Driving home from Lubbock the other day I had to smile when Tone Loc sang about doin’ the wild thing on the radio because it took me back to the classroom and the first time I heard that song. I thought I’d share that story-and then I had a vague feeling I had already shared that story.
So I checked, and sure enough, it was embedded in one of my stories about music in general (“Stuck in the 50s, 60s, 70s…Heck, Even the 80s,” August 29, 2013.) And I thought, I think (I hope!) I have new readers, several who may be former students who were not exposed to the original blog and might get a kick out of the story. I don’t have an editor to tell me not to do it, it is a funny story and a fond memory of mine, so why not revisit the fun the kids had when it all happened?
So here goes.
The year was 1989, when the song was released. Rap and hip-hop were sneaking into the mix of pop and rock, not one of my favorite genres, so I had not heard it yet. I was teaching a leadership class in Muleshoe High School. That particular day the kids had desk work to do and asked if they could listen to the radio as they worked. We did that from time to time when the situation was appropriate, so I turned on one of the local stations; I forget which one after all this time. I turned the volume down low, the kids got busy, and things were moving right along.
I, of course, listened to the music, too, as I worked at my desk. And then Tone Loc cranks up this song. Things went pretty well. At least it told a story, I could understand the words, and the music wasn’t that bad-for rap. We’re all just coasting along, working, music playing, and I am slightly aware of some squirming going on. But no problem.
And then as the music is ba-bumping along, I hear the infamous line “I need $50 to make you holler, I get paid to do the wild thing…”
I smile, chuckle, and look up to see and hear the kids just cracking up! Dusty Lee sat in a front desk right in front of mine, and he was loving every minute of it. To former students who were also in that class, I apologize; Dusty is the only one of you I can recall being in that class, and I think that is because he was having such a good time waiting to see how I would react and was the first student I saw when I looked up, all teeth, a grin from ear to ear, and laughing out loud as he looked around to make sure all the rest of you saw my reaction.
So after we all laughed out loud and giggled a lot, things calmed down and everyone went back to their work, but with smirky little smiles on their faces. And the radio played on.
These are the things I remember about school. Not the discipline problems. Not the stupid TEAMS and TAKS tests. Not the homework or the paperwork in general.
Kids. They are what I miss about teaching.
Oh, the fun we had.
Wild Thing, by Anthony Smith, Marvin Young, Matt Dike. Performed by Tone Loc, Copyright Ex Vw, Inc. 1989.