Saturday, April 7, 2007

T.S.Y.L.T., Part II

We called it T.S.Y.L. at first, before we realized that "The Station You're Listening To" required another T. We recorded our broadcasts using Marianna's tape player, the plastic kind with a microphone attached.

Our radio personas just sort of happened - southern women with thick accents and two names. I don't know about Marianna, but I had never lived in nor visited the south, so the accent held some sort of mystic for me. It made me think of "Gone With the Wind," although we sounded a far cry from Scarlett's genteel pronunciation.

We were often sponsored by Kleen-Wipe Recycled Toilet Paper, an invention which made us giggle. It wasn't just potty humor - it was clever, and we were proud of our wit. Our show featured song selections, horrifyingly performed by us, from hit Disney movies. Our favorites were Aladdin and The Little Mermaid. "Up where they walk, up where they run, up where they stay all day in the sun; wanderin' free, wish I could be part of that world," we warbled. What we lacked in talent (and I lacked more than Marianna to be sure), we made up for in passion. After all, we were actors. We had content - cooking shows with a Julia Child-type character, and probably gardening tips and travel features.

We took breaks from our recording sessions to play video games. Marianna had a Nintendo, at a time when the original version was fairly new. I liked Super Mario Brothers - who didn't - but my favorites were Duck Hunt and Track & Field. For Duck Hunt, of course, we would press the tip of the gun directly against the screen to ensure hits. For Track & Field, we would make our players run by keeping our toes in place on the floor pads and rapidly mashing our heels. In the study, behind the Nintendo set-up, was an old wooden church pew, where a line of children would sit, waiting for their turn at the game.

We played until we were sweaty and red-faced, and then we would disappear back to our show. The scripts for T.S.Y.L.T. were my earliest writing exercises. Hand-penned, with cross-outs and eraser marks, they represented hours of my life.

There was so much more to those shows than I can now recall, but I vividly remember how happy they made me, and how full of life I felt when I was creating. I've been rediscovering that exuberance when, as I did then, I find myself rushing through my homework so I can write. My mind is more alert, noticing everything, marking moments in time and words spoken to draw upon later. Life is a little more enlivened.

So here's to childhood glimpses, fascinations awakened, and, of course, to Kleen-Wipe Recycled Toilet Paper, without which there would be far more global warming and far fewer episodes of T.S.Y.L.T., the Station You're Listening To.

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