On Saturday, we were in for a big surprise.
The four of us PTA moms showed up at 8:20 am, in the rain. Our boots squelched in mud so deep and thick that it threatened to pull our shoes from our feet. I rolled up my jeans. I tugged at my ponytail.
“Hello!” I hailed a man emerging from one of the three homes-in-progress. “Good morning! We’re here to work!”
He sent us around back to find the construction manager. SQUELCH. SQUELCH. Slip, slip. SQUELCH.
He showed us a big, wet, muddy hill, probably 12 feet high behind the house.
“We need to backfill the foundation today.” He pointed to the trench around the home’s foundation. The rain continued to fall.
He gave us a tour of the already framed home, the middle of the three: one house sponsored by a local church, another by a local company, the third by our pro basketball team.
“People from the pro-team will be here today.” We looked at each other, imagining a 7-foot tall basketball player showing up any second. “Probably people from the office.”
Sixteen young people appeared during our tour, representing the basketball team. We weren’t sure who they were, but they were clearly “cooler” than we were. When the construction manager finished, I spoke up.
“Nice to meet everyone! A couple of us very cool PTA moms are here joining you today.” We received lots of smiles, a couple “heys.” It was a friendly group.
Tools arrived. Another job was opened up for us inside the house: digging a sewer line trench in the basement. We had two choices: shovel mud, or if you got tired, shovel different mud. Most of the young ladies were called over to do some inside work in the basketball team’s house. That left the PTA moms with the hip young men, and a few, just-as-hip young ladies.
I climbed to the top of the hill to break up the dirt to help the shovels. A tall, strong young man grabbed a pick-ax and started hammering into the mini-mountain.
“Hey, guys! Look! I’m John Henry.”
He was. He was SO John Henry. I’ve rarely heard a more perfect literary reference. Someone started singing “I’ve been working on the railroad.” Who were these folks?
We shoveled. We chatted. “What do you do for the team?” I asked one of the men.
“You dance?” Yes, they dance. They are the hip-hop dancers: the break-dancers, the B-boys, as Motion later explained.
What a scream! They were hilarious. All of the sudden, it was very obvious. They were singing occasionally, and shoveling to the hip-hop beat on the radio. Every once in awhile, someone would break out a few moves (yeah, they did), or catch a phrase in a song and sing along.
The so-called B-boys have been formally introduced to all of their muscle groups, some of which the PTA moms have never met. Seven hours into shoveling, the break-dancers were having races. I was dumping buckets (and almost myself) into the trench, leaning on the doorframe to hold myself up.
Habitat for Humanity got all I had to give on Saturday. The group was so fun, it was hard to not shovel along. After having almost dumped myself in the trench along with one of the wheelbarrows, I asked Meach to empty mine. Every time after, he appeared when my wheelbarrow was full to dump it without my asking: so kind.
I walked into the mud caked house for a moment. I was a good ten feet into the house when the construction manager scolded me. “Hey, get those muddy shoes out of the house!” he laughed.
“Oh, don’t worry, I plan to Swiffer later,” I replied, and popped into a ridiculous Swiffering motion, mimicking the commercial.
From the backyard, I heard a yell. “Hey, PTA mom’s got the motion!” I turned around and there was John Henry (James) laughing at me. I laughed too.
“Oh, yeah, PTA moms have all the moves.” I gave an extra little shake for emphasis.
I couldn’t convince anyone to spin on their head in the mud, but we had a good time. I received a booty bump from Nova. I heard about Motion’s love of chess and advanced puzzles. (I love puzzles too.)
They were fun, kind, respectful, and clever. They spent their personal time to make the community a better place. These are the qualities I want in my children.
All of the sudden, I have this strange urge to go to a basketball game.
I was pleased to leave with one of Motion’s business cards. Besides being involved with the basketball team, he coaches chess teams. (Excuse me, but can you not like these guys?). On his card, was also his link to his dance business. You are just going to HAVE to check them out: www.myspace.com/pointblank216. (Of course, I'm probably sullying their tough-guy reputations by writing this post. Sorry, gentleman, I couldn't help it.)
Uh oh, does this make me a groupie or something? Now that IS funny.