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

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

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

  • miss t-lee

    You took me back talking about “bubblegum, bubblegum in a dish.” Throwback!
    My summers were spent at my grandparents who lived 25 and 40 miles away from us. Running barefoot on gravel roads, at the swimming pool all day everyday, on adventures with my grandfather to the rural backroads where our extended family lived. Sitting on the toolbox in his pickup while he flew down country roads. Playin’ n*gga knock, red light green light, hide and seek, mother may I? Miss Mary Mack, etc.
    Awww. memories

    • siante

      I know all of these except for “n*gga knock”?

      • Yay Radley

        It’s easy to explain…ever had a UPS delivery?

        • siante

          I glanced at the profile pic & thought you were a white person tryna explain n*gga knock to me lol- threw me off for a second!

          • Yay Radley

            HA! Wow. Yeaaaahh…I should probably change that. lol

        • miss t-lee

          THIS IS SO ACCURATE!!!!

        • Dtown_bougie

          I had to think about this, and when i figured it out. I cackled

      • miss t-lee

        You just knock on someone’s door and run off.
        I wouldn’t suggest kids play it these days with all these trigger happy folks running around.

        • Jae Starz

          Omg! I remember playing this in junior high school. My dumb friend stood there. We had to motion for her to run. I never flew down a flight of stairs so quickly in my life.

          • miss t-lee

            HAHAHAH!
            She was gonna get y’all caught up!

        • siante

          Yeah, after reading this I’m thinking it’s a good thing that game has kinda faded to black. It’s not the same world it used to be….

          • miss t-lee

            Definitely not.

        • MsSula

          We used to play that. Kids do the dumbest thing, my god. Loll.

          • miss t-lee

            Definitely…lol.

    • dtown_bougie

      I was raised in the burbs, i didn’t hear N knocking til like High school. We always called it doorbell ditching (?) or something like that.

      • miss t-lee

        LOL
        I’ve also heard it called “ding, dong, ditch”, but we always used the other name…lol

    • Mochasister

      I remember the bubblegum chant. We also did one that went like, “my mother hit your mother. What color was the blood?”

  • VeronicaMars

    Whoa.
    That is a game I could not imagine playing as a kid.

  • VeronicaMars

    Anyway, we used to play all the normal games kids in the 90s would play. Dodgeball, Tag, Mother May I, and there was a ditch in the back of the mailbox area in our neighborhood and we would jump it. I’m jumped it one day before school, and I didn’t make it over.

    • BrothasKeeper

      Aw damn! In your school clothes, too?

      • VeronicaMars

        Yep!

  • MissRosé

    Speaking of games…can we talk about THESE emails?

    • Diego Duarte

      Why would you bother making yourself miserable knowing full well that the FBI isn’t going to do anything about it and, even if Trump murders someone down the street in broad daylight, Mitch McConnell is simply not going to let any impeachment procedure through?

      • MissRosé

        <—Eternal optimist. It's clear now, right? no? a little bit?

        • Diego Duarte

          You know the wonderful thing about pessimism? I’m constantly proven right or otherwise pleasantly surprised.

      • Kas

        This!

      • siante

        yeah, I don’t even bother stressing myself over it.

    • Brooklyn_Bruin

      There is no upside here, none. The Right is firmly in control.

  • Diego Duarte

    “Kaymonn beat me one too many times in Goldeneye and I didn’t fully trust that nigg*.”

    If he picked Oddjob then every one of those lashes was well-deserved.

  • JulianWithTheRedCorvette

    I was about to comment on the idiocy of playing a game where the point is to get your @zz beat with a belt until I remembered how we all used to slapbox.

  • Diego Duarte

    My brother and I had the best childhood ever on account of the haunted and abandoned house next door. We would gain access by climbing to the roof of our house and then over the wall and into that house. It was helIa creepy and cool. Also earned us and our friends many, many punishments from my mom.

    It used to be a thing until my brother, Alvaro, fell from the roof and flat on his stomach. We panicked and bandaged him like a mummy as best we could. Still our mom noticed and we were pretty much grounded for a whole month.

    • Mochasister

      That sounds like something I would have done as a kid.

  • JulianWithTheRedCorvette

    At least I finally know what “Hot Peas & Butter” is.

    For the longest time it was just a weird line Buckshot said in Crooklyn Dodgers.

    • cysinblack

      Hot Peas & Butter is a line heard repeatedly in some R&B and hip hop songs. Thinking MC Lyte has one.

      • 44isnojoke

        Keep on Keepin On feat Xscape

        • cysinblack

          And whatever the name of that Lyte song she did for Sunset Park.

          • 44isnojoke

            That’s the name of it.

    • I only heard of it courtesy of Buckshot and my sisters.

  • siante

    Wow, I never heard of kids dolin’ out whoopin’s to each other for fun???? The most painful game we played growing up was punch buggy no punch back & I’m not ashamed to admit I still play it sometimes :)

    • VeronicaMars

      we used to play a game called ‘BB’.

      • siante

        What is that?

        • BJenks

          If you said any word that began with ‘B’ and didn’t follow it up by saying ‘BB’, then cats get to punch you until you did.

          • siante

            That’s savage! lol

            • BJenks

              Oh it was. And you had to get jumped in and out of the game. I remember one time in HS we had a bunch of folk playing and the game went on all day. Folks was forgetting about the game and getting tagged up.

              • siante

                That’s the worst, when you move on from the game & get caught by surprise from somebody who’s still playing lol

      • BJenks

        BB was a staple. Sometimes it went by Batman. Or Superman if we wanted to use ‘S’ words instead.

    • BrothasKeeper

      “That’s my car!”

      • miss t-lee

        Another classic.

    • miss t-lee

      Punch buggy would cause fights for real.

  • BJenks

    Was aware but never played “Hot Peas & Butter” but we had our fair share of dangerous games. I remember at one point we would have “Wars” where we would just pick sides and throw rocks at each other. Surprisingly, no one ever got hurt….to my recollection.

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