Today is an auspicious day in the life of the Dahl family.
Thirty three years ago Steve and I were in Detroit. My sister was getting married. Steve was multitasking: he was simulcasting on Detroit and Milwaukee stations, and he was doing a personal appearance on Friday. Garry was in town as well.
I can surmise that his personal appearance involved some social drinking. Howard Stern, then a fresh voice on the Detroit FM airwave, stopped by to gape a bit. He was, at that time, continuing Steve’s desecration of the “album oriented rock” bandwidth with his comic morning show. He mocked Steve for trying to be on in multiple markets. Rough crowd. A bad start to the road trip.
The next day Steve was pretty crabby about putting on the beige suit. Or a tie.
I was the one who should have groused: the bridesmaid’s dress I was about to slide into resembled a Little Bo Peep costume.
Still, in order to adjust his attitude, I consented to a pre-wedding romp. In electric curlers. (this broke a promise I made to myself, never to let Steve see me in a shower cap or curlers. I have complied fairly well, with the result that I have bad hair in the day and a wet head at bed time.) Such are the deals with the devil that a wife makes.
The afterglow involved Garry tying the knot around Steve’s neck while I tamed the afro that hot curlers create when they are in too long.
The next day Steve returned to Chicago and I hung out in Detroit to visit with my family. Within 24 hours, my boobs told me that I was pregnant. No matter how I worked the calendar, I could not finish law school before this blessed event. Maybe I was wrong….
It seems quaint that I couldn’t confirm this with a pregnancy test for more than a month, but that was the state of science and pharmacy. Oh, hell yes- two different sticks said I was expecting a baby.
Steve, my little anti-Christ, proclaimed to me it was “God’s will” and promptly announced the news on the radio…. before I had a chance to tell my family. Mom called before I could patch this gaffe; she wasn’t sure if this was a real baby or a new character in Steve’s theater of the mind. I have to say, she was pretty mad..and then pretty glad.
Nine months after (April 28th, actually) Marie’s wedding, I became a mother. In the intervening months, Steve had been fired from his job at The Loop for assaulting community standards, the syndication collapsed (you were so right, Howard) and Steve started in residence for a tumultuous 5 year run at WLS. In fact, I had all my boys under the ABC banner. Steve was the first Daddy blogger, once again ahead of his time. He started with fetus updates when Pat was a lima bean, and covered most milestones, through marriages and grandkids. It is hard to believe that the boy who peed on his wall to protest wallpaper and a big boy bed now has a two year old. I cannot wait until Henry launches his first oppositional assault.
Anyway…I punched out the rest of law school, passed the bar, but settled into my home front without looking back. Steve worked his ass off: 6 days on the radio (penance, with so much bitching that John Gehron finally relented) and weekends in bars to balance our budget and provide for the family he launched on July 25th, 1980. He had a million schemes from parody songs to surf shops. Some were building blocks, some were dead ends. He was centrifugal, and the family was the non-rotating center. Somehow we made it work.
My boys have asked if I was lonely when Steve was so busy in the world, or if I resented so much of my time alone with them. No and no.
I was a fortunate young mom, who started and ended every day in the company of the people she loved the most in the world. I loved reading to them, loading them in a wagon and carting them around. I loved being at every important moment in their school lives. I loved using puffy paints on their neon matching fanny packs. (Come to think of it, they probably wished I had infused their youth with fewer crafts) Like all Moms, I loved putting them to bed, singing and rocking. Some thirty odd years later, I am old school enough to know that wife and mom is what I was destined to be.
I have failed at cook and baker, struggled at teacher, dreamed of lawyer- but I found contentment and fulfillment in the job I started in electric curlers with a crabby Steve in Southfield Michigan. I will never claim that I mastered it- but I will always say that I loved it.
This is the anniversary of our family – the family with roots from California and Michigan, and branches here in Illinois. It is impossibly important to me.
And you know what? Neon is back.
Indulge me. Come on back for more Janter.
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