Friday, July 16, 2010

(Interlude) What My Pre-set Radio Stations Say About Me

After about 14 months, I finally got around to learning how to lock in the pre-set radio stations on my lumbering 1991 Oldsmobile. I should say that my girlfriend did this for me. Part of my personality contains an annoying trait that I am fully aware of but usually not in control of. This personality trait is partly a tendency to procrastinate--an every-human quality, I think--and partly a tendency to make things harder than they have to be.
My sister has always teased me about my tendency to exit her street via a right turn, though I need to go left to get on the road to my place. My modus operandi makes sense to me, but apparently, to my sister and much of the outside world, this right turn is as strange as Aunt Viv changing from one actress to another during that one random season of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air."
My peculiar sense of impatience, you see, impels me to do something while I'm waiting for both directions of traffic to slow enough for me to end up heading towards home. Instead of venturing into the center lane to wait for the far lane to open up, I routinely take a quick right out of my sister's place, then pop a quick (and illegal) u-turn.
Why this bit of u-turn madness? I don't know. And, you know what? I'll probably do it again next time.
Now back to the tell-tale pre-set radio stations--why, you ask, did I not just invest two to four minutes to set the channels ahead of time instead of inefficiently flipping through the channels slowly for one whole year, always settling on the same few stations?
Of these four stations, one is the local hip-hop station, another the local rock station. The third station is the local "old school" hip hop and R & B channel, complete with a lot of West Coast 90s rap-Snoop, Dre, Kurupt, Westside Connection, E-40 and Too Short. The fourth is...drumroll...NPR.
Yes, National Public Radio. The station I swore I'd never like, the station of ol' Garrison Keillor and his aw-shucks, Midwestern spoof mainly enjoyed by those who remember the days when people made a huge deal out of the Lutheran/Methodist divide.
I remember, as a kid, hitching a ride with a friend's father who constantly had the dial set to NPR, insisting on discussing the current events mentioned on the radio with my friend and me. That the two of us had some 25 years of combined life was unimportant, as the father was really just using us as practice, as a sounding board, so that he could impress his contemporaries at parties and the water cooler with his in-depth knowledge of the dicey political world.
Though I couldn't have verbalized it at the time, there was something vaguely adult, vaguely nerdy about someone who listened to NPR. It didn't feature flashy commercials, announcers with deep bass to their voices, or cool million dollar giveaways. And it was quite obvious to me at that point in my life that there was no greater harbinger of old age than the discussion of politics.
Democrats? Republicans? Might as well be 90 years old.