A new decade! The 80s! And what would it bring? A lot. Let's take a look, shall we? Yes, let's.
I had an unfortunate incident in the speech tournament world. At the state tournament, performing "The Canal", I was "disqualified" because I was performing from an unpublished script. This, of course, was 100% untrue. I wish I had had the hardbound edition of The Goon Show Scripts with me, to whack the erroneous judge in the head. But this decision all happened behind the scenes, and I wasn't notified until afterwards.
Why didn't T. Webb do anything about it? Because, I believe, there was another student who he wanted to go to Nationals instead of me. So he didn't bother to protest. In fact, I choose to believe that mere "neglect" is the extent of his involvement in my bogus disqualification, but who knows? At the very least, he certainly didn't go to bat for me.
Then came the summer. The Hilldale Kiwanis Summer Theatre did Fiddler on the Roof, and I was cast as Motel Kamzoil. My excitement was off the charts. A real, juicy role! With a song! I was thrilled. This was the first time I really took the idea of "being an actor" seriously. I grew a beard, the first of many. I lost a bunch of weight. (He was a "poor" tailor, he should look hungry!) I tried really, really hard. It came out well.
This was the year that Northern Calloway, who played "David" on Sesame Street, went on a crazed rampage in Nashville. This was covered, not only in the Tennessean newspaper, but on the local TV news on WSM. There was footage of him lying on the ground, looking about wildly, photographed only from the waist up. Then you saw him strapped to the stretcher, being put into the ambulance, and you could hear him screaming and singing the Sesame Street theme song. Certainly one of the most unbelievable things I've ever seen.
Then my senior year of high school, and I turned 17. There were great disappointments here. T. Webb taught his classes, but that was it. No speech team. No tournaments. Not even a school play. I look back on him with fondness, but as I write this it's difficult to entirely understand why. Ultimately, one has to be forgiving. If my calculations are correct he was only 27 himself, for pete's sake.
So to compensate for the total lack of growth on the theatre side, I turned to music. I was in Concert Choir, Madrigals, and also Carnival, our show choir. I also took music theory, to try to figure out what was going on behind the guitar chords I knew.
My companion through almost all of this was my friend Jerry. He and I also shared an obsession with the Beatles. And so it was that on December 9th, thanks to understanding teachers, we basically hung out in the school library all day, trying to come to grips with John Lennon having been shot the night before.