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The DJ
by Jerry Guarino

October 23rd, 1976 (New Brunswick, NJ) - Tony finished his set at WRSU around 7pm. He would grab a quick dinner, then head over to the dorm for his gig as DJ to their party. Playing for college dances was better than being on the air; you don’t have much interaction when you’re alone in the radio booth. Here he could see coeds dancing and if he was lucky pick up a date.

“Are you the DJ?” said the house manager as he extended his hand.

“Hi, yes, I’m Tony, from the radio station. Good to meet you.”

“You too. I’m George. You can set up on that small stage; we use the dining area for dancing.”

“OK George. We’re going to start around 8?”

“8 is good Tony. The music will signal people to come down from their rooms. But you’re going until midnight, right?”

“Yes, usually, unless the crowd disappears.”

Most of the sororities and fraternities would be partying tonight, especially after the football team won. Tony knew everyone would be in a good mood. After setting up his equipment, records and speakers, he ran a sound test and found a comfortable stool. By 8 o’clock he was setting the mood with music from the early 70s. Sly and the Family Stone, The Hollies, Elton John and Three Dog Night. Just hits.

A brunette with frayed, bell-bottom jeans and a tie-dyed shirt came over to him. “You’re gonna play some Clapton, aren’t ya?”

“Derek and the Dominos or Cream?” said Tony.

“Do you have Layla?”

“You got it next.”

The girl smiled and skipped away as residents started to fill the room. It was a coed dorm, not part of the Greek system, so this was pleasant company, not the drunken frat boys around the corner. Within an hour, the dance floor was filled; beers were everywhere and the usual pairing off had begun.

“Wow. 9 o’clock and we already have couples leaving for the rooms upstairs. This might be an early night,” Tony said to himself. Then he saw her, a cheerleader still in uniform with some friends coming through the kitchen. He knew her name, Karen, but she didn’t know him. Back then all the guys knew the cheerleaders by name, even though they never met.

Tony knew what he had to do. K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Earth, Wind and Fire and The Doobie Brothers. Dance music will get her on the floor. As Get Down Tonight started, Tony pushed the volume up until it ended all normal conversations. Sure enough, Karen and her friends started to dance.

“Hmm. Her boyfriend’s not here. All the cheerleaders had boyfriends, maybe a lineman from the team. But they were probably partying at the football frat; surely Karen would be there if she wanted to be. Maybe he’ll show up here or she’ll leave.” Tony would just have to wait and see.

A coed came over to him with some chicken wings and French fries. She was pretty enough, but Tony was otherwise occupied. “You must be getting hungry; I made you a plate.”

“Oh, thanks” he said to the cute girl in a red Danskin and corduroy pants. As she walked away, she turned to smile at Tony. He gave her a wave and a more genuine smile, then his attention returned to Karen. But he didn’t see her.

“Damn.” Tony scanned the dance floor. “What if she stepped out? I should have talked to her.” Before long, it was 11:00pm and the crowd was thinning out, couples off for the night and singles leaving, only about 30 people left now. He lowered the volume of the music and made an announcement.

“You’ve been a great audience tonight. We’re going to wrap it up in about ten minutes.” Some mild disappointment from the crowd, so he decided to end the night with some power songs. Boogie Wonderland by Earth Wind and Fire, That’s the Way I Like It by KC and the Sunshine Band and Play That Funky Music White Boy by Wild Cherry. He turned the music up.

“Excuse me.” A lyrical voice called him, accompanied by a hand on his shoulder. He looked up and saw Karen. Suddenly his whole night was back in synch. She was smiling. “I love these songs. Too bad you have to stop.”

“I can stay a little longer. My name’s Tony.”

“I’m Karen.”

“Nice to meet you Karen. So you came right from the game?”

“Yeah, my girlfriends took me out to dinner for my birthday, then brought me


Tony had a clue. “She should be with her boyfriend on her birthday. Maybe she broke up with him.”

“Well, happy birthday. Tell you what. I’ll play as long as you like.” Tony thought that was a smooth line.

“Oh, thank you” Karen said and gave him a little hug. She walked back to the dance floor with her friends. Tony watched her dance for the next hour. That cheerleading uniform was more than he could resist. He just hoped she would stick around after and talk to him. His head in the clouds, it was midnight before he realized.

“Well, that’s it folks. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. Well, unless you live here.” Tony tried to make a joke, but it bombed. He started packing up the equipment. Karen walked over to him.

“Thank you so much. I was feeling a little down tonight. Will you be here long?”

Tony was hoping for the best. “No, I just have to secure this in that closet. The techs will bring it back to the station tomorrow. Do you need a ride home?”

“That would be nice” and she smiled. Tony wasn’t expecting this, but recovered quickly.

“I’ll take you. Just give me ten minutes.”

“OK. I’ll tell my friends goodbye.”

“Wow. She’s leaving her friends to be with me. I must have played the right notes tonight.”

Karen was quiet on their ride back to her dorm, but you could sense the conversation between them, going on in their heads.

Tony: I wish we were heading to my apartment instead of her dorm.

Karen: I wish he would ask me to his apartment instead of taking me home.

Tony: What do I say?

Karen: I wish he would say something, anything.

“So, you made my night a little brighter too Karen. I didn’t expect a pretty cheerleader to even notice me.”

Karen slid over to Tony’s side and held his hand. “You’re not so bad looking yourself. Did you think dating a cheerleader was out of your league?”

Tony’s life quickly passed through his brain. “She said dating a cheerleader!” It’s a dream come true, unless she is already with a player from the football team. It’s worse than having an affair. If he found out, he could punish you on a regular basis.

You couldn’t just disappear, especially once they got your class schedule and address. Worse yet, he had 60 or 70 teammates you could run into, literally!

“Tell you the truth. No, I never considered it a possibility.” Tony hoped Karen would give him one more sign to proceed. At the stop sign in front of her dorm, she leaned over and kissed him. “My roommate went home for the weekend. Aren’t you going to come in?” and she closed the door and ran to the door.

That was the sign. Tony parked quickly and ran to catch up with her. They made love for the next hours, aided by some champagne she just happened to have in her fridge. Low lights and soft music from her stereo intensified the mood. Tony gave her a massage while he recovered, hoping the night would never end.

Then there was a knock on the door, a pounding! Karen looked at him, threw on her robe and went to look out the security hole to see who was there. Tony’s heart and imagination were racing to what could be an ignominious finish of a glorious night. He could make out some muffled sound from the door.

“Oh.” She turned to Tony. “It’s only my roommate; she forgot her house key.”