“Numbers always tell us a story.”
That’s a Tipton family motto. Whitney, my mother, is an entrepreneur, and she lives by that motto twenty-four, seven. She tells my older brother and me that we must incorporate numbers into our lives at all times. No matter what profession we pursue, numbers will infiltrate our lives, and my mother swears by it.
I don’t blame her. She had a pretty rough life. By that, I’m talking about two ex-husbands and numerous deadbeat boyfriends.
My mother was just seventeen, like me, when her first husband died. She says Cancer dragged him by his ankles to an early grave. At least that’s the story my mother like to tell.
AT and I Googled him, and we found out that he was an Accountant who worked with a local mob and was dragged from a motel room and disappeared forever. Good for my mother, I say. He was caught cheating on his newly married youthful wife and embezzling from the filthy hand that feeds him.
When we found out the truth about mom’s first husband; AT teases mom relentlessly and tells her that he could still be alive like Elvis or Tupac. Apparently, mother didn’t learn her lesson and a year before she was even legal enough to drink she married another hustler.
AT’s daddy was a celebrated con artist, born in a small town in U.S. Virgin Islands but grew up building pyramid schemes. He was known as Slick Rick Cod. He made the news back in the days before Bernie Madoff’s majestic “David Copperfield-worthy” trick put small-time tricksters to shame.
AT’s daddy’s unusual death was a mystery. Nobody cared to investigate the actual cause of death. Word on the street was my mother poisoned him.
My mother didn’t give a damn.
She was more worried that AT couldn’t celebrate his first birthday because of his father’s funeral taking precedence. Mother and AT talk about that all the freaking time, like not celebrating his 1st birthday was the highlight of his life. It isn’t.
Our lives revolve around my older brother, Antwone, because he plays professional basketball here in São Paulo, Brazil. I call him AT, but everyone calls him ‘Twone. And mom is his manager.
I’m the resident misfit of the family. I hate the word “black sheep,” because I’m no sheep, I’m a freaking wolf.
I, Quincy, also known as Q-Tip, play second string to my older brother.
It’s crazy how his nickname’s an amalgamation of two and one, and mine is used to clean earwax. But Antwone claims he calls me Q-Tip because of a famous rapper from “A Tribe Called Quest.” I don’t believe him though, not because I dig British Rock and not really into Rap. I think he’s just trying to get even because he resents mom for not standing her ground and spelling his name the right way, like how French people spell it, Antoine.
Despite being an athletic six-foot-five basketball player, Antwone can be a
little drama queen like “Marie Antoinette.”
The ostentatious, curvy but medically-hand-carved, faux tanned woman is in her mid-30s, and she rolls her eyes at me. “Why Brazil? I seen ‘Twone play and he’s really good with that basketball thing. The way he bounces and shoots. He is really good.” She licks her upper lip, playfully bites her lower lip and takes a deep breath, “Um..he definitely knows how to shoot.”
The woman apparently favors soccer and likes her barbeque well done, an authentic Brazilian for sure. I want to roll my eyes, too, but I can’t; she’s a prospective customer, and I have to be professional. I’ll just overcharge her on her monthly gym membership and upsell the hell out of her.
Don’t think she’s going to notice; she’s a basic bitch.
So I just smile and respond, “Well, Antwone wants to be a big fish in a small pond, ya know?”
She rolls her eyes again at me and snickers. “Um…tell me more about ‘Twone’s manager. Why Whitney Tipton? Who is she?”
This woman is getting on my nerves. The gym is empty. It’s only her and me, but I still look around, and I glance at the cameras. I smile at her again as I keep my cool and I reply, “Whitney Tipton, my mother, is a competent manager. She’s freaking awesome. My mother invests Antwone’s earnings wisely. This gym. The one that you wanna be a member of, my mother built this.”
She crosses her arms and lifts her eyebrow like “The Rock,” and says, “So, you supposed to be the help or somethin’, huh?”
As much as I want to get mad at her, she’s right. I never felt part of the team. Though my mother continually preaches, “All for one, and one for all,” it takes a rude woman for me to realize that I’m never going to be a part of their team.
“Nah, lady. I ain’t the help, a’ight?”
Her eyes pop. I don’t know why I channeled my deadbeat dad’s inner voice. She couldn’t believe it. I can’t fathom it either. She slams her hand on the counter. “Doesn’t matter if you’re a partner. Give me a tour. Now!”
My eyes pop. The blood’s rushing straight to my head. The veins on my forehead are popping. I’m furious I tell you. “No, Miss. I’m not going to give you a tour. Our membership manager has left for the day. But if you come back tomorrow, I’ll let him know…”
She wags her pointer finger in my mug. “You effing Millennials. You lazy ones. You never going to be somebody. I am famous. You? You forever going to be help. Remember that. Forever! You never going to be somebody. Because your generation don’t work hard. Entitled. Lazy. You’re gonna always be a help!”
I couldn’t believe my ears, and I want to mention her grammatically flawed English. But I’m afraid she’s going to point out the fact that I’m in Brazil and I don’t even speak Brazilian. I mean, Portuguese.
She keeps wagging her pointer finger at me. With rapid-fire Portuguese, she keeps going and going. I’m glad she’s speaking a different language because I’m about to blow up like a freaking volcano anytime now.
“The hell’s wrong with you Annoying Orange Woman! Get out!” I spewed hot lava on her. I burned her.
I mean, she’s red. Flaming red. Like her blood’s seeping out of her skin washing off the spray tan.
She huffs and puffs. And I gesture to the exit. “Out!” I yelled. She gives me the bird and cusses in Portuguese. And I couldn’t help but stare at her genetically-modified rear bumper as she storms out of our gym.
My phone rings. I stare at my phone, and it’s a FaceTime call from my sweet mother.
I clear my throat, and I answer. “Hey, mom. Just getting ready to close the gym. Be home soon.”
“Quincy. Did Mrs. Dos Santos drop by the gym?” asks my loving mother.
I narrow my eyes. “What does Mrs. Dos Santos look like, mom?”
“She’s kind of a big woman. Maybe in her late fifties. Why, Quince?”
“Oh, nothing, mom. There was this crazy lady. She was cussing me out and stuff. So effing rude, ya know?”
“What does she look like?”
I look away from the phone, trying to retrieve the mental picture of her face, but all I can remember is her crazy colossal behind. Also, my mother fired me before for flirting with our hot trainers and clients, so I am choosing the right words to say.
“Um…she’s kinda, you know, like had some work done. She’s a’ight, I guess. If you’re into the fake tan variety.”
My mother raises her voice, “Is she pretty, Quince? For a thirty-year-old?”
“Well, she’s no Adriana Lima. Don’t worry, mom. I kicked her crazy fake ass out.”
My mom’s eyes are about to pop-out its sockets. Then, she yells, “That’s Lana Ribiero, you idiot!”
I snicker. “So? Who the hell is she anyway?”
“Me and ‘Twone talk about her all the time. Aren’t you paying attention to our stories? She’s the basketball team owner’s mistress. He’s going to marry her as soon as he finalizes his divorce.”
I rub my face with my palm. I want to tell my mother that my brother is sleeping with the mistress as well, but I know my mom would not believe me. “Well. I kicked her out. I can’t take that back.”
“Go home now! You hear me. Now! And you’re FIRED!”
My mother ends the call. I could care less about my job anyway. I’m only working here so I could save money and go back to Seattle. My true home. I can’t wait to go back and pursue my passion for music. I have nothing to look forward to here.
I get a TEXT from my mother: I HAVE UR PASSPORT. UR NOT GOING BACK HOME.