Tag Archives: college

How I Met Your Mother

Mom and Dad, how did you guys meet?

Ummm…. well…. uhhh…. we met at church.

But you guys don’t go to church.

Umm… uhhh… well we weren’t actually at church, we were near a church.

You were NEAR a church? I thought you met at college?

You’re right, we did meet in college. We met in a… uhhh… a poetry reading class… yeah… it was a poetry reading class…. poems about love and stuff like that…

C’mon, seriously… you did not! Besides, I thought you both studied completely different subjects, neither of which involved poetry.

Ummm… uhhh… yeah, well we did, you’re right, we only had a couple classes together in all the years we were there.  But I used to….ummmm… I used to write poems about Biology for your Mom and she….

Shut up… you’re so lying… so, how did you really meet?

Okay, look… I know we’ve portrayed this image that we are both very wholesome and righteous… but the truth is… let’s see, how do I say this… the truth is… maybe you should sit down.

Why should I sit down?

Just sit down… see… your parents met in college at a… at a…. at a…..

Okay, look, we met at a Toga Party… there I said it… it was a Toga Party… a drunken, hedonistic Toga Party.

Kim and I met at a Toga Party at Colby College in early Fall 1986.

The details are vague these days, but yes, this is a true story. I don’t remember if this was the first night we actually spoke to each other but it was one of our first experiences together while “courting” and it’s the story we tell when people ask “how did you meet?”

Please don’t think any less of us.

Some friends in the dorm I lived in were throwing a party and the theme was bed sheet togas and kegs of cheap, shitty beer, because that’s a surefire way to have a good time. I found myself, mid-way through the evening, sitting next to one of my close friends, both of us on chairs that were perched precariously high atop a small table so that we were way above the mob-scene below. Between us sat a keg of Budweiser and we were repeatedly filling up soggy, beer soaked paper cubs that the crowd of guests held up to us like we were rock stars signing autographs. That’s when I saw her, this beautiful girl, wrapped up in a twin bed sheet that was decorated with a kind of floral pattern that looked like wallpaper you’d see in your great-grandmother’s house. I instantly wanted nothing more than to peel off that wallpaper!

I’d seen Kim around our dorm before, she was a freshman and I was a sophomore but we had never made any serious connection. But this night was different, maybe it was the sexy bed sheets we were wearing, maybe it was the beer, maybe it was the rockin’ 80’s tunes shaking the walls, maybe it was the beer, maybe it was just karma… or maybe it was the beer.

I don’t know, but this would be the night that changed our lives.

I was wrapped in a dark blue sheet. In college, if you had dark colored sheets, you didn’t have to wash them that often which was good because washing stuff meant hauling a giant bag of laundry down to the washing machines in the depths of your dorm basement and hustling pockets full of quarters from everyone you knew.

Around my waist was a three inch wide black, spiked and studded belt that belonged to my brother, I think maybe picked up on a semester abroad in England. It looked like something straight out of a Clash band photo… or a really bad gay porno movie. Wrapped around my head, like a headband, was a thin gold mesh scarf and that was topped off with a pair of dark black sunglasses. I looked like a circa-1980’s Jim McMahon, except I was wearing a dark blue toga… and a gay porn belt.

You can see why she thought that was hot, right?

I don’t remember if we “hooked-up” that night. Maybe we passed out somewhere, it’s not really important. What’s important is that this is how Kim and I finally connected, on a fine evening of Greek culture and sophistication.

Our relationship is still going strong, 27 years later, with 20 of those years married and fifteen of those raising kids. We’ve got a good thing and we try not to take it for granted. It’s not always easy, but we make it work and when things are challenging, when the kids are driving us up a wall, it’s good to look back on those early days when life was more carefree.

The best thing about this story… there are no photographs… at least none that we are aware of!

How did you meet your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, pet? Please share your stories!

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The Greatest Song Ever Written

What is the greatest song ever written?

That’s a discussion that has gone on for decades, if not centuries, and will continue to go on for an eternity. Radio stations have Top 100 song marathons on holiday weekends. Websites abound categorizing music fan’s varied choices. Music pundits are always available to share their expert opinions based on sales and stats and song rankings and weeks stuck atop the music charts.

Well, I’m here to set the record straight.  The greatest song is not Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. It’s not Don Maclean’s American Pie. It’s not a song by the Beatles or the Rolling Stones or Nirvana or Elvis Presley or Woody Guthrie. It’s not even a song by my all time favorite musician, Jackson Browne, whose music has had a more profound effect on my life than any other. It’s not a song written during the 20th or 21st centuries when what we all know as traditional Rock and Roll music became the backdrop to our every living moments.

