Sunday, February 11, 2007, 9:45 PM
Twenty percent of me won a writing contest when I was in high school; I was one of five winners. It’s crazy how I still regard it as one of my proudest moments, crazy how I still cringe over how they mispronounced my first name, but not my last name.
A local nighttime radio DJ wanted his listeners to write letters to the station owners, outlining reasons why the one-hour request and dedication show should be extended to two hours. I’m sure I rolled my eyes and scoffed at the idea of anyone actually putting time and effort into writing these letters because even at age 17, I recognized the DJ’s ploy for what it was: a pseudo head rush of a who’s listening barf-o-rama extravaganza. But they were offering $100 gift certificates to JB Robinson’s, a jewelry store, and the idea of writing a letter wouldn’t leave me alone.
Then I heard the Sheena Easton/Prince duet U Got The Look. The song ultimately had nothing to do with the letter I wrote, but it gave me the idea I ended up running with – a pair of high school lovebirds who’d broken up over a song request that never happened, ostensibly because one hour wasn’t enough time to submit a request. In the letter I wrote, I was the girl who’d lost her boyfriend over the song request I hadn’t made in time and while I was over the boy I’d lost, I’d met someone new … someone I had to impress with the perfect song dedication, if only I could get the argen-fargen dedication in. And it was this idea that my whole letter of woe hinged on. I made it seem as if my love life depended on another hour of song dedications and that if the station owners didn’t extend the one-hour to two hours, I was doomed to die without the look, loveless, a virgin.
I had an unholy blast writing it. I was sure when I mailed the letter that I would win. Maybe it was the perfect alignment of the sun, moon and planets, but whatever it was that made me believe I was going to win made me purposefully misspell my last name so that the radio station would pronounce it correctly. I laugh about it now, but that day when they said my name on the radio airwaves? I couldn't believe it. They said my last name perfectly … but they massacred my first name. I was crushed. The recognition I wanted didn't seem to belong to me and I felt cheated.
With my $100 gift certificate, I bought a delicate gold watch that I still have today. For the most part, I haven’t forgotten who I am, no matter how others choose to see me or how they choose to pronounce my name. I figure that as long as I don’t lose sight of me and what I want in the long run, I’ll be okay. Just, sheesh, I wish I'd realize I'm damn near past the halfway point of the long run.