The Music Man
by Jerry Guarino
January, 1971 (WRSU, New
and that was Light
My Fire by the Doors from 1967. Coming up
after the news well hear from Iron
Butterfly, Led Zeppelin and Steppenwolf. This is
Joe Mariani from WRSU, New Brunswick. Joe
took off his headphones and shook out his floppy
hair when the phone rang. Hi, you found Joe.
He was used to getting requests from the dorms.
Joe, hi. My name is
Hi Annika. Where are
you calling from today?
Glassboro, near the
Glassboro? Wow, you
must have a powerful receiver to get us down
there. The farthest call-in Ive ever had
before has been from Asbury Park. Guess you
stumbled on us by accident.
Not really, Joe. Ive
been listening to you for a year now, but was
afraid to call before now.
Hey, nothing to be
afraid of. This is just a college station. What
can I play for you? Joe expected a request
for the Beatles; girls loved the Beatles.
Well, its kind
of an unusual request. Annikas
innocent voice gave Joe a pause and he wondered
how old this girl was.
If it fits into my
show, Ill be glad to put it on. What was it
you are looking for?
Not what said
Annika. More of who.
No problem, Annika.
We have all The Who albums... Annika sighed
audibly, and then interrupted Joe.
Not The Who, Joe. Who.
You actually. I was hoping we might get together.
Joe checked the timer to see how long before he
had to be back on the air. Two minutes left.
Suddenly this call had gone from a friendly chat
to a blind date. He had to measure his response
and now began to visualize his new fan.
very nice of you Annika, but I dont get
down to South Jersey in the winter very often.
Were you going to be up near RU? Joe needed
more information before he would commit to such a
long drive for an unknown meeting.
Umm. Im an au
pair for this rich couple and theyre gone
for the weekend. I cant leave because I
have to watch the house. Joe put together
his clues. Au pair named Annika. Alone in a fancy
house. Maybe shes one of those Swedish
exchange students, probably college age. If she
were stuck way down in Glassboro, none of the
Princeton guys would have found her.
You know Annika. Why
not? My show ends at 3 and I can probably be
there by dinnertime. I dont know the area,
but I could bring a pizza from our local pub.
This was his way of gauging how intimate the date
might be. But the station manager tapping on the
studio window interrupted Joe, putting up 10
fingers, time before he would be back on air.
Annika, Im going to have to put you
on hold until the next song. Can you hold on?
Annika sounded excited and
sweet. Sure Joe, Ill wait. Joe
nodded to his manager and turned his microphone
and that was
the news. Heres Iron Butterfly with In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.
Ah, a seventeen minute song. Joe picked up the
phone while the music played, hoping that Annika
hadnt changed her mind. Annika, are
you still there?
Here I am! Are you
sure you can get here by dinnertime? I want to be
was contagious, so Joe felt at ease with this new
admirer. Just a few years earlier, he might have
fumbled awkwardly on the phone. But hey, this was
1971 and the summer of love wasnt that long
ago. Besides, she called him. She reached out.
Im sure I can be there by 6. Give me
the address and directions. You sure I cant
Just bring yourself,
sweetie. Ill have something for us.
As Joe drove down the N.J.
turnpike, he had a sudden queasiness in his
stomach. What if this girl was ugly, or fat, or
God forbid, under age? Joe imagined himself with
some gorgeous 15 year-old, who looked 22 and
perhaps had planned this whole weekend with one
thing in mind. Get the college DJ alone in her
host familys mansion and see how many rooms
they could defile. That shocked Joe back. Shes
probably at least 18. She said she was an au pair,
didnt she? Maybe shes not an au pair
at all, just some teenager home alone while her
parents are away on some romantic weekend in New
York City. But he could tell, right? As soon as
he sees her, hell know. You can tell a girls
age by the way she dresses and how she uses
makeup, or at least he hoped so.
Meanwhile, Annika was
preparing for Joes arrival. She put out
candles over a linen tablecloth, then fine china
and silverware. Next she arranged pillows on the
couch just so and burned jasmine incense to fill
the room. Her ivory colored peasant dress and
colorful beads lay on her bed, next to her clogs
and knee socks. Annika was meticulous in her
planning. She pulled out a mix tape with the most
romantic songs from The Beatles, The Association,
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, The Righteous
Brothers and The Turtles albums, icons of the
late 60s, music she knew that Joe had grown up
Joe finally arrived at the
upscale, country home in the woods. The driveway
went on for a mile with no other houses in view.
He could hear the sound of owls and squirrels and
thought he saw a deer. A thousand stars were
visible above him and the woods were illuminated
by a full moon, a moon that seemed overly large
tonight. This kind of privacy would be perfect
for romance. Or a murder! Now realizing that he
didnt know anything about this girl, was
she going to be a lover or a stalker?
Annika made a French Coq a
Vin, braised chicken with mushrooms in a wine
sauce, roasted potatoes and steamed asparagus.
Although she grew up in Stockholm, she had spent
a year in France for a couple that taught her how
to cook. She figured this gourmet dish was just
the ticket to melting a college mans heart.