The greatest song ever… well, it’s not really a “song” per se. Let’s see, what’s the proper word… it’s a Piece, it’s a Movement. In fact, it’s the 10th movement of the cantata Herz und Mund Tat und Leben, BWV 147.

Huh?

Don’t worry, if you don’t recognize the formal name, you’ve heard it, believe me. I don’t have scientifically garnered evidence of this but I’d venture to guess that no piece of music has been covered by as many musicians, arranged more often into so many distinct versions, played by so many different musical instruments. It’s been performed on church organs, pianos, and classical guitars. It’s been performed by full symphonic orchestras and small chamber groups. It’s been performed with vocals and without. It’s been played on kids xylophones and recorders and toy pianos. Check out youtube… there are classical versions, pop versions, heavy metal versions. There’s even a guy who plays it by rubbing his hands over a table full of water filled wine glasses! Very cool!

Here’s a particularly stunning rendition of it in my opinion. Although not originally written for guitar, I find classical guitar versions the most powerful and moving. Take a listen.

Yes… you’ve heard it.

I grew up playing the cello. I started in fifth grade and stopped when I graduated from High School. I took personal lessons and played in the school orchestra. I participated in contests and festivals.  I got pretty good at it, although not as good as I could have been if I had really put the effort in. When I went away to college the music department wanted me to continue playing but I was tired of it. I wanted to drink and chase girls and screw around… oh, and of course, study. These days I realize that I will always regret not continuing but it was one of those decisions that you make as a teenager that sounds right at the time. Although I still own the instrument, these days I can barely bang out Mary Had a Little Lamb.

What it taught me though, was a love… okay, maybe love is too strong a word… how about a deep respect for classical music. Colby College, where my wife Kim and I went to school, offers what is called a Jan Plan, a month-long class you can take during January when the school is mostly closed down and most of the students have gone home. One year Kim and I took a Chamber Music class taught by a four piece, string chamber group, who would basically sit in the front of the lecture hall and play for us, while teaching us the musical structure and history of chamber music.  It was one of the few classes in college where I somehow managed to pull off an A grade.  But Kim and I would walk to class together and walk back to the dorms together. We would eat together in the cafeterias. We would sit through the class in the mornings and when it was over, the days were free with no other classes or homework to be concerned about. It was a part of me that I was able to share with the girl I was falling in love with and although many of the details are lost to my aging memory, it was a month that I will remember always.

I still listen to classical music occasionally. It’s very soothing and grounding to me. I often like to have it playing in the background if I am working at home or washing dishes or writing. It puts me into a place and a frame of mind that is very difficult to obtain in this hectic and stressful world we live in. When it comes to composers, Johann Sebastian Bach was the fucking rock star of his day, in my opinion the greatest to ever compose music. In a very simplistic viewpoint, without over analyzing every note, his melodies are happier and more upbeat than any other composer, less dissonant and grating than many of his counterparts. I won’t claim to be an expert on any of this but I know what sounds good to me.

And his greatest piece of music… Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.

Now don’t go thinking I’ve gone all religious and spiritual on y’all. I have not! But if there is a piece of music that can put someone, even a hell-bound, heathen like me… in a spiritual place, this is it! I don’t really consider it a wedding song, like I consider the classic Pachelbel Canon which was played at my wedding, although I understand it has become a wedding staple.  I don’t really consider it a Christmas song either, although it gets a lot of play time in its many versions during the holidays.

For me it’s a piece of music that transcends all of that. If you’re happy it can make you happier. If you’re sad it can make you sadder. It makes me cry… yes… cry, pretty much every time I hear it. I can’t help it… I’m listening to it as I type this… can you see the tears falling on my keyboard? It’s the one melody that I think, if I had to hear over and over for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t tire of hearing. It’s a melody that reminds me of my Mom who is no longer with us. It’s the background music to a life of love and friendship and family and happiness and sadness. It’s classical music that has become mainstream and will stand the test of time longer than any other piece of music. And in my opinion, it’s the greatest song ever written.

It turns out the underlying melody that has become so recognizable to the world was not written by Bach himself, but by composer and violinist Johann Schop. I never knew that until reading some Wikipedia notes. That’s okay, just like today’s musicians who don’t write all their own songs, if it’s your face on the album cover, you get all the credit.

Even 300+ years later!

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