I’m listening to De-Li’-ful. Well let’s just call her that for the sake of this story...
And De-Li’-ful reminds me, on the off chance that I went into a sappy love song induced coma, by announcing to me and all of her listeners right before a commercial break, “You’re listening to De-Li’-ful. And let me just tell you, if you have ever heard De-Li’-ful, you already know you’re listening to De-Li’-ful. C’mon does a heroin addict know they just shot up heroin? De-Li’-ful gets into your bloodstream that way. You listen, for the numbing effect. But you have to seek it out. You start listening to her stories, her callers stories, and suddenly you aren’t sure if your eyes are welling up because you can relate to the beautiful man that is so embarrassed because he, wait… he….can’t say…he has a problem with in…. in….well, he wets his pants …but before De-Li’-ful and the rest of us can allow him to finish his sentence, De-Li’-ful says in that voice, with that delivery the way only De-Li’-ful, (or your mother-in-law if she had a nice voice) can…”So are you saying you have to wear Depends?” Yes, De-Li’-ful can say that in a nice voice, that seems to be covered up in Crisco-frosting care and kindness… He gets choked up and says, “Yes” fighting back tears and adds he wants to dedicate a song to the hostess,..ummm, he means, waitress, in the hotel, ummm….. diner he frequents because she makes him feel like the sexiest man alive in his Depends. De-Li’-ful plays Let the River Run, reminds us we”re listening to her and puts on a commercial.
Listening to De-Li’-ful is a big part of vacation. An indulgence. Cocktail hour every afternoon. Double scooped ice cream cones. But it’s also like playing Yahtzee, or miniature golf, or going to the same ice cream shop and the same place for burgers, barbecue, or crab legs every time you go on that vacation…depending on where you go and if you’ve been to the same place at least a few times. Even on vacation, most of us tend to seek out familiarity and comfort. A little bit of home but with extra calories and more value added fun.
When my kids were young we would have the funniest conversations about De-Li’-ful and her lovesick, love-jilted, or loveless callers. It was at the time, long ago and faraway, before multiple CD playing stereos, iPods, and satellite radio were available in cars. The only Faces you saw were each other’s not on a tiny little screen in the palm of your hand. De-Li’-ful was on the one station we could receive through the dark and desolate mountains of the North Country, throughout our 5 or 6 hour drive from the suburbs of Rochester to the Adirondacks and then later from the Hudson Valley to the Adirondacks.
De-Li’-ful plays about 6-10 songs. She recycles them for her callers based on their stories. A husband calling about his saintly wife that raised 10 of his 15 children while he was in jail? Wind Beneath My Wings. Wife calling about mystical husband that replaces the toilet paper roll? You Are My Special Angel. Boyfriend that dumped his girlfriend but wants her back? My Heart Will Go On. The southern man calling about the one that got away but he hopes that she might be listening? Reunited. (There are a lot of southern callers, and they all like Georgia peaches so Peaches and Herb makes some sense…..) The jilted girlfriend who knows her boyfriend cheated throughout their romance? Wind Beneath My Wings. She also favors, Journey and Air Supply. French Canadians. Carly Simon. Her choices of music, might otherwise promote suicide for the lovelorn, but somehow she has made this into a one world love fest of genuine, unapologetic life-giving schmaltz. She is more than a DJ, she is a spinner of hope, the B-side of her 45’s might be full of despair, but you paid your 99c for the 45 and you don’t have to care much for what’s on the B-side, at least not with De-Li’-ful. Last night that DJ saved some serious lives.
A few times between rounds of 20 questions, license plate bingo and my oldest son’s favorite game of Guess What Shape I’m Thinking Of? (The winning answer? Whatever Mommy guesses. Everyone else? Sorry you lose. There are perks that go with motherhood, and they are best not questioned or made to mean anyone else is unworthy or undervalued. But they could mean that, why question it, leave it to the B-side and drive on) Anyway, between those games we would listen super attentively to the caller’s tales of love and perfection or love gone wrong and we would try to guess which song was played to commemorate the callers love interests.
