Unlike a normal “Conversation With Cecilia”, this one is rather personal. Sadly, today marks six years since the tragic passing of Chad “Pimp C” Butler and for a girl born in Oakland and in Texas trying to get a college degree, a chance meeting between the Pimp & Cecilia would steer the course of her career — for the better.
Years ago, prior to formally beginning my writing career, I was just a lowly waitress; new to Texas and hustling drinks at a club as a way to pay for my journalism degree. What immediately struck me as different was the laid back interaction between artist and fans in Houston. I’d never seen E-40 or Snoop outside of The Box or BET, Houston natives like Bun B or Slim Thug could regularly be seen enjoying a meal at Pappadeaux or at one of many local events. It was how I came to realize Pimp C was more than just a “celebrity” to people.
The first time that I met the more outspoken member of UGK I was just another cashier at CompUSA. How awestruck do you have to be to see someone you only knew via TV in a pristine white mink coat? Almost identical to the one he wore in the “International Players Anthem” video some years later. Then? Then I had no real clue to who Pimp truly was outside of that legendary bounce in the “Big Pimpin” video. Out West, all we knew of “Texas” hip-hop were The Geto Boyz.
The second time we crossed paths, as I hustled from table to table throughout the club (I forget which particular club), I vividly remember the room going near silent, as a boisterous presence entered the venue. So full of life and energy that you couldn’t help but put down your drink and turn to inquire who had just entered. Almost like Caesar had entered Rome with Cleopatra on a leash ready to get out on the track and make him some money.
As the owner introduced me to the source of the commotion, he quickly dubbed me “Cali” and inquiring “of you’re from Oakland? You know my boy Short?” to which I had to sheepishly admit I didn’t. Well, not personally anyway and it would be a few years before I actually did. Years later telling the story might be a bit interesting to any bop, “Oh my god Pimp gave you a nickname?” they’d probably shriek.
What instantly struck me was his calm demeanor despite his boisterous persona. My nervousness caused me to drop my tray full of drinks, yet he laughed it off in stride. He was like a God in the club that night, freely walking back into the kitchen to have his own personal ordered prepared. For all of the special attention given to him, what stood out the most was his various interactions. From the cook to the bartender, he made each one feel at ease with a warm smile and a big laugh. No one was too considered too small for him to speak to or acknowledge. Something I found admirable, yet puzzling at the same time.
Before he left he handed me a crisp $50 dollar bill. I was so inexperienced and naive I asked, “What’s this for?” I mean, I hadn’t done much other than spill his drinks and ensure that his food was boxed up properly.
Yet in that distinct voice he responded, “You’re a waitress right? It’s a tip.” Kindness and bluntness rolled all in one.
I wish I could say that I saved it as a memento but I didn’t. If I remember correctly there was a light bill that I was working for that night.
Throughout the next year I would see him sometimes frequently, sometimes sporadically. Each time he would take the time to ask me how my classes at UH were going, how close was I to my degree and remind me not to get so caught up making fast money that I forgot my original goals. He sometimes told touching stories of his niece, his family.
Two days before that fateful weekend we spoke for the last time. Stopping by to place an order, he told me of his upcoming trip back to my home state and plans to meet up with Too Short. “You still ain’t met Short yet Cali?” he asked to which I admitted no before he went on to inquire about my upcoming finals.
Simple conversations between a patron and a server.
It would be our last.
I learned of his passing through a friend and confirmed it via the radio. I had no logical reason to feel such hurt yet I did. We had never interacted outside of brief conversations as I served food and drinks yet I felt the pain that every other fan did. I quit that club soon after — and graduated 3 years later.
I wish I could tell him that I did it. Wish I could show him this. I wish I could tell him how fucking trill he was. Yet my greatest wish is that I could say thank you, for taking the time from his hectic existence of a star to give advice to a lowly waitress.
Thank you. May you rest eternally in peace.
First published via Dayandadream.com, December 2013