There’s a student at Damien who carries around a speaker that looks like one of those old school tape deck boom boxes. It’s plastic and doesn’t have all the true detail of those carry-on-the-shoulder “ghetto blaster,” but I get the appeal. All the kid needs is a large piece of cardboard under his other arm and an Adidas track suit to complete the look. Anyway, the whole thing might be an homage because I haven’t heard him play any music made in this decade or the last. Last week it was the Sugar Hill Gang and Biggie’s “Big Poppa.” This week, though, it’s been this:
He’s had En Vogue and Salt-N-Pepa’s “Whatta Man” on repeat for a couple of days. Obviously, I know and secretly adore every song he plays because it reminds me of the time when I was actually a student at Damien. The problem is, I don’t know if he really likes these songs or is playing them ironically. As such, I cannot openly admit to liking them. “Really?” he might say. “I was just screwing around.” The shame would be akin to the time I showed a student a clip of a Color Me Badd live performance of “All For Love.” A few seconds of choreographed dancing passed before he said, “Wait… there was actually a time when this was popular?”
Anyway, as Lynnette and I were lying in bed in darkness last night, I told her about this situation. I also told her that as I passed by the music in the hall, I began to mumble:
If looks could kill you would be an uzi or a shotgun -bang!- what’s up with that thang? I wanna know, how does it hang.
But then I realized those were lyrics to a different song, “Shoop.” “Do you know the lyrics to “Whatta Man?” I asked Lynnette. “I’m surprised you haven’t Googled them yet,” she said. I reached over for my phone. “Wait!” she said. “Don’t.” She was tying to work out the lyrics herself. Together, we figured out some of the words, but were unsure of the order. Obviously, we knew the chorus. Hell, you could just copy/paste “whatta man” over and over like this:
whatta man whatta man whatta man whatta man whatta man whatta man whatta man whatta man whatta man whatta man whatta man whatta man whatta man whatta mighty mighty good man whatta man whatta man whatta man whatta man whatta man whatta man whatta man whatta man
and nail 90% of the song. Finally, I looked the words up. “Don’t read them, just give me a line,” Lynnette said. This was a highly unusual request. Lynnette is not one to play games of this sort. “Okay,” I said. So I read “I just want to take a minute or two…” and that’s when the magic happened.
She belted out the entire first verse with uncanny accuracy, missing about three words and messing up the order of one line. “Oohhhh!” I shouted. She laughed. “Where the hell did that come from?” I said. “I don’t know!” she squealed. We continued through the verses of the song. “Yes, my man says he loves me-” I began. Lynnette took over:
-never says he loves me not, tryin’ to rush me good and rub me in the right spot. See all the other guys that I’ve had they try to play all that Mac shit, but every time they tried, I said “that’s not it.” But not this man, he’s got the right potion, baby, rub it down and make it smooth like lotion. Yeah, the ritual highway to heaven: from seven to seven, he’s got me open like 7-11. And yes, it’s always me that he’s choosin’, with him I’m never losin’ and he knows that my name is not Susan.
She obliterated this verse. She got maybe two words wrong. Sure, Lynnette’s delivery did not at all reflect the timing and tune of the actual song, but that’s not really important. By this time, I was so hyped, I was kicking my legs, probably hitting Abby with vicious body blows. I was giggling and shouting words of encouragement. Aside: Since we’re here, can we just all agree that these lyrics are absurd? I know I was only 13 when the song was released, but seeing them now in print is to witness an atrocity. She’s giving credit to her man because he knows her name is not Susan? She’s not even saying that he knows her name! Only that he knows it’s not Susan! Really? That’s all it takes to be praised with “whatta man” a billion times?
We continued through the song, and I snapped a picture without telling her. Hands-down (you’re damn right, pun intended) the best part of the night was catching Lynnette while “rapping.” Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you RAP HANDS. Lynnette was throwing these bad boys up while flowing. If this were video footage, I am positive we would all see head bobbing and lip licking. “I’m so turned on right now,” I said. “‘I going sleep,” Lynnette said. Whatta woman, whatta woman, whatta woman, whatta mighty-mighty-mighty good woman.