“How was dance practice, Bree?” Pa asks, as the waiter at Buon Appetito brings me my drink.
“Thank you,” I tell the waiter, before telling Pa, “Dance was great. I’m getting excited.”
He beams. “I’m so proud of you.”
“Me, too,” Ma says, as she pops a plastic bendable straw into my drink.
Mr Romano, owner of Buon Appetito, approaches our table and shakes my parents’ hands, before gently shaking mine. “How are my favourite customers?”
“Good,” we all say.
He grins, pulling out a pad and pen from his back pocket. “Now, what are we having tonight?”
When my parents are done ordering, I say, “The usual, please.”
Mr Romano puts his hands on his hips. “Bree, live a little. I just got in the best Italian sausage. I swear to you, it is exactly like my grandmother used to make.”
“But I have dreams about your chicken pesto pasta,” I say.
He laughs. “Well, nobody can argue with that. Okay, for you, I make it tonight. But one of these days, I will get you to try new things.”
I laugh and he gives me a wink, before walking away. But you don’t understand, his pesto is divine. How could I give it up?
Then again, given this is the only restaurant we go to, maybe I should try other foods. We come here so often that Mr Romano keeps a set of easy-grip cutlery, that is curved, just for me, and a scoop plate, which has an edge that helps me get the food onto my clever cutlery. He also has a supply of special, bendable plastic straws for the few people who really need them, like me, even though other customers don’t get them. Cos, you know, the environment.
But those aren’t the only reasons we eat out here. Buon Appetito is the only restaurant in the area that has tables that allow the arms of my wheelchair to slip under. Which is ridiculous, as my chair is a manual, which means it is smaller than an electric one. (I do have an electric assistance hooked up, though, which helps me up ramps and hills.)
At other restaurants, my chair’s arms keep me far away from their tables. So then I have to eat off a tray, making me look like a toddler in a highchair – and I’m 16!
And yay! Buon Appetito also has a fully accessible bathroom. Most places, even if they have a disabled stall, don’t have enough space for me to turn around. Which means my ma has to help me, but I like to do as much on my own as I can, and that includes using the toilet in private!
I look at Pa. “Did Ma show you the cool KT tape Ms Jaiyana found?”
“Oh,” Ma says, and digs into her handbag. “Here,” and she hands the roll to Pa.
“Now that is rock and roll,” Pa says.
“Hip hop,” I tell him. “We are a hip hop crew.”
“Right, right, forgive an old man,” he says, handing the tape back to Ma. “When I was a boy at school, we did sokkie.”
“No!” I say. “That’s Afrikaans dancing.”
Ma laughs. “You think coloureds can’t langarm? I tell you my girl, your father led me around on our wedding day, and I felt as if I were a cloud being blown in the wind.”
“Who wants to be a cloud?” I snort. “I want to be powerful! Hip hop has a proper beat.”
“It’s just crashing and banging,” Pa says. “Will I need to wear earplugs at this show of yours?”
I glare, and my parents howl with laughter.
I know they’re only teasing. But honestly, they can be so un-cool. Not that I actually want to see my parents twerk. That would not be okay.
But then I have a horrible thought: what if at the New Skool Academy show the crowd thinks our moves are un-cool? What if they find our type of dancing as awful as my parent twerking?
“Bree?” Ma says. “You okay?”
I nod, but I’m not sure I am.
Tell us: Do your parents or guardians dance? If so, do you like their dancing, or do you find it embarrassing?