“Hot Peas & Butter” And More Slavery Merriment In Virginia » VSB

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“Hot Peas & Butter” And More Slavery Merriment In Virginia

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Unlike many youngins I know today who’d implode from boredom and cluelessness without access to a tablet, television, or other nonsense-powered technology, my childhood homies and I were pretty active, outdoorsy kids. Though we were introduced to computers early and were known to overdo it on the Nintendo, we were just as happy out the house, searching for gumballs and rocks for our slingshots and befriending weird white kids in nearby neighborhoods for access to their trampolines and fruit snacks.

When not building sprawling Lego kingdoms and power-watching Sister Act 2, Thurston (my first non-family friend, who I met soon after moving into our one-story Peach castle at the wise age of 4.75) and I made itineraries, packed lunches, and rode our bikes hither and yon around 1998, Virginia in search of adventure and adult ire. We were, briefly in reality yet forever in our hearts, part of the Ghostwriter team. We neighborhood hellraisers fought atop and rolled down dirt mounds inside construction sites, swung across ditches, claimed newly vacant homes on the block as playhouses and occasionally got kicked out of Toys R Us for climbing up the bikes into those miniature log cabins and doll houses and throwing balls and toys at passing customers.

Good times.

We spent summers in backyards playing kickball, catching poison ivy, and corralling and dividing beloved, tolerated, and feared kids alike into factions for neighborhood-wide hide-and-seek operations.

The Age of Jenny Jones makeovers was a helluva time.

Recently, on a trip back to 1998, Thurston and I agreed on the provenance of the most ridiculous, most slaviest of our childhood exploits, Hot Peas & Butter.

I’m assuming 70-something percent of y’all have no idea what the fuck Hot Peas & Butter is, so lemme explain.

During “Hot Peas and Butter” — a leisure activity once enjoyed immensely by reputable Atlanta wordsmith and fervent advocate for the trap lifestyle Tip Harris and the products of past romantic overtures with his partner in matrimony — when you find a hidden belt, you’re allowed to beat the shit out of whomever you encounter en route to the base. If you’re in luck, you’ll corner your least favorite neighborhood kid and watch them squirm to avoid a lashing. Occasionally belts are dropped and folks get to scrapping. Agreeing to play meant being down to take a beat down in the name of fun. Some kids ran back around the house, others hopped the fence to escape to freedom.

Harriett Tubman would be so proud.

Anyway…

“It was those damn Crouses.”

The Crouses are from “the country,” up yonder in Radford and New River, Virginia. I share a last name with their mama’s side of the family. I don’t know. Their house and yard was a frequent site for our juvenile fuckery.

One time, after a contentious round of “Bubblegum, Bubblegum in a dish…,” Omar, my neighbor’s youngest brother, was chosen to be it. The rest of us goofed around by the big tree in Santana’s front yard as Omar did his thing out of our sight in the backyard. The gate burst open and he summoned us past the truck in which Mr. Crouse made and sold some of the best fish sammiches i have eaten in my 32.6 years of Blackness to the war zone, watching us spread out, surveying and searching behind trees, inside the shed, beside fences, on clothes lines.

“You’re cold…you’re getting colder!” as someone approached a picnic table or waded through a thick patch of grass.

A few of us convened upon their patio, nervously looking inside cooIers and peeking around the side of the house.

“You’re getting warmer…” from Omar across the yard. Panic swept across the dancerie. Weaker foes backed away from the drama, inching towards safety.

“Bitch kids” is what we called that type.

The ancestors told me the prize was inside the grill, but I played it cool. I fumbled around by the sliding door, looking on the side of the house, keeping my third eye on my immediate targets.

“You’re getting hotter!”

I lunged towards the grill, lifted its cover, and there it was. A long leather belt with a big silver buckle. Apparently, you’re supposed to yell out “Hot peas and butter, come get your supper!” but we were far too cool for that shit. I grabbed that motherfucker, spun around and there he was, the new kid who could never have company when his parents weren’t home without a lengthy logistical debate via house phone, likely because their house smelled like potpourri and dumpster juice-infused pot liquor, Kaymonn.

