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February 1, 2002

I'm not a playa... But R. Kelly is

I have been extremely unfulfilled lately. Is it because I haven't had a girlfriend (sane or otherwise) in six months and no girls seem willing to remedy that situation? Probably. Is it due to the fact that there seems to be more than one heinous pimple growing on my ass? More than likely. Is it because I catch myself doing the Billy Elliot dance in front of the mirror several times a day, and not always in the privacy of my own room? I'm afraid so. I think that above all these reasons, however, is the insatiable desire for all things R. Kelly.

Probably the greatest R&B singer of our time (don't worry, I would never try to compare him to Al or Marvin or Curtis), Mr. Kelly is my hero. For all of you who think I am kidding or trying to be clever, do not read on, for you are idiots. For fellow R. fans, I hope I can do him justice. Born and raised right here on the South Side of Chicago, Robert (R.) embodies all the things that a white boy from a small town in New Hampshire could want out of life.

First and foremost is his unwavering power over the ladies. Not deterred by (and sometimes attracted to) the overflowing furs that on more than one occasion have been sprawled around his neck, womenfolk are drawn to the sultry crooner of more than 15 top-40 hits, including such favorites as "Bump 'n' Grind" and "Down Low."

When I see R. dancing with all those classy ladies in his videos, I am taken back to a simpler time in my life, when girls were not manipulative and only a few had breasts. I'm talking about camp, guys. No, I was not a playa in camp, though I did crush a lot. There was one instance in particular where I wish I had known the secrets behind Mr. Kelly's success with the opposite sex. Through the enigma that is camp gossip, I was told that a girl liked me.

You can imagine my feelings of amazement, excitement…fear. Her name was Mindy (is that perfect or what?) and every time I talked to her I would immediately turn into my alter ego, Awkward Guy. A typical dialogue went something like this. Her: (In lilting voice reminiscent of Stacy from Wayne's World) "Hiiii Will." Me: "Oh, eh, hi Mindy." (long pause) Me: "So...do you like camp, or…prolly not." Her: "Yeah, it's great! I love just hanging out and talking to the rest of the girls in our cabin at night!" Me: "Yeah, me too. I mean…eh." (long pause) At this point I would start to back away slowly while muttering "I mean" and keeping my eyes on the ground. Man, Mindy really did have great feet. If only R. could have been there with me as inspiration. That's when I began writing lyrics of his on my hands and arms to use in dire situations like those.

The next time Mindy Johnson said "Hello," I would be ready. Second on the list of attributes of R. Kelly that I covet is his ingenious flair for songwriting. If you still think I am kidding, go away, you make me sick. Most reputable musicians (Too Short doesn't count, although "Blow Job Betty" is an all-time fave) would shy away from writing songs like "Feelin' on Yo' Booty" and "The Greatest Sex," but not our man R. He does not often tackle issues like world peace or violence because he knows — just as all level-headed citizens of this crazy world know — that sweaty sex, money, freaky sex, Cristal, and inappropriate sex are all that men and women really need.

Perhaps his greatest achievement and my personal favorite track from any of his albums is the scintillating ballad "You Remind Me of Somethin'." Simply perfect in almost every way, this song says everything that could ever possibly be said about anything in a few short verses and one unforgettable chorus. "You remind me of my jeep, I wanna ride it/Somethin' like my sound, I wanna pump it/Girl you look just like my car, I wanna wax it/Somethin' like my bank account, I wanna spend it." These are the actual lyrics from the aforementioned canción, and how lovely they are.

Of course, money is like butter for our man R., and I can speak with a fair amount of confidence that he feels the same about money as my man Nas does. "Money, money, money/Money, you my honey/Money is my bitch." As it is his bitch, money is not important to R., and that makes him a great role model. When my wife is pregnant with our first child and I put headphones on her swollen belly, I will not play Chopin or Bach. No, no, my child's first auditory experience will be to the first words of another great Kelly song: "My mind's tellin' me no, but my body, my body's telling me yes." You know the rest. I just hope that I will one day be able to play as important a role in society as R. Kelly, or at least get as many bitches.

[Voices does not sanction the use of the terms "bitch," biatch," "biotch," "biznitch," "bizniatch," or "beyaeitch" unless it is absolutely necessary.]