Now we celebrate.
Today is the birthday of my intrepid husband, with whom I have navigated the last 36 years. The first time I celebrated his birthday we lived in Royal Oak, in a small townhome we called the Slumdominium. I was in law school at night, teaching middle school English during the day. He was an upstart DJ fouling the FM airwaves with talk where only Album sides should echo. It was 1976. He was starting a radio revolution. I was a prim schoolmarm, most likely to be ditched by the DJ. The ultimate odd couple. They said it wouldn’t last.
We summoned all his friends to a party of sliders and SNL viewing. One might say it was the golden age of SNL-Belushi, Ackroyd, Radner, Chevy Chase (already getting big for his britches and leaving) Jane Curtin, Garret Morris and Laraine Newman. Paul Simon sang in a turkey suit. I think…It seems like a quaint scenario all these years later, with DVR and all.
I made a cake- one of perhaps 5 cakes I have ever attempted. It might have been 1.5 inches tall, and copped a huge lean. Steve was charmed. And charming.
It seems like yesterday.
Today he is assaulting the internet waves, lurching from the constraints of the FCC and the metrics of the people meter. A Steve Dahl anecdote or interview is best sprawling along, not punched into hiccups. Every story deserves an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement. How’s that for English teacher gibberish?
He is meeting with the same uphill climb that his FM chatter required, and he shoulders it with hope and determination. He loves what he does: connecting with an unseen audience, and spinning straw into the occasional golden nugget.
What is different now is that he is clear eyed and sober. The business side as well as the creative side coexist in him as he works on this communication model. He is the Podcast Sybil. It is quite a burden, this split personality. Yet he forges on.
This week we will celebrate his birthday in waves. Our first outing was a Podcast Subscriber party at John Barleycorn’s in Schaumburg. The Bears made it effortless to dismiss the game and just blab. It is always a treat to meet the people who have traveled along the years with you. Many of them remember things I have long forgotten- or would like to. I made new girlfriends, met up with Al, whom I have bantered with regarding politics on Facebook. In the flesh, we got along perfectly. Paul Natkin, beloved and ever-supportive, snapped pictures.
Father Terry, fresh off of Mary’s Sunday Baptism, made an appearance. Dag sang Butt Chugging in a ridiculous mustache and Cowboy hat. Father Terry roared with laughter and mustache envy. Steve wore an Edge hat and played bass like he did in high school. Brendan and Matt played wine box drums, and Erica had a birthday cake made with an adorable 7 year old Steve photocopied upon it. Roger Dahl, in from California, held court.
It was like a reunion. The people who welcomed Steve into their cars and homes back in 1978 and continue to surf along with him ARE his extended family. We had a great night, and are overwhelmed with gratitude for the support.
Today I corralled the crew after the show for a tavern birthday lunch at Buck’s Pit Stop in Hodgkins. It is a place I haunt, and Steve loves to tease me for my lowbrow taste. With great pride, I can announce that Steve was overcome with love for everything fried and delicious: cheese curds, onion rings, dill pickles and the masterpiece of all entrees- fried shrimp with home made chips. We ate too much, and had Cake #2 (Kirschbaum‘s white on white) with ice cream. Roger grabbed the check, and Steve absconded with the leftover cake. These are the people who are helping him pull the plow everyday. They, too are a family of great importance and value to Steve.
There are no calls on the podcast, no instant feedback. They are in a basement cobbling together 90 minutes of content each day. They are dwelling in possibilities, and working hard to push forward. It is serious work, trying to be amusing and entertaining. The chemistry is good, the respect tangible. Party #1 on Monday night was a validation of all their work- every kind word replaced the vacuum of isolation they have in their underground bunker. So thank you, all who came. Wish you all could have been at Buck’s, too.
Thursday we will gather together as the Dahl family to give thanks, with a side order of birthday. What was once marked with a dose of Killer Bees will be celebrated with all the Thanksgiving trappings. Four generations will be together to mark the passage of time. All three of Steve’s kids will bring beautiful wives and side dishes to the feast. Great Grandpa Roger will cuddle his babies, and Steve will do his traditional turkey neck in my pants photo op. If there is a God, the deep fryer will not tip over and flash fry the dogs. The gravy won’t have lumps, and the white meat will not require mayo to swallow. There will be room for pie. Or apple crisp.
And yet if every single menu part was an epic FAIL, I would never stop smiling. My family- and Steve, who made it all possible-is a bigger, better dream than I could have conceived of in 1976.I will have the same foolish heart that I had in the throes of first love. I have made a good life with this man. 36 birthdays.
We have not lived in a vacuum. Many people have flowed in and out of our days, and all have made a difference. We appreciate that you are there with us, saying kind things, supporting Steve’s dreams, and ignoring our failings. Let’s keep traveling along together. We are in good company. Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Birthday, Happy almost holidays, Happy life.
Tags: Brendan Greeley, Buck's Pit Stop, Dag Juhlin, Erica Drogojewski, FM, Happy Birthday Steve Dahl, John Barleycorn, Kirschbaum's Bakery, MNF, Paul Natkin, people meter, podcast, radio, Roger Dahl, SNL, Steve Dahl, Terry Keehan, Thanksgiving