Something to Smile About: Old Prudes Listening to Vulgar Music

I will freely admit that on the outside it would appear I am a man who takes joy in very little. I have often been accused of having a more “serious” type of personality for as long as I can recall. Honestly, all that really means is that I made a conscious decision to not fake laugh at whatever pathetic acts were trying to pass themselves off as humor. Truth be told, the majority of people don’t think half the shit they laugh at is really funny. Much like smiling really big for a family photo while surrounded around people you despise, it’s all part of the human condition of “I must look like I am having a good time at ALL times lest I be judged.” Fuck that and if that sounds like something you do, well then..

I’m not finishing that because I feel it may be a detriment to reader retention.

An illustration of Billy in a suit while reading a newspaper and drinking from what might be Scotch. He looks solemn as he looks into his glass and words next to him say "What is so funny?"

Anyhow, that tirade I didn’t really have to get in but chose to anyway because I’m in That Sorta mood has a purpose. I’m the guy who is usually called upon for his rage articles, his complaints, and his ability to still find new levels of disappointment to reach when it comes to his fellow human beings. I want to break that image on this day. Like a snake that has shed its skin, if only momentarily I am shedding this image of myself as a grump and leaving the wispy skin behind for you to accidentally make contact with and scream at. For there are things in this world I find humor in. There are things I find great humor in. I present to you one of those things on this very page.

I work in the operating room. I have for years upon years now. I won’t tell you exactly how many years because I don’t have the energy for a third existential crisis this week. I’ve worked in many different facilities, but no matter the part of the country one thing is almost always identical in every OR: there is music playing in the background near constantly. It’s almost a necessity, really. Cases can tend to drag on from time to time, and there’s no kind of torture like a long case in an absolutely silent room. Music helps to break up the monotony, keep the mind focused, and it really does seem to help that clock lurch forward just a bit.

Etiquette typically dictates it’s a first come first serve system when it comes to who will be supplying the music. I choose to not put myself in the running, as I don’t feel like answering questions about each song that pops on. I don’t need that kind of interaction. I’ve always been quite content to let whoever put whatever on. I’m fairly immune to most types of music, save for modern day country in which listening to it is akin to lowering your backside on to a rusty pipe at the rate of an inch per hour. For the record, every single person will take a moment to brag about how diverse their music is. “Oh yeah, it’ll be (really fucking common and bland rap artist) one song, and (really fucking common and bland pop shit) the next.” The act of liking more than one genre of music will be treated like a superpower. I like to give a clear eye roll and say “And?” when presented with this. If you’re one of the people I touched on in my opening paragraph, you’ll probably act impressed. Coward.

This brings us to one of my favorite things. When someone has commandeered the speaker and has actively chosen to play music that may be of an obscene nature. It’s even better when it’s a doctor, as some medical personnel aren’t able to realize that doctors are just people also and thus treat them with an elevated status that no one I’m aware of really deserves. You ain’t getting it from me. Go pull on one for all I care. The thing is though, is that depending on the nurse and their level of magical thinking when it comes to doctors, they will just let that music play and not dare change it. What follows is one of those times.

An illustration of Billy wearing the gentleman's fashion of the late 1800s, top hat and all. He is saying: "Another day in the operation room. My! To what japes shall I be witness to on this merry occasion! Tarnation!"
An artist’s interpretation of Mr Holiday.

The nurse was an older woman, I would put her in her early 60’s though the lord saw fit to make her appear a decade beyond that. She was the very prim and proper type, once going on a rampage about the amount of cursing on TV when someone uttered “hell” on whatever was playing in the lounge. Probably a house-flipping show. You know, the one in which we are supposed to feel for the couple who ONLY has $850,000 to spend. Will they have to settle for just one pool!? Anyway, you can imagine there are certain types of music she strays far from.

The doctor is one of my personal favorite to work with, as he is just an all around pleasant person who I share several common interests with. His music is typically of the dance variety, which depending on how I am feeling at the time I either welcome or at worst don’t mind hearing. On this day, it would seem he chose to change things up a fair bit in the music department. Over the course of my case with him, about a two hour affair, the soundtrack that played created a scene that has forever been etched in my mind… until I get old and forget this story and how to use the restroom outside of my britches.

I knew we were in for something special from the beginning. This was shortly after Suicide Squad came out in theaters and drove a great collective “eh” out of the movie-going public. The soundtrack, as the kids say, was a collection of some real “bangers” though. The nurse was in my direct line of sight, so when I heard the Skrillex / Rick Ross collaboration track kick in I knew we were in for a wild ride. I was familiar with this song, so I knew the moment I wanted to glance up to gauge reactions.

Rozay, don’t you know that pussy worth it” rang out our friend Rick Ross as I looked across the room and saw a pained wince cross the face of our kind nurse. I’ve never seen a song lyric actually leave the speaker and slap someone across the face, but there is a first time for everything. I smiled under my mask.

The same illustration of Billy in a suit as before, only with scrubs and mask and hair net things -- things surgeons wear. Beside him is a chuckle, and words that say "I am a terrible man - Billy Holiday, confession, 2021"

That particular song finished and what came next were the familiar strains of the most venerable classic, Gin and Juice. As Snoop Dogg took us on a journey of smoking weed, fuckin’ hoes (but not lovin’ hoes), and having a pocket full of rubbers, I kept my eyes locked across the room. Eyes grew wide, hands clenched into fists, unclenched, and clenched again. The smile that had crossed my face was now accompanied by a chuckle which I tried my best to conceal.

“Cause when I bust my nut, I’m raisin’ up off the cot”

Snoop Dogg

Her head dropped down to her workstation desk.

All the humor of this aside, and there was quite a bit, I assumed the best was most likely over and we would be moving on toward the lyricless and hoe-less dance tracks the doctor was known for playing soon enough. Gin and Juice ended. There was a brief moment of silence.

Eminem started up.

My sides were no longer restricted by the gravity of this earth, having lifted off into the atmosphere from the propulsion of my laughter. The ENTIRETY of the Slim Shady LP proceeded to play, albeit shuffled around, and my nursing friend seemed to have aged like you notice in those before and after pictures of former presidents. I made sure to glance up when I could, and I was never let down. Least of all was I let down with myself, as I was just taking part in the time honored human tradition of laughing at stupid shit. ONE OF US! ONE OF US!

“My Dick” by Mickey Avalon came on at around the hour mark. My insides were the consistency of home-made jam from the farmers market. I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt pride / shame / embarrassment for others / embarrassment for my damn self so much at any point before. I certainly never had while fully clothed. Her ability to communicate had devolved to a mere constant shaking of her head. Not as if in disagreement, but as in she’s an extra in one of those 80’s horror films that’s trying to portray mentally ill people in an asylum in a very insensitive manner. There was nothing inside.

A comic illustration of Billy saying "my word." Next to him it says "Friend Fact: the only thing that makes Billy laugh harder and more consistently is the use of the word "toot""
Same as Amandoll.

The case finished shortly after that. My hopes of getting myself under control were shot for hours upon hours, as I even went on to fully wake myself up from near slumber with an eruption of laughter. I’m even typing this through tears right now, as I think back to the time a person of extremely delicate sensibilities had to listen to a young man brag about the size of his hang-down in detail that extends far beyond merely being called graphic.

It was probably a bit much. A partially uncalled for and most likely regretful event that had no place panning out and with any luck would never happen again. Man, but goddamn if it wasn’t hilarious.

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