The Rap Star


I started doodling on some paper. First, I drew a cartoon of a guy yelling at a falling snowflake (yes, I’m sick of winter). Then, without much thought, I started writing:

I got my tricky-trackies
I got my flippy-floppies
I’m the greatest rapper alive!

Soon after that, I went to bed. The next morning, a Saturday, I got up before my wife and went to lie on the living room sofa, staring glumly at the white, frozen wasteland of the Ainslie Wood hydro field past our back yard and the turkey buzzard circling over a guy walking a dog. (To learn more about Ainslie Wood’s climate and wildlife, see markcoakley.wordpress.com.)

Our two younger sons were already awake and in the TV room. Through the closed door, it sounded like they were playing with Lego. After a while, I heard our eight- year-old’s voice. He was singing the lyrics I’d left on the coffee table! With his high voice, and a melody like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, it sounded really cute.

I went to the TV room and asked him, “Do you like the rap song I wrote?”

“Yeah!” he said, very enthusiastically. “But what are ‘tricky-trackies’?”

“In the hip-hop scene,” I said, “that’s what we call track pants.” I gestured at the grey cotton-polyester pair that I was wearing, adding, “Like Kanye West and Drake, I buy my tricky-trackies at Wal-Mart. And do you know what flippy-floppies are?”

“A kind of bug?”

“Nice guess, but no. It’s how rappers refer to Crocs.” I pointed at the pair of neon orange plastic sandals I was wearing over my white gym-socks.

“Cool,” he said.
“Have you ever heard of Lil Wayne?” I asked.
“He used to be the greatest rapper alive and always wore orange flippy-floppies. When I met him in Vegas one time, he gave me these flippy-floppies from his own feet and said that he had changed his mind, that Mark Coakley — your dada — is actually the greatest rapper alive. Ever since, Lil Wayne has been my biggest fan.”

My six-year-old and eight-year-old looked at my foot- wear, obviously very impressed.

Okay, okay — I confess, the garish orange plastic sandals actually came from the Upper James PayLess Shoe Store (half price!) and I’ve never even met Lil Wayne. I sense some readers shaking their heads in self-righteous disapproval. So you think that lying to children for fun is wrong? Well, I see it different. Having kids is a lot of effort and hassle; one parental perk is the opportunity — no, the duty — to fill their naive, innocent minds with amusing falsehoods. Someday they’ll realize that rappers don’t dress like you, just like someday they’ll learn that the animals we see on the side of the road are actually dead, not just taking a nap.

Later that morning, when making breakfast, I got an idea for some more brilliant rap lyrics. I called my three pajama-clad boys to the kitchen and, stomping one foot for a beat and pretending that a spatula was a micro- phone, I boomed:

I got my bacon shakin’!
I got my eggies beggin’!
I’m the greatest rapper alive!

Our younger two laughed, the six-year-old saying, “That’s so silly, Dada!”

I said, “Call me Swagga Dada!”

Our thirteen-year-old, however, seemed a bit embarrassed by my elbow-jerking, ankle-twitching dance moves. As he left to go back to his Minecraft computer game, he said, “I think you need to go to sense of rhythm school, if there is such a thing.”

Unfortunately, my wife didn’t sleep as long as she’d hoped that morning and woke in a slightly grouchy mood. Our house has thin walls and, apparently, my voice gets loud when I rap. I greeted my wife in the kitchen by grabbing the spatula again and doing my rap for her a couple times, throwing in a few fist-pumps and crotch-clutches. At one point, I ad-libbed, “Party people, raise yo hands!”

She said, “If you must do this Swagga Dada thing at a karaoke place, can’t you do it in another town, where nobody knows us?”

“Hmph,” I hmphed.

Despite such doubters, I know I’m still the greatest rapper alive. Someday, the music industry will finally realize that too and will celebrate me as a living legend! Until then, I’ll stay in the hip-hop underground.

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