Sixteen years after Buggles’ one-hit wonder,
we were still smacking snooze-buttons on clock radios,
jarred awake by Top 40 and traffic on the nines.
We listened on the bus going to and from school.
We listened in the locker room.
We listened at each other’s houses.
Our moms listened in the kitchen, our dads in the garage.
It was the noon, the five, the after-dark, the love lines,
the weather report, the advice, the Casey Kasems,
the Howard Sterns, the college stations,
the underground, the AM strangeness.
It was the seventh-caller concert ticket giveaways,
the whatever’s-below-the-D-list celebrity interviews,
jingles for local eateries, cheap auto insurance,
guitar stores, used car lots, tanning salons, and head shops.
Our idea of interactive was to call in during request hour
and dedicate a song to the boy we liked in class,
“I’ll Make Love to You” or “So Much in Love”
(the All 4 One version, as if it needed to be said).
And, at the center of it all, the deejays,
the princes of the airwaves.
Was it any wonder we got crushes on them?
A particular type of crush, the kind
that can only develop when you can’t see them
and they can’t see you.
On a dare, I called one up and talked dirty to him.
Hey, baby,I said.Your voice gets me so hot.
You know what really turns me on?
I was thirteen. This is girl bravado,
the way boys will take a baseball bat and smash a mailbox;
they toy with destruction and we just self-destruct.
I hoped the deejay was recording me,
that he would play our conversation on the air.
My heart was beating so hard, and my friends
were giggling and shushing each other behind me,
so I didn’t hear his response. But I lost my nerve,
and just before I slammed the phone down,
I yelled, Play “Trigger Happy Jack”!