I have mentioned this story in passing but have never written about it. It really isn't relevant to anything but it is my unforgettable brush with celebrity.
First of all, I went to Auburn University as an undergrad. I love my alma mater but it is in the middle of nowhere. It literally doesn't have a bus station, a train stop or an airport.
My mother is legally blind and she didn't have a car, so I couldn't get home that way.
I went to college before I was old enough to drive, so I didn't learn to drive until I finish grad school, so even if someone from my hometown drove the 7 hours to pick me up, I couldn't help them drive back.
But if you ask anyone from Hartsville SC, they will tell you, my mother is a hood legend. She was basically the smartest woman in the neighborhood.
She did everyone's taxes. If you went to college from my neighborhood, my mom probably filled out your financial aid forms.
And if you got in trouble, she would help you find a lawyer.
She was basically a hood version of Olivia Pope.She was really TOO kind, so she rarely asked for payment. Of course, in a poor black neighborhood, there wasn't a lot of money in this. Instead, she got a lot of "favors"
So in the summer of 1994, as a favor to my mom, a guy offered to give me a ride home from school.
The plan was for me to meet him in Atlanta, where he was attending a Janet Jackson concert, and we'd ride home the next day.
It's important to know that I didn't really know this guy. He met my mom when I was away at college and she had helped him out.
He was...let's call him an "entrepreneur" from South Florida who had opened a "franchise" in my neighborhood.
He would later become one of my best friends in life and he's probably reading this right now.
So I meet him in Atlanta, he picks me up and we head downtown. He was on a mission.
This was the JANET world tour and people from EVERYWHERE were in Atlanta. It was a limited run and this was one of the only dates in the entire Southeast.
EVERYONE was excited and tickets were impossible to get
No, I didn't go.
See, this Janet Jackson concert was the TALK of ATL. EVERYONE was gonna be there. And this guy wanted a specific brand of designer hat for the Janet Jackson concert.
So I'm literally riding around Atlanta looking everywhere and asking everyone if they knew where he could get one
I had never heard of this designer but he had. From what I could gather it was a pimp hat, because he literally stopped a pimp on the street and asked him where he could find a Boston Leaner.
The pimp gave him vague directions but after searching all day, we never found it.
My ride goes to the Janet Jackson concert and he picks me up afterward. He informs me that some of his fellow South Florida entrepreneurs are going to an afterparty and asked if I wanted to tag along.
I said yes.
Remember, I had just come from college. I'm wearing an Omega Psi Phi t-shirt and jeans. I'm in the club with people dressed to the nines. The club was PACKED!
The bouncers told me that I was underdressed and couldn't get in.
I have never seen this guy's financial disclosures, but apparently, his "franchise" was doing pretty good because he offered the bouncer $100 dollars to let me in.
But the bouncer wouldn't do it.
We were holding up the line and there was an entourage behind us.
I told my friend to go inside and I would wait for him. I told him not to worry because I didn't want to be a burden. Remember, this guy didn't know me and he was doing MY MOM a favor by giving me a ride.
One guy in the entourage behind us paid for his entire crew. He looked familiar but I didn't recognize him because he had on a big hat. He tells the door guy "Aye! Que Dog's with me, too" And they let me in!
The guy goes to VIP with his entourage.
I didn't try to tag along with the dude in the hat because he had looked out for a stranger.
I specifically remember that I had $23 to my name. So I'm in this club in a t-shirt, jeans and broke. But LOOK at Gawd!
The club is too packed to find my friend so I head for the bar
Anyone who is as skilled a drinker as I am knows how to handle this situation. If you want to drink on a limited budget, there is only one drink you can order:
A Long Island Iced Tea.
But there's a catch:
You have to pay attention.
There are TWO kinds of Long Island Iced Teas.
A lot of places have Long Island Iced Tea mix and just add vodka. Not only is it cheaper, but it's easier and faster to mix.
But a REAL Long Island Iced tea has vodka, gin, tequila, rum, triple sec, sweet & sour and cola.
I could tell this place had the REAL deal because of how the waitress sighed when I ordered my drink.
Again, the club was packed and everyone is clamoring for the bar. The waitress is fixing my drink and at the back of the crowd, I see the guy in the hat again.
Now the guy in the hat isn't that tall, so I can only see his hat. But it seems like he knows EVERYBODY at the club.
Then I hear him yell:
"Aye Que Dog! Order me a Hennessey!"
Now I have $23, half of which will go to this Long Island Iced Tea! DO I order this guy a Hennessey and be broke or do I pretend I didn't hear him?
I say "Fuck it," and order the Henn. It was literally 21.50
I tell the bartender to keep the change. She sighs again.
So I grab my drink and his, and give it to the guy in the hat. He says: "Aye Que Dog, come into VIP with us!"
So I do.
