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Wednesday, 16 March 2011


“Have you heard of Nate Dogg?” T14 asked. He’d just got in and by-passed all the normal Hello stuff.

T14 has taken to adding –dog to his friends’ initials, and then talking about them as if it is a perfectly normal way to behave, “Hey, C-dog, A-dog’s got hair like J-dog, what a loser,” sort of thing. It makes conversation confusing, which I’m sure is the point, trying to decipher who all the various dogs are. Particularly when J-dog is, in this case Justin Bieber and A-dog someone we don’t even know’s brother. And when C-dog turns out to mean his own brother, F12; the C standing for Chubbs. F12 is a slip of a lad.
See what I mean?
So it goes without saying that I rarely know what he is talking about. The –dog nonsense is new and, I’m hoping, will be sent to the big kennel in the sky by the weekend.

So I said, “No,” I didn’t know who Nate Dogg was, while harbouring up my sleeve a suspicion that it might be G-dog’s sister. Something I could produce on the second round of guessing to impress and endear.
He rolled his eyes. “Nate Dogg! Like one of the biggest rap stars….”
Well, point proved. “Rap Stars,” I scoffed, “No, of course I’ve not heard of – why would I have heard of anyone called Nate Dogg.”

The whole territory is fraught. I hear Lady Bracknell’s handbag in my scorn, I hear my grandmother asking me in Edwardian air quotes if I was Shacking. Up. With. My. Boyfriend. I hear judges enquiring who are the Beatles? Then we have Brian True-May: has his sacking meant that I can no longer express within the four walls of home that rap don’t float my boat? Am I dissing their art? Could they care less? Could I? Dizzy with PC it's hard to remember how to react sometimes.

Conflated with all this is T14’s on-going, occasional assertion that he has an Afro, so big as to preclude him, say, from getting in the car when the destination doesn’t suit; huge arguments can arise because of the existence or otherwise of the Afro and what it thinks about the various activities on offer. F12 scoffs in irritable outrage, I stoutly defend. Nothing is simple. This boy with the smoothest of smooth hair is in mourning that he’ll never have an Afro, so he and pretend he does. And when he isn't in Afro-land, he's being a Liverpudlian, or a Glasweigian, or a Welshman. It's all very inventive, and probably not allowed anymore. It all gets so confusing. Accents in brown paper bags.
"I have got an Afro," he will say. Possibly in heavy Welsh.
"You haven't," says F12 dangerously, made furious by the whole thing. "Mum! Tell him, tell him he hasn't got an Afro."

“Sing something of his, then,” I said, ever reasonable. "I might realise I do know who he is."
“They don’t sing,” he said dismissively, “they rap. That’s the whole point of rap stars, they rap.”
“Well, rap something then, go on, mutter it in an aggressive way.” It was almost impossible not to fall over laughing. I did some very amusing middle aged woman swaggery stuff and edged my trousers down to hang ‘em low. I tugged at my invisible saucepan on sideways cap and jingled my bling.
“I can’t. But he was signed to Death Row Records. I can’t believe you’ve not heard of him. Don’t Laugh!! He’s Dead!”
“I’m not laughing at him being dead, I’m laughing at you. Nicely, of course.” God, modern parenting. I tried to show an interest. “How did he die? Shot? An overdose?”
“NO! It was a stroke. Another stroke.”

His brother walked in, dwarfed by the enormous backpack he must wear to get through a day at school. His knees buckled as he shrugged it off in small, heavy jerks.
“Hey, Chubbs, you’ve heard of Nate Dogg.”
“Yeah,” said Chubbs, F12, cautiously, not sure how this was going, whether he was going to regret such an admission. How! How has my tiny professor heard of Nate Dogg?
“Well he’s died.”
“From a stroke
“Cool,” said F12. “Like Peter Griffin. He had a stroke.”
“But he didn’t die and aaaargh! He’s a cartoon. Peter Griffin’s just someone on ‘Family Guy.’ I can’t believe this family. Nate Dogg was a real person. And you’re like laughing. You can’t laugh at someone dying! No one CARES!”

E got home. “Have you heard of Nate Dogg,” I asked.
“Yeah,” said E. E knows everything. “Sure. He’s one of Snoop Dog’s homies. Or was. He’s dead, died from a stroke.”
“Go and lurk,” I said busily shovelling him out of the way, “T14 will ask you. He needs a sensible answer. F12 and I let him down; he’s sulking.”

