Murray the milktoast survivor
bought a cantina in the north
end of Key West and wound
up serving Greek omelets
Sally the bartender smoked
her last cigarette in
Hackensack and boarded a
plane for Miami. There are
very few direct flights into
Key West. You’ll just have
to get used to that.
One day on the wharf, Murray
the milktoast survivor walked
out back of his establishment
to smoke a cigarette. His white
apron was filthy. He leaned
against a railing that if it broke
would cast him into the
Gulf of Mexico.
“Got an extra,” Sally from
Hackensack said. She was sitting
on a bench near a zillion-dollar
yacht. She wore what is commonly
known as a “halter top.” Very
few women wore halter tops
in Key West, especially at her
With a halter top, you see, if
you pull down the front,
you’ll get a full view of
the woman’s breasts. You can’t
wear a bra with a halter top or
it’ll show up around your shoulders.
Nobody wants that.
“Sure,” Murray said. He shook the
pack of smokes with one hand and
a cigarette popped up. It was
like a magic trick. You could try
that a hundred times and not
get it right. Murray had practiced
it a lot as a kid. His dad was a
construction worker who chased
jobs all over the South. Murray spent
a lot of time alone in the lobbies
of cheap hotels.
Sally and Murray smoked together
on the wharf in Key West, Florida.
It was another really hot day. Murray
sweated profusely as he tried
not to look at the top of Sally’s
halter top. It took every bit of
impulse control that Murray could
muster not to take his hand
and rip down on the front. Murray
smoked and thought of what
might be underneath.
A fish jumped out of the water
next to one of the zillion-dollar
yachts. It splashed water
onto the wharf and onto the chest
of Sally from Hackensack. She
jumped and dropped her
“Sweet Jesus,” she said. “I’m
all wet. What the hell kind of fish
“Who knows?” Murray said. “They’re
all scavengers. Here, I’ll get you a
Murray moved toward the back door
of his breakfast nook. He bumped
into a woman in a neat pink Polo
holding a shopping bag.
“Excuse me,” the smartly-dressed
woman said. Murray sidestepped
her. He was in a hurry. It suddenly
meant a lot to get a towel
in a timely manner.
“Where the hell’s a clean towel?”
Murray snapped at his cook, a
young Mexican man wearing a
shirt that said – “Murray’s makes
good breakfast, so go f--- yourself.”
“With all due respect, senor,” the cook said.
“There hasn’t been a clean towel
around since I started working
here eight years ago.”
“Oh go f--- yourself,” Murray said.
He made a fist and looked all
around. “Where in the hell is
clean towel?” he asked.
“Down the street at the Marriott,”
said one of the waitresses, Mary.
She was delivering dirty dishes
to a bin full of half-eaten
eggs and bacon and sausage
and biscuits and gravy and,
even, a morning Key Lime pie.
“Oh, go f--- yourself,” Murray said.
He walked in the bathroom. There
was a towel dispenser. He yanked
on the bottom and some crumbly
brown paper emerged. Then the
roll ran out.
“Oh, go f--- yourself,” Murray said.
He walked outside to the wharf.
In the brief moment that Murray
had gone inside, tourists had filled
the wharf. Sally wasn’t where
Murray had left her. He panicked.
He walked toward the ferry station –
No woman in a halter top. He walked
on a pier that led to the zillion-dollar
yachts. No woman. Then Harry
walked around the side of his
establishment and there was the
woman, sitting on a bench near
a work of art in the shape of a
stick of taffy.
“There you are,” Murray said.
“Here, let me dry you off.”
“Why thank you, although sitting
here in the sun it’s pretty much
Harry deftly dabbed the woman’s
chest, right above the line of the
halter top. He even dried her neck,
which wasn’t wet at all. Then he
looked in her eyes. He could barely
“Whah –what’s your name?”
“Sally. What’s yours - Mr. Chivalry?”
Murray sat on the bench next to
Sally from Hackensack. They talked
about fish that jump and Harley Davidsons
and about working in bars and restaurants.
That night, Murray took a shower,
shaved, and put on long pants for the
first time in a year. He took Sally
to dinner at Seven Fish, the best
restaurant on the island. They each
ordered the house specialty, which
is yellow-tailed snapper over rice,
with some cream dribbled across it.
