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The Word: A Reflection of Why I Do What I Do

by Molly May 


I’ve been in love with him since I was fifteen. His soothing baritones and relaxed nature have always held for me an all-encompassing allure. It began in ninth grade, when his voice would emanate from the radio in waves every Tuesday and Thursday during the first minutes of my American literature class. With my head resting in my hands and a content, infatuated smirk on my face, his enchantments took hold of me and I was smitten.

Upon semester’s end, my love took a long hiatus. My affection for him was forgottenpushed aside by rappers, malt liquor, a handful of athletes, one woman, a virtuous artist, and a peppering of fabulous gay men. It wasn’t until one October evening in 2005 when I was reminded of his infectious resonance.

My butt hovered inches from the orange stadium seat and my chin rested on the cold railing of the DakotaDome’s second-tier seating. The football field was covered with bodies in motion, and the stands were packed to the brim with fans cheering, but once he took the microphone it was just us. Just me and him. Just me, him, and his red Saucony’s. Once again, I was transfixed.

 

Another five years went by and as my lemon of a Saturn, Moneypenny, gave up on playing compact discs, my frequent I-90 road trip attention was turned to cassettes—old volleyball pump tapes and Bill Cosby sketches.

On my luckiest day in recent memory, while scouring the racks at a small thrift store, I uncovered a six-cassette prize featuring my radio deity. I found that diamond among mounds of self-help and South Beach Diet books on tape. There was no reason for this treasure to reside with such refuse! My excitement not only bubbled from my straining vocal chords, but was also transmitted to my feverish, high-stepping knees and fluttery jazz hands. I imagine it was the most flamboyant display of calisthenics anyone had ever seen west of the Mississippi.

This excited explosion persisted for the next day and a half. Whenever I was behind the wheel of my car, the tape played, and my driving-jazz-hands resumed. It felt so good to be reunited with him again. And then, it happened. A word sang from my hero’s mouth that was so unexpected, so unforgettable, and so inspiring that tears of joy to surged from the corners of my eyes, seriously impairing my night vision. The word manifested with the same articulate ease and profound relaxation that he is known for, making it vault with hilarity. This moment signified a total game change for me.

Since that late-night-highway-drive-giggle-fit, caused by my lyrical genius’ quip, he has served as one of my greatest inspirations. I knew then and there that I have a passion to do for others what that man did for me that night. If I could infect even one person with even a small fraction of the joy he bestowed on me, well by god, I would probably throw a fit comparable to a hornet into a ceiling fan—a buzzing body torpedoed into a spell of dizzy excitement. I can only hope to connect with one soul the way that Garrison Keillor did with me the first time I heard him say the word fart.

 

All rights reserved to Molly May.

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