Words on the Tracks: “Scotty Doesn’t Know,” by Lustra

A series where I wax on about songs that have had a significant impact on my life. Positive or otherwise.

Scott Muska
I THOUGHT THIS WAS WORTH SHARING

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“Scotty doesn’t know!”

That simple phrase has been lobbed my way in myriad situations, and often randomly, with seemingly no real context at all aside from someone being like, “Hey, that’s that dude’s name, so I should probably shout it at him,” more times than I can even begin to quantify in the two decades since I first heard it and saw it crooned by Matt Damon on the big screen in one of the more unexpected cameos I can recall having ever seen (though it should be noted he did not originally sing the song).

Fucking Matt Damon.

That’s right. The wildly underrated cinematic classic Eurotrip, where most first heard the song, came out 20 years ago. More than half my life ago. Let that sink in for a second. And while this undeniable ear worm by some band called Lustra who as far as I know never had anything else even approaching a hit, is probably one of the best examples of a certain song being used as a running joke throughout a movie that I can think of, I can’t help but wish sometimes that it was named “Jonny Doesn’t Know” or “Sammy Doesn’t Know.” Any name that ends in “y” that can substitute for “Scotty,” really. But no, the writers of Eurotrip just had to name the main protagonist “Scotty.” And I have paid handsomely for this transgression.

The bulk of times, at least over the past 19 or so years after it quickly and completely lost its luster for me, I meet any reference to it directed my way with a “Son of a bitch, not this again” either in my head or muttered under my breath. I won’t go as far as to melodramatically say this song has ruined my life, but it has occasionally been a minor inconvenience, which for me often feels in the moment like something that is actively ruining my life, as I am very melodramatic.

I’ve heard it at parties. A couple weddings, one where the groom was named Scott, where it made some sense (though not if you take into account that the song is about a guy named Scotty being ignorant to the fact that the then love-of-his-life is brazenly, filthily and regularly cheating on him), but another where it just somehow made the playlist for reasons unbeknownst to me. It was, on more than one occasion, chanted at me by student sections at high school basketball games when I had fucked something up or was on the free throw line and they were trying to throw me off my game. (Didn’t work. I had ice water running through my veins back then. Can’t help but wonder what happened to that semblance of composure.) I’ve even had it said to me in bed, which is a real kick to the dick if you take it at face value.

Most commonly, though, it’s thrown my way when people first meet me in lieu of a more appropriate salutation, or just for the hell of it whenever it pops into people’s minds and they just let it out because someone with the name Scotty is within proximity and it can’t seem to be helped. That’s the most jarring for me, when it’s used as some sort of statement directed my way, when it doesn’t apply at all to what I am doing or what is going on around me. I’m fine with my name, never considered what it’d be like having another one, but it does seem to lend itself to catch phrases. Runners up to “Scotty doesn’t know” include, but are not limited to, “Scotty don’t,” “Beam me up, Scotty,” “Great Scott” and “Scotty Too Hottie.”

For a while, i tried to lean into it. Really sort of own it. Even made the song my Motorola Razr ring tone in an attempt to be all, “Yeah, i’m like, totally into this joke or, if not joke, popular quote from a film and a song,” but that came to annoy me pretty quickly. This was back in the day when people still made phone calls and I’d actually have a ringer on and not send every buzz straight to voicemail because 99 percent of the time a text will suffice, so it wore out its welcome within about a month.

I do have fond memories of Eurotrip, though, so it’s not been possible for me to develop an actual hatred for the song. When I was 16, my parents took their four offspring on a Caribbean cruise, during which my two brothers and me, who stayed in a cabin together and were left mostly to our own devices, drank buckets of beer my 18-year-old brother would legally order to the room while we were on international seas, while watching the movie, which we rented, I believe, four times in the span of a week, for reasons that elude me. I guess it’s because that’s what cruises are really all about: getting hammered in your cabin while watching a movie before you head out to the under 21 dance club in search of some strange who you will then see on the ship throughout the week with their intimidating-looking fathers close by, and figuring you’ll worry about explaining the astronomical booze bill to your parents when the time comes and they can’t do a damn thing about it but accept it and say something like, “Wow, that was a lot of Miller Genuine Drafts on the tab. In a strange way, we’re kind of proud of you. You didn’t give any of those to the youngest, did you?” (We had.)

Just the other weekend I was at brunch with my friend Other Scott, and we were having a nice enough time. We’d even complimented the quality of the acoustic cover band performing an eclectic playlist. Then they followed up “Fast Car” with “Scotty Doesn’t Know.” Which was about as weird a transition as you’re probably imagining it to be, but it did show some impressive range. As we heard the opening riff (first time acoustic for me, I think) we both groaned in unison. it was nice to have some camaraderie at least.

It could certainly be worse, though. I could be named Eileen. And I’d rather have people make the assertion that I do not know about something, even if that’s ostensibly that my girlfriend has been stepping out, than have them always talking about coming on me.

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Scott Muska
I THOUGHT THIS WAS WORTH SHARING

I write books (for fun, and you can find them on Amazon), ads (for a living) and some other stuff (that seems to magically show up on the internet).