Once upon a time there was a boy named Dean…
OK, this isn’t really a fairy tale. Dean was not a prince, and I was not a princess, but he taught me something important about myself, which I just realized yesterday. Considering it has been more than a couple of decades since I’ve seen Dean, it’s amazing to make this connection.
When I was at the University of Kentucky, Dean was another telecommunications student. We had a lot of classes together and we did a lot of projects together. Radio and TV requires lots of team efforts – it’s complex and there’s limited equipment to go around – and we were part of a small group of students who often worked together.
Our group produced memorable works such as the radio drama, “Candy and her Professor” – in which Dean and I had the starring roles, complete with bow chicka bow bow music – (we were in the studio – get your mind out of the gutter). Don’t ask. We were young. We thought we were funny. And we got A’s – despite the fact that our actual professor “Long John” started playing it for his freshmen students without previewing it first. Long John (the professor’s nickname – because he was very tall – and his name was John) was a cool guy and got the joke. Hence the A’s.
This is all just background to get to the point – you knew I had one, right?
One night, Dean was at my apartment at 1261 Village Drive, and we were playing music. This was way back in the long ago days, children, when we had albums. Yes, those big vinyl disks with the colorful cardboard sleeves they fitted into.
Anyway, Dean was flipping through my albums and said, “Wow!”
I was in the kitchen getting us something to drink (No, just pop – not all college students stay drunk and high all the time) and came back into the living room and said, “What?”
“You’ve got some AC/DC… and April Wine… Pink Floyd and The Stones… and Billy Squirer…”
“Yeah?” I wasn’t sure what the point was, but it was obvious there was one.
Dean laughed heartily – those pretty green eyes sparkled so nicely when he laughed – and said, “I never would have taken you for a girl who listens to something like ‘Stroke me.'”
—OK— So that was the pivotal moment, although I didn’t catch on to it until yesterday, when I heard “Stroke me” on the radio, and this came flooding back to my brain. Billy Squirer isn’t exactly Top 40 stuff, but I was flipping around and caught the song. And, you know what, it’s still a catchy tune, so there you go.
When I heard it yesterday I realized Dean was pointing out something that would be a recurring theme in my life – people’s perceptions of me are very different than the reality of who I am. People think I’m rather standoffish, maybe a bit of a prude, a little cold. In actuality, I’m none of these things. Honest. I have references. Really. I can be fun, really. Honest.
At a conference recently, someone I had exchanged business emails with, but not met before, was shocked to find I was very different than how he perceived me. As he put it so kindly, “I expected you to be a rather homely girl, quiet and stuffy… and you’re not.”
I decided to just take that as a compliment, although I guess there’s a lot of room between not being “rather homely” and being anything resembling “pretty,” and I guess not “stuffy” doesn’t necessarily mean “fun.” When I asked why he had this idea he said it was because of my interests. I don’t even remember having this exchange but apparently I had mentioned liking art and he equated that with being homely, quiet and stuffy.
So… back to Dean… little known prophet in my