“You’ve got to be making this stuff up,” Sam added still laughing. Offended, Charlie yelled for Sue. A few seconds later the petite woman’s shiny dark head popped out of the kitchen.
“Sue what did we use to call the honeybees when I first started making them at USM.”
“Dick on a Stick,” Sue yelled back before ducking back in the kitchen. Charlie raised her eyebrows at the two stunned men. Shaking his head in disbelief, Rob reset the camera before hitting the record button again. Once again, the little red light came on and Charlie continued with her story.
“So, as I was saying the Honeybees initially were called Dick on A Stick mainly because of their, you know, phallus shape, and the cream- well, you get the picture. Now this was not Grand’s name this was something I came up with to sell them. You know how raunchy college kids can get especially late at night when they’re looking for something to get into. Everyone on campus loved the naughtiness of it, but, of course, as the treats gained a more shall we say, “off campus crowd appeal” the name became a problem. No matter how progressive a lot of people claim to be they don’t appreciate having to ask for an order of dicks on a stick. The imagery is kind of hard to get over. The college crowd didn’t mind but by then the non-college crowd was growing even quicker especially when I changed the name. Grand couldn’t stand the name either, so you know, got to do what granny says. Plus, Cyndi, my PR person, although back then she ain’t have no title. But it was her idea that if we wanted this thing to grow, we had to give it a more family friendly name. That’s when I decided to call them honeybees, in homage to my Grand, of course. The Southern Fried moniker, I thought, gave them a regional appeal, but it’s kind of taken on a life of its own. We, meaning my staff, all consider ourselves Southern Fried Honeybees. That really gave Cyndy something to work with too. She stepped it up big time with branding once I got set on a name. She slapped a honeybee on everything she could. So, with her marketing, and my cooking it became a big hit.”
“What about Sue?”
“Oh, Sue,” Charlie laughed, “she’s the brawn of the deal.” The men laughed considering the barely five-foot woman that had stepped out earlier. “No seriously, Sue may be small but she’s mighty. Sue makes sure we have what we need with all the buildings, contracts. And if we need some folks smacked around verbally to get them, in line, we send Sue in. If she were two feet taller and had a few more pounds on her she could probably do it for real too. Don’t get it twisted, Sue about that life.”
“I understand where the honeybee name came from, but what does southern fried mean?”
“Means you’re a little crazy, just a little nuts, and a lot weird, but it’s all love. You know like: that boy is southern fried as hell, but he’s still good people. That’s what southern fried means. It’s like crazy, but harmless crazy. You know us Southerners, we’re all a little southern fried, or touched in the head as my Grand used to say something to do with the heat and hurricanes you know. Not dumb, just different. I mean you got to be to live down here. Mississippi ain’t for the faint of heart, lord no.”
You, I Like is a sweet soulful coming-of-age story. Set to a bold 80s R&B soundtrack, You, I Like begins in 1986 when privileged 17-year-old Indy is unexpectantly sent down south for the summer to stay with Mississippi relatives. Initially upset, Indy’s attitude changes when she meets crush-worthy Tristan.
Tristan works in her uncle’s auto shop and doesn’t want to jeopardize his job by dating the boss’ niece. The stakes increase when cousin Alyssa recruits Indy as lead singer in her band not knowing the girl is “rhythmically challenged”. Determined to win the annual talent show, Alyssa begs her guitarist, Tristan, to teach Indy how to rule the stage forcing the two to spend time together. Tristan is faced with a dilemma: continue to deny his feelings or accept that Indy’s the one he likes regardless of the consequences. As Indy gains confidence on stage, will she keep waiting for Tristan to pick her, or will she take the lead and make her own pick?
It was bad. Unlike Run DMC it was bad meaning bad, not bad meaning good. The untimely demise of my life as I knew it occurred on June 4, 1986 at 1:11am. Two days later and me sitting in some old dilapidated bus station/welcome center hundreds of miles away from home confirmed it basically. Further proof of my massive fall from grace? A rusted out sign surrounded by a bunch of gigantic white magnolias. The sign read: Welcome to Biloxi, Mississippi.
As soon as I stepped off the bus’s metal stairs I felt assaulted. It was like I’d been dropped into this weird technicolor nightmare. I felt like Alice after she fell down the rabbit hole but instead of Wonderland, I woke up in Mississippi. Maybe my sugar was low, I don’t know, but I swear the sun seemed yellower and the sky bluer and bigger. There was something to look at everywhere, strange shaped buildings and even stranger shaped people, and everything was so-damn-bright! It was stuff I’d seen before, I hadn’t gone crazy, but here it all seemed different and…strange. Even the voluminous bunches of pink azaleas surrounding the bus station seemed weirdly more vibrant, alive somehow. It felt alien, and I hated it. All of it. Even the smell was strange. It was this strong perfumy mix of scents that made me aware of every inhalation. Whatever it was, it combined with an overpowering smell of freshly cut grass, which back home I usually loved. However, here I resented every single breath. I hated the awareness it made me feel, forcing me to be present. I wasn’t used to that. I didn’t want to be aware of every little thing. It was Mississippi after all.
Nina Simone said it best, Mississippi Goddamn! I knew too much and what I knew was too much to take. I was a Black girl and from everything I knew they didn’t like us down here. So, yeah, I wanted nothing to do with anything down south and Biloxi, Mississippi was about as south as you could get without getting on a boat.
I was the last person off the bus, and that was only because the driver turned the damn engine off. Not wanting to die of heat stroke forced me out. It was hot outside too, but at least off the bus there was an occasional breeze. The sweet stench it carried made me want to scream, but unfortunately, a girl had to breathe. So yeah, day one and my parent’s mission to make my life miserable had been accomplished.
Blessed and bougie- that was me. Was. Because all of that was in the past now.
I’d cry if I thought anyone would care, but I knew better. Nobody cared. My life back in New York as I knew it, was over and I had no choice but to mourn its loss all alone. On a bench.
At a bus station.
Written by Sonja Renee, You, I Like is set to be released in 2022. Follow author’s Twitter: YouILike11 for future release date and more info.