Guest Post: Devra Explains the Whole “Kool and the Gang and Whodini” Thing

A couple posts back, Devra offered up some slightly cryptic information about Kool and the Gang and a flat tire. A lot of you were wondering what the hell she was talking about. In a guest post, Devra explains it all.

Maybe next time we can get her to tell the story about the time she was in her pajamas in the airport.

Without further ado, I give you Devra:


1985. Summer. My mother at the wheel of our stylin’ Subaru sedan and we’re tooling up I-95 heading home to Connecticut after attending a wedding in New Jersey. All of a sudden, there is a big “pop” signaling the tire has blown out. Fortunately on the horizon is an “On Again, Off Again” McDonald’s. My mother slowly inches the car until we are in the parking lot. Without a cell phone in our collective imagination she tells me, “Hold tight, I’ll go in and call Triple A”.

Devra - 1985

(left: Devra pictured in 1985)

Considering I am a 16 year old with Saturday night plans, I’m not about to wait no stinkin hour and a half for AAA to show up. Prior to being allowed to drive my parents’ cars, my father handed me a lug wrench and stood over me while I changed all four tires, one by one. So, I can change a tire about as fast as a NASCAR pit crew. I tell my mom that I will go into McDonald’s, get out of the fancy wedding wear and into jeans so I can make it back to my social life,”Which you know nothing about anyway so just be quiet mom. Jeez!”

As I head toward the building, everyone starts pouring out of McDonalds because the fire alarms are going off and the place is being evacuated. I stand for a moment in utter disbelief as I come to the horrible realization, “Oh shit, I will have to change a tire wearing a poofy dress and Candies.”

My mother stands next to me as I slide the jack in under the chassis. As I am trying to crank the jack, a man comes over to us and extends his hand to me saying “Let me.” I look up and see a guy smiling down at me and then he says to my mom “This won’t take much time. Let me help.” As he changes the tire, my mother goes to work on this unsuspecting man. ( This will ultimately be the one time where I found my mother’s normally annoying habit of asking tons of questions useful.)

Mom: Is that your stretch limo?
Him: Yes.
Mom: Are you famous?
Him: I’m in a Black singing group. We are on our way to a show we’re doing in Connecticut.

White Rolls Royce pulls up. Man gets out and comes over to talk to the guy changing our tire. The discuss how much longer the tire might take, the guy smiles at my mom and me and says “No problem. We’ll just wait on you.” and he goes back to the car.

Mom: Is that Rolls Royce with you?
Him: Yes, they are the main group. We are their opening act.
Mom: Who are you guys?
Him: (chuckling) I don’t think you’d know us.
Mom: Really? C’mon Try me. I’m a professor at a university, I teach sociology. I might have heard of you or your friends from my students or maybe my daughter has heard of you.
Him: Well, okay. I’m from Whodini and that guy who just left is from Kool and the Gang.
Mom: Of course! I know Kool and the Gang. Kool and the Gang! Devra, don’t they sing that song about Susanna?
Me: That would be “Joanna”.

At this point, the tire is now changed and everyone is ready to go their separate ways. Thank you’s are made and then this kind stranger(yet a famous stranger!) gives us both a big smile and leaves us with a final thought, “I just know that if my mom and my sister were by the side of the road, I’d want someone to help them. So, I’m happy I could help you.”

His words have stuck with me all these years because he’s right. People should help other people.

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  1. um, i always wear my pajamas to the airport.

  2. that is awesome!!! thanks for sharing!

  3. Devra you are too cool for school.

  4. You’re not gonna think I’m that cool if I retell the pajama story.

  5. On the other hand, maybe you will since I was an innocent victim.

  6. Wait! It’s not ok to be in the airport in your pajamas??? I’ve totally done that. More than once, I might add. Why doesn’t anyone tell me these things? Sigh…

    Great story Devra!

  7. now anytime i hear a kool and the gang song i am going to think about this story! i will also hear “devra” instead of “joanna” when i hear that song!

    good story.

  8. Whodini in ’85? In Connecticut? Sweet: Friends, Five Minutes of Funk, Freaks Come Out at Night, Escape (I Need a Break) – old school hip hop of the highest order.

  9. Great story. Also? Love the Candies.

  10. I’ve read a lot of celeb sighting/run-in stories, but this is by far the coolest.

  11. This must be a great month for the revival of Kool and his gang. First the Daily Show and now SATGS. How do you possibly get bigger than that?

  12. I once had the group “Color Me Bad” change my tire once…

  13. Ooh, Devra, how cuuuute you were in 1985 (and still cute, yes, but still! cuuuuute!)

  14. What a way cool story. And the Candy’s totally rock.

    My brush with celebrity was when I got drunk with Matt Bahr (Former NFL placekicker)on a flight from San Francisco to Pittsburgh in 1998 and he was nice enough to hold my hand when we landed as I was terrified. And really drunk.

  15. Hey I had Boy George buy me a drink when my sister and I were in London once… That was a totally cool story thanks for sharing

  16. That is so awesome. I love Kool and the Gang.

    Once I saw Lou Ferrigno getting on a plane in LA when I was on my way back from a Jeopardy taping. He carried his own bags.

  17. That is an excellent story.
    You were practically a damsel in distress, except that, before he showed up, you were totally handling it yourself.

  18. That’s a great frickin’ story.

  19. Yea Sarah the “Boy” was pretty cool but he was pretty messed up too… my sister and I are identical twins, so I think he was making sure he was not seeing double… I did a blog article on this a while back.

  20. That’s awesome. My husband rode in an elevator a few years ago with Hillary Duff. That’s all I got.

  21. I got to see the Backstreet Boys and Boys 2 Men live in concert at my junior high (7th grade) before they were very famous. At the time, I wondered who they were (I went to get out of class). So far, no celebraties have helped change a tire for me.

  22. wow.

    just wow

  23. Hi! Nice site!

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