Robert Redrover Redgoov-Ov-ich. His parents were not solely alliterative masters, but also spelling champions in their own rights — Mother Christine Ov, of Red Oak, Wis., took the St. Edward’s Elementary School Spelling Bee on “crevasse” (but my God, isn’t that just the pretentious Frenchination of “crevice”? As a lady named Evangeline once wrote, “a crevasse is like 50,000,000 crevices combined and then exploded with 36,795 tons of TNT.” So they do relate if one takes the temporal tack — a crevasse is not a Freedomination (as it undoubtedly must now be titled) of “crevice,” but rather a really quite deep fissure, “crevice” times — well, we’ve already done the math.)
Good ol’ Ovie won the bee and received a nice glass of Ovaltine from her folks (also fond of the occasional wordplay). Ovie went on to represent Red Oak — town and tree — at the regionals. But she was dominated –oh how she was dominated! (has one ever noticed the frightening inclusion of “domination” in Freedomination?) — dominated by Harold Altrich, who made her buy the milkshakes they shared; dominated by Hank Jennings who, as everyone but Norma and Christine Ov knew, was bad news; and finally by Beaver Redgoovich who suffered frequent outbreaks of “Red Oak Itch.” Redgoober, who had beaten ol’ Ovie at the regionals (on “nomenclature,” no less), now beat her into a hyphenated prison of domesticity and next beat her to the punch, naming the babe “Robert Redrover Redgoov-Ov-ich” as opposed to her lighter, subtler suggestion of “James.”
So Robbie Double R, like many noted men, was born into difficult circumstances. But Robbie had a mother set on liberating him from his redundant shackles. Christine spread maternal love over her child like Rebekah over Jacob (you may even say “like ketchup over a hamburger bun,” if you choose to view life through condiments and their consorts).
Christine Ov made Robbie a time machine out of the barbecue one day while Beaver was at the clinic. He was refilling his jar of oak ointment; she was building a time machine with which to edify her prospective child.
“Pop!” — she popped Robert in, babe of all three-fourths a year, date set to 1992. And slowly, the machine began groovin’ and groovin’–
— “How should I put it, I got a man/ What’s your man got to do with me?/I told ya/I’m not tryin’ to hear that see/I’m not one of those girls that go rippin’ around/I’m not a dog baby, so don’t play me like a clown1
–I get so weak in the knees I can hardly speak/I lose all control/and something takes over me2
–Rhythm is a dancer/it’s a soul’s companion/you can feel it everywhere/lift your hands and voices/free your mind and join us/you can feel it in the air3
–Uoh oh/What is love?/Baby don’t hurt me/Don’t hurt me/no more –“4
Ovie bent over her work, pressing one hand on the shell, the other upon the saw handle.
The exterior shot open, revealing baby Robert, once wrapped in swaddling clothing and now sporting a tight pair of light jeans, a backwards neon green baseball hat, a Kris Kross shirt and new baby Reebok Pumps.
“It worked! It worked!” Christine gave these words in gleeful response to the sight of her son. “Honey, how was it?”
Instead of infantile gurgles, Robert Double R opened his mouth as wide as the one in the Eggo Minis ad and melodious sound resonated:
“I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes/I saw the sign/Life is demanding/Without understanding/I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes/I saw the sign/No one’s gonna drag you up/To get into the light where you belong.”
No Plato for this infant. Who needs to study the cave metaphor in “The Republic” when one can find a new-and-existentialized version set to catchy Swedish beats and sung by foreign cuties?
Yes indeed, Robert was notable — a boy who looked beyond the recent burial grounds of the Spice Girls and discovered the pop-culture relics of old. The Renaissance of the early 1990’s! This child could not simply speak — each word was a prophetic exultation from the Golden Age.
His father was his first convert. Robbie exclaimed:
“Why oh why must it be this way/Before you can read me you gotta learn how to see me, I said/Free your mind and the rest will follow.”
Over the next three days, Beaver Redgoovich’s recurring Red Oak Itch outbreaks ceased, he lost to Christine in their weekly spelling “grills” (the first time ever, on “asphyxiate”), and he changed Robbie’s name to James Robert Redrover Ov-Redgoovich. All in all, it was a great success for Robbie’s career as a latter-day saint.
And that was just the beginning.
1. The original male/female hip hop song. Says the ghost of Positive K: “Ja Rule and Ashanti aint got nothin’ on us.”
2. “I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so–scared.” We all know Jessie Spano really wanted Zack. Why else would she flip out in front of him? Let’s be serious: was Zack really “the shoulder to cry on” of the show?
3. Robbie’s going Downtown, Downtown Julie Brown. He genuflects several times as “The Grind”-ers do the routine, the small cogs in the early 90’s music machine.5
4. The lamentation Screech never knew. (Oh, Lark Voorhies! How little we knew you! First there was Lisa Turtle. Then there was the guest appearance on “Wild and Crazy Kids”, with the shocking Omar Gooding connection, which takes us to “Hanging with Mr. Cooper” which, well, really doesn’t take us anywhere near Kevin Bacon–)
5. “Julie Brown is soooo over. Dude, where’s Kennedy?”
T. S. Coburn will knock your socks off. That dog won’t hunt! He has gum-drop sticky lips.