I miss believing that some people know everything. I’ve never been religious but I did, in my youth, have complete faith in certain people’s unwavering correctness. My Dad, for example. Until at least the age of seven, if I had any questions about life, the universe and anything, I never doubted that not only would my Dad be able to answer them, but he’d do so correctly too. The meanings of words, maths problems, moral dilemmas – the answers all lay in wait.
Occasionally, if you asked him at the wrong time, my Dad would pretend not to know things, but I always knew he was just bluffing because he couldn’t be bothered to listen to what I was asking. I still remember really specific stuff that I learnt from him. Like what ‘in fact’ means. He told me that. I was reading a Mr Men book and it came up. I think it was Mr. Tickle: ‘In fact, Mr. Tickle’s arms were so long, he could reach all the way to town’ etc. Sweet, right?
I had similar faith in some of my primary school teachers. I had one called Miss Swan who I thought was infallible. I don’t think she enjoyed it all too much. I once asked her what ‘orgy’ meant – to her credit she calmly replied, “lots of people having sexual intercourse all at once” – and once I inadvertently called her fat. I think my thought process was something like: ‘She knows everything, I can’t touch her, what difference does it make to the human equivalent of the best computer ever if I think she’s a bit large?’ I was such a little shit, I now realise. I just sort of said “You’re quite fat, aren’t you, Miss?” And then I walked off.
Anyway, the reason I’m nostalgically longing for those childhood days when the answers to everything were just questions away is because at the moment I’m preoccupied with trying to justify my gangsta rap habit. It’s really difficult. I especially love Notorious. All those guys who say Tupac was better are just silly. Tupac was lame and took himself far too seriously. Did he ever let little kids imitate him in his videos? No no no, he was all ‘Look at me, look at meeee!’ Loser. Anyway, Notorious. So, he’s a dude right? Awesome at making things you’d never expect to rhyme go together, like ‘how’ and ‘cow’. For example, ‘birthday’ and ‘thirs-tay’ – who knew!
I’m not dumb, it’s not that I don’t know that he raps really ridiculous things. I’m just over-privileged and so feel distanced enough to laugh instead of cry. It’s terrible really. A symbol of bourgeois limp moral standing. I feel bad. Sort of. I try. But he says it so funky! I’m the worst kind of rich kid ever. I’m so smug that I think bitches and hoes and machine gun funks are ironic.
It’s like when my brother and I met Dizzee Rascal. We were at a festival in Norway and bumped into/stalked him at a bar. We thought we’d bond with the real Dizzee, discuss the self-reflexivity of his work and shit. No no no, it turns out. I said “So, we loved your show” – note the usage of ‘show’ here; show, not reality, I thought. Naïve little rich girl – “how do you like Norway?”
“I like the wimmin innit,” he said. And then he looked down my top. I was so sad.
Now, if I had come across Notorious at age seven – before I’d become disillusioned by seeing Miss Swan parking her car in the disabled space and I’d realised that my Dad makes a lot of things up out of thin air and then pretends to have read them somewhere – I would not be in this sticky situation. I would have just asked either of them: “Guys, is it ok to be misogynistic, glamorise gun violence and drugs, promote materialism and gang culture?” They would both have said, “No. You can’t have that CD and nor may you like it.” I would have said “OK then,” and that would have been that. No guilty pleasure at the sheer joy which ‘Honeys play me close like butter plays toast’ inspires. Back when I believed my elders blindly, I didn’t have to think about this stuff. I hate thinking for myself.
It’s that whole irony-as-an excuse thing. You can’t have a mullet and be all like, “Well, actually I’m quoting Hasselhoff in a sardonic way.” If you’re sporting a mullet, as my friend Paul says, “It is never ironic, only moronic. Irony is a privilege that takes effort, not something to play with willy nilly in a ludicrously short-sided long-backed way.” I’m just going to have to admit that I really like some grime and gangsta rap. The fact that it doesn’t fit in with my super-enlightened literature student image of myself is something I’m going to have to live with, honestly, in a non-ironic way.
I bought the censored version of Notorious’s greatest hits recently. I think that’s a good first step. It’s like starring out letters in swear-words; although they’re not with us, we know that they’re there in spirit.
Airing my dirtiest laundry
How weird is too weird? Well, firstly, let me appeal to that great literary thinker James Joyce. He had this to say: “The smallest things give me a great cockstand – a whorish movement of your mouth, a little brown stain on the seat of your white drawers, a sudden dirty word spluttered out by your wet lips, a sudden immodest noise made by your behind and then a bad smell slowly curling up out of your backside.”
You’d be surprised what happens between the sheets of closed books. Now, I don’t want to put Joyce on a pedestal, but he does apply ‘belles-lettres’ to fart-sniffing. Well, perhaps Joyce voices the desires of more people than we’d care to think.
The point is that it becomes uncomfortable when it’s all out in the open, upwind of the general public. A new reason for a ‘Room of One’s Own’ perhaps. Well, who am I to talk? I did spend an evening making up new verses to the diarrhoea song. The pinnacle of our success was:
When you’re starting to feel
And you’re thinking like James
Clearly, there is a compulsion to talk about the illicit in public; I am living testament. The smell of that evening still leaves a sour taste between my ‘wet lips’. But that was okay because we distanced ourselves, making a joke of things that we were secretly delighted to voice.
Be true to yourself and your desire to air your dirty laundry. Weird is fine. Just don’t commit it to paper because, as Joyce now knows, it will come back to bite you; sensuously, between the frills.