Monday, January 26, 2009

The Macaroni Hustle



I was on Mizrepresent's blog recently and she did a post about recession era foods. On the post, she also talked about those days in college when Ramen Noodles and other things got you through a day. She mentioned the all you can eat Taco bars at some restaurants and a few other things which brought back a memory of mine that I would sheepishly like to forget.

Up until my junior year, I lived in the dorms and had a meal card that entitled me to eat in the cafeteria and in the dining hall on campus. We had two dining halls, one on the East side and one on the West side of the campus. You showed your student id and they punched a hole in your meal card which entitled you to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On Saturday nights, they served a midnight meal (I hear that that is no longer done). You couldn't use your meal card for that but, it was so cheap that you really didn't need it. I remember coming from the party many-a-night and stopping by to get a sandwich, soda, and chips to hold me over.

Come junior year, that all came to an end. I moved into an apartment off-campus with five other guys and I stopped paying the "activity fee" which included my meals and free admittance to the football and basketball games. I used my student loan to pay for instruction and the rest for rent. Of the five guys I lived with, only two others (who I'll call Tyrone and Derrick) and myself had jobs. I worked at a Burger King in town and I think the other two guys worked in the local supermarket. You would think that one of us would have thought to buy some groceries but, it never occurred to us and we spent many nights hungry.

One night, I remember that one of my roommate's girlfriends came over and she went in our refrigerator. The only thing in there was a jar of mustard and some Arm & Hammer Baking Soda so, she left. She came back with her four girlfriends and three bags of groceries. They fried chicken and made some Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. One girl made a salad and they cooked some corn on the cob. Another girl used our oven to barbecue some ribs. Well, we all ate, played cards, played some records, and had a grand old time. In fact, they made so much food that we ate for a week. Then, the food was gone. I kept looking at the one box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese that was left and the gears of my little mind started working.

The next day, I showed up at one of the girl's apartment with the box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. We talked and it seemed that she was so glad to have company considering she lived so far from campus. I cleaned her bathtub, mopped her kitchen floor, helped her take her laundry to the Laundromat downstairs in her building, and then helped her fold her clothes (all things I didn't do for myself). When we returned to her apartment, I know she probably thought that my motive was sexual but, to her surprise I said, "Let's make dinner."

I started making the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and I went in her refrigerator and took out some lettuce, cucumbers, and whatever to make a salad. She was so grateful for all of the help I gave her that she began making cornbread, potato salad, and frying Chicken. She even had some Sangria. We sat, we feasted... and there was so much food left that she gave me a few bags of food to take back to my apartment. She thanked me profusely and was so impressed that I was such a gentleman. I didn't try to make any moves on her at all. She was so impressed that she told a few of her friends about it (like I knew she would).

For my part, me and my roommates had food to eat and I had another house to clean. Everyday after class, I would go to another girl's apartment, clean it, and start cooking some Kraft Macaroni & Cheese... and, almost everytime, I would be asked to stay for dinner... the grateful young lady would be so happy that she would start cooking... and I would wind up taking more food home with me. It was great until a casual friend of mine (who I will call) Gregg Pruit, discovered what I was doing. We were sitting in the student union building and I was bragging to him about my sweet little "Macaroni Hustle" and we were laughing our heads off. He was clapping his hands and saying, "Keith, you Philly guys are off the damn hook! All of you all are natural born hustlers... every one of you that I meet!" And me, like a fool saying, "Ain't we, though?"

Well, within days, Gregg was trying to do his best imitation of me only, he didn't clean as well and unlike me, he wasn't willing to start cooking. He expected the young lady to cook for him before he even started working and what was worst, he was making all kinds of unwanted sexual advances at these girls. I don't know if he was kicked out or not but, the next time I saw him he had a black eye and a swollen face. Apparently he tried the "Macaroni Hustle" on somebody's girlfriend and their man wasn't too impressed.

The next time I came calling, I was told nicely "thanks but, no thanks" and was shown the door before I could even get started. Gregg Pruit had ruined my good thing! I would open my refrigerator door, see a container of mustard and some baking soda and just get furious! Finally, one of my roommates said... "Hell, why don't you just buy some groceries?" Mind you... he was one of the ones who didn't have a job and who barely contributed any rent yet, he had a great idea. I quit my job at Burger King and got a job pressing shirts at the dry cleaners which paid a whole lot more money. I began investing in groceries every time I could. Tyrone and Derrick, the other two roommates who worked, also followed suit and we began cooking our own food from that day forward. It was a lot easier than cleaning somebody else's place just to eat.

My mom sent me a list of essential things to buy every week like soap and toilet paper (things we thought would just naturally be there) and our living arrangements that last year got better. The ladies that stopped by were also a lot more likely to stay longer since we had food. I don't know why we never thought of it sooner!

21 comments:

Kofi Bofah said...

This is a funny story.

I bet now whenever you got a hustle - you just keep your mouth shut.

"Investing in groceries," was my favorite line...

Toni said...

LMAO @ You...You are too funny!

Angie B. said...

Keith, you are crazy,lolol.

Swaggie said...

You are insane...You must've been a
lot of fun when you were a young man..I would have love hanging out with you.

Tate2 said...

LMAO @ U. Another funny post.

Grover Tha Playboy said...

Like I said..You're a true playa
for real.lololol

Lisa said...

That was a funny story...you are off the hinges!

Vanessa said...

Men!!! I tell you...All of yall in the apartment and not one of yall thought to buy some groceries??
And two of your room-mates worked at the supermarket!!LMAO...but I can believe it.

Sunflower said...

Funny Story. I'm glad you learned from it.

Halo said...

Hi Keith...you are crazy..but then, you know that!LMAO

Captain Jack said...

I just love your blogs.

Simon Bastion said...

I believe it's already been said..
That if you don't write a book it will be a sin.lolol

Jazzy said...

Crazy story man..Just crazy...lololol

James Perkins said...

I'm still laughing at this..but having been an undergrad in college,I know exactly what you'
re talking about..I had my share of lean days myself. When your hungry and or desperate ,you'll do a lot of strange things.lololol Good post.

CurvyGurl ♥ said...

ROFL! I would say only you, but I'm quite sure variations of this have occurred many more times than we know.

Please stop by my site when you have a minute, there's a little token of my appreciation waiting for ya :).

Have a great day!

LadyLee said...

That was classic, you hustler!

Raven said...

Men! When my hubby and his cousin shared an apartment there was food there, but it was only like 5 or 6 things... Hamburger Helper, chips, cereal, frozen catfish, milk and Blue Bell ice cream. Blue Bell ice cream in the south isn't really a luxury...it is a must!!!!

Shorty said...

Great story! Kudos to you for being a cleaner and a cook. I'm impressed, even if you were "hustling" for food!

Thoughts of a Southern gal said...

That was funny!

LOL @ not thinking to buy groceries.

Rich Fitzgerald said...

Man, you have to put a book together. I tell you, every one of your stories is a homerun. That was some funny stuff right there - The Macaroni Hustle. I never did anything like that, but I wished I had. Amazingly, I ended up cooking for most girls. That was my hustle. Only, I wasn't as innocent about my intentions as you. Fortunately, they were on the same page and I never got a black eye.

It's always another cat who messes up your hustle.

Jimmy said...

Great story as usual Keith, At least you figured out to buy the groceries. I know guys in there thirties who don't know what the inside of a supermarket looks like.




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