Kaymonn beat me one too many times in Goldeneye and I didn’t fully trust that nigga. This was my time. He took off running. I swung with the power of 1001 disenfranchised ancestors with each strike, landing two or three blessed blows. Amen.

If we had more initiative, we would’ve taken our Ass-Whippin’ Nigglet act up the road to Colonial Williamsburg to get work as surly young field niggers in their live slavery exhibits over the summer. Next time.

We played and beat the hell out of each other for a few weeks, carrying out our overseer wishes and plantation dreams upon one another up until Santana’s younger brother, a budding tattletale, got hit in the face with the belt buckle and their mom forbade us from playing ever again.

End.

Alex Hardy

Alexander Hardy is the dance captain for Saint Damita Jo Jackson's Royal Army. He is a writer who escaped Hampton, Virginia and is now based in Panama City, Panama. There, he runs The Colored Boy, and consumes copious amounts of chicken. He has written for EBONY.com, CNN, Gawker, and Huffington Post among other outlets. Alexander can likely be found daydreaming about his next meal or Blacking It Up on someone's dance floor. He also doesn't believe in snow or Delaware. Read more from Alex at www.thecoloredboy.com

  • Tonis

    I had to repost because I forgot I used a bad word so disqus sent me to time out.

    Like… I’m not even sure what I just read, but I know I enjoyed the hayle out of reading it.

    Ahh… good times. We didn’t beat each other when playing, most likely because I lived in a white neighborhood so #problems, but i remember the days of summer and hide and seek so well. Nowadays my lil niglet and his crew refuses to step foot outside in the summer. I don’t push it because it’s true when they complain that the heat index every day reaches a hunnid, bu they don’t know what they missing though

  • cdj

    I never heard of that game. I might have played it if it was a thing where I grew up. Instead, my friends and I staged semi violent re-enactments of The Miracle Worker.

    • Tonis

      Violent? With poor lil Hellen Keller? How?

      • cdj

        They showed us the movie in 2nd grade. Our big takeaway was that Helens teacher was mean. So someone would be Helen, someone else Teacher, then the rest would be Helens mother and sisters. We would make up reasons that “Helen” was bad, and we would hit her, mush her, or hit her with rolled up magazines. “Helen” could hit back, but your eyes had to be closed.

        We really needed adult supervision.

        • Kas

          What in all the fucks. Savages

          • cdj

            I know. Luckily we were small, so no one got too hurt.

            • Kas

              *too*

              • cdj

                Shut up.

          • Kat

            Her eyes had to be closed. This was first form bullying

            • cdj

              I prefer to think that we were being historically accurate ;-)

              All of us got socked by a “Helen” at one time or another. The trick to being Helen was to move erratically and do windmill like motions. Or grab someone who was hitting you and try to take them down.

        • MsCee

          I don’t know if I should crack tf up laughing or call your local police station to let them know there may be disabled people being held captive and beaten against their will. Lol

          • cdj

            It’s okay! We eventually stopped when this frail girl wanted to play and we made her be Helen. She told on us. Then we went back to normal stuff like tag, after getting in a bunch of trouble.

        • TeeGeeColor

          Lol I don’t even get how y’all came up with that. I was thinking y’all were being like CIA Annie and water boarding Helen or something

          • cdj

            That’s what happens when you don’t give kids recess:-) They used to keep us indoors in winter when it got super cold.

        • Jae Starz

          Well damb! lol

        • Kat

          Huh? Jeebus…

        • MissRosé

          Oh my…I was (read: still am) a wuss so I didn’t participate in anything that involved hitting me. I mean I would play but then change the rules if I ever became “it”…fun times.

          • cdj

            Ahhh! Rule Changer! Were you also a sore loser? Be honest:-) My childhood friend was good for changing the rules when she was losing.

            • MissRosé

              I am…I mean was…. :)

              • cdj

                Lol!

        • siante

          Just a tad Lord of the Flies-ish

        • Simms~

          I am all together too entertained by this. I might need help.

          • cdj

            We had a blast. We were just roughousing, but the drama and backstory leading up to it was pretty wicked :-)

        • 44isnojoke

          Why am I laughing at *your eyes had to closed* my word that’s funny!!!

        • MsSula

          What?? *Laughs nervously*

    • cysinblack

      Laughs.

