Terms: shady / throwing shade / dis / fishy / sketch / sketchy
*The language used in this dialogue is meant to reflect how some Americans might naturally express themselves. Significant incorrect grammar or sensitive words will be underlined for reference.
—Well, well. We going today?
Charles’s friend from school, Jonah, had invited him to go practice skateboarding. Jonah was usually reluctant to teach anyone anything, but he figured it was worth the effort. Charles always helped him out with any financial issues at the college. It was the least he could do to repay Charles for all his helpful efforts.
—You have to teach me an ollie. And to grind, for sure how to grind. Oh, and a kickflip!
—Wait, you have to learn how to get on the board, first, Jonah teased.
They walked along until they came to a dark alley. Strange artwork was stained on all four walls of the alleyway, with grotesque graffiti figures winding and bending into a whirlpool of confusion. It was enough to make anyone sick just following the blotched lines of paint.
—Well, there’s a couple of loose pipes and a metal box. What do you say we practice here? Charles suggested.
Jonah looked around, swearing he could see a few rats and cockroaches scurrying inside the dark cracks.
—I donno, this place looks pretty sketch to me.
Charles shrugged his shoulders as if to wash the comment away. However …
—Looks like what? A drawing? Is that because of all the creepy paint?
He felt good about himself to have remembered the word “creepy.” But his pride was cut short by comic laughter from Jonah.
—Not a sketch, like a drawing. I mean this place is sketch. It’s the same as “creepy,” or something is not right about it. Maybe there’s a serial killer in there awaiting a new victim. I’m out.
—Come on! Charles yelled.
He pulled the skateboard playfully out of Jonah’s arms and set it on the ground to use. He took a huge pause before getting on.
Before too long, Jonah exclaimed, —You don’t even know how to get on! Gimme back my board—
—Two bums brawling in an alley. Where have I seen this scene before?
The words came from a familiar mouth … The same girl that Charles had met a few times before.
—Hey! What are you doing in the alley?
—No, I was just walking by when I saw you two fighting. Why are y’all in this alley? Looks fishy.
—No fish here, Charles told her.
—Nah, bro, his friend replied. She said fishy. It’s the same as sketchy, basically. Creepy. Something’s not right. Think of a bunch of smelly old fish that went bad.
Jonah then hit Charles lightly on the head. The lady was disturbed by his action.
—Unless y’all are brothers, you shouldn’t let him dis you like that.
—Dis? I don’t get it, Charles’s mind was spinning.
Jonah spoke for her, —She means I be throwing shade at you.
Charles’s confused look made the lady want to cover for him.
—Look, dis is the same as “being mean” or “pointing out someone’s faults.” Sometimes it’s meant as a joke, though. Throwing shade is almost the same but in a more indirect way. Dis comes from “disrespect,” I think. People who like to throw shade, like your buddy here, are shady.
—Yeah, but being shady can just be “doing bad stuff under cover.”
The lady, Charles’s acquaintance, walked over to give him a kiss on the cheek.
—Your friend’s an idiot. Y’all do know each other, right?
Charles gurgled out his words and nodded with a strange, nervous smile.
—See you, boys! She then made a gesture with her hand as if she were talking on an old mobile phone. And, call me later. We’ll get some coffee again, smiling.
When she left, Jonah did a kickflip on his skateboard.
—Man, I didn’t know you was such a little boy around these girls.
—You must love being shady, don’t you? Charles responded swiftly.
—Funny! You know what is shady, though? This alleyway. Let’s get up out of here.
They gave each other a bump on the fists and left the dark inner walls behind; Jonah on his board, and Charles following steadily on foot behind him.