Throwback Thursday & How I Understood Nothing at the Age of Nine.

You know how radio stations play awesome throwbacks every so often? Real classic 1990’s jams? I love when this happens and I always turn it up, sing really badly really loudly (the only way I know how), and for two minutes remember all the times I sang said song with my bff’s on the way to Girl Scout meetings.

I’m sure you’ve also experienced listening to these throwbacks and suddenly realizing, “hmm… this song is incredibly dirty.” It’s just that now that we’re (sorta, somewhat) adults, a lot of these songs take on entirely new meanings — i.e., the meaning they were always intended to have but we didn’t get because we were 12. Frankly I’m really surprised at how much vulgarity I was hearing without noticing. Seriously like, so much. I know now that so many times when the radio was on my mother must have been praying, “please don’t let her notice what they’re saying. Or worse, ask me about it”.

These surprises aren’t even always vulgar and sexual — I loved Destiny’s Child’s Jumpin Jumpin without even knowing what an Armani suit was. Or why “ballas” with their “pockets full grown” were a desirable acquaintance to, um, acquire. Yet I sang the words and be-bopped along like I wasn’t a 12 year old white girl from the suburbs who wouldn’t have her first kiss for 5 more years and wouldn’t go out dancing for another 10.  I also didn’t get the song was more or less about cheating on your significant other. But I digress.


A few nights ago as I was driving home from work I heard one of the most favorite throwbacks of all time — TLC’s No Scrubs. And I laughed. And laughed and laughed thinking of that little white girl singing along with this song. With this one, I didn’t just miss the meaning of it – I had NO IDEA what they were talking about. I would sing it with my friends because they were singing it but the whole time I was thinking, “I have no idea what I am saying. These are just strings of words that make zero sense to me based off of the environment and experiences I have thus far in my life encountered.” Plus I was 9 years old when that song came out and literally still played with Barbies.

Here is No Scrubs according to 9 year old me:

A scrub is a guy who thinks he’s fly 

[at that time in my life I could only assume  “fly” meant picked first for stuff in PE class. Epitome of popularity, yeah?]

And is also known as a buster

[a what?]

Always talkin’ about what he wants 
And just sits on his broke ass 

[on the radio this was edited, but I can remember the day a girl in the cafeteria told me “the a word” was in there and I was horrified]

So no, I don’t want your number (no) 
I don’t want to give you mine and (no) 

[my number was still my parents house number, so..]

I don’t want to meet you nowhere (no) 

[my mom would have to drive so that’d be weird. Also in my mind the only place you met people was the mall so that was always my mental image]

I don’t want none of your time and (no)
I don’t want no scrub 

[still not sure what “scrub” is]

A scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me
Hanging out the passenger side
Of his best friend’s ride

 [whoa. old enough to have a friend who drives? I can’t even]

Trying to holler at me 

[literally I assumed this meant he was picking on her to pretend he didn’t like her. Because that’s what was up in elementary school]

I don’t want no scrub
A scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me
Hanging out the passenger side
Of his best friend’s ride
Trying to holler at me

But a scrub is checkin’ me 
But his game is kinda weak 

[is he bad at sports? we have that in common]

And I know that he cannot approach me 

Cuz I’m lookin’ like class and he’s lookin’ like trash

[Hey hey, nice to know my outfit from Walmart looks classy]

Can’t get wit’ no deadbeat ass 

[two scandals in one song? I can’t bear the thought]

Frankly, I like my interpretation a little better. It’s about a boy who thought he was popular but wasn’t really. He hangs out with people who are much older than he is, since they’re driving and all, and tries to pick on girls to get them to like him. Usually by shouting and hollering, even though that’s incredibly impolite. But homegirls are lookin’ good in their Walmart sneakers and that gives them the courage to say, “no way am I going to ask my mom to take me to the mall to hang out with you!”


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