Young Emanuel Finney arrived at the park and ran over to the first kid he saw. “Hi! I’m Emanuel!”
The boy was clearly not used to such assertive greetings. “Uhhh…hi.”
“What your name?”
“Nice to meet you, Arron,” Emanuel said and extended his hand to his new friend.
Arron stood back a little and raised his eyebrow. He quickly shook Emanuel’s hand and yanked his away. “You’re weird,” he said.
“Uncle Antoine says a man should always greet people with a handshake. It shows respect!”
“You and your uncle are weird.”
“Uncle Antoine says all the best people are weird.”
“My dad is a doctor and says you should never shake people hands because of germs and disease. He says if you don’t wash your hands enough you could get sick and die!”
Emanuel thought it was funny that Arron actually believed that. He didn’t know anything about doctors, but he trusted his mother who was a neat freak and taught him everything about cleanliness.
“Hey! Do you want to play on the monkey bars with me?”
“Nah,” Arron said. “My mom said they’re too dangerous.”
“She said I could fall off and break my arm…or fall on my head and die!”
This tickled Emanuel a great deal and he laughed out loud—very loud.
“What’s so funny,” Arron asked with offense in his voice.
“Your parents! All their stories end with you dying. Come on,” he said and started up the monkey bars. “I’ll show you how to do it just like my Uncle Antoine showed me!”
“I can’t,” Arron said. “My mom won’t let me!”
“But she’s not here. I won’t let you fall down. I promise!”
“Just watch! I’ll show ya.” Emanuel climbed up the rungs and began to swing from bar to bar with ease. “See? It’s easy! Uncle Antoine says to never look down.”
Arron watched Emanuel zip back and forth for a few rounds and felt that it didn’t look that bad.
“Are you ready to try? Uncle Antoine says you shouldn’t knock it unless you try it.”
“I guess.” Arron trudged to the other side of the monkey bars and climbed up slowly as Emanuel made his way back to his starting point. He looked scared. “I shouldn’t be doing this. My mom is going to kill me if she finds out!”
“If you don’t fall down, I think she’ll be proud. Uncle Antoine says I should always do things that make my mama proud.”
Just then, a young man walked up them and joined their conversation. “Hey lil’ dude,” he said to Emanuel. “Looks like you two are ‘bout to showdown!”
“Hi Uncle Antoine!”
“Is this your new friend,” Antoine asked.
“Yeah. This is Arron.”
“He looks scared.”
“I was showing him how to swing like you showed me! His mom doesn’t let him play on the monkey bars.”
“Ohhhhh, I see. I’ve got an idea,” Antoine said. “What if you guys swung together? Maybe he would feel more comfortable.”
“That’s a good idea, Uncle Antoine!”
“Why don’t you come down and join Emanuel over here, Arron?”
“Ok,” Arron said. He climbed down a lot quicker than he climbed up and joined Emanuel on the other side.
“Are you ok,” Emanuel asked.
“Yeah…I’m good,” Arron said.
“Ok. Let’s go!”
And with that, Emanuel took off with Arron just behind him. The first swing was the scariest, and he didn’t like the feeling of his feet not touching the ground. But on the second swing, he began to think it was fun.
“Go Arron! Go Arron,” Antoine cheered.
“I’m doing it! I’m doing it!”