As it got dark out, we could hear the traffic and noises from the pow wow. I don't like going to the pow wow because it is so busy, it's like being in Wal-Mart when food stamps come out, and I just get too frustrated, but I do love being able to sit in my backyard and enjoy the drumming and singing.
I sat, relaxed, and watch my brothers and our kids all run around catching fireflies to make a lantern. Times like these, I love being from the reservation. The kids knew they could get their uncle to tell a story if they got enough fireflies. Mark was great at making up stories off the top of his head. It was definitely very interesting to have a hand in raising him, which always falls in the hands of the oldest sister, no matter what.
When Uncle Mark measured the firefly light and he determined that that was definitely enough light for story telling, he gathered all the kids around.
He takes a swig of his beer and puts it down:
"OK kids, today I am going to tell you of a contest, an event that happens in the district of Two Left Feet." He looks around for drama's sake.
"Where's that at?" One of the kids interrupts and gets shushed from the other kids. They all know Uncle Mark tends to pout when interrupted.
Mark goes on "This is the story of Chepa Big Buffalo and the Mr. Commod Bod championship."
One of the kids said "Nay-oh" but everyone else remained quiet to hear the story.
Mark gets his glazed look that could be from the story telling or from the beer and his voice changes to that of a woman's.
"Would you like more to eat, Chepa?" Chepa's mom, Verna, is standing above him with a skillet full of scrambled powdered eggs and a spatula. There was also fried potatoes and onions simmering in oil in a skillet on the stove. In another skillet the luncheon meat was slowing to a sizzle since Verna had just turned it off.
Chepa was still chewing, he motioned for seconds with his hand. He nodded his head and shoved the plate towards his mom. He knew his mom turned commods into heaven. He has been living at home for all of his 33 years, well except for a couple of stints in JDC and one time when he tried to go to job corps, that didn't work out and Verna had to drive all night to pick him up.
One day, when his rap career got the jumpstart it needed he would buy his mom a house with a brand new six burner stove, he only imagined what she could cook with a six burner stove. The chefs on FoodTV had nothing on his mama. Even though he was almost full his stomach growled.
She was made for breeding commod bods. She was also the manager and trainer for his dad, Chepa Big Buffalo, Sr. who had won the 4th, 5th, and 6th annual Mr. Commod Bod Championship, Chepa was always proud seeing his dad grab the Golden Brick trophy and a hundred dollars cash. (Now the prize was up to $1,000) After his dad would win, he wouldn't come home for a couple of days, when he did there would be a royal fight between his dad and mom. That always resulted in a shiner on his dad for a few days and hickeys on his mom as they enjoyed the Golden Brick Trophy, because it was always all he had left when he came back.
Now that his dad was no longer here, it was Chepa's turn to take over reign as Mr. Commod Bod, he came a close 2nd last year, and third the year before. Each time losing to Lorenzo Belly Fat. Now that Mr. Belly Fat lost a toe in in a cat fishing accident, the title was up for grabs, as Lorenzo sans little toe, lost that Commod Bod swag that won him the title for 10 years straight. He no longer had that "I just killed two buffalo and walked off the rez" look. That same look that gets skins into fights when they move to cities.
So this year Chepa was ready. Ready to take back the title and bring it home to his mama. The same title his father received 17 years earlier and held onto for 3 straight years. He would do his father proud, because this year there was no Lorenzo Belly Fat.
Today was the big day, and despite hanging over, Chepa was ready. He had a few big cans of fortified malt liquor to help him through the hangover, plus he knew if he drank them, he would get that "just right shine" that was required only of Mr. Olympia's and Mr. Commod Bod's.
As fast as Chepa ate, Verna was there to dish out more. He ate faster than someone with a full set of teeth.
"More Mama, more of the fried luncheon meat." he growled in between the forkfuls. The USDA approved can of luncheon meat gave a good gleam to his dark skin and it tasted better than SPAM. But the contestants from the body building competitions and weight lifting contests had to buy their shine. Mr. Olympia himself couldn't shine the way Chepa did when he was hanging over and ate a huge commod breakfast. It also helped right now that there was no air conditioning, the one in the window quit working two summers ago.
Finally after his fourth helping of everything, Chepa let out a long, loud belch that sounded like a herd of buffalo running. Then he drank the rest of his big can of malt and let out another loud belch. Buffalo again, running. He rubs his belly for luck and walks out to the clothes line full of white tank tops or "beaters."
"Chepa!" his mom yells out the window "Your going to town shirts are at the other end of the clothesline, those are the whiter ones."
Sure enough, when Chepa looked, his dingiest, most yellowed tank tops were at the end he was standing at. These were the ones he did his hustling in, cutting wood, gathering cans, tearing the copper out of wires, all in the name of a dollar and a dream, a hustle and a scheme. He walked along the clothesline, letting his hand trail through all his beaters. The next set of beaters were not so dingy-kind of white, wearing around the house kind of beaters. The next set were the ones he snagged in, his around the rez, spittin rhymes at a party kind of beaters. Finally the last set that he walked up to to the brightest white, almost torn from the package of three- white, fresh off the Wal Mart shelf-white. These were Chepa's going to town beaters. They were whiter than the tourists that came to the rez in the summer time to "hippy" it up or the ones that came to "save" the souls of the skins rez-wide. Chepa slipped the beater over his head and savored the smell of bleach that came with it. He pulled this over his tezi (belly) and went back in the house.
Once inside, he walked over to the full length mirror and started tying his bandana over his head, representation was everything, if he represented himself right, he might score an agent today. His mom was watching him down the hallway.
"You're so handsome, I don't know why I don't have any takojas (grand-kids) yet." She said to him.
