“Has it been one of those days?”
You’re in the grocery store, picking up some late-night snacks. Or you’re in the car on your way home from the store. Or you’re home with the bottle of wine that you call a late-night snack. In one or more of these places, the radio is on. And that’s when you hear her.
“Are you having one of those days?”
Her name, as you are probably aware, is Delilah. She sits in your radio and plays love songs, both happy and sad, both repugnant and secretly your favorite. She asks you these questions to goad you into calling in with your own personal sob story. She listens to people split their guts and then picks a tune with which to sew them back up. For over twenty years, she has been the nightly voice of radio stations across the country.
I always associate Delilah–or more accurately, her voice–with car rides home after Sunday night pizza with my grandparents. I would listen to the various happy endings and heartbreaks while watching the world go by outside my car window. And when you listen to someone often enough, like I did with Delilah, you start to paint of mental picture of what they look like. It’s kind of like with book characters, except without the physical descriptions and oh yeah they are actually human beings and we have photographs of them.
Which is the problem. I can distinctly remember my life before I knew what Delilah looked like, but I cannot go back to that time. Not to say there is anything wrong with the way she looks, it’s just—it’s not what I expected. I innocently clicked the “Images” tab on Google and suddenly the voice in my radio had a face and hair and not the face and hair I had always imagined. Not even close.
Given my dramatic history with radio personalities and the fact that they are people with faces, you may be surprised to hear that I willingly went to the recording of a radio program/podcast this week at which I watched the faces of some of my favorite radio people for hours. They were unfamiliar faces with the most familiar voices. They had bodies, too! It was wild. Occasionally, they would make a mistake, like a regular person, and then they would have to record it again. It wasn’t quite as shocking as my Delilah revelation, but it did make me want to go up and ask them, “Are you sure this is what you look like?”
Radio is weird, right? Give me a voice and I can tell you what their name is, where they work, and a few other pertinent details about them. But if I passed any of them on the street, I would have no idea that they are the reason I knew to wear a rain jacket today or that they were responsible for bringing “Call Me Maybe” into my life (clearly it’s been a few years since I’ve listened to pop radio).
Except for Delilah. If I saw her, I’d know exactly who she was. I would go up to her and tell her I was having one of those days, even if I wasn’t, and she would wrap me in a warm, velvety embrace, and this time it would involve not just her voice but her arms too. And after we were done hugging, she would sing an acapella version of “Wing Beneath My Wings” that would put Bette Midler to shame.
Catherine Kramer (’14) has a degree in English and works in publishing. Her continued existence is made possible by grace, warm hugs, and iced chai lattes.