The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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How I Learned to Be Stingy
I got played, not paid
Asia Fillmore

Names have been changed.

When your pockets are big, the amount of friends you have gets larger. But when your money gets low, your friend circle begins to shrink. I had to realize that only the ones who never leave your side are your true friends.

A couple of months ago I learned a lesson about my friends Mimi and Dem. Mimi was my girl; I knew her for a little while. And Dem was all her peoples that be over at her house all the time.

It was Friday—PAYDAY. Ever since I got my job at Century 21, a department store, like clockwork Mimi was calling my phone Friday asking me when I’m gonna come on the block.

You know the saying, “If I eat then my friends eat”? Mimi and Dem thought it went, “If I eat, my friends eat. And then they mama and they grandmama can eat too!”

For-Pay Party

Mimi’s house was the chill spot. I was in an independent living program, and I’d already learned my lesson about having friends come over and messing up your house, eating up all your food, and using all the toilet tissue. I wasn’t having nobody up in my house.

So that’s why we chilled at Mimi’s. Mimi lived in a four-bedroom townhouse with her mama, her mama’s boyfriend, her grandmama, her two little sisters and little brother, and one of her sister’s babies. Mimi’s older brother is locked up all the time, but his baby mama lives there, too.

Mimi’s house was crowded, but we always had fun sitting in the big living room or outside on the porch. Mimi and Dem were hoodrats, I knew that for a fact. But I still hung out with them, because when I moved to the area they were the first people I met and Mimi was popular around.

So one Friday night Dem wanted to have a party at Mimi’s house. They were telling me it was gonna be the bomb. Everybody been askin’ when Mimi gonna have another party at her house. I knew for a fact that people would definitely be there. They asked me did I wanna help put in on the party for food and liquor. They would be charging $10 to get in, so I would get my money back and then a little interest. I was like, “Cool, I definitely can use the money.”

Me and Mimi went to the liquor store. We were both only 19 but we looked old enough to cop, so we didn’t have to worry about paying no crackhead to cop for us. Mimi was saying how they’d told mad people about the party on MySpace and Facebook. Everybody, I mean everybody, was coming tonight.

Major Investment

We went in the liquor store and Mimi just started picking up bottles. She didn’t have two pennies in her pocket to rub together. You would’ve thought she was balling, the way she was just dropping bottles in the cart, not even looking at prices. But I knew Mimi was broke as a joke.

“Yo, you buggin, this mad money,” I said.

She was like, “Damn, don’t even trip; you gonna get ya money back ASAP.”

We put all the bottles on the counter, and the total came up to $150. I shook my head and went into my wallet.

Mimi said, “Girl, I don’t even know why you was trippin; you got mad money.” Then she asked me to buy her a pack of cigarettes; she was gonna pay me back after the party.

I was spending money on this girl like we went together. I didn’t mind because I was calculating in my head if 30 people came, that was $300; 50 people, $500. So that would be more than enough to get my money and a decent amount of interest.

We got back to the house and started moving stuff around. Her house looked real ghetto inside. She didn’t have any furniture but two couches. We left them there and moved her TV and the four little crooked pictures they had hanging above the TV into her grandmama’s room.

Mad Heads

It was 9:00 and the party was starting in a half an hour. And since it was my money that paid for the liquor, I wanted to get mine before everybody. I opened the Ciroc and started throwing back shots.

In 15 minutes I was feeling it. I turned the music up blasting in the living room. Mimi wanted to be in charge of taking the money so she was supposed to be by the door. And Dem was scattered around doing their thing. I saw mad heads starting to come through the door. And I was still in the living room getting my $150 worth of fun.

The party was getting live early. Nobody was sitting down; everybody was dancing and having a good time. I was feeling good, I even had an idea that we could make this a business, be little entrepreneurs.

I had money on my mind, and was having a good time doing the Stanky Leg with this girl Tiff. Out the corner of my eye I saw homegirl Mimi backing it up on somebody. I left Tiff and sped over to Mimi.

image by Freddy Bruce

“Mimi, ain’t you suppose to be at the door?” She got mad because the guy she was dancing with moved over and got behind another chick.

“Why you beastin?” she said. “My lil sister at the door.”

Where the Money?

I went to the front of the house. Mimi’s sister wasn’t at the door; nobody was. I opened it and her sister wasn’t outside; neither was any of Dem. I stood in the doorway confused. Then this tall slinky guy tried to pass me and go in the house. I stopped him and said the party was $10.

“What you mean $10, I was just in here and I ain’t have to pay $10.”

I was furious. Somebody was going to run me my money: $150 needed to be paid in full plus interest. Not now but right now.

And then I saw the main culprit. In my mind, I pulled Mimi by her ponytail out the house and beat the living daylights out of her. Then I had to stop thinking with the left side of my head. If I was to start fighting Mimi in her house, everyone from her mama to her grandmother would be on me like white on rice. And then I definitely wouldn’t be able to get my money back.

So I went in Mimi’s room to my pocketbook that I’d hid under her bed. (I knew somebody in her family would go in my purse if they saw it lying around.) I checked to see if the rest of my money was there and then I went back and told her she needed to give me my money now ’cause I was going home.

She suddenly had all the excuses in the world. Saying, “Nobody knew the party wasn’t free, so nobody brought no money. I didn’t want the party to be booty so I just let them all in for free.”

‘How, Mimi?’

I was flabbergasted. “Well, somebody in this house need to run me my money. The agreement was for me to pay for the alcohol, and I get my money back plus interest.”

“Asia, I swear we gonna get you your money back; don’t trip.”

“How, Mimi? You ain’t got no job.”

She then said she swore on her great-grandmother’s grave. I wasn’t hearing that. Ain’t nothing else could happen to her great-grandmother. I needed her to say this on somebody that’s living.

“Asia, you know I got you. I wouldn’t even play you like that.” She tapped my shoulders and then walked away.

I walked out the house ashamed and embarrassed. I felt played. I guess I was one of Dem, except I was out $150. I’d wasted almost half my paycheck. And I still needed to wash clothes, pay my cell phone bill ($120), and go food shopping. I now had to stretch my money for a week.

I didn’t have family around to spot me $20 whenever I needed it. It was me alone, and I work hard for my money. Standing on my feet eight hours a day, five days a week. I caught a cab, went home, and fell asleep real uneasy.

Better Friends

The next day I called Mimi and asked her when I was going to get my money ’cause I really needed it. Mimi told me that she would have my money that Friday, a week later. After work that night I went straight to her house. Her mother answered the door and said Mimi had just left. She didn’t know when she would be home.

The next day I saw Mimi and Dem walking up the street. Dem didn’t look especially fly, but Mimi was wearing new Jordans, an Ed Hardy hat, a new shirt, and a fresh pair of jeans.

I didn’t confront her when I saw her; I didn’t want to. I just wanted her to be a civilized person and give me my money. How hard was that? She knew she was wrong.

I had other friends but they weren’t as popular as Mimi. I didn’t want to hang around them because I felt they weren’t as cool. But when me and Mimi and Dem went our separate ways after that party, I realized that other people I knew were way better than Mimi. They didn’t mooch off of me and they were actually nicer to be around.

I used to throw money away, do everything to please someone else. Now I know that if people were really my friends they wouldn’t get mad at me if I didn’t buy them something from the store. They wouldn’t want to call me just when I had money. We would be together all week long, not just Friday to Sunday.

Mimi never did pay me back.

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