  • Giantstepp

    Interesting. I am significantly older than you, but your early childhood sounds very similar to mine from the 70’s in DC. I will be 47 in August. We played those games too, and hearing you mention “Hot Peas & butter” immediately took me back to 1975-ish. Thanks.

  • cysinblack

    Only time I ever played with a belt is when I grabbed it from my dad before he used it on me.

    • cdj

      Yikes! How did that one end?

      • Kas

        Cy is actually a ghost

        • cysinblack

          You seen that I turn caramel in the summer.

          • Hadassah

            Butterscotch, no?

      • cysinblack

        My daddy is no James Evans so it was a regular whooping that felt slightly longer than usual for the grab.

  • Hsquared

    Never heard of it. Our most violent game was “War” where you divide up into teams and throw rocks at each other. Good clean painful fun.

    • Kas

      Almost every house in our neighbors had at least one walnut tree. Before they ripened so still had a heavy green husk on them . . . Man the battles we had. Welts and knots everywhere!

    • Diego Duarte

      We used to play that game until a kid (me) took a rock to the head and got a T-shaped scar in the back of the head for life..

    • siante

      lol!

    • miss t-lee

      We used to throw pears.

  • Just Tree

    great read… takes me back to summer time as a child and all the country-fied,made up, chase games we played

  • Skegeeaces

    So thaaaaat’s what they were doing in that scene in “Crooklyn”?!!!

  • Kat

    Bruh. What in the entire h*ll. I’m glad we wasn’t friends. Here I thought “Hide and go get it” was bad. At least we wasn’t beating each other.

  • Does this site and the comments load very slowly for everybody else? Ioneem wanna read no more!!

    • Jae Starz

      Yes! It’s annoying me. I’ve had to close the tab and come back quite a few times.

    • VeronicaMars

      It freezes on me

    • Diego Duarte

      At times it happens, when Disqus isn’t feeling up to it.

    • Hammster

      I thought it was me. Yes, this happens to me daily.

  • Jae Starz

    Aww Jenny Jones makeovers! I miss that show. That was the best part of staying home from school and summer vacations.

    • miss t-lee

      Yes. Her, Donahue, Ricki Lake, Sally.

      • Jae Starz

        Ricki was the isht. All her “hot firemen” shows. LOL

        • miss t-lee

          Loved Ricki! :)

          • BrothasKeeper

            Morton Downey Jr.

            • miss t-lee

              Oh man. I remember my parents watching him.

            • esa

              sooo 80s

            • Mochasister

              Him and that damn cigarette! I still remember that free for all that broke out on the Geraldo Rivera show. Man, I about died when that Black man wrapped his hands around the white boy’s neck. I can still see that chair flying across the room before Geraldo’s nose stopped it…

      • Anybody remember Richard Bey? I brought him up the other day and nobody could seem to corroborate my memories. I know I didn’t make him up lol

        • Jae Starz

          “Where do they find these people?!” Definitely watched more than my fair share of Richard Bey.

        • miss t-lee

          Yes. I remember the sound effects more than anything…lol

          • RaeRae

            You beat me to it!!! Hmmm…you’re from H-Town, I’m from H-Town…do we know each other? LOL!!!

            • miss t-lee

              LOL
              I live in Austin, by way of San Marcos.

      • I remember 2 Live Crew used to be on Donahue all of the time.

        • miss t-lee

          Some really good discussions were on Donahue.

          • Mochasister

            Donahue was the man till Oprah knocked him off of the daytime throne.

    • VeronicaMars

      YESSSSS!

    • TeeGeeColor

      I liked Maury before he went paternity testing 24/7

      • Jae Starz

        When he used to have D West with the tight sweater vests and the overweight babies!

        • TeeGeeColor

          Omg yessss i remember those huge kids!!

      • miss t-lee

        Yup. He actually used to have a decent show at one point.

        • TeeGeeColor

          Don’t even get me started on montel williams too

          • miss t-lee

            oh I’d actually forgot his show for a sec, since he’s all mr. payday loan now.

      • VeronicaMars

        The “I used to be a nerd, now I’m hot” shows used to get me.

        • siante

          it gave nerds hope

      • Aintnuthinwrongwitcornbread

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