Me and Cardi B

By Marc Dion

September 18, 2020 5 min read

I wish to remark, and my language is plain, that I have said far filthier things than Cardi B has ever rapped. Horrible things. Repulsive things.

Ms. B, if that's how you formalize her name, has recently released a song whose title is so obscene I can't write it in a column. These days, that takes some effort.

Despite my gray hair and pale skin, I'm a little bit of a rap fan. I live in a city, and rap is spoken fluently here, so I went out of my way to learn at least some of that language.

When it came to raw obscenity, I didn't need any tutoring.

I picked up my filthy mouth in school, and particularly at work, back in the days when I toiled in darkness for the minimum wage. When you're working on a loading dock at 3 a.m., and two guys on the four-man crew have been to state prison, the human resources people don't come down to check on you all that much. Frankly, they're frightened of you, and they regard you as a species of partially trained ape, so they work days, and they leave you alone. When there's trouble among the people in public relations, they call human resources. When there's trouble on the loading dock, someone calls the police.

That is a good thing. I worked in newsrooms for 36 years and saw one very nonthreatening attempt at a fistfight. Working as a hotel janitor, I was in at least two fistfights.

Don't think badly of my parents, either. I was a nice boy from a nice family, and we lived in a nice neighborhood. My parents came home every night. Neither one of them beat the other. No one went to jail, ever, and no one was addicted to alcohol or drugs.

But propelling myself through college and graduate school, I took what work there was to take, bloodying my nose against the hardness of the job and the hopeless toughness of my fellow workers, one of whom, I remember, pimped his wife as a way to make extra money. He wasn't shy about telling us, either, and he did a little business with some of the other guys on the crew. That business was described to me, in very short words, on breaks.

I was 16.

I was always surprised my parents let me take some of those jobs or some of those shifts. My parents, as I said, were nice people.

"Your father and I talked about it," my mother told me when I was maybe 40. "We figured you were a big boy, and you could take care of yourself."

I could, too. In fact, the facility with words that made me a writer made me an exceptionally good swear-er and teller of filthy stories. I can, on the wing, and with no prep time, make up a "dirty version" of almost any song. That's the kind of skill that can make a high school boy very popular. I still do it in my head sometimes, driving to work with the radio on. I have a version of "The Pina Colada Song" that would cause you to run for the human resources department — or the police.

And I'm not alone, either. There are guys who did six years in the Navy who significantly moderated their language and their behavior after marriage, or at least they did if they wanted to stay married. There are women who have done the same.

One of the few quotable lyrics in Cardi B's urban sonnet says that she wants a "Henny drinker," by which she means a man who drinks Hennessy Cognac, a very expensive brandy would-be rappers buy in the half pint, keeping the cost down.

I'm no Hennessy drinker, but I like Irish whiskey with a beer chaser. If Cardi B wants to meet me out in my yard, all public and above board, and if she promises to wear an outfit bigger than the paper bag they use for Hennessy half pints, we can have a few drinks, and I'll teach her a couple of songs.

To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Dion's latest book, a good, family kind of book, is a collection of his best columns titled, "Devil's Elbow: Dancing in The Ashes of America." It is available in paperback from, and for Nook, Kindle, GooglePlay and iBooks.

Image courtesy of Frank Schwichtenberg under the GNU Free Documentation License

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