I imagine this must be as close to replicating a happy family all gathered around the radio as we ever came close to. Thinking of having one source of entertainment before TV, internet, heroin, iPads, and vans with surround sound and popcorn makers and toaster ovens in the glove box makes me sort of happy to be alive, now. Did I say heroin? But those were fond memories.
Tonight, I am, as De-Li’-ful just reminded me, listening to her. This time the caller does not call, instead he wrote a letter that she reads aloud. Dear De-Li’-ful, I have a beautiful daughter, but her mother and I never married. I want so badly to provide a normal family for her. The problem is, I am ugly and poor. And no one will even look at me. I have no friends and I don’t have a job. She goes on to share,…He hasn’t had a date in eight years and he often thinks of Janet Jackson’s song, What Have You Done For Me Lately? And because of that song he believes he will never get a date because he can’t do much for anyone else lately, seeing as he’s so darn ugly and doesn’t have a job. And there! I’m hooked. But before I can guess the song, she throws a curve ball.
She starts telling all her listeners, even me, that she could not even read what he wrote and instead changed it because he said how ugly he was too often. She tells him, no one is too ugly when they have a good heart. But maybe, she goes on to say, he might need a haircut, or he might need to lose weight, or clean his face…What? Damn, you still can’t rewind the radio! Does he tell her he has long hair in his letter, maybe a mullet? OK she might have a point… Did he say I have a dirty face? Wouldn’t he already know that a dirty face is not the best way to attract someone? It could get in the way…but I don’t think it would have to be a deal breaker, some sweet loving lonely woman could gently wipe the eight years of decay off his cute chubby cheeks….and then she played…Escapade, but I couldn’t get Nasty out of my head for a while. And really? The Best Things in Life are Free would have really nailed that one! All great Janet Jackson tunes, and a better way to mix things up. I’m a little thrown by this.
But wait the story of the tired single Mom is coming on…Shhhhh listen: She’s got four kids. And she’s been dating a man with three kids. She wants to dedicate this song to him because he’s her whole world. She wants De-Li’-ful to thank him for celebrating Mother’s Day with her and making it the most beautiful Mother’s Day she has ever had. De-Li’-ful gets all gushy and asks a few questions. After a very long drawn out “Awwwwwwww. That’s so sweet he must really love being a Dad. Are you thinking of bringing this family together into a big blended family?” The caller responds, “Oh we would love to but my boyfriend hasn’t seen his children in 4 years.” De-Li’-ful is a little perplexed, but promises to pray for their union. Then she does that thing again, totally out of character, “I hope he can find a way to fit his own children into his life.” she oozes. “I wonder how happy their mother is?” She snarks out. “Oh but, she might actually be thrilled to have him out of her life, he sounds like a deadbeat….” What? Is De-Li’-ful having a breakdown on nationally syndicated radio? Then she catches herself, I think. “How long have you known this magic man?” The caller replies, in a voice growing more tired, “Oh about six months, as soon as his restraining order was lifted….” It turns out the caller was his parole officer but now that his ex-wife agreed to drop the charges in order to get him to finally agree to a divorce settlement he is no longer on parole. The magic of love and romance as portrayed on the De-Li’-ful show is so real you almost feel you lived through these stories. Or your just plain pickled to be happily at home faraway from the madness that exists right there beyond your doorway.
Anyway I just love all this love and hope and romance. I’m thinking about seeing if I can find that man with the bad hair. I could request a song by Haircut 100. Personally I think De-Li’-ful was a little hard on him. After all he wanted to provide a normal life for his daughter. And he probably can’t work because he’s so darn worried about his little daughter, who probably suffers from chronic conjunctivitis and acne. I think Wind Beneath My Wings would have gone nicely for his story…
That’s all for now. I have to go jump in the lake and get ready for a big hike in the morning and remember that De-Li’-ful is like heroin and I’m not sure that I want to get Addicted to Love…anytime soon…but wait she’s playing the Titantic Song by that French Canadian schmaltz developer again and I missed that story…
OOOhhhhh weeee!!! The cutest man stopped me on the way to the lake and just wiped off that third scoop of mint chocolate chip off my cheeks. I was wondering where that dropped, and I knew I sat on something!!
Sweet De-Li’-ful, this might turn out to be the best summer yet!