The Chewbacca Radio Incident

The following story took place–and was originally written–in May of 2005.  I was enrolled in a summer program at my university, and my only class began at noon. My afternoons, evenings, and late nights were spent painting murals in model homes in an attempt to squirrel away money for my upcoming semester in Europe. I kept late hours and spent all of my daytime hours working, so sleeping late each morning was necessary for me at the time.

8:00 A.M.

My cell phone rings. The landline in my dorm rings, twice. Growling, I answer the call. I expect to hear my mother again, trying to help me to scout for affordable airfare, but I wonder why she chose this morning to break our understood rule about early morning phone calls.

I barely pick up the phone before I hear screaming, or what, according to my early morning perception of the world, sounds like it.  It is my mother, and she is apparently in a fit of hysterics that’s not about airfare.

“C, you’ve got to call Mix 102.9 right now! They’re giving away prizes to women who can do the best impressions of Chewbacca! You have to hear these women! They’re terrible! You can do so much better! Find the number and call them! Bye!”

I’m still a bit disoriented, but I’m slowly waking up. (Who wouldn’t wake up after being roused from sleep by my mother’s trademark style of speaking entirely in exclamation marks, and then promptly hanging up after issuing instruction?) I stumble to my computer, open a web browser, and search for Mix102.9. I dial the first number into my phone, and wait. My call is screened and then I’m patched through to what sounds like the studio line. I’m thinking, Wow! Do people usually get through to the actual studio lines that quickly?, when I hear a cheesy radio announcer’s voice.

“So, you’re calling to compete this morning?”

“Yes. My mother just called me two  hours before my wake-up time to tell me I need to win this contest for her, as her Mother’s Day gift.  She thinks I’m good at impersonating Chewbacca.”

“Well, before we let you try to impress us, tell us which morning show is your favorite.”

“Um… I’ve been away from Fort Worth for two years, at school, so I’m not sure who is on the radio now, but…this one?”

“Oh, you’re breaking my heart!” says the cheesy radio voice.

(interrupting) “No no no, listen! My mom tunes in every morning during her drive to work, and I’m doing this for her. Besides, I used to listen when I lived there! I’ve been away too long, so cut me some slack!”

A second cheesy radio voice chimes in, “Well, I guess we’ll give you a chance. Go ahead, give it your best shot.”

“Okay. One more thing, give me a couple tries, please. My voice isn’t quite warmed up yet. I just rolled out of bed.”

A round of laughter reveals at least three voices on the other end of the line. “You have to warm your voice up? Let me tell you, the best way to warm up would be to go find a brown bathmat and wrap it around yourself!” (more laughter) “Okay then, go ahead and give it a shot.”

“Okay…Arrrrrrrrglegarrrrrglegarrrrrgle!”

(laughter)  “Well, that’s pretty good! Could you do it again?”

“Arrrrrrrrrrrglegarrrrrrrglegarrrrrrrrrrgle!” (I impress myself with the second sound.)

“Well well, that really is an impressive Chewbacca noise. Unfortunately, it’s not good enough to win the prize,” announces the first radio voice.

“Well, shoot.  What’s the prize, anyway?”

“A brand-new…”

The phone line goes dead.

Whatever, I think to myself. I called to make a fool of myself on the radio and I’m not even good enough to deserve a complete phone conversation. At least I tried.

I dial my mom’s phone number to tell her that I didn’t win the competition, and I am met with gleeful giggles. She doesn’t care I didn’t win; she’s excited because I actually fulfilled her request. She starts to tell me about her plan to keep the radio running all morning at work so that can hear my call, and as she talks, I wander back to my computer desk to read e-mails and to prepare for class. A glance at my computer screen makes my jaw drop.

I did not call Mix 102.9!  I called 93.3 The Bone!

“You need to change radio stations now. I didn’t call the right number! I called the hard rock station that makes fun of everybody! Oh no!”, I shout through my laughter, “Mom, I need to get ready for class now, but let me know if you hear me on the other radio station!  Love you, bye!”

I find out I can stream the live radio feed through my computer, so I open the web player to listen in as I get dressed and gather my notes and books. I laugh to myself about how embarrassing this is going to be when word leaks out among my family and friends in DFW, but true mortification doesn’t sink in until I hear the morning news announced on the station.

It seems two celebrities were caught using the force on each other on a public beach the weekend before. In addition, one of the announcers now refers to the other announcer as Obi Wan, and at one point the whole crew cuts up after a reference to someone’s light saber.

I walk out of my dorm laughing at the odds. Instead of calling the polite, well-mannered morning show at the family radio station, I called the roughest, crudest bunch of DJs in the area, at the hard rock station. I bet they’re going to tell Star Wars jokes all day long!

And they did.

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