On a whim, I buy a vintage CD
of Loverboy’s greatest hits.
Skipping to number 2,
I turn up “Working For The Weekend”,
and I am magically transported
twenty years back in time
to a cold dark, winter dawn in 1982.
The world is yet fast asleep,
stealing a few final precious winks of slumber
before the looming wake-up call
of the bright and cheery morning sun.
Counting to three,
I violently throw off
the electrically-warmed cocoon
and frantically search and scramble
for my terry-cloth bathroom and fuzzy slippers,
as my irritated body is suddenly confronted
with the shock of sudden cold,
like a cooler of ice dumped down my back.
It is Friday.
I’ve waited two weeks for this moment.
(I had chickened out the week before!)
I slowly and surreptitiously
creep up the edge of the stairs
from my bedroom in the basement,
skipping the notoriously noisy ones-
not wanting to give one big-mouthed step
the satisfaction of tattling on me
as they have done so many times before.
I pick up the receiver
of the big white wall phone,
and my index finger slowly spins
the whirring and retracting rotary dial,
one number at a time.
Stretching the thick, white curly cord
around the corner,
and closing the door the best I can,
I take refuge in the makeshift,
soundproof sound booth
of the tiny half-bath,
put down the lid,
and sit uncomfortably
on the hard plastic toilet seat.
A voice answers, “WTAC”;
not just the voice of a receptionist,
but that voice-
that DJ’s voice that I’ve heard
a million times on the radio!
And now, that very same voice
is talking to me!
“What’s your name?” he inquires.
“What’re you gonna sing?”
“Um, ‘Workin’ For The Weekend’, “ I stammer nervously.
“Be just a minute. I’ll tell you when to start.”
After several interminable moments,
He finally tells me I’m on the air.
Adrenaline instantly springs into action,
seizing my emotions like a internal coup d’etat
and overthrowing control of my mind.
Regrouping, my faculties manage
to stave off the attack
and courageously fight back-
albeit with a trembling voice
and sweaty hands and armpits.
Three cowbells clink and a synthesized
“Daa daa daa, dadadadadadada,
Daa daa daa, dadadadadadada”
opens the song in stereo deep within my brain;
and to my own amazement,
I find myself singing the entire song
in perfect harmony with lead singer Mike Reno
in the theater of my mind;
but only a torturous, pubescent,
screaming, wail is heard
by an invisible but nevertheless
real radio listening audience.
Feeling rather proud of myself
for having accomplished
what most would dare not attempt,
my warm, fuzzy feeling quickly turns icy cold
as I step out of the bathroom
to hang up the phone
and nearly run smack dab right into my mother,
who, having been awakened all the way
at the other end of the house,
has been furtively eavesdropping all along
just outside the bathroom door.
No words are ever exchanged,
but the image of her crossed arms
and puzzled expression
is forever burned like a brand
into the walls of my mind;
and I shutter and cringe each time
that humiliating moment
is called to my remembrance.
Wandering through the crowded halls
of Grand Blanc High School that day,
I am both painfully and delightfully made aware
of how many people
had actually heard my crooning,
as I am met with secret whispers,
strangers’ grins, and knowing looks.
King for a day,
I bask in the glory
of my fifteen minutes of fame:
By the following Monday,
I know that I will be swept back out to sea
like a washed up squid reclaimed by the tide,
to once again take my rightful place
among the countless, faceless masses.