I remember getting off the phone and grinning at my good fortune.
They were going to meet us up at our school…
This was significant because Near North High school was shrouded in misconception – being nestled in the heart of Chicago’s notorious Cabrini Green housing projects certainly didn’t help with our branding.
My omnipresent comrade in arms Bil and I had been talking to these two girls from neighboring Lincoln Park high school for a couple of weeks and this was progress.
We made arrangements to meet them near the athletic field across from the school – and we would walk down a couple of blocks down to the Burger King on LaSalle and North Avenue a couple of blocks up.
The following day…
When the bell rung and the crowd began thinning, the girls found us, we exchanged pleasantries and began walking up the street.
While we were walking, I noticed that the crowd ahead of us was parting – making way for this glossy black Geo Tracker riding slowly through, bumping:
“She got that Vibe, Vibe…. Vibeeee…!”
(26 years ago at the time of this writing and I still this hate this song.)
The debut single for R. Kelly and the Public Announcement was blowing up in Chicago, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing it.
Bil and I knowingly squinted at each other because we had seen this car before and we had our suspicions on who we suspected the occupants of the car to be.
I watched the events unfold – as I feigned annoyed disinterest.
The car stopped between the parking lot and the football field a couple feet away.
The window rolled down and some words were murmured between the driver and group of students that they stopped on the side of.
One of the girls took a couple steps back, startled…
Pausing before she screamed:
“Oh girl, its R. Kelly from Public Announcement!”
For a moment, it seemed like it didn’t register to the people gathered out there…
Before Bil and I knew, we were in the thick of a mild stampede towards the Geo.
Which included our lil’ honies, leading the pack.
R. Kelly had a thing for high school girls and everyone knew it.
Me and Bil sat there and scowled, ruminating about the inherent unfairness of this old dude who had this fame and fortune, but there he was riding through the local high school.
We were hating on all cylinders.
I think we waited a 10 minutes or so before we knew that the siren of the Pied Piper would be too much to compete with but before we left.
He had the nerve to lean out the car and start singing…
On that day in 1992…
R. Kelly drove off of the grounds of my high school.
Taking with him…
A piece of my 16 year old ego.
Me and Bil’s honey dips (and another girl from our school).
And … Any appreciation for his musical acumen.
Considering that these events have transpired over a quarter century ago, I want it to be known that I am not bitter.
I’m cracking up, as I write this from my notes and recollections.
I can’t even recall the names of the young ladies that Bil and I were talking to – as this was the last time we saw either of them.
But like Big Worm presciently told Smokey when he was messing with his money in the 1995 classic movie Friday…
“Its the Principle of the whole thing, there’s principalities in this…”
If you grew up in Chicago in the 1990’s and you went to any of the area high schools it is safe to say that you’ve born witness to R. Kelly being prowling the confines.
But, somehow this is a newsflash in 2018?
Since I was 16 years old, I was telling people who R. Kelly was…
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