OSU Student Serves Up Rhymes On The Side

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Most people visit Ohio State’s Recreation and Physical Activity Center to work out – and inside the atrium, the Courtside Cafe is a popular place to grab a bite to eat. One student worker serves up sandwiches with something special on the side.

“It’s the most delicious pizza that our kitchen could fix, please come and get it 75-96,” says Steve McCloskey.

Jobs in cafeteria-style food service are not usually hot beds of verbal innovation. But Steve McCloskey wanted to do something to spice up his shifts at the Courtside Cafe inside Ohio State’s largest fitness center.

It started out as a joke – he would call the order numbers as if the customers had won the lottery. But then:

“I started rhyming and then the rhyming became normative – I did it all the time. And, in fact, if I didn’t do it people would be disappointed that I didn’t,” he says.

McCloskey, a senior Philosophy major at OSU, first rhymed in public when he was 16, free-styling as he stood on top of trashcans – with his friends beat-boxing in the background.

“I only rapped for about 60 seconds, just making up rhymes off the top of my head, but with that, I thought maybe if I practiced this a little bit I could do something with it.”

McCloskey credits Robert Frost as an influence, and follows Columbus rapper John Reuben, but it was Dr. Seuss that first inspired his passion for rhyme:

“Dr. Seuss has left a permanent impression in thinking in rhyme schemes since I was a little kid. My mom read Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss to me, so that was my early exposure to poetry. “

“It was made in Columbus and not in Toledo, 75-95 get your breakfast burrito,” calls McClosky.

By afternoon, about a dozen students are waiting by the counter for their food orders. Kyle Mohler, a biology major at OSU, says he had never heard McCloskey rap before.

“Well, I mean it’s pretty awesome it’s an interesting spin on giving out food it makes it kind of exciting and worth waiting around. Because, you know, there’s not really a place to stand around here, and you’re just kind of staring at your ticket. But that’s kind of entertaining and a good way to wait,” says Mohler.

Sarah Janosik, another student, picked up her lunch at the counter. She’s heard McCloskey rhyme many times before. “Oh, I just heard him when I was walking through. You can hear him all the way across the RPAC, it’s really funny.”

McCloskey says that people generally react positively to his vocal stylings, unless they’re in a rush:

“They might think, could you just hand out my food order? But usually people are polite about it. I mean, there are lovers, haters, and appreciators. Some people are happy for it. But some people, I think, they just want their food.”

McCloskey calls out another order to the crowd of students:

“You don’t have to hide/ From the pizza we provide / Cuz your taste buds and great flavor / Are about to collide. If you come and get your Pizza Rustica: 75-96. Congratulations!”

McCloskey will graduate in December and plans to pursue a Masters in Theology. He has no formal plans to continue his rhymes.