(Part One of Five)
It is an odd question really. It infers that something has already happened or been decided or that something has simply just been stated. That’s where this story lands. Squarely in the lap of the: Stated
In this age of technology and cell phones and instant messaging and facebook and well, it really never ends anymore, there are folks that find the “grid” to be very invasive. Most usually the decision to avoid the grid was made way before some young genius had to show up in Congressional hearings to answer as to the “whys” that His Thing has become so, unprivate. Somehow these grid-avoiders or, grid-ghosts, find ways to set their own overly inquisitive nature aside and just do as we all did for the decades prior-to this tekkie age. That would be to write or call on the telephone or, gasp gasp, make the trip to go visit. What a crazy concept that is now. (If you have grown kids then you probably understand that not so subtle attempt at feigned sarcasm.)
I met the young man in October of 1977. I’ll leave the particulars of physical descriptions for just a minute.
It’s now the late-fall of 1977. I’m attending Elkins Institute in Dallas. I had already been through the licensing class to secure a Radiotelephone First Class License. That was an item of importance, so I was told. It might guarantee you a bit more financial freedom someday. Okay, I’ll go for the “someday” effort and did the 2-month course. Got the license and then, a short break to go home before starting the FUN part of the playing, I mean Education. The Studio training. No paperwork to speak of, with the exception of a little writing project we each had to turn in before graduation. It was just an effort by the Instructor to make it appear as though he had actually done something more than let his students pretend they were already real live disc-jockeys which, I might add, happened daily in one of the five practice studios for the entirety of his 3-month class. (Sidenote: I still have that one writing effort required for that class. I have re-read it a couple times through the years. But now, not in a very long time. Although, as I remember? Well, let’s just conclude the sidenote with the facts that I had no spellcheck or backspace or even a typewriter. So, “handwritten crap” should about cover it.)
When I first saw him in class I would have bet all the money I would ever make that I would NEVER become best-friends with that 19-year-old young man. Long stringy black hair, thick lensed prescription glasses that were so black you could not see his eyes whatsoever and dressed as though he barely had enough money to afford the clothes he had on that day. Regarding the glasses, I learned later that he had gotten a little too inebriated the night before classes started and lost them at a bar somewhere in Dallas. He was very thin and about my height. He seemed to be extremely introverted. I can say the introverted element of his disposition never really changed, except for those considered close friends.
A three month class and about a dozen guys in the class and one female who was the unfortunate target for every male’s attentions, muchly not wanted we all quickly figured out. So, with the time passing and being paired-up in the studios with one person doing news stories and the other getting to play d-j, the obvious finally occurred. He and I were paired to do our weeks training together. That’s when I really met the guy. By the way, this is still way before my (Paul Steele) era as we all just used our own real names.
His name: Mike Dry.
“Hey man, where are you from?” I only asked to find some way to see if we have anything in common. You know, like the English language.
“Winters. It’s close to Ballinger.” He might as well have said some remote town names in Montana or something. I respond with “Never heard of them.”
Okay, let’s be honest here. When you say you’re from Earth then I guess Winters and Ballinger really do make plenty of sense.
“It’s close to Abilene.” Now, me being a stickler for the specifics, I would have normally had him tell me exactly how many miles and in what direction from Abilene but, I let it go.
“What’s the deal with your glasses?” I was super curious about that because I Could Not See His Eyes At All! That really freaked me out after a while.
“I lost them.”
Okay, now we’re making progress. So, these are not his Only pair of glasses. Maybe he’s not as freakish as he appears. (Hey, I’m telling a story here. Yes, of course I still thought he was just as Very Freakish!!)
“Oh, okay.” I responded as though I probably knew that already and promptly walked into the little newsroom just off the studio. I would be newsman for Mike Dry today. Day One of our personal introductions were now concluded. I did notice that he had not asked me anything about myself. Oh well, I still might talk to him later.