Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Radio: The One Word That's the Same in Every Language

If there is one form of media that I'm not so up-to-date on, it's your classic AM/FM radio. Not having a car in New York, and being underground for my commutes, the radio just doesn't find its way into my schedule. Sometimes I'll come home and hear my roomate, a radio listener, humming some unknown melody. And I'll be all "What song is that?" and she'll say something like "Oh, it's the new Pussycat Dolls song", and then I'll usually say something defensive like "Still playing with dolls there, huh? I mean really," run back into my room, plug my iPod headphones into my Victrola, and just cry and cry while listening to how Al Jolson absolutely loves his dear, old Swanee. I'm ol' fashioned is what I'm sayin', seeee?

The funny thing is, I was joking. Then the shit actually exists.

Sunday, I went to Target in the Bronx to buy my quarterly stash of shave gel and syringes. While perusing the aisles along with roughly 44,000 other poor people, it dawned on me that I needed a new alarm clock. So I just picked up an adorable little cube-shaped one with a dual alarm (which I immediately named "Cubey Gooding, Jr.") for only $15. But, as usual at Target, I can walk in needing a travel-sized tampon, and walk out with two microwaves on each arm, pool noodles strapped to my chest, and a basket on my head full of Pampers. So my $15 alarm clock turned into a $150 tab worth of shit I will forget I bought next week.

I came home, plugged my new clock in, and within minutes, had it all programmed for the next morning. Its been years since I've used a standard alarm clock. In college and up until last week I used to wake up to my stereo, which was a blessing and a curse, as the clock automatically played the first track of whatever was in my CD player. So if track 1 happened to be "Dreamweaver", I would wake up in an ever so pleasant mood. On the other hand, one time I accidentally left my "101 Civil War Sound Effects" CD in the player, and woke up to the sound of Confederate warfare... I had to carry around my Hallmark PMS mug all day, ya'll!

Oh, that is good. I'm gonna put this in my cupboard right next to my mug that says "He Who Farts In Church Sits On His Own Pew." And then I'm gonna break off the handle and slit my own throat with it.

OK -- it just hit me that I'm literally writing a love poem to my new CLOCK RADIO. Sigh. I'll make it short.

Unfurling long torah scroll and re-inking ostrich quill with which to finish remainder of post. (Note to self: Get wrists waxed.)

One click of the Cubey's radio, and memories began to flood in. Long drives down sun-splashed Miami highways. Getting into fights with my mother about touching the radio dial while the car was in "Drive". Winning concert tickets by calling in a radio show my freshman year in college... and not caring that they were tickets to see Chaka Kahn and screamed like I just won tickets on Bono's space shuttle. But one memory in partick needed a little more sharing...

When I was a girl, I landed a highly coveted position on an AM radio station in Miami, co-hosting a "talk show for teens" called (my skin is crawling) "Livewire", along with the perky blonde traffic girl from the Fox affilliate named Tiffany. I was getting $30 an hour to gab, and I couldn't feel better about myself. Until the first show, when it became clear nobody, NOBODY, was listening to a teen talk show on AM radio at 9 pm. My poor father would sit in the green room, while Tiffany and I begged and pleaded for people to call in. Inevitably, the phone light would blink, we would rejoice, and it would almost certainly be a 98-year old diabetic who accidentally mashed his colostomy bag up against the buttons on a phone and ended up on AM radio. We would say hello, and then he would just scream really loud. This actually happened.

It's not pretty, but it colostomy a fortune!

One time, we had a guest on named Nancy who was a Super-Vegan. Like vegan to the extreme. So much so that she fed her dog lettuce. When we asked for callers, we were surprised to see the phone light illuminate immediately. On the line was a man, gruff sounding and a little southern, who was there to give Nancy a hard time. He loved meat! He loved hunting, and especially murder! He went on and on about the thrill he got from blowing a bald eagle's brains out, and killing random, innocent animals. He really was quite argumentative, and Nancy basically sat there in catatonic shock. She attempted to argue, but the guy on the line was a total lunatic! He wouldn't let her talk. There were fireworks on the set!

Then it dawned on me. The voice... it sounded familiar. Familial.

It was my father calling from the green room.

I mashed my palms into my eyes and took a deep breath. I looked at Nancy. She was flatlining. I looked at Tiffany. She seemed pretty psyched, the same kinda face she probably makes when traffic was backed up on I-95. I looked up.

After the show, when I walked into the green room for my ride home, my Dad and I looked at each other, and burst out laughing. We laughed all the way home.

That night, Nancy killed herself.

Nancy the Vegan, 1968-1996, R.I.P.

Epilogue: I've been listening to the radio every morning this week, instead of the ol' Today Show routine. And I have noticed a few things: 1. I'm getting my makeup done in half the time; 2. I haven't dreamt about Matt Lauer all week; 3. I'm out the door faster; 4. I really, really, really, really, really cannot stand Campbell Brown; 5. Maybe I should think about going back into radio?; 6. No but seriously, Campbell? Why do you always stand like you're really really freezing cold? It's June and you're standing outside. Ugh. Where's Ann Curry at, ya'll?; and 7. For real, Ann Curry looks exactly like my Grandmother.

"Brr... I'm chilly." -- A blood cell travelling through the atria of Campbell Brown's heart.

If you're still bored, check these out: Spirit Spheres. Can someone say ideal wedding night locale? Stephen Hawking can't.

But also: I feel really bad about the Stephen Hawking joke. But you can relax because he just paralyzed me with his mind.

Finally: Go on job interviews from the comfort of your underpaid cube-job.

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