I was listening to Hot 97.1 the other day – it’s the number one radio station for hip hop in New York, and I sometimes flick it on after school drop off. It’s not kid friendly listening so-to-speak and it makes me feel so much more “street” when the car seats are empty. Calum is also paying attention to song lyrics these days and constantly asking what they mean and, while I generally do try to answer his questions honestly, I’m just not sure he’s ready for me to analyze Bhad Bhabi’s new “Gucci Flip Flop” Remix. Maybe next year.
In any event, Hot 97 does a prank phone call recording on their morning show called “Ride or Die”. Prank phone calls are one of my most favorite things. I listen to another NY radio station called z100 and they also do a morning prank call. Theirs is called the “Phone Tap”. The z100 pranks are usually based on alerting a father that his high school aged daughter has done something stupid, and has also been wronged in the process. For example, the victim might hear from a shop owner that the prom dress his daughter bought last week for $3,000 on his credit card is now ready for pick up and, since she bought it on sale, it’s a final purchase. The father, who always has a New York accent thicker than the London fog, goes on to throw a conniption of mammoth proportions. Most of the conversation is bleeped out as he screams at the shop owner. He will then hang up the phone and call his daughter and say, “Stephanie!!! How could you do this to me?! How could you be so STOOPIT? I work so hard to put you and ya brutha through college and this is how you repay me!?!” This is one of gravest humiliations for a New Yorker; doing something you know is wrong is bad enough, but to simultaneously get ripped off is unforgiveable. Right before what seems like the brink of heart failure, the daughter cackles in a fast, high-pitched tone and says, “Got ya, daddy!”
Now, if this is the kind of thing that tickles you, then you have not lived until you have heard one of Hot 97’s Ride or Die pranks. This past week the station had a woman, probably in her early 30’s, call her long-term boyfriend to tell him he needs to pick her up from jail. When he asks her how she got in jail, she goes on to tell him that she has been cheating on him with a drug dealer and she skipped work that day to go to his house and, while they were there together, the police ran a drug bust on the guy. She says she will tell him the rest later, but he needs to come get her from jail right now. The boyfriend then says, “Alright, I’m on my way.” Right before he hangs up, he is interrupted by the radio host to say he has been pranked by Ride or Die. All you can hear after that is the girlfriend losing her mind in the background screaming, “That’s MY ride or die right there, boo!” I was delighted and flabbergasted all at once. I thought about it more and, as screwy of a situation as it was, this guy loved that woman enough to make sure she was safe before addressing her affair with a drug dealer. I judged him at first but then realized he really is ride or die, and you could tell by the way the couple laughed with each other at the end of the segment they had a real, true love.
It was about May of the year I was in the seventh grade when I could sense something was starting to go wrong between my mom and dad. I had previously thought of them as a perfect couple. They are both attractive people who seemed to have a lot of fun together and, in my eyes at least, were really in love. I remember their frequent embraces and slow dances in the kitchen when my dad would arrive home from work. They liked to entertain guests and they would go on dates and travel together. We did a lot of fun things as a family too so, when the distance began growing between them, it was palpable. There was not one major event that transpired that I’m aware of, so their separation for me was quite shocking. I was devastated and incredibly disappointed, and so badly did not want this to be happening to my family. The early years of their separation and divorce were very sad, and I hated having to split my time between them. I know my parents really did love each other, but now that I am older, I can see and accept the reasons why they were perhaps not the best-suited as a couple and, luckily, my parents now have a very amicable relationship. They are also both in relationships with people who are respectful and accepting of our integrated family, which is a huge relief since my brother and I both have kids and they share grandchildren, too.
Mike’s parents have also been separated from the time he was pretty young so, for both of us, making a decision to marry was a really big one. We wanted to be sure we weren’t making a mistake, and it took us a lot of years and ups and downs to figure that all out. After putting each other to the test for a long time, I think we both came to realize our love is a great one and our compatibility is spot on – we each have a little bit of a different sense of humor so our jokes are unexpected and refreshing to each other, we have a lot of the same interests and core values, but we also try to respect and appreciate each other’s needs and time to be individuals.
Things aren’t always perfect, of course. There are some weeks when we are like two ships passing in the night. When this happens we usually both start to realize distance is not good for us; we have to pause and make time for ourselves and make dinner plans or something. There are also things, inevitably, that we each do that bother each other. One of the main things Mike does to annoy me actually occurs while he is sleeping. It goes like this: he will be quietly breathing through his nose and then all of a sudden he will let out a big breath through his mouth. It’s a forced exhale, as if his lips were stuck together, and every few breaths or so, it sounds like he is loudly whispering the word “poo”. The pattern is not rhythmic either, so each time he whispers poo, it startles me. Sometimes I even think it is the sound front door opening and we have a burglar. I’ll shoot up in bed, scared to death. I’ll be stone still and listen closely only to realize it is Mike’s irregular breathing and then it will take me another half hour to fall back to sleep. I’ve tried to problem solve this by using ear plugs but, at some point throughout the night, the ear plugs fall out and I wake up to “poo” again, whereby I angrily root around in the dark looking for an inch long piece of foam that I can shove back into my ear.
Outside of the sleep breathing which he actually cannot control, there is very little that Mike does to bother me. Mike has also been able to teach me a lot about love. I have a more competitive nature, and my tendency is to want to come out on top of an argument or disagreement, or to be better in the way I did things vs. the way he did things. Mike, through example, has shown me that real love and competition are not meant to co-exist. He is unfailingly on my side and so sincerely treats us as a unit. He is incredibly supportive of me and is my ultimate teammate. Life does not stop coming at you; we have been through a lot already and there are still very tough obstacles we have encountered beyond Calum’s diagnosis but, fortuitously, I have Mike to trudge through the hard stuff with. I know we still have a lot of life ahead, the good and the bad, and I’m so pumped I found my ride or die too, boo.