I am not cool.
People ask if I’ve heard the new song by whoever, and I have to stop them, because unless whoever has been recording ditties for at least ten years, I won’t know who they are.
When friends are giving me directions, I need them to relate it to the nearest fast food place. It’s no good to say “it’s next to Mishmosh”, because, what, excuse me, is that code for something? But tell me “opposite Burger King on Courtenay”, and I’ll see you at that hip new bar.
I just used the word ‘hip’.
So when I discover something that could be considered legitimately cool, I get that panicked excited feeling in my stomach. Like when you go to the bakery and there’s only one fresh cream doughnut left, and there’s one person ahead of you in the queue, and are they going to take it or aren’t they, and it’s exciting and scary and you aren’t sure if it’s odd that you’re kind of turned on.
A few months ago, I listened to the WTF podcast interview with Donald Glover, because I adore him on Community. He talked about Childish Gambino (his rap alter ego), and I remembered having seen him perform on Jimmy Kimmel.
Podcasts. Community. Jimmy Kimmel. My introduction to the oeuvre of a rapper came about in the nerdiest way possible.
This was fine, when I’d sing along in my bedroom, alone. I’d even self-bleep anytime he dropped the n-word – this added a secondary level of difficulty, but as a white girl horrified at the thought of doing something racist, it was my only option.
Singing along became less fine when I would listen to it on my headphones, walking around the city. I cannot have “You wanna see my girl? I ain’t that dumb. You wanna see my girl? Check Maxim” play through my pink headphones without at least lip synching along. Turns out, people look at you strangely when you’re mouthing stuff to yourself on the street. Concerned about my reputation around Wellington, I tried a few methods to hide my public singing.
Walking in the dark, and finding quiet, one-way streets with little traffic seemed to work well, then I wondered if I was compromising my personal safety because I wanted to rap about girl’s bottoms, so I stopped doing that.
Finding an excuse to touch your face so you can hide behind your hand might work for one or two lines, but speaking into your own palm while scratching your forehead is even crazier than just moving your mouth, so I abandoned that too.
Faking a yawn will get you through one line. Faking three yawns in a row will make your jaw hurt.
Keeping your mouth open, jaw slack, so you can click your tongue against the roof of your mouth, technically works. It also makes you look like a mother bird regurgitating worms for her young.
After a week I realised that I’d probably damaged my reputation more by walking around doing unintentional vomiting bird impressions than I would have just lip synching. I gave up and decided to stop worrying about it. Sunglasses on, striding through the city streets, so into my music that I just HAD to mouth along – this was living!
Of course, my brain can’t cope with having things be happy. It needs something to fret over to keep itself busy. To compensate for my comfort and happiness, Kate’s Bad Side started to push the limits. I found myself starting to emote more and more. I figured people were being overly judgemental with their judgemental eyes, until I walked past a shop window and saw myself doing this:
Now I’m back in a state of confusion about the whole thing. Do I restrict myself to listening in private? Or do I embrace the crazy and continue to wander the streets looking like I’m doing twisted, Jim-Carrey-inspired facial exercises?
Given that I barely hesitated before posting those images online, I think we all know which side will win out in the end.