“Just to think,” Murray said. “This fish
was swimming around in the Gulf
just a few hours ago.”
“Hey, Mur,” Sally from Hackensack said.
“You think it might be the one that
splashed me this morning?”
“I sure as hell hope so,” Murray said. He
raised his fork to take a bite. He hesitated.
“Oh, go f--- yourself,” he said to
the snapper. And they both laughed.
It’s Sunday afternoon, 3:33pm. I’m sitting on the bed, where I’ve been for a couple of days now. In the old days, to study I would go to a library or sit in a park. It was a lot warmer in Berkeley. That’s really the last place I studied this damn hard.
It's finals week, and I’m not just studying Marketing. I’m also in the middle of teaching Sports Broadcasting. My life has not been my own for the past week. I’m either in class teaching, in class taking quizzes and watching presentations, or I’m doing my morning radio show or I’m running from charity event to luncheon and back. This is the life of radio that I have chosen.
It is, for the most part, the most full life you could think of and still be an American. Really, I am grateful beyond the average customer lifetime value to be able to wake up and talk on the radio. It’s what I live for.
And I am thankful to be able to promote and support charities and other organizations in my hometown. And family. I got tons of that around here.
As a matter of fact, yesterday, Alexis and I and our daughter got to pal around with the three nieces to take pictures before prom. My daughter Jackie helped them out upstairs at my sister’s house and when the nieces came down the stairs something really weird happened.
Where once were little nieces all of the sudden were these grown women in high heels and a ton of makeup. And in true Dedelow-Foreit fashion, they’re all three beautiful.
Their dates showed up and to continue the tradition of high school boys maturing a lot later than high school girls, they sat around the living room looking awkward and making funny jokes to each other. I don’t blame them for looking awkward and my nieces looking like angels. It’s the American way. Prom reminds us that the seasons change. One day you’re crying like a baby inside your cheeks the first time your own daughters walk down the stairs in their prom dresses. And next thing you know you’re in charge of taking pictures of your nieces doing the same thing. I want to buy a clock and smash it on the floor.
If, of course, there is a clock with hands and Roman numerals to be found. Everything now is digital. In the end, I just spent the better part of the last 30 hours doing a take-home final for my Marketing class. On Thursday night, someone in class asked the professor how long we should allot to be able to finish the final.
“Oh, I don’t know, six hours maybe.”
This is where I should explain to the three or four of you who read my blog the rule of 2.5. Whenever you plan a large undertaking and you estimate how long it’s gonna take or how much it’s gonna cost, be sufficed that if you do it in 2.5 times that you’re doing pretty good.
So if the estimate was six hours. Then at best it should take 2.5 that, or 15 hours. And that’s exactly what it took me to draw up a marketing plan for a blood pressure monitor company in India and to figure out why a CD manufacturer is losing market share. There was even a few essays on Red Lobster, Virgin Mobile and Kodak Funtime film. If you look on the internet, these three are pretty famous case studies. I have learned, in the past few weeks, to hate case studies. And love them at the same time.
I’m thinking that maybe I am a case study. Or, rather, WJOB and streaming video. You could, if you were a college professor, put together a case study that asks the question –
“How does Jim Dedelow, the owner of two radio stations, check into the worldwide hotel of streaming video – without losing his shirt on the way to rescuing radio?”
Okay, so you wouldn’t ask it that way if you were a college professor. But technically I am a college professor now and I did ask it that way. Maybe we could come up with a new case study form. Mix in a little lack of discipline, some weed, a hairy white fish belly and a Kurt Vonnegut short story and you get a case study based on Region Rats, WJOB, Greek breakfast joints and a miracle. That miracle is a walk around Wicker Part an hour before sunset with your wife of a few decades holding your hand. She listens to Alannis Morissette on her iphone. You listen to her breathe.
I really do want to apologize to the three or four of you. In the past week, I attended so many freaking luncheons and cocktail hours and did so much radio and taught so much Sports Broadcasting and learned so much marketing…. that at the end of the day I didn’t have any time for you. And you mean a lot to me. The whole time I was typing out words to get my takehome final done on time, I was thinking of the three or four of you.
