"KOOL 101.7," Chuck suggested.
"What's that?" I asked.
I've been here more than 13 years but have never developed any kind of brand loyalty toward the local commercial radio stations. It's not like the late 80s, early 90s when I thought KROC-FM in Rochester had to be one of the best radio stations in the world. That it's DJ and host of the Top Ten at Ten (and later Top Nine at Nine) was a major celebrity. He probably knew Casey Kasem even, right?
I don't know the numbers here. At some point I must have stumbled on pop songs and mindlessly programmed the stations into my last car, then never thought of the digits again. So here I was, stalled, finger poised.
"Oldies," he said.
"Oldies?" I said.
Oldies, to me, still means that tinny, corny crap from the 1950s and 60s. Where loves songs climax with hand holding. Bobby socks and ponytails. Milk shakes. My mom's head thrown back as she sings, a soft shoe with her slippers through the kitchen. She leads with her elbows when she dances.
But he meant the current definition of the Oldies.
"Hits from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s," he said.
Since shrugging, buying the Kool Aid and programming it in, I've almost completely stopped listening to public radio. This is Phil Collins, this is Peter Gabriel, this is Chicago. This is like digging into a duffle bag-shaped time capsule filled with The Music of My Life.
The best thing about this, though, is that on Sunday's it airs a Rick Dees' Weekly Top 40 episode from the 1980s. This. Is. Awesome. I must have listened to at least part of this the first time it aired. Maybe it played from a long skinny pink boom box while I read Christopher Pike books on my bed; Maybe I roller skated in the garage to it.
I can always, always place myself in the era of the song's popularity. What my hair looked like, what I was wearing in those days. This week I saw my old neighbor Mari and how I gave her the Europe tape for her birthday. I remembered that she loved Expose. I thought about how at one point I knew all of the words to "The Honey Thief" by HipSway but now the band means nothing to me (though I still seem to remember some of the words to the song).
Last week I correctly answered one of Dees' trivia questions about Whitney Houston.
I'm not sure how I can justify listening to Oldies when my parent's Oldies managed to ruin so many car rides. I blame the Space Shuttle and its four doors and decent rating in Consumer Reports.
This is all just a long introduction to: The Adult Contemporary Series. In fits and bursts, I will explore what the hits of the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s mean to me based on a song recently heard while in the car.
THE 'DEVIL INSIDE' EDITION
I'm 12 years old, I've got a longer leash than normal and a bit of money in my pocket so my friend Thwack-Thwack and I cruise into a record store so I can buy INXS "Kick."
Then we cross a two-lane highway to get to a pizza place. As we're running down the ditch of the median, I wipe out and roll. The cassette case busts but it still functional.
I get a weird feeling in my stomach. This happened because there is a song on the album called "Devil Inside." This is HIS work. Whenever I pop "Kick" into my Walkman I feel a little sick, but also a little dangerous.