I’ll never forget seeing Andrew Dice Clay’s big greaseball mug strutting across our home television screen. Or the fact that my family awkwardly watched his raunchy stand-up comedy routine together. I’m sure my parents didn’t intend to let us see it. But once I stumbled upon the scene, I would be damned if I was going to plug my ears or leave the room.
So I watched as Clay, donning his over-sized black leather biker jacket and Elvis-style sideburns, cockily recited his meant-for-adults-only take on the classics. Like any nursery rhyme, his versions were short, catchy and terribly easy to memorize. Those lewd little rhymes stuck in my head like toffee to my braces.
After the initial thrill wore off, the novelty of Dice’s forbidden words soon passed. Over the years the verses sat mostly dormant, safely tucked away in my grey matter. Occasionally some topic or another would summon forth an x-rated version of Little Miss Muffet or Little Jack Horner. I would shamefully admonish myself for being so revolting, and quickly try to put the thoughts out of my head.
But then I had children.
Three of them to be exact. And any parent worth their salt knows that you absolutely positively must read your child Nursery Rhymes. At some point you have to acquaint them with Humpty Dumpty’s perilous wall, Jack’s clumsiness on that godforsaken hill, or the little lamb’s affection for dear Mary. Because if you fail to do so, if you don’t fulfill this basic parental obligation, everyone will know that you have officially reached maximum parental suckdom.
One day your child will know it, too.
Believe me, I am no prude. I think curse words used in the right context work. When the Idiot Driver Convention comes to town, which it does far too often, so be it if my colorful language spices up my kids’ car ride every now and then. They are going to hear it eventually.
But they should never have to hear such words used in the context of a sweet, innocent nursery rhyme.
And this is precisely where the problem lies. Instead of reciting the sing-songy G-rated nursery rhymes, I am petrified that the illicit version will spew forth. In my most gentle mommy voice, with the best of intentions, the wrong words will come out.
My kids will go to school repeating the catchy little X-rated diddy and I will have ruined all of the kids in one foul swoop. They will then be tongue tied with fear, like I am now, when they have their own offspring.
The vicious cycle will never end.
I will mean to say:
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down,
Hickory, dickory, dock
But instead words like “bitch” and “cock” will fly out of my hole and my kids will never look at me the same. They won’t ever again hear the nursery rhyme as it was meant to be heard.
I can’t mention Old Mother Hubbard and her poor, barren cupboard because I know where my mind will go next. When she bends over Rover will take over. And Rover has no business doing that to such a nice old lady.
Nor should Little Bo Beep want to do that to a sheep. It’s far, far better for the sheep to stay lost then to be found doing such a thing.
Andrew Dice Clay, you are a parent’s worst nightmare.
With rhymes so simple and lyrics so sick
you are a goddamn menacing dick.
Now give me back my nursery rhymes.