Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Good Times

I used to be a DJ, for a brief period, in college. For reasons unbeknownst to me I signed up for a class to get my FCC license. I had no previous aspirations to be a DJ and truth-be-told had very little musical knowledge. But, the school was offering the class and I took it. Then the college station, KUCI, gave me a reggae show. Reggae. What does a small town desert dweller know about reggae? Nothing. But I had a DJ partner, Gabe. This kind hearted guy took me by the hand and led me through the wonderful world of rastafarians. We’d sit in the booth and listen to record after record (yes they were actual records then) choosing songs for our show. Looking back I wonder if the universe knew this type A nerd needed a little rasta in her life. But I digress.

Gabe and I would play all kinds of artists; Bob Marley, Musical Youth, Eek a Mouse and Steel Pulse. One of my all time favorite songs was, is, Lyin in Bed by Ziggy Marley; the LP was old, it would pop and scratch and somehow those imperfections went perfectly with the song.

The station was filled with wonderful people; Todd the 20-year-old manager with his sleek suits and thin ties, his slicked back hair and congenial personality; Mike, quiet and reserved but with a wealth of musical knowledge and a taste for jazz; my dear friend Freddie, the punk in tight black pants and a white t-shirt, black eighties hair long on one side and short on the other, the only guy man enough to take ballet. And girls too; Daria who was Molly Ringwald incarnate only edgier and Shari the short spunky chain smoking piano player.

The only other person I distinctly remember was Francesca. Francesca had gorgeous long curly hair. And Francesca was different from the others. She was different because she hated me. She didn’t just hate me, she absolutely despised me. And to this day I do not know why. We never had that sit down heart-to-heart, that glorious moment where all is out on the table, all is understood and forgiven. No. As far as I know she is still out there jamming needles into my voodoo twin (now that would be one explanation for my chest pain...)

Well, one day Freddie and I were in the station elevator and there, on the wall, in her writing, was Shalet is a slut. Clearly this was meant for me. I’ve not met many other Shalets, have you? Freddie and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows. The hate had been taken to a whole new level. The hate was written on the wall. And, though not intended, the hate was funny. Suffice it to say I can count all of my sexual partners on one hand, one, two, three. That’s it. I’m not exactly in the slut category.

But, funny or not, this action, this writing on the wall, demanded reaction. Something had to be done. Finally, a plan was hatched. To quote the Grinch it was a wonderful awful idea.

And what did we do? We posted these notes to the station bulletin board - smack in the middle of the lobby for everyone to see.

(Forgive the picture of a picture)
The big note says:
ShaletHoneyBabyLoveMachineO'Mine:
Thanks so much for last night: I'm still not walking straight!
I had no idea you were so flexible! Keep up the good work!
Freddie

(Actually he did know just how flexible I was - we took ballet together! But again, I digress.)


The notes stayed up for the better part of a week. Everyone but Francesca thought they were hilarious. After that, sadly, Francesca faded from my life. But I’ll always remember the lessons she taught me. First, do not subscribe to what others say; negative people can not knock you down unless you give them permission. And second, a great way to fight hate, to break it down, is with humor.

And now, though I’m not particularly religious, I must quote Ziggy Marley:

Praise god i say, praise god each day.
he helped me to overcome
i remember once i couldn’t get out of bed
so i sing and say..yeah.


Finally I’d like to thank NPR for playing reggae today and dragging me down this dusty memory lane. I hadn't thought about these events in years; then I heard the music.

1 comment:

Ladyv said...

wow! i love this story of your reggae days. what a wonderful strong approach you took to that challenge!