"Don't worry Ma, once I win this, I'm going to use the money to get my rap cd cut, then you will be complaining that you have too many takojas, in every district!" She smiled as she was folding a basket full of his tank tops.
Cheap took one more look in the mirror before he left. His shine was in full force, you would be able to find him on the darkest night in a blackout. His tank top hugged every roll and stretched tight over his belly like a drum. His jeans hung onto his body for dear life. Hanging low where he should have had an ass and no matter how much he hiked 'em up, his butt crack always managed to peek out and give the world a sideways smile.
He gave his jeans one more tug, "I'm ready Ma." He said as he made his way to the front door.
Verna followed him out and handed him his sunglasses, aviators-AIM Movement style, he should have had an earring, dammit, he thought.
"Thanks Ma" He gets in the passenger seat of his mom's car and pulls the mirror down to check himself out with the shades on, he wished he had thick hair to be able to grow braids, maybe he'll try again. After all, he not only plans on winning this title, but hanging onto it for a few years. This contest was on his 10 year plan. The air conditioner in the car didn't work either and even though the breeze from the window was cooling him off, he didn't worry about losing his shine, it clung to him always. He knew once he got on that stage, the sun beating down on him would simmer him and make him shine up like a new penny.
The parking lot was crowded. This was the last day of the four annual end of summer competitions. The first held a couple of days ago was the Commodity Cook Off, Chepa had meant to go, but got lost on his way, hence the hangover. The second one, Miss Chokecherry Eyes was held last night, crowning the winyan with the most outstanding eyes, and ability to remember the traditions of use of the canpos-chokecherries, food of the Lakota. Earlier that day they had the frybread eating contest, using the wojapi from the Miss Chokecherry Eyes competition. And the best was saved for last.
Mr. Commod Bod.
Chepa took his place in the Mr. Commod Bod line, he could already feel his pores emitting the sweat needed to keep the Indian man shine going. Other contestants were already taking their strut around the stage, you could hear some getting booed, some were getting cheered.
Chepa noticed the frybread leftover from the Frybread eating contest, along with big bowls of chokecherry wojapi used for dipping, on a table behind the stage. His stomach growled, even though he was full, he was getting sun drunk from the hot sun and the beers he had for breakfast. He couldn't resist, after all....it WAS fry bread. He started dipping and dunking and growling and mauling the fry bread and wojapi until he felt a tap on his shoulder.
"You're up, man. They're calling you."
Chepa wiped his mouth on the back of his hand, pulled down his tanktop because it had rolled up and walked out on the stage. This contest was his. He walked out with both hands over his head, half eaten-forgotten fry breads clenched in his fists.
"Here he is! The son of the man who won the 4th, 5th, and 6th Mr. Commod Bods! He is back to try it again this year, give it up for Chepa Big Buffalo, Jr!"
The crowd mostly boos, except you can hear his mother cheering wildly.
Chepa leans into the mic "Soon to be known by my rapper handle, Skillet! Skillet in da house, woot woot! Look for my new cd up and coming 'Big Greasy' to be at the pawn shop soon, and email me at email@example.com !"
He walks away from the emcee and does his strut around the stage with his fortified malt glaze, showboating in front of the judges table, yeah he was sun drunk.
After they announced all the runner ups, Chepa had hope that he would win, $1,000 would let him party hard tonight and probably get him a girlfriend. He knew for sure his mom would let him party in his room in the basement, if he won.
"And the winner is.........(drum roll from the drum group).....Chepa Big Buffalo, Jr. Also known as Skillet!" The drum group beats hard on the drum.
Chepa goes to do a round on the stage, remembers he still has frybread in his hands, he takes a bite of one of the breads, walks like a rooster across the stage and winks at Miss Chokecherry Eyes.
He decides to show off for her, after all she may want to party later in the basement. He stuff the whole frybread in his mouth, then realizes he can't chew it. It's too much, it feels like dough is rising from his insides. He can't even open his mouth, he was dying! His eyes were bulging!
"He's choking! He's choking!" He heard his mom yell, oh lord, mama come get me...he thought in his head.
One of the other contestants pushed on his gut to attempt the Heimlich maneuver but instead this happened.
Chepa exploded on stage. Kleppa-(vomit) everywhere. Everything he ate and drank that morning and maybe yesterday too, when he staggered home in the middle of the night and started a small kitchen fire cooking dog food, exploded everywhere.
He spewed like no one ever saw before.
"Disqualified!" one judge yelled.
"Noooo!" his mom screamed.
All the runners up threw up.
The judges threw up.
The drum group threw up on the drum.
Miss Chokecherry Eyes threw up, well, chokecherries.
Everyone there threw up, barfed, puked, and kleppa-ed until they could no more.
Eventually Lester Pretty On Top was the only one in the contest who didn't puke. He was 102 pounds soaking wet, 6 foot 4 and braids like a mouse's tail but he won. He was the new Mr. Commod Bod.
But nobody will ever remember who won that year, no body will remember who won the cook off, Miss Chokecherry Eyes, or the frybread eating contest.
All they will remember is the year everyone kleppa-ed.
Mark finished his story with a flair, I love how dramatic he is when he is story telling. Our little brother Misu war-hooped. I gave out a leelee. Mark gave us high fives. And all our kids gave a combined "NAY-OH!"
Creighton started in "Nay Uncle, thats from that movie, that old movie mom likes, Stand By Me!"
"No it's not. True story." Mark says, as he is done giving high fives and sits at the picnic table.
"There is no sucha place as the district of Two Left Feet!" one of the kids chimes in.
"Sure!" Mark says, "It's over there." He points in no specific direction with his lips.
This is the end of chapter 2 of my book "Pointing With Lips: A Week in The Life OF A Rez Chick" A work of fiction, written by me, thanks for reading.
© Dana Lone Hill 2011