We walk upstairs, me behind him, and yall, I'm telling you, the club was packed with people from EVERYWHERE and this dude knew EVERYONE!
So we get into the VIP and my homeboy is there already!
I start talking to him while the people who work at the club are setting up a makeshift bar in the VIP section. When they finish, he asks me if I wanted something to drink. When I hesitate, he says:
"Oh, don't worry about that long line at the bar downstairs I bought the bar!"
It was the first time I'd ever seen someone actually "buy the bar." This motherfucker had paid the club to set up a bar in VIP!
Again, business must have been good!
So, anyway, this VIP was filled with beautiful women and baller dudes. Most of them seemed to be from Florida so you know there was a lot of gators and linen.
There was also an ALL WHITE pool table in the VIP section and they were gambling.
Here's another thing about me. I used to be REALLY good at pool. The husband of my mother's best friend owned a little juke joint in my neighborhood. We called it "The Hole."
It still exists and it is still a juke joint. When I was a kid, I wasn't allowed to go
But my mother did the books for this place, ordered the beer and liquor etc. So she would pay me to mop the floors, load the cooler, when it was closed.
So she had a key.
When I was in high school, my friend and I, may or may not have taken those keys and loaded our backpacks with beer and hung out and played pool.
I cannot confirm or deny.
But I played pool A LOT when I was a teenager.
So I'm standing in VIP watching the dude in the hat talk shit while he's kicking everybody's ass on the pool table. I ask my friend if he had four quarters, and he pulls out a hundred dollar bill.
"I'mma bet this hundred on you. If you beat him, you can have it."
Again, this dude didn't know me or my pool skills. When I ask him why he bet on me and not the dude in the hat who was talking shit, he tells me that the dude was wearing the hat that we were looking ALL DAY."
"Plus," he says, "it'll be a dope story."
I hadn't played in a long time, so the dude in the hat is kicking my ASS. But toward the end of the game, my muscle memory kicks in.
But the dude in the hat gets the shot on the eight ball and wins
I felt bad.
I really wanted that $100. Plus, the dude in the hat is talking shit and everybody's laughing (even though he wasn't that funny.) I'm hoping my friend isn't mad about the buck he just lost, and I tell him that I could've beat the dude in the hat.
So my friend tells the dude: "Play him again."
The dude in the hat, was like: For another hundred?
And my friend says: "No, for the hat."
Now this dude must have had a hundred of these hats because he accepted the challenge fast. $300 vs the hat. I still couldn't figure out how EVERYONE seemed to know this guy.
He says "You can't be me, Que Dog!" and his voice even seemed slightly familiar to me.
But I'm focused.
I know this is gonna sound like a fairy tale where I make myself the hero but I have since made friends with some of the guys who were in the VIP section of the club that night who remember this story and they will tell you:
I kicked that dude's motherfucking ass.
I mean I dragged him. It wasn't even close.
Now, I'm not talking shit because I was focused (and, if I'm telling the truth, kinda nervous). I'm at the 8 ball and he still has 3 on the table. As the 8 ball rolls into the pocket, I actually bark out loud and everyone laughs.
"Aight, Que Dawg, you got me!" he says. He takes off the Boston Leaner we've been looking for all day, and hands it to my friend.
He puts out his hand to shake mine, that's when I recognize the face without the hat, the voice and why everyone seemed to know him.
It was Tupac Amaru Shakur.
And to this day, my homeboy has that hat. But no one ever believes him when he tells people that Tupac gave it to him.
But I was mad as hell at him for the rest of the night. Because when I looked inside the hat we had searched for all day in the hot Georgia sun...
It wasn't a "Boston Leaner" brand hat.
It was a Bossalina
Plus, Pac never gave me my money back for that Hennessey
This story wouldn't even make it into my memoir, but a few months ago, I mentioned it and people have been asking me about the story about the Congressional Black Caucus.
I never say "I beat Tupac at pool" because technically, we're still tied.
But yeah... That happened
Anyway, I mentioned this in passing a few months ago, and people have asked me: "So when are you gonna tell that Tupac story?"
But right after that article was published, a friend of mine sent me a text.
He said: "I know this is gonna sound strange, ... Are you the guy who won my cousin's hat?"
Now I have never mentioned the hat so I was puzzled.
It turns out that it wasn't Tupac's hat. He had borrowed the hat from a friend so he wouldn't be recognized
And when he asked Tupac what he did with his expensive designer hat, Tupac told him that he lost the hat "to some country nigga from Georgia."
Yep. I'm that "country nigga from Georgia."
If there's any consolation, the hat worked.
But here's the thing. It wasn't even THAT guy' hat.
Tupac had gotten this hat when he visited his friend earlier that evening.
If you can find pictures from Janet Jackson's 1994 tour, you might see one with her onstage performing in a Borsalino hat.
And merry Christmas
You can follow @michaelharriot.
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