I Get PAID To Do The Wild Thing: When Suddenly Everything Makes Sense



“So when the show was finished I took her around the way
And what do you know she was good to go without a word to say
We was all alone and she said, “Tone, let me tell you one thing
I need 50 dollars to make you holler, I get paid to do the wild thing”

–Ton Loc, Wild Thing



This was my 14-yr old daughter’s moment of recognition, an epiphany.  We had listened to this song in the car many times before this, but just last week it all started to make sense to her.  Like me before her, she is now understanding things she didn’t before, and life will never be the same.

When I was 14, (14!), I my father took me to see the movie “Coming Home” starring Jon Voight and Jane Fonda.  Voight’s character is paralyzed from the waist down but Jane Fonda is determined to prove that his “equipment” still functions.  To do this, she gets on her hands and knees and well, you can guess the rest.  It wasn’t until many years later that it clicked what was going on there.  My reaction was, “OMG, I was sitting next to my FATHER!  EWW!!!!”

It was around the same time that my next-door-neighbor and I were doing the “Time Warp,” (again) in her brother’s bedroom and she slipped on something and started to shriek.  It was a used condom.  Again, it occurred to me years later what the contents of a “used” condom was.  Again, it was an OMG moment and another “EWWWWWW.”




“So, she lays down beside me again
My sweet painted lady, the one with no name
Many have used her and many still do
There’s a place in the world for a woman like you
Oh, sweet painted lady
Seems it’s always been the same
Getting paid for being laid
Guess that’s the name of the game”
–Elton John, Sweet Painted Lady
Elton John’s double-album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” taught me everything about life that I need to know.  We’ve got suicide by sticking a head in the oven, women, essentially pedophiles who want to sleep with Alice while their husband’s are away, and a guy who sleeps with his landlord so he doesn’t have to pay his rent.  And of course, there’s the sweet painted lady, a prostitute who sleeps with sailors during their short ports of call. On the flipside, I also learned that it was okay to fight on a Saturday night.
I remember finally understanding that a “squeeze box” was not an accordion and that “Stroke Me, stroke me” was about, well, you know.  Finally, I understand that the reference to “a needle and a spoon” in the amazing Stone’s song “Dead Flowers” is about heroin.
My daughter will start to understand the sexual innuendos that are in some of her favorite  television shows.  She will start to understand the lyrics to the unedited versions of horrible modern songs that are so filthy that I can’t even bear to listen to them.
My sweet innocent child, there’s still a lot to learn out there in the world but there are indeed just happy pop songs and family tv and movies that are lovely reflections of the non-underbelly of life.  I can’t shield you from the rest but I hope I can talk you down from some of your “EWW” moments and we can just laugh and laugh, together.




  1. Order of things I love about this: #5 I learned about Goodbye Yellow Brick Road songs (I know a fair # of Elton John songs, but not that many) #4 The idea of you and your friend doing the Time Warp #3 Slipping on a used condom (as a 45 y/o adult that made me go Ewww) #2 The idea of that moment of never-being-able-to-go-back, right on the cusp of young adulthood, when everything becomes clear (a major theme in my writing and a metaphor I use constantly–but I love the way you’ve explained it through song here) and #1 that you listen to Tone Loc with your daughter in the car. An additional thought: I had someone comment to me recently how upset they were that the radio in Denmark doesn’t censor songs with explicit lyrics. I had to question why you would get upset with the radio stations that play the songs rather than the artists who felt the need write songs with such explicit lyrics in the first place. Oh, for a good innuendo 😉

    1. There are so many things I remembered after I posted this, my favorite being that my mother loved “Push Push In The Bush” and I had absolutely no idea what that meant.

      Did you get the “again” part I put in parentheses in the Time Warp sentence? I love that.

      I can’t figure out why the formatting on the piece is so wonky. It doesn’t show up that way in my preview.
      Anyway, thanks for appreciating me.

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