So last Wednesday I was invited to be an in-studio guest for the “Chaz & AJ Show” on WPLR, 99.1 FM. It was a good time, but throughout the entire experience, I just kept flashing back to my dating days.
It really started a week earlier when I was contacted by the show’s producer Phil—he called to say that the guys saw the New Haven Register story about the book and thought it’d be fun to have me on. It was weird like, “What, someone’s interested in me? Really?” You know, like someone telling you that their friend saw you in the hall after 3rd period and “likes” you. (But not like like—too soon for that.)
Honestly, although I do know the show and have caught it from time to time, I don’t listen to them on a regular basis, so like anyone going on a potential blind date (being a little familiar with them, should I call it a semi-blind date? a cataract date?), I spent the next few days scouting them, you know, watching clips on their website and listening in the mornings. Think of it as using a lav pass to wander past their home room to check them out—not quite stalker level interest, but curious nonetheless.
The night before my appearance, I didn’t sleep well. I was nervous and wanted to make a good first impression but I also had this fear of oversleeping and waking up to discover that I’d blown my chance as they mothefracked me up and down the dial. Fortunately, my neurosis worked on my behalf, and I was up well before the alarm went off at 5:45 a.m.
Actually, the irony is that I’m pretty sure I never lost sleep *before* a first date in high school or college. I’ve always fretted over a lot of things, but for some reason, not that. Let’s just say back in the day when I used to date, my attitude sort of echoed some wisdom that a ladies man named Bernie imparted to me in the warehouse of Sears (because that’s where all the ladies men hung in the 1980s). “When you’re young, women are like buses,” he told me that long-ago summer day. “If you miss out on one, don’t worry. There’s always another one coming along.” Sure, it sounds crass, but at that point in my life, it certainly proved to be true.
Radio appearances to promote a book, however, come along a little less frequently (although I have one on Monday on AM 1320 WATR’s “Talk of the Town” at 12:30 p.m., if you haven’t had enough of me yet). I was up and ready to go!
I shaved because it was my day to do so—I only drag a sharpened hunk of steel across my delicate face every other day—but I laughed at the idea of getting physically gussied up to go on radio, a decidedly *not* visual medium. And no, I didn’t splash on Axe. Since it was radio, I did gargle extra—gotta keep the pipes clean, right?
So all purdy and ready to go on my “date,” I kissed the wife, got in the car and drove to Milford. I had “Chaz & AJ” on as I drove, trying to get a sense of how they were feeling. Apparently, the show’s news/traffic anchor Megan had contracted food poisoning and was regularly running to the bathroom to vomit between segments, which in my head was a good thing because if she threw up after I was on, I’d have thought it was my fault. (Not that it still couldn’t have been, but at least now I could *tell* myself it wasn’t necessarily my appearance.) The guys sounded okay, and certainly not nervous about me showing up.
Of course, at my advanced age, I was about 10 minutes earlier than they had asked me to come in, so I took my time crossing the empty lot—not a lot of folks around before the sun is up. “You’re here?” said Phil the producer, sounding slightly surprised after I called him to let me into the building (it’s locked until a reasonable daylight hour). “Okay, I’ll be right down.”
Phil met me at the door, and was very enthusiastic about me being there—pretty much the complete opposite of the brother and father of every girl I ever called upon, with the possible exception of my wife’s brother, who was 11 when I first met him and still seems happy when he sees me. Then again, he seems happy to meet everyone. Hmm …
Anyway, Phil brought me up to the office, giving me advice along the way about what to say and what to do. He asked if I needed to use the bathroom—I made some comment about not wanting to catch whatever it was that was making Megan vomit. He sort of nodded and half=laughed; I realized a few minutes later that Megan wasn’t in the studio, but instead was working from her home. D’oh!
Because I was early, Phil asked me to sit in the empty lobby for a few minutes until it was time for my segment.
As I waited there nervously—like waiting for a date getting ready—I thought of this girl Pam whom I dated. I showed up at her house and before I could even see her, her father brought me to the living room and started grilling me about my intentions. He was tough and I was floundering a bit until he mentioned that he was upset about how the Mets had lost that day. I agreed. “Wait, you’re a Mets fan?!” he exclaimed, his face suddenly brightening. “Really?!” I told him to go check out the weathered Mets license plate on the front of my 1978 Datsun B210. We weren’t exactly BFFs after that, but he was certainly less frosty.
Having listened to WPLR for years, I almost half-expected the Wigmaster to show up like some crazy father figure to grill me, but it wasn’t the case. This time.
Finally, it was time to meet my “dates.” Phil led me into the studio and gave me instructions, and then introduced me to the guys, who were very nice. Chaz said he hadn’t seen my book yet (fortunately I had brought a copy with me), quickly went over how the interview was going to go, and then went about preparing—in silence. Hey, it’s a very small staff, and these guys have to do everything themselves. Plus, they’re live on the air, and although the songs give them some time to do stuff, there’s not a lot of margin for error.
Even though I understood that, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself as I waited there with Chaz. (AJ was in a separate booth behind me.) I tried to strike up a conversation, sort of joking about how I know you’re not supposed to use inappropriate language on air, but it seems that the more you don’t want to use it, the more those are the only words on the tip of your tongue. Chaz sort of looked at me for a few seconds, nodded slowly and said, “Yeaaah.”
I decided that from that point, it might be best to just be quiet and the let the pros do their work.
Once it was time to be on the air, however, all the quiet and awkwardness dissipated, and we had a nice “date.” It’s all sort of a blur, but I know I didn’t make any major gaffes or do anything to embarrass myself. I felt my phone vibrating in my pocket, and every time I did, I could only imagine the snarky texts that I was getting telling me what I was doing wrong.
The second part of my appearance can be heard here, although it’s the part where they had callers suggesting jerks for the next book. I don’t say much until about halfway through—the first half of the interview I got a lot more air time to talk about some of the people in the book.
After the second segment was done, they all came over and thanked me for coming in. Chaz said he hoped I sold a lot of books, and then … it was over. Just like that.
Chaz went back behind the console, AJ went back to his booth and Phil went back to another room. I was standing there for a second when Chaz shouted, “Hey Phil, show the guy out!”
Phil came over and pointed down the hall. “Go there, make a left, back through the lobby and push the button to let yourself out. Thanks again!”
Obviously, it was great to be on the air, they were nice, and they did indeed help me sell books—I jumped from #30 on Amazon’s “regional>biographies>New England” section to #7 in a day. It just ended so quickly, and with how I was pimping myself and the book out, I got a sense of, “Hey honey, there’s $50 on the dresser and let yourself out.”
Quite the opposite of how many of my dates normally ended.