Howard Stern’s Counter Dream

Last night I had a vivid dream which has stayed with me. These are the details.

I am walking through an old, white, one-room schoolhouse with a tall steeple that has been converted into a small radio station. There is considerable foot traffic here, since Howard Stern has moved his Sirius XM satellite radio show studio to this quiet country locale. Outside the schoolhouse radio station are Winnebagos and motorcycles with a horde of rabid fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the star or maybe to talk their way into an appearance on the show. Inside the schoolhouse the crew have set up a number of makeshift offices for themselves. The once dignified space now looks like a living room in a fraternity house after an all night bender. In the far corner of the schoolhouse two temporary walls have been set up to create a corner room. Inside this space Howard Stern, Robin Quivers, and Fred Norris are sitting around a teacher’s desk with oversized headphones over their ears. They are each holding up old-fashioned microphones, like the one that appeared on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” desk. Robin and Fred look as they do now, but Howard looks like he did when he played the young version of himself in “Private Parts.” He has Gene Shalit’s hair and mustache and is wearing a cowboy shirt. Above and behind Howard on the wall is a digital counter that is keeping track up to the second of how many people are tuning into his show. The digital counter reminds me of the Dow Jones Financial Ticker. Howard, Robin, and Fred are talking to one another in somber tones about COVID-19 and the necessity for everyone to get the vaccines. The freewheeling and fun part of the show has given way to a discussion that sounds like it could have happened on “The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour.” As this discussion continues, I watch in horror as the red, digital numbers on the counter drop from 65 million to less than 40 million. This is like a stock free fall, and I can sense the tension as other people working for the show poke their heads into the room to catch a glimpse of the counter.

Howard finally takes a commercial break. He waves me into the studio, and he hands me what looks like an old, loosened, coffee stained scrapbook with names and numbers just scribbled everywhere. He tells me that the counter is broken. He orders me to get on the phone ASAP and to contact “this guy” who can fix it. Howard waves his finger toward one of the scrapbook pages while making that comment, but he does not pinpoint the exact name and phone number on that page which is “this guy.” I do not want to ask him to be more specific, because he is already pretty agitated.

I carry the scrapbook outside. I find a pickup truck that has lowered its tailgate. I place the scrapbook on the tailgate. The owner of the pickup truck steps out from behind the wheel, walks up to me, and watches me suspiciously. He looks like he could be one of the hillbillies in “Deliverance.” When I explain that I am doing a job for Howard, he grins his toothless gums and spits out chewing tobacco. I look around to see if there is any soul out here who might be able to help me, but they all look as degenerate or clueless as this hillbilly. With no one to help me, I start calling all of the phone numbers that are on that page. I am pacing nervously on the gravel by the pickup truck with the iPhone practically glued to my ear. I really hope that I can find “this guy” before Howard blows the gasket in his own head.

I am back inside the schoolhouse sitting on a bench against the wall. I am leaning back, tired and defeated, staring at the old-fashioned clock on the opposite wall. I just want this terrible day to end. My wife is seated near me. She is wearing a black dress with a veil over her face like she is in mourning. Beside me on the bench is a fat, blond woman in a white, wool, turtleneck sweater that is too small for her. She turns and slides down so that the back of her head is resting on my lap. I feel very awkward having this woman lying on my lap with my wife seated on a chair next to me. Nevertheless, I do not push the woman off of me.

Published by Michael Sean Erickson

I write, act, and produce films in Los Angeles. Everything else is conjecture.

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