I'd been living in LA for about 6-7 months. Hadn't met any interesting women. I'd just gotten back from a 2 week east coast swing for some conferences and vacation, hitting around four cities, and it occured to me that I'd met or seen a number of interesting women then, and had more dates and/or pseudo-dates than I'd had in six months in LA. It also occured to me that I hadn't done anything strange in a month or so. Clearly, something needed to be done about all of this.
At this time, Harlan was hosting the Hour 25 radio show every Friday from 10 to midnight, a show about sf, fantasy, comics, etc. So I whipped up one of my chocolate chip pies ("This thing is so rich it gives you diabetes just unwrapping it." --H. Ellison), and drove down to the station, getting there about 9:50. I'd also written up a personal ad, which started off something like "Looking for grown up Meg from A Wrinkle in Time..." and then basically told something about myself.
So I went into the booth where Harlan's getting ready for the show, and I said something on the order of "This is a bribe" and gave him the pie (no, not in the face :-)), and the ad, and said that I'd like him to read it over the air. Also, that it's fine if he doesn't want to, he can keep the pie anyway. I also gave him a batch of Dave Barry columns, since DB wasn't carried in the LA area at that point, and I thought he'd enjoy them.
He agreed to read the ad, and I spent most of the show talking with the engineer, who's a pretty neat guy. When Harlan read the ad, he added the quote above about the pie, and also mentioned that I seemed rather quiet (an ex-SO went into hysterics upon hearing about that), and gave out my home phone number, which I wasn't totally sure I was pleased about.
So I went home, and checked the machine. Nope, no messages.
The next afternoon, Harlan called to see how many calls I'd gotten. Still zip. He also thanked me for the Barry columns, particularly the Mr. Language Person, and since has often mentioned Barry whenever he's writing about humorists. I think this and the fact that I asked him about a friend of mine in Chapel Hill who I knew he'd met a few weeks ago at a lecture there who'd made a good impression helped put me on his good side.
At some point, Harlan started mentioning his plans to eventually do a show devoted to SF music. So I fished out the SF-Lovers Music list, and mailed it in. Coincidently, it arrived the week he had Somtow Sucharitkul as a guest, and I'd been at a party at Somtow's the Saturday before. Somtow is also a avent-garde composer, so Harlan got the idea on the air of having Somtow do the music show, and mentioned my list, and then Somtow mentioned knowing me and my having been at the party, and Harlan mentioned something about me still being available. The next show was going to be a swap meet of the air thing, and at the end of this one, Bert the engineer closed with "And next week is the swap meet show. And a note to Tom Galloway; don't bother calling in, since we know what you want already."
I called up Bert the next day and threatened to put out a contract on him, but agreed that it was too good a line to have passed up.
So the next week I wandered down to help with the phones. And Harlan starts introducing the people in the broadcast booth "There's my girlfriend Susan, Demon Engineer Bert Handelsman, Terry Hodel who does the calendar, and Tom Galloway, who still can't get laid. If there are any women with high intelligence and low morals, please call in..."
It was about at this point that I started getting a feeling that this was a bit out of control.
Anyway, the other major highlights of this story include the other unique attempts. At the Atlanta Worldcon, I saw Harlan and Susan at the other side of a room at a party, and went over to say hello. I say hello, and Harlan grabs my hand, shakes it and goes; " Good to see you. Let me introduce you to [female east coast artist I already knew vaguely]. [to her] Tom here has a fourteen inch long penis, that's sort of a curlicue shape..."
I'm still trying to figure out how he found that out....
The next main incident was when he tried to set me and one of his secretaries up. "Why don't you come down to the station tonight and meet her. You'll be able to spot her easily; she has green hair this week."
While I was in the shower that evening after biking, I suddenly started laughing at what I could imagine people in my high school would look like if they heard that I'd be going out on a date with someone with green hair.
Anyway, I met her that evening, and nothing romantic clicked, but we became reasonable acquaintances.
And the last major effort was during the January '87 fund drive. I was in helping on the phones, and Harlan took a moment midway through to go; "And I'd like to thank the people on the phones tonight. There's so and so, so and so, so and so, Tom Galloway, so and, Wait a minute. A new premium. Any female person who phones up with $40 pledge gets a live Tom Galloway. He's a wonderful, gentle guy, he was out at the house for lunch last week" (Susan Ellison) "makes great chocolate chip pies" (Harlan) "makes great chocolate chip pies, call up right now and get a live Tom Galloway"
Fortunately, by this point I was beyond embarrassment.
I'm still trying to decide what I'm more peeved at; whether it's Harlan pitching me at the lowest pledge price for a premium, or that no one called in.
The best summary of this sort of thing is a line from a Steve Englehart Batman story; "My world goes crazy sometimes." Basically, it started out as a what the hey type of thing, and turned into a running gag for a while. I should mention that I'm sure if I'd asked him to, Harlan would have stopped.
" I'm a self-made man, thereby demonstrating once again the perils of
unskilled labor..." --Harlan Ellison