So E went and lurked, in a "I've heard of Nate Dogg" kind of way but T14 was onto the next stage of mourning and was busy killing zombies on screen. My mother used to look at them playing in the garden. "You weren't like .... this," she'd say. I never quite got her then. But this this, I certainly don't get. Rap. Zombies. Screens as a way of life.
E didn’t ask. Which was a shame. T14 had lost heart and hadn’t sought out the right person to ask, but still retained some sort of moral high ground in purse-lipped zapping. It seemed the wrong moment to suggest that he chill - advice he is happy to throw our way in moments of crisis - nor the time to insist on him practising the piano. Grade 6 might call from my bossy perspective, but Nate Dogg’s song still sings to him. Or raps. Whatever that is.


Expat mum said...

Having two older teenagers I thought I was extraordinarily hip (against their assertions to the contrary) but I hadn't heard of Nate nor any of the "star rappers" he sang for.

Tattie Weasle said...

Oh Dear! At least my parents had heard of Elvis as I sobbed as uncontrollably as an 11 year old can over his dying in 1977. Actually thinking about it I was probably trying to get out of going to tea with Granny....wonderful post!

mountainear said...

Dog and Dogg - you do attract 'em don't you!

Milla said...

yes, Expat, hard to believe one is being left behind - and for what?
Poor Granny, Tattie! I can still remember a girl at school purely because of her crumpled purple face sobbing for Elvis - not you by any chance?!?!
Mountainear, seem to. Oh Gawd. Or Dawg.

Fennie said...

As perfect a piece of social commentary as you will find your side of Offa's Dyke. You could wring comedy out of a damp rag. I guess this alone should suffice to get you elected to the Groucho Club. Still, it all seems so long ago, from my doddery perspective, and when it was, it was Bon Jovi, Guns'n'Roses, Wham. They grow up and out. Of it. The offspring. Oh yes, been there done that got the T - shirt. This parenting, what a lark! And your never done with it. Even at 38 they still ring for advice.

Frances said...

Milla, I tried for a clever comment, but failed. However I did know of Mr Dogg's demise. Could I relate any of his raps? No way.

I used to be able to fly through the various New York Times crossword puzzles...going back to the mid-1960's. No longer. Think I now have restricted absorption of all cultures, all the time.

Still happy that I can touch my toes, and that my much younger friends, colleagues, and so on, and I can trade jokes and laugh together.

(Remember though, no teenage children in my tiny apartment.)

This blog was fab! xo

Preseli Mags said...

For one sad and confused moment I thought "Dizzy with PC" was yet another rap star. I didn't know who Nate Dogg was either, but recognised his voice when I heard it. Funny tale though. I reckon L-dog has the best 'fro in your household!

legend in his own lunchtime said...

I've got all this to come. The trouble with me is that I can just about remember who the Beatles are, so have no chance to interact with Jr when he comes home a hippen and a hoppen.

Norma Murray said...

You've made my day Milla dear, so glad my own boys have flown and have their own problems. The Granddaughters think I am cool because I am old fashioned (and I know how to apply eye liner with a brush)

Edward said...

I hear my grandmother asking me in Edwardian air quotes if I was Shacking. Up. With. My. Boyfriend.

Worth reading for this sentence alone. I know I'm slightly biased, but you really are unbelievably brilliant.

Jen said...

'Accents in brown paper bags' is really the best line I've read for months.

My word of the day, taught by the teens, is 'chunder', used in my offer to bust some moves to a KajaGooGoo track or too. Bloody sods.

Milla said...

Fennie, fear I was that Wham loving chick.
Frances, toe-touching, hmmm, what are toes?
PM, chortle. Fule. Dizzy with PC is a fine fellow.
Legend, enjoy every insane moment of it. Spins past. Sobs.
Norma, blimey, eye shadow with a brush. Gulp, you mean there's another way? what will the ghastly young think of next?
Edward, as the FB girls would say, true dat. Shudder.
Jen, Bloody Sods indeed. A phrase which isn't pressed into service nearly enough.
Thanks all. Very much. Where's Fred when I need her - look the sentences are getting short to the point of absurdity.

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

Parenting - it's a minefield!!

I've heard of Snoop Dog though, he was almost refused entry into the UK a while back, I think, for some misdemeanor?

Exmoorjane said...

Me me ME!!!! *waves paw in over-excitement* I've heard of SOmething or other Dog (ooops, just seen comment above, maybe the wrong dog..)
Why do they like rap? I try, I really do, try not to be ancient and dinosaurish but really....I kinda love the Black Eyed Peas but then mainly the bits when they're not rapping...and only cos we dance to them in Zumba. Ah well. Lovely as always, dear heart. xxx

Sordel said...

I'm still recovering from the revelation that your mother used to watch zombies playing in the garden. It's like a seventies reworking of the Cotingley fairies.

Danmark said...

Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what they’re talking about on the internet? You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I can’t believe you’re not more popular because you definitely have the gift. !

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