Way back on the schoolyard, before disagreements were settled with guns or knives, your loving mother may have unknowingly become victim to countless insults and verbal assaults. Think back to a time when you spent lunch money on Jolly Ranchers, girls passed notes and boys played dodge ball. Because right after lunchtime and about 20 minutes before the pencil-fights began, you could often find a group of kids huddled in a circle of adolescent energy, witnessing a malicious contest occur.
“Yo momma so fat, she saw a yellow bus full of white kids and said, ‘STOP THAT TWINKIE!!!'”
“Yo momma so fat, she uses a mattress for a tampon!”
It was a beautifully vicious art form. There was always an unspoken code of agreement that at any time things may turn physical if one child was simply too slow to keep up with the cleverness of the other.
Whether you called it “snapping,” “dissing” or “ranking,” it didn’t matter; it was all the same.
I was short-tempered as a youth, but my limited stature prevented me from fighting all my adolescent foes, especially those who had a few pounds on me. Early on, I decided that those I could not beat with fists, I would defeat with wits. Since brain and brawn are seldom companions, my larger peers would hesitate to engage me in an exchange of words, and those who did, would always regret it.
“Yo momma so stupid, she sold her car for gas money!”
“Yeah? … Yo momma so stupid, every time she blinks, she gets lost.”
The art of “capping,” as it was called during my grade school years, is an old African-American tradition first referred to as “the dozens” in which two acquaintances go head to head in a contest of often good-natured “trash-talk.” Basically, two kids would take turns insulting one another, or preferably, their adversary’s mother, until one of them has no comeback.
“Yo momma so ugly, when she applied for the ugly contest they told her “NO Professionals.'”
“So what? Yo momma so ugly, her pillow cries at night.”
I did not realize it back then, but in essence; it was a contest of personal power-of wit, verbal ability and mental agility, but especially of mental toughness and self-control. If one were to lash out in anger, that person would automatically lose the contest. Each
putdown, ups the ante. Defeat could be humiliating but a skilled contender gained respect.
“Yo Momma so poor, she does drive by shootings in a cab!”
“That’s okay! Yo Momma’s so poor, she uses cheerios as earrings!”
Of course, as with every aspect of our multi-dimensional culture, “capping” has now been for mainstream America. You can now see the childhood sport in a more viewer-friendly form on television. MTV has a series in which contestants face-off with their best yo momma jokes for a chance to win prizes. It’s an entertaining show, but I truly miss the days of recess when the battles were not scripted and the winner walked away without cash or cars but left with the respect of an entire playground. Because no one tells those jokes better than a kid-just ask my little brother.
And by the way-yo momma so old, she got Jesus’ autograph.