Jenny and I were on the swings down at the park one afternoon, doing what most kids did on the swings, which was swing as fast and as hard as possible to see if we could go higher than the bar at the top. The only thing that set us apart from most kids you’d typically find on the swings was that we were shouting obscene song lyrics the entire time.
Warning: This post contains explicit lyrics. Dun dun DUUUUUUUNN!!!!
We couldn’t help ourselves. Jenny and I were 12 and 11, respectively, and the most exciting musical group of our young lives had broken big in South Florida, and was about to break on the national stage. A musical group so exciting, in a couple more years the government would actually briefly ban the sale of their album in the United States. That group was Miami’s very own 2 Live Crew.
(I could spend three or four paragraphs describing the events surrounding the rise of 2 Live Crew, but you’d do much better to look it up on Wikipedia. That shit was crazy!)
Jenny and I, and all the other delinquents we knew, were obsessed with 2 Live Crew. It wasn’t because we were superfans of the group; if anything, we were solid hair metal fans and we merely dabbled in what was called “rap music” at the time. We liked LL Cool J and RUN DMC just fine, but we weren’t completely nutso over them or anything.
We were obsessed with 2 Live Crew for the same reason any kids our age were obsessed with them: Because their songs were filled with dirty words. Super dirty words. Jenny and I sang those songs constantly and relentlessly.
That particular afternoon, Jenny and I had been loudly singing call-and-response rounds of, “Heeeey we want some puuuu-ssay!” from the swings for a few minutes or so before Jenny said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait. Stop. Stop swinging. Stop.”
I dragged my bare feet across the sandy gray dirt back and forth a few times to slow myself down and came to a stop. I looked at Jenny, concerned, and asked, “What’s wrong?”
Jenny looked puzzled and leaned the side of her face against her hand on the swing-chain. “Do you think we should change the words since we’re into dudes?” she asked.
I pursed my lips to one side, chewing on the inside of my cheek in contemplation over the very important question Jenny had just posed. Changing song lyrics was serious business. All song lyrics had to be sung with exact precision or else someone might accuse you of not knowing the words, which was an unforgivable offense. Not knowing the words meant you were a poseur, and nobody would ever let you live it down.
I replied, “Well, it’s not like we’re not taping it or anything. Everybody already knows we know all the words. I’m cool with changing them if you are.”
Then we started swinging again, pumping our legs as hard as we could to get back to our previously lofty heights, now singing rounds of, “Heeeey we want some DICK!”
We were charming little girls.
The flow was all wrong on the song now, though. I looked over at Jenny and yelled, “Stop! Hang on. Stop swinging.”
We both slowed to a stop again.
I said, “The words don’t sound right with the melody now. It cuts off too soon. I think we need to add a word or syllable or something. I mean, ‘pussy’ is two syllables.”
Jenny agreed. We tried out a few filler words over the next couple minutes and finally came to a decision on one. Then we started swinging again, hard and fast as we soared skyward, this time singing, “Heeeey, we want some biiiig diiiiiick!”
We had only gotten a few rounds of our new, improved song lyrics shouted out when a woman marched up next to the swings, planted her hands on her hips and yelled, “Hey! I need to talk to you! Both of you, get off those swings NOW!”
Jenny and I gave each other the “Uh oh” look and slowed our swinging to a stop. We sat on the swings with our feet in the dirt, scrunching it between our toes while we sized this woman up. She was probably around 35 years old, had a full-on lady mullet haircut, and was wearing peach stretch pants and an oversized Tweety Bird t-shirt. She looked like every 35 year old woman in our neighborhood, except that we had never seen this particular 35 year old woman before.
Let me just interrupt for a moment here to tell you what it meant that we had never seen this woman before. In our neighborhood everybody knew everybody, which meant that if we didn’t know you, you must be new in town or just visiting someone, and probably didn’t understand the kind of neighborhood you had just walked into. Dirty words were going to be the least of this woman’s troubles. Hell, the first time I was held at knife-point by a group of teenage boys I was 6 years old. Had she ridden a bike to come and confront us that day, it would have been stolen before she even got off the damn thing.
Jenny, the braver of the two of us, spoke first.
“Can I help you?” Jenny said, as snottily as any tween girl could because, oh my god, nobody does “snotty” like tween girls.
The woman’s eyes narrowed. “Oh, you can just hold your smart mouth right there, honey,” she replied. “I can hear you two spouting off that filth from four blocks over! What on God’s green Earth is wrong with the two of you?!”
I piped up, “We were just singing a song. We didn’t write it. Well, not most of it, anyway.”
(Look at me, age 11, already trying to finagle a writing credit for changing ‘puuuu-ssay’ to ‘biiiig diiiiiick’. Typical.)
The woman took one hand off her hip and pointed her finger at us.
“I don’t care who wrote what – it’s FILTH! IT’S ALL FILTH AND YOU BOTH NEED TO SHUT YOUR FILTHY MOUTHS RIGHT THIS MINUTE!!”
Assuming incorrectly that we must have been sisters (another clue that she wasn’t from our neighborhood, my sisters were notorious), she continued, “How would you like it if I go tell your mother about what you’re doing right now? That her little girls are yelling such filthy things and have a couple of real smart mouths, too? You know what? That’s exactly what I’m going to do! Where do you live? Tell me your address! I’m walking over there RIGHT NOW! I bet your mother will be VERY interested to know what her little girls are doing down here, spreading filth with those filthy little mouths.”
I pointed towards the north and sheepishly said, “We live on Cheshire. Two blocks that way.”
She said, “Oh, that does me a lot of good. So I guess I should just go walking up and down the street to try and figure out which house? What’s the house number, smart mouth?”
Jenny’s tone softened as she said, “It’s 4275. We’re sorry. Please don’t tell our mom. Can you please, please not tell our mom?”
Jenny worked up some light, convincing tears.
“Please. We don’t want to get in trouble. We were just messing around. We won’t do it again, we promise.”
The woman smirked at us and haughtily said, “You should have thought of THAT before you ran your filthy little smart mouths,” and then marched off in a huff towards Cheshire Street to rat us out.
As we watched her walk away and fade into the distance, Jenny smiled. She lit a cigarette and said, “Pffft. Let’s get out of here. I’m bored.”
We shared the cigarette as walked south, in the opposite direction of Cheshire Street, to our separate homes that weren’t on Cheshire Street, neither of which were numbered 4275 (there were no houses numbered 4275 in our neighborhood).
The irony, of course, was that even if we had given that woman our real addresses, neither of our mothers would have given a rat’s ass about our shouting obscenities from the swings. Anything less than being brought home in a police car was considered “kids just being kids” and was no cause for concern.
Before parting ways down my street I took a drag off the cigarette and passed it to Jenny.
I exhaled the smoke. “Adults are so dumb. What was that lady’s problem? It’s just a song.”
Jenny took the last drag, flicked the cigarette into a canal and said, “No shit, huh. Tomorrow we’ll sing “Throw The Dick”. Later, filthy mouth!” and took off towards her street.
I gave her a small salute and replied, “Later, smart mouth!”
And I turned out JUST FINE.
It took everything I had to not title this story “Pussy Is Two Syllables”.