Man, it’s all gravy.” “I thought you ordered an enchilada,” I pointed out. Then I remembered who I was eating lunch with.
Minister Fred is a Christian rap and hip-hop artist, and the average Caucasian male such as myself needs an urban slang dictionary to keep up with him. “Gravy,” as I later learned, is “happiness” in urban slang. I do intend to go for something tastier than happiness on my next helping of mashed potatoes, however.
Fred used to live in New Orleans. Then his house got washed away, compliments of Hurricane Katrina. I picture him standing on his rooftop, rapping away:
“Wind and da rain
Is bein’ a pain.
If I’da wanted this gravy,
I’da joined the Navy.”
The average Caucasian male such as myself has much to learn about rap music.
“So,” I said, “Fred, are you still staying in an evacuee shelter?” I didn’t know the slang words for “evacuee” or “shelter,” so I crossed my fingers, hoping that somehow he’d manage to grasp the basic meaning of my question.
Minister Fred tossed some frijoles down the hatch and then answered, fortunately after he swallowed.
“I’m in a crib now.”
My eyes grew wide. What? I thought in disbelief. The man is 38 years old, and he’s sleeping in a baby’s bed?
Then I remembered who I was eating lunch with. A crib must be a house, I realized.
“So, does your crib have a garage?” I asked.
Minister Fred gave me a weird look. “Why would a baby bed have a garage?”
He didn’t really say that. Actually, I don’t know what he said, because I don’t speak urbanese and I didn’t have a slang dictionary with me.
Toward the end of our meal Minister Fred told me about his plans for the Guide magazines we’d be sending him.
“I be takin’ ’em on the block wid me.”
Think, Randy, think, I told myself. If you were a hip and cool guy, what would the “block” be?
Then, just like I’d been slapped in the face with a fresh tuna fish, I got it. I’ll bet Minister Fred is going to get a big chunk of ice, stand up on it, start rapping, and hand out Guide magazines to passersby! The guy is brilliant! That’s probably how he’s able to do all those body contortions while he’s rapping—his feet are freezing and he can’t stand still!
“That’s really cool,” I told the rapper, adding, “It fills me with gravy.”
Just then Minister Fred went into a contortion. I couldn’t quite hear the lyrics to his rap. In fact, he seemed to be suffering from a sudden case of Uncontrollable Laughter Syndrome, which was probably inhibiting his creativity, so I may not have missed much.
It turns out that the “block” is a residential area in the city. I should have figured that out, but it seemed too logical.
Later that day, as Minister Fred was preparing to head back to his crib, he grabbed me and hugged me to his chest. “It’s all love,” he said to me.
Wait a minute, I thought. Something must be wrong—I think I know what he’s talking about!
Then I realized something very important: brotherly love can be understood in any language.
“Yeah, Minister Fred,” I said, “it’s all love.”
I hugged him back, and then it was all gravy.