I imagined a tall man with dark hair and sharp, blue eyes. His nose was straight and his smile easy. He moved in a feral and feline way, highlighted by simple jeans and t-shirt. I imagined him sitting wherever radio DJs sit with one leg up and leaned back while he spoke into his microphone with large hands rifling through countless 45s and LPs.
By the time Rick moved from late nights to evenings, the prized spot, I was out on my own and able to call the radio station. At first, it was just to make song requests like "White Bird" or "C'est la Vie," always surprising myself that I was able to utter a coherent word, my heart would flutter so much. "Sure, will do," and click, he was gone. And when my song came on with his dedication to me; why, I swear I'd swoon.
After a few months of calling whenever I gathered up enough nerve, Rick started to recognize my voice. "Hi, Theresa, what will it be tonight?" I'd ask for songs not played often, typically Loggins and Messina; Emerson, Lake and Palmer; and maybe a Jethro Tull or Led Zepplin tune once in awhile, just to build a little variation and unpredictability into my requests.
"Stairway to Heaven?" he'd ask. "Why that tune tonight? Do you think it fits in with what I've been playing?" And that started the little discussions between us about my chosen requests. It was funny at the time, but his voice would change just a little while he was talking to me, compared to his "on air" voice. Not much, but somehow it just sounded more silky, more personable, more interested. And he was interested in me!
"Wait a second, let me get the next song on." He'd just lay the phone down, I assume, on his desk and introduce the next song and get it going. Sometimes, I'd get a loud screech in the earpiece of my phone if I had it too close to the radio I was listening to. Feedback.
"You're Mama Don't Dance is it? Good song. But, I think I'd better play a few more before I play that one. Do you mind waiting a little bit for it?" Instead of hanging up, he'd get to talking about something else, and we'd chat away. Sometimes my request would be played, sometimes not, and I didn't care. Not one iota.
I'd call every night. Sometimes he would be too busy for a long conversation, so I'd just make a request. No big deal. I'd about cry, but it was no big deal. I got to the point where I could tell if he was busy or not before I'd call. And we'd talk about anything and everything. It was nice, relaxed, accepting, anonymous friends just shooting the breeze. Sometimes it would be ten or twenty minutes, sometimes two or three hours. I don't remember much about those conversations, only that they were a sort of connection for me that I'd never had before.
Then, it happened. Rick walked through the door of a party. Turns out some friends of mine went to high school with the infamous DJ Rick, and there he was.
Yes, there he was. All of about 5'5, scraggly hair, pitiful patchy beard, brown eyes, Neanderthal eyebrows, crooked glasses, slightly mushy and flabby looking with his t-shirt half tucked into saggy blue jeans - and really hairy arms. I was totally repulsed. I couldn't believe this was the same person I talked to almost every night on the telephone, nor the silky smooth voice I heard on the radio. My heart fell. I never said a word, never introduced myself, and got out of there as fast as I could.
And, I never called the radio station again.
(No, that's not Rick's picture, but it's close to what I imaged Rick to look like.)