“These guys sing so fast, I can’t understand them.”

My boss is hard of hearing. Against his doctor’s orders, he only wears his hearing aids at court or on a conference call. This leads to frustrating conversations where you have to repeat yourself frequently. But there are three instances when this has worked in my favor.

One
“Hey Sam, can you take a look at this for me?”

“Definitely!” I flipped through the pages. “When do you need this by?”

“Before lunch would be great.”

“I’ll finish this email and edit this next.”

My boss paused at the doorway, straining to listen to the music playing quietly.

Poppin’ that pussy’s a dance for the ladies
Straight from the south, into the 90’s
Freaky bitches are the ones I like
In g-strings in the middle of the night

“These guys sing so fast, I can’t understand them. Plus, the beat’s so loud — it drowns out the words.”

I laughed awkwardly. “This song is by 2 Live Crew.”

“I’ll look ’em up.”

Two
Like many of my older coworkers, my boss is a fiscal conservative who reminisces about President Ronald Reagan’s “glory days.” He knows that I was heavily involved in Young Democrats in college, so we don’t talk about politics much. One afternoon, I was listening to Killer Mike and cranking out a particularly tedious set of reports, when he popped into my office.

“How’re those reports comin’ along?”

“I’ll have them done in an hour.”

“Great, thanks!”

I’m dropping off the grid before they pump the lead
I leave you with four words, I’m glad Reagan dead
Ronald Wilson Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan

He beamed. “This fella’s singin’ about President Reagan!”

I winced. “Um…yes.”

“What’s his name?”

“Killer Mike. He’s from Atlanta.”

“It’s real cool that he’s got a song payin’ tribute to The Gipper!”

Three
Sometimes, I’ll stream music from certain artists’ stations on Rdio. (Rdio is a music subscription service that predated Spotify.) That afternoon, I was listening to the Lil Kim station and working on billing.

“I sent you an email about a pre-bill — could you re-run that for me real quick?”

“Sure. Do you want a hard copy or PDF sent to your email?”

“Hard copy’s good.”

My neck
My back
Lick my pussy
And my crack

“Listenin’ to lady singers today?”

I discreetly turned the volume down. “Yeah, this is Khia.”

“I should start wearin’ my hearin’ aids around the office, so I can hear this hip music you young folks listen to!”

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“This is the first time I’ve heard of twerking.”

“Miley’s dad must be real proud of her.” Mike laughed as he walked into his office, the one opposite mine.

“Mike, you watched the VMAs last night?!”

Mike is another one of my older white coworkers. Unlike Old Jim, he’s not clueless — he was a hippie during the Woodstock era and asks me about musicians featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered. We share stories about the best shows we’ve seen; his was Pink Floyd at Berkeley, but I haven’t been to enough to pick a favorite yet. The last thing he would ever watch is MTV, much less the VMAs.

“Nah, CNN was showing a clip on the TV when I grabbed coffee at the café.”

“Ugh, Miley is a train wreck!”

“I was wondering what kinda sick porno they were showing — I just about fell down the stairs!”

“She always says she’s twerking, but that’s not what her dancing is.”

“This is the first time I’ve heard of twerking. Is it a dance style like the Harlem Shake?”

“Yeah, the styles aren’t similar, but it is a dance style like the real Harlem Shake.”

“I take it those costumed weirdos randomly flailing in the YouTube videos weren’t doing the real one.”

“Exactly.” I paused. “If you want to see real twerking, then we should watch one of Big Freedia’s videos.”

Mike gestured to his computer. I found Big Freedia’s video for “Y’all Get Back Now” on YouTube and hit play. Mike watched curiously.

“Big Freedia is a rather big woman — buff, I mean.”

“She’s a drag queen. Her show at Terminal West was epic.”

“These folks dancing behind her –”

“Her twerk team.”

“Women and men — their moves are amazing!”

“Whatever Miley was doing doesn’t resemble this at all.”

“Why does a skinny white girl make a fool of herself trying to imitate the twerk team members?!”

“I ask myself that every time I read stories about Juicy J or other rappers putting her onstage.”

“She’s gotta know they’re laughing at her, not with her.” Mike chuckled, “Thanks for the education, Sam. We should show Big Freedia’s video to Old Jim after lunch. He’d appreciate this, for sure.”

“I don’t know what good it’ll do. He still thinks dubstep is a dance, not a genre of music.”

“Who’s that broad Molly?”

I try not to write about where I work very often, for fear of my boss finding my blog. As mentioned in my poem yesterday, my office is in Buckhead and as I wrote in my rant about the verdict for the Trayvon Martin case, many of my coworkers are conservative white men (the majority of whom are middle-aged or older).

Most days, my coworkers’ offhandedly sexist or slightly racist comments frustrate me. However, there have been several hilarious occasions that have made up for it. (I’ll be sharing one today and others in future posts.)

Silence is the ultimate productivity killer for me, so I need to have music on while I’m working. When I’m chugging through tedious reports, I either listen to hip-hop or obnoxious dance music. About a month ago, I was listening to Trinidad James’s album when Old Jim walked into my office.

Old Jim is a brusque yet friendly man who’s close to retirement age. (The other Jim in our office is Big Jim, since he’s a huge man who acts like The Hulk during tax season). Old Jim usually asks me about pop culture so he can have some common ground with his kids.

Trinidad James was rapping in the background.

Pop a molly I’m sweatin’ (woo!)
Pop a molly I’m sweatin’ (woo!)

“Who’s that broad Molly? All the rappers talk about her. She must be pretty popular.”

“Molly isn’t a lady; it’s a drug.”

Old Jim pondered this for a moment.

“So can you smoke it like dope?”

I was too busy dying inside to reply.