The Urban Dictionary and I go way back to when I nearly died of embarrassment.
Here is my story of why every mother should bookmark the urban dictionary.
Every year on our street there is a party. The neighbourhood kids—by which I mean elementary school kids—are out there until midnight, dancing the night away. In our first year in the neighbourhood, I got schooled about the music kids like. Two of my sons have birthdays around the same time as the street party, and I make playlists for the kids’ parties. Raffi meets Talking Heads. The kids dancing away on our street knew the lyrics and dance moves to club music. I loved seeing them bouncing around, catching the glow sticks that the DJ was tossing out, laughing and in a musical world of their own. Clearly I needed to update things. I asked the DJ for some of the song titles to put on the next birthday playlist. One particularly popular song was called “Crank Dat.” It’s quite catchy.
It’s also pornographic.
I didn’t learn the meaning to the lyrics of the song until I played it a week later at my three-year-old son’s birthday party. I very proudly played my cooler-than-ever birthday playlist. I very smugly observed my sons and my nieces and nephews as they danced around to my latest creation. Then their 24-year-old uncle pulled me aside.
“Nathalie, you can’t put that song on a kids’ c.d. It’s really vulgar.”
“I can’t tell you.”
“Steve, you can’t tell me you can’t tell me. You have to tell me.”
“Please, Steve. You can’t tell me my babies are dancing to something awful and then clam up. What are we listening to?”
Again, in my defense, I did my research and looked up the lyrics on-line before putting the tune on the playlist. There are many versions of the song, and I read several different sets of lyrics, but to be honest, I didn’t have the first clue what I was reading. I thought “crank” was a dance move. It had “hoe” in it, but the line is “Crank dat, Soljaboy. Superman dat hoe.” Now, I know the meaning of “hoe,” and it’s offensive enough, but because I couldn’t make sense of the grammar of the sentence, I dismissed it. I honestly thought that in that context it could mean “Ho!” As in Snow White’s dwarves’ “Hi-ho, Hi-ho, It’s off to work we go.” Nope.
Superman is not just a proper noun. Superman is a transitive verb that means to ejaculate on a woman’s back, flip her over onto the bedsheet so that when she stands up the sheet sticks to her and she has a cape.
The kids were singing and dancing to this tune, putting their arms up in the air like a crowd of mini-supermen, and somewhere the grown-up hip-hop gods were laughing. I was horrified. Apparently an advanced degree in literature does not entitle you to simply dismiss as harmless a song whose lyrics you don’t understand.
And this is why I now have the urban dictionary bookmarked in my browser. Question everything. Look it up, even if you think you understand it. The internet is your friend.