The Adventures of Stoop Kid & His Lonely Little Life
I would like to first get out of the way that this article has nothing to do with the character from the hit childrens TV show “Hey Arnold” nor is this intended to exploit anyone. This is simply me observing the world around me and writing about it.
I moved to a place on Wealthy St a few months ago, and needless to say, it isn’t exactly a neighborhood. Or at least in the classic sense of the word. People live on this street, but there is no sense of home, no parks, and nothing for kids to do. In fact there’s only one kid on my block, and he spends his days sitting on a stoop. I do not know his name, but he is approx. 12 years old, African American, a shade over 160 pounds and extremely sad. In fact, the way his face is structured, it appears that he is always sad. This is the fallacy of being an obese child. You never see one that appears to be happy. Except me; I was the obese kid that always appeared to be on drugs…but also unhappy.
I first encountered Stoop Kid in late August. I was walking to the market to buy a 40 and most likely cigarettes, when I walked past this house only a few away from mine. Stoop Kid was sitting on the stoop, of course, talking on the phone. I could not tell whether or not the phone was on, or if it was just a candy phone. Whoever he was talking to, he was trying to be persuasive about something really damn important. Shaking it off, I got my malt liquor and walked back. As I passed by him again, his tone was a little more pensive, and it became apparent that he was talking to nobody.
I saw him again later that week, once again at night. He was sitting on the stoop yelling to someone across the street. However, nobody was yelling back. I looked in his perspective, and there was nobody across the street. Despite this handicap, he still appeared to be determined to get this invisible person to cross the street. At this point, I start to wonder what his parents are like. I wonder about how angry his mom must get sometimes, or whether or not he has a father. I am not trying to be stereotypical, but when you see a kid with delusions, chances are there is something wrong in the household.
I continue to pass by him regularly, and he usually is making strange vocal inflections or yelling into space. Every time I walk by, he never acknowledges my presence. Not once. He crossed the strange line about a week ago. On my way to the market, I saw him sitting on the stoop grinding dirt into an old cookie sheet. This seems like a normal thing for a child to do, but he is way past that age and it’s 1030 PM (on a school night). On my way back, he was standing over the cookie sheet, which was teetering on a stoop step. He had a hose in his hand, and he slowly dripped water onto the dirty cookie sheet, in what appeared to be hope that the water will cause the sheet to fall off the step and make a 2 second crash. It was a surreal moment for probably both of us.
My latest encounter occurred a few nights ago. I walked by the stoop at around 11, only to find him not sitting there. He was actually in the neighbors yard. What ensued, I believe, was a one-man game of cowboys and indians. He was the indian, and his rival was, well, the tree in the neighbors yard. He juked left and right, presumably dodging bullets, and then threw twig “spears” at the tree while yelling in a high-pitched indian voice. As I passed by, I gave him the nod, but of course he ignored me. On my way back from the store, it seemed the game had taken a turn for the worse. He had probably ran out of spears, and he took refuge at the bus stop pole. He stood tall and still, hoping that the thin pole would hide him from the gunslinger tree. However, if the tree could hear, he/she would be able to notice his loud panting and general state of terror. Why he didn’t just hide on the stoop is to be determined, but I am pretty sure the cowboy had allies that were staking out that territory. I still wonder about who won the battle. I was rooting for the indian.
At first, I felt slightly concerned about this kid and his mental well being. After a while, I felt that the whole situation was quite humorous, as was my intent when writing this article. After reflecting on this for a day, I am now feeling a strange third thing. I now see reflections of myself in the Stoop Kid. I came to realize that I was also like him. Although I grew up in an actual neighborhood, I was rejected by all of my peers. This caused me to make up my own sort of fun by myself. Whether it was playing football in the backyard, throwing the ball ultimately to myself with ease, or having imaginary hardcore wrestling matches on the playground, I always found ways to entertain myself when there was no one else around. It has now come to my attention that the Stoop Kid is doing the same exact thing. I wish there was a way that I could reach out to him, and let him know that although what he is doing is abnormal, there is still hope to having a successful social life in years to come. Hell, give him about 3 years and he will discover drugs, make friends, fall into the bad crowd, make bad decisions, and be on the brink of life ruining circumstances. Although this is bleak, it is still a more interesting way of presenting life than one of a homebody that retains imaginary friends. Or at least that’s the way I see it.
One may never know what is actually going through the mind of the Stoop Kid, or any of the Stoop Kids across the world. Perhaps if I had a stoop to sit on as a child, I would’ve ended up much different. Maybe these kids turn into the older ones that you see marking their stoop territory every day of every week for the rest of their lives, beer in one hand and the other adjusting the ghetto blaster. I guess the rest just move on, and go to places that don’t have stoops. Either way, I think we all have our own metaphorical stoops from our childhood that we can look back at from time to time.
More stories may come as they are discovered. For everything else, there’s Mastercard.
It’s always a wonder if people like stoop kid, on the fringes of society in public, realize just how many people make note of their strange behavior everyday.
If stoop kid ever moved to NYC, he could make ends meet by riding the subways up and down singing “on the boardwalk.” There’s always money to be made from strangeness it seems.