Joe pulled his jeep up to
the carriage house. He saw a small light from the
second floor window. He walked to the main house,
rang the doorbell and waited anxiously to see if
his prediction and fantasy was correct, if this
was going to be an awkward, embarrassing moment
or something even worse. Just let her be 18
he said to himself. The door opened slowly with
Annika peeking from behind, only her face showing.
was lovely and smiled immediately.
Hi Joe as she
emerged from behind the door. Joe was pleasantly
surprised to see a 59 beauty, looking
like a flower child with her beads and long,
blond hair. He could smell the jasmine in the air
and heard Beatles music playing softly;
ironically it was Norwegian Wood.
Annika, so nice to
meet you. He had just one more concern, her
age. But before he could say anything else,
Annika gave him a warm hug, much longer than
would be appropriate for a first meeting. Maybe
the summer of love was delayed in Europe. Joe
didnt want to be the first one to let go,
so he waited for her to reply.
Thanks for trusting
me. I didnt know whether you were really
going to make the trip as she let go of the
hug and resumed eye contact. She took his hand
and led him inside. Joe saw the dining room,
exquisitely laid out like something from a
gourmet magazine. Then he smelled the dinner,
aromatic wine and mushroom sauce blending with
the incense. Joe felt the warmth of a fire from
the sunken living room nearby. Annika motioned
him to sit down and resumed the conversation.
Youre just like
I hoped. She set a napkin on Joes lap,
hugged him from behind and let out another
audible sigh, then brought dinner to the table.
You are more than I
imagined, said Joe, trying to maintain his
cool while he was melting inside. In fact,
this seems like some kind of wonderful dream.
Sitting with his back to the fire, the light
sparkled into Annikas eyes.
Just wait until you
taste my cooking before you put me on a pedestal
as she sat down to eat. But I think we will
have something dreamlike later on.
Joe was grateful for the
long tablecloth in front of him. If this was a
dream, he hoped he wouldnt wake up any time
soon. Are you sure were alone for the
Annika smiled. We
have the whole weekend. She brushed her
hair with her hand. The Danielssons
are in Marthas Vineyard until Monday,
celebrating their anniversary. We have some
celebrating too. Our first date!
Annika slid her hand over
to Joe, and then leaned over to kiss him. The
next hour passed quickly as time will when one is
enamored. Annika took Joe by the hand and led him
to the couch. The warmth and light from the fire
encouraged their intentions. Annika pulled a
quilt over them and they started to bond. Before
long, she was unbuttoning Joes shirt and
abandoning her dress.
Joe took Annika to the
family bedroom, matching her passion, as they
left their clothing in a trail. Too bad this
lovely Scandinavian lived so far away from campus
as he could see this turning into a great
relationship. Joe, take me she said
in that unmistakable accent. Joe followed her
directions explicitly. Then as they were both
about to meet in unison, there was a terrifying
shriek from the bedroom window.
screamed Annika as Joes body faded from
passion. It was like something from a teenage
horror movie. Joe had no idea what the sound was,
but Annika seemed to understand what creature
made such a sound.
I know how to get
away from this. Annika bounced up, took two
robes from the master bathroom and took Joe to
the carriage house, then up the stairs to her
room. Posters of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and
The Beatles accented a tie dyed cloth forming a
canopy over her queen size bed; now this looked
more like a coeds home. She put her mix
tape into the boom box, turned to Joe and gave
him a long, unmistakable kiss.
Where were we lover? Joe and Annika
were under the covers, exploring each other.
This is like some
kind of dream Annika. But I have to know, how did
you know you would like me? Annika paused a
moment from her embrace and whispered in his ear.
I saw your picture in
last years yearbook, from the radio station
page. Now that seemed a little unlikely.
Joe wondered why she would have a yearbook from a
college so far away, but she quickly explained.
My cousin Sven plays for the football team.
Oh, ok. This
seemed a little less like stalking now and more
like an infatuation. But her expertise in the
bedroom seemed unlike any schoolgirl crush. Joe
had to know how old she was, but what could he
ask in the midst of lovemaking that wouldnt
put a halt to the proceeding. Annika?
Annika continued her voyage around Joes
body. Joe reconsidered his question.
Nothing. We can talk
later. The moonlight shone from the window
across from her bed. Silhouettes of trees and
birds pierced the dark blue sky, like a sharper
image of Van Goghs Starry Night.
The odor of incense and wine was now replaced by
Annikas perfume, a scent Joe didnt
recognize, nothing the Jersey college girls would
use; it was obviously expensive, probably a gift.
This only heightened his ecstasy with the blonde
angel who fell from Heaven. Joe forgot all about
Oh, Joe, said
Annika as she wrapped herself around the college
DJ. Her sighs turned to moaning and soon they
were both beyond the possibility of stopping.
Annika, you are
amazing. Hold on. But then, a loud thud hit
the window outside. Staring in at the couple was
a large bird. As it turned, the moonlight
revealed a bright red comb on the birds
head. It was a rooster!
Annika shrieked and a twice-exasperated
Joe cursed the flightless bird. How did
that get here? Then the mix tape segued to Light
My Fire. The demon floated into the night,
crossing in front of the oversized moon, further
convincing Joe that this had all been a dream.
After all, roosters cant fly.