Amy and I just returned from a 4 day getaway weekend to San Diego (thank you so much to the Metzlers for their generosity and hospitality…it was an incredible time) and on our way down we made a quick bathroom stop at a Starbucks in Long Beach. As we walked in, we passed some homeless teens waiting at a bus stop. I heard one of them murmur something at me as we went by. We went into Starbucks, did our thang, and as we came out, the guy that murmured at me said something much louder this time (I can’t say clearer though), he said (I think), “Hey broskies, can I have ur doo?” My eyes quickly darted at Amy then back to the guy, “My what?”. He pointed to my jeans and said, “Ur doo. U know like yer doo rag, dood!” I’ve lived in Southern Cali long enough now to be able to understand his dialect. I realized that he wanted the bandana that was in my back pocket.
I started carrying a grey bandana with me everywhere as a little thing to remind me of Brain Cancer awareness and if anybody asked me about it, I could do my job of spreading awareness by telling them why I wear it. This was my first time I actually had a chance to talk about it, but before I could say anything to this guy, I had to know why he wanted it (I don’t know…maybe he wanted to make a molotov cocktail with it or something…sorry, I’ve watched too many movies), so I asked him,” Why do you want it?”. He responded, “My shtank man!” I looked at Amy, then to him, then to everyone he was with, “Your skank?”. He started rubbing his neck, “My shtank! U know man like for the schwet (sweat) on my nick (neck), dood!” I nodded because I understood that he wanted to wear it around his neck to protect himself from the sun. I hesitated for a second because I felt torn, in my head I thought, “But, this is my awareness bandana, I can’t just give it to sum random dood (some random dude)”, but then in the “Non-SoCal” speaking part of my head, I thought “This is exactly why I wear the bandana in the first place…here’s a perfect opportunity to spread awareness.” I took the bandana out of my pocket and said, “I’m giving this to you on one condition.” He looked up at me with a look saying, “okay, give me a lecture about how I should get a job….let’s just get it over with.” I held it up and said, “I carry this around because I have Brain Cancer, I have it as a way to help spread awareness, so if I give it to you, you have to promise to do the same. You have to tell people about Brain Cancer. Tell people that the guy who gave it to you had Brain Cancer and the rest of you need to get grey bandanas as well. The word needs to get out, okay?” The guy smiled and the rest of them nodded in compliance. As I handed it to him, it felt like I was giving him my special “blanky” (blanket), but as I walked away, I realized that the bandana was being used for what it’s meant for (to help this guy keep cool during hot days and wipe his nose when needed), and I was just wearing it as a fashion accessory. This guy was using it for the way it was designed when I was trying to make it something more than it was. When that thought came to me, it gave me chills, and I smiled knowing that not only was it now being used for it’s intent but it was also doing what I wanted it to do in the first place which was spread awareness (metaphors everywhere, right?). As we got in the car, I turned to Amy and asked,”Stank or Skank?” Amy turned the car on, “I thought he said shtank.” I pondered this a little longer, “You sure?” Amy smirked, “There was definitely a “shhh” sound to it.” I then smelled my “schwety” armpits and said, “Well, whatever he called it, I definitely have it going on as well.”
Getting my shtank on,