them paid any attention to what he said but because of the spectacle. She was speechless. She was also on the verge of tears because she believed with absolute certainty she would never see him again—alive.