We became old and sedentary and
satisfied. No one cared where we went.
One day, we took all Oliver Clothesoff
and went for a dip in the Little Calumet
River. It was a nice little swim on a
hot day, kind of like going in the water
at a beach on Marco Island. One minute
you’re hot as hell and next thing
you know you’re swimming naked in
the Little Cal next to your wife.
It’s only a fantasy. My wife would never take
Oliver Clothesoff in public. I would. I
actually have, in a way. When I was
at Berkeley, I lived in a place called
“Barrington Hall.” Look it up on the
internet. It exists. It was wild as hell.
On the roof, there was sunbathing
nude. Really. They had put out these
mattresses and at lunchtime between
classes or all day Saturday there would
be people either all or half naked laying
As with most things kind of crazy I’ve
done in life, I have done them to impress
a woman, or at least go along with what
she was doing. I was trying to hit on
this co-ed with red hair from
Sherman Oaks, California. We agreed
to go up to the roof and read our
studies. When we got there, she took
off her top and her little works of art
stuck straight out at me. They were
calling me. But what were they saying?
“Take off your shorts, stupid.
And just study.”
So I did. And just like all of the other
things that I have done in life to impress
a woman, it didn’t work out too well.
First of all, with her little ditties sticking
out at me, it took all the energy I could
muster up to keep from pointing to the
sky. As a matter of fact, it happened a
couple of times and I had to roll onto
my stomach and pretend to read
Charles Dickens. You might think that reading
David Copperfield for the umpteenth
time would make the urge go away, but
truth be told I couldn’t read a thing. My
eyes wandered across the same line a
thousand times. All I could think was –
“Please go down. Please go down.”
Later, in her suite, I conjured up other
wishes, and so did she. But with topless
women, many of whom were the lesbian
variety, sitting all around me, I didn’t
get any studying done at all.
There were guys who were not nearly
as self-conscious as me walking around.
Yes, walking around. It looked like the
showers at Omni after work. Bouncing
balls everywhere, and buttcracks and
hair. But whereas it’s done in the steamy
confines of showers and saunas at
Omni, it was done in complete sunshine
on the roof of Barrington Hall.
I went up there several times with the
young woman – Irene was her name.
One time, I fell asleep. This was something
that I had been trying to avoid. I was 21 then,
and like most 21 years old, when I fell
asleep I stiffened up. I really didn’t want
to wake up to three of my hippie buddies
standing at the end of the mattress laughing
at my masterpiece.
But fell asleep I did. Deep, for like an hour.
It’s always been that way, on a train or a
plane or in the backseat of a car or on
a park bench or on a desk during an
especially boring lecture. I can
fall asleep at the drop of an eyelid.
Irene dutifully studied her Microbiology
as I sauntered into dreams. I
had fallen asleep to the view of her
dainty ditties dancing over a ten pound
textbook. I woke an hour later not to a
stiffened version of myself, but to
a reddened one. I felt something
burning hot. I reached down and
shrieked from the pain.
This caused Irene to look up from her
meanderings on mitochondria.
“Oh my god, you’re completely
sunburnt. That must hurt.”
That was the last time I laid out naked
on the roof of Barrington Hall. It was
the last time I ever sunbathed
naked, period. It was not, however,
the last time that Irene the Biology major
from Sherman Oaks, California,
rubbed cream on me.
You see, after studying that hard for that long, you lose your mind. I’m sitting here listening to Loggins and Messina, for crissake. “It seems as though a month ago I was beta chi. Never got high….” I have lost my grip on My Radio Life and what it means.
“And in the morning when I rise….” to talk on the radio, all is in order. I take a shower as quietly as I can so as not to wake Alexis. I walk downstairs, eat a couple scrambled eggs, and then stand at the door in the laundry room and debate on whether I should ride my bike to work or drive. Lately, it’s all been driving. I have a lot of luncheons and meetings and fundraisers to go to. That and classes to teach and attend and next thing you know the three or four of you and me, we’re not hanging out anymore. Don’t worry. It’s only temporary. Kind of like that sunburn on my Johnson at Barrington Hall in the middle of semester. After a while it goes away and you get back to normal.