Once upon a time, a boy and a girl attended a small liberal arts college in the Pacific Northwest. Both of them were obsessed with music. The girl got a shift as a DJ at the college radio station and played early Depeche Mode to the not-so-massive masses. The boy shopped every used record store in Portland every chance he could get. Somehow, their paths did not cross.
One day in April, the girl went to breakfast in the dining hall for the first time all year after a late night of last-minute term paper madness. She immediately spotted a boy she had never seen before wearing a Depeche Mode t-shirt. (In 1985 Portland, this was a rare sight indeed.) Coming out of her first class, she saw the boy again. The pattern continued over the course of the day, as she spotted him between every single class, though he did not seem to notice her. Amused by the whole thing, the girl went back to her dorm room and put on her own Depeche Mode t-shirt in the boy’s honor before heading down to KLC for her Monday night radio show.
The boy walked into the studio within the hour. He’d been listening to the radio in his dorm and decided to go meet the girl who was playing all the cool music. The girl was not surprised to see him; he had appeared everywhere else that day, so why not here as well? He did not introduce himself, but he made himself at home and started to suggest music for the girl to play. He stayed for the entire shift and walked the girl out at the end.
“So… what are you doing now?” he asked.
The girl thought he meant that literally, so that’s how she answered. “I’m going home and going to bed.”
He knew when he’d been shot down, so he let her go.
Their paths did not cross again for another month. The girl could not ask anyone about him, as she did not know his name (though she had come to think of him as the Depeche Mode guy). The boy knew hers from the radio but believed her uninterested.
In the middle of May, the girl heard that there was going to be a dance in the dining hall. The music was going to be played from a mix tape and a poster had been put up with a list of the bands they were going to play. As soon as the girl saw a Depeche Mode song on the list, she made a decision.
“I’m going to go to the dance in Stamm and dance to Depeche Mode with the Depeche Mode guy,” she informed her roommate.
“How do you know he is going to be there?”
“I just do. He will be there and we’ll dance to Depeche Mode.”
The night of the dance, the girl went down and popped her head into the dining hall. Quickly determining that they were playing the music in the exact order shown on the poster, she realized she could avoid the pop music she hated and just come back for the Depeche Mode song. It took a couple of trips to check in on where they were on the list, but finally, the time had come. It was the song right before Depeche Mode. She would meet the boy again.
She spotted him across the floor, dancing with a group of people she didn’t know, and sidled between other dancers to come right up to him. The song ended. This was their moment. They looked at each other.
The lights came on. It was midnight, time to clear out the hall. The dance had ended before the tape was finished.
Image by José Carlos Casimiro via Flickr – Thank you!
Story continued in Part II, here.