Home Sick

Hotel, motel …

I bet plenty of y’all know what comes next.

Back to that in a moment.

In second grade I had a crush on the nurse, so I pretended to be sick. My teacher sent me to the office; the nurse sent me home — for two days!

In third grade I stayed home from school because it was raining buckets and I didn’t want to get drenched, AND I thought I was too cool to carry an umbrella. When my mom came home during her lunch hour, I hid in a drawer (yes a drawer) until she left.

In the sixth grade I was out for three weeks, which cost me an honor roll certificate. I’m still a bit upset about that.

Of all of the days I stayed home, none is as memorable, however, as the one I spent — in 8th grade — with the Sugarhill Gang. Although I was sick enough to miss school, I felt well enough to roam around the house. And while I enjoy being home alone from time to time these days, boredom came quickly when I was in middle school. To pass the time, I listened to music.

The first and only song I listened to all day is the one you see pictured here, which introduced three MCs: Michael “Wonder Mike” Wright, Henry “Big Bank Hank” Jackson, and Guy “Master Gee” O’Brien.

The long version of “Rapper’s Delight” is just shy of 15 minutes (the short version is 6:30). While the song wasn’t the first of its kind, its popularity and style is generally considered to be the song that introduced hip hop music to the masses.

I was determined to memorize it.

I played the record for hours — lifting the needle (yes a needle) and moving it back to replay the record over and over and over again.

My favorite of the three MCs was Master Gee – “I said M-A-S, T-E-R, a G with a double E, I said I go by the unforgettable name of the man they call the Master Gee.” My favorite verse, however, was rapped by Wonder Mike:

Have you ever went over
a friend’s house to eat
and the food just ain’t no good?
I mean the macaroni’s soggy
the peas are mushed
and the chicken tastes like wood
So you try to play it off
like you think you can
by saying that you’re full
And then your friend says
momma he’s just being polite
he ain’t finished uh-uh that’s bull

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the late Imp the Dimp, the ladies’ pimp: Big Bank Hank, who emphatically reminded everyone that the Treacherous Trio were a serious joint.

I was SO proud of memorizing Rapper’s Delight that I spent the next several days rapping it all day long. To this day, I’ve often wondered how others took to learn the 15 minute song.

Nowadays, when I’m home — sick or otherwise — I often have music playing — from Frank Sinatra, to Vicente Fernandez, to James Taylor, to rap (usually 2Pac). Thankfully, my taste in music has outgrown the narrow tastes of my childhood, when, like most, was spent listening to either rock or soul.

Moreover, I’d like to think that the music I play at home is enjoyed by everyone — the black, the white, the red and the brown, the purple and yellow.

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