Somewhere, deep inside my mother’s VHS collection, lies a green-screen technology VHS that transports my Kindergarten-aged self into the world of M.C. Hammer. In it, I inexplicably slap at a toy guitar, my older brother attempts to rap any words to “Can’t Touch This” that are not, in fact, “Can’t touch this,” and Hammer himself breaks it down in the background. Needless to say, it was the best Woodridge Elementary ice cream social ever.
But though (thanks Mom!) I shall be immortalized forever—-to friends, relatives, and potential suitors—-as the back-up guitarist M.C. Hammer never had, I’ve never met the M.C. in the flesh.
My friend did, once. The scene is several years ago. Hammer is in the District to shoot some new video (the single, whatever it was, is destined to fall short of the popularity of a “Can’t Touch This,” or even a “Pop Yo Collar”). Anyway, Hammer holds an open call for fans to appear in the video.
Now, my friend, like me, was young enough in 1990 to really fall for the whole parachute pants schtick. And though it’s unclear what Hammer’s going to want with a big white dude from Jersey in his music video, my friend’s still willing to spend some quality Hammer Time waiting in line just for an encounter with the dude.
The wait pays off. And when the time comes to greet Hammer, my friend does what anyone else in his situation would do: He offers Hammer a big, sweet, high-five. Hammer moves to accept.
Here, I ought to mention that M.C. Hammer, at 5-foot-11, is of a quite respectable stature. However, he remains considerably shorter than my 6-foot-4 friend.
So: Hammer moves in for the high-five. But before he makes contact, my friend raises his hand high into the air, just out of reach of Hammer’s wingspan.
“Can’t touch this!” my friend exclaims.
Hammer was not amused.
All of which is by way of saying, if you are ever lucky enough to come into high-five proximity to M.C. Hammer, have some respect. The man’s a televangelist now.
Tonight, grade-school green-screen becomes (free!) reality as M.C. Hammer kicks off this year’s D.C. Grooves series, presented by The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. It all goes down at 7 p.m., at the Woodrow Wilson Plaza, the Ronald Reagan building and International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.