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The Secret Tunnels Under UT

NEW: Video link added to the bottom 12/14
NEW: Second video link added to the bottom 12/15

Haha... two secret posts in a row. I have a mental list of stories I want to write here, and somehow this one had slipped off of it. Luckily, a UT Grad who goes by "The Reel Deal" posted a comment reminding me about the story. So here it goes, with a little history first.

I never thought I'd go to UT (The University of Texas, not Tennessee). Ever since I was in middle school, I always knew that I'd go to MIT - it was where the smart geeky people went, and I was one of them. When it came time to do applications for schools, I mailed two of them. One for MIT and one for WPI, a lesser known technical school in Massachusetts. I had abysmal grades, due in a large part to my refusal to do most homework and having never actually studied for a test. I always thought it was interesting to see how much of the material I'd naturally retained. Let's just say it usually wasn't over 80%.

The Birth of Punani

On The Constance Chronicles

It was 1993 and Naughty by Nature had come out with the hit single "Hip Hop Hooray." The new album titled "19 Naughty III" was being passed around my middle school and everyone was making sure to copy the CD onto a cassette tape.

I was next to get the CD and was pretty excited to have a copy of my own. Until then I had resorted to watching the music video on YO MTV Raps. Friends at school would recite some of the lyrics here and there. It was the first time I had ever heard the word "punani." What a funny word, I thought. I went home and immediately put the word to use. "Constance, what do you want for dinner?" "Punani!" The family laughed because it's a funny word and I was a weird kid and they thought it was just a word I had dreamt up on my own. "What do you want to watch on TV?" "Punani!" The word was being spread like a virus. Now my Korean mother was responding to questions with "punani." "Mom, where's the toilet paper?" "Punani." Every chance we could get we used the word and every time we bursted into hysterical laughter. The Punani Craze went on for about a week. We had used it in every way we could and it didn't matter where we were or who we were with. From the dinner table to being out with my grandparents, punani had become a common household term and the meaning of the word was never questioned but stretched into any meaning possible. It meant, YES, NO, YEAH, TV, PILLOW, SCHOOL, BROTHER, FOOD, OUTSIDE, CLOTHES, HOMEWORK. It even took the place of full sentences like, "Has anyone seen my other sock? The milk smells a little sour. Turn down the AC. Give me the channel changer." Imagine my dad walking through the front door dressed in his full military uniform, beret and all shouting, "Punani," letting us all know he was home from work. It had gone that far.

I finally got my hands on the CD and before making my copy on a cassette my dad asked me if it was alright for him to listen to the CD before doing so. Sure, why not? Just three short years before this CD came out, the music industry was shaken by a Gheto Boys album. The explicit content caused the RIAA to attach the infamous black and whit Parental Advisory sticker on any music deemed profane. My dad was just being a responsible parent. The next day he came from work and seemed... pissed. "No, you cannot listen to this CD. Don't ever say punani in this house ever again." My dad had taken the CD to work, heard the word punani, and asked a colleague about it's meaning. I'm sure the week before flashed through his mind of all the variations we had used the word and what it really meant.

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