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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Lesson, A Friendship, and Deja Vu

Thanks for joining me on this walk down memory lane!  If you haven't already, catch up on Chapter 1.

Chapter 2: A Lesson, A Friendship, and Deja Vu

Herb was technically a senior when we met that day in marching band. In what should have been his final year, he found himself in all freshman classes.  This was the result of changing his major from science to business to music, with very few classes that transferred when he changed colleges and degrees. He was working part time with a high profile high school marching band, his dad had just been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, and his own kidney was beginning to fail, so being an all-star student was just not on the top of his priority list.

Herb was a fun guy to be around, but honestly, between the smokin’ hot girlfriend and the things that were going on in his life, he was pretty scarce.  He ate lunch with the freshman gang in the dining hall, but always left campus as soon as his last class was over.

I, on the other hand, was working my tail off to get and stay on the dean’s list and have the brownest nose possible.   And people like Herb really ticked me off; I assumed he was lazy.

So one day, I decided to teach him a lesson.

The class was vocal methods.  The assignment was to pick a song from a given list, prepare it, and be ready to perform it from memory.  I was one of the accompanists for the class and volunteered to play my songs first. The professor suggested that since I was the accompanist, I should pick the first student to sing.

I knew Herb probably wasn’t prepared, but I was ready for him to finally have to face the music (pun intended).
Ironically, the song was “Happiness.”

“I pick Herb!” I pridefully announced.

Not so happy, Herb muttered a pretty serious expletive.  He proceeded to stand like a deer in the headlights in front of the class while I smugly played the piano.  Soon after the second verse of silence, Herb excused himself from the room and we moved on to the next performer.
"Ha," I thought. "Lesson learned!"
Despite Herb’s humiliation (and my satisfaction), we managed to maintain our friendship, and soon Herb graciously let The Event role off his back.  However, I did feel pretty guilty about my little teachable moment when I learned about his dad’s cancer.

As our freshman year marched on, I loved to brag to my mom about all my new buddies, including the fact that I had a friend who “had like five kidney transplants or something.” (Don’t worry, at that point it was actually only two, but I have always had a problem with exaggeration.) Outside of class, Herb and I often talked about music from our punk rock and emo days of yore.  I think I had him at “Plankeye,” or maybe it was “Pedro the Lion.” 
We also played together on the worship team at church.  I was a novice worship leader and had a tendency to end songs with a completely different tempo than where I had started.  Herb was literally my stability; a marvelous self-taught drummer and guitarist who had learned enough to become percussion major.  When my beat would get carried away, I knew I could hang back for a measure and listen to Herb, who helped me get back on track.  I said we made a great team, but really it was he who made me succeed.

Soon after our first year as music ed majors ended, Herb emailed me with shocking news.

He and Smokin’ Hot had broken up.

Flabbergasted and unsure of my feelings, I couldn’t believe how affected I was by news of this break up; what did that mean?  Herb was only ever a friend to me, but was that because that’s all he could be?

The timing was all wrong though; I was planning to travel around the country for the summer and wouldn’t be back in Pennsylvania until August.   I left with hopes that a new romance may bud when I came home, but kept myself grounded by remembering that Herb needed time to heal. 
While I was away, Herb emailed and called me occasionally.  We were very cordial and friendly, but not romantic at all.  Of course, my interests were being pulled in about five other directions while I traveled and met new people, so Herb was always just a fleeting thought.

As my plane touched down in Philadelphia, I anxiously looked forward to getting back to the routine of academia.  I couldn’t help but be excited to explore what “might be” with my “Sideline Guy.”

And a new romance there was!

But not with me. Herb had moved on. 
Not more than a few days before I returned, he started dating a mutual friend of ours. To make things worse, she and I had so much in common – we shared the same career plans, faith, musical preferences, and even insecurities.  Not only did Herb not wait for me, but he started dating someone that might as well have been me.  

I missed my chance.

And once again, another semester began with a single, deflated Michelle.

Who, of course, quickly sought out the next potential candidate to fill the role of Prince Charming.


Continued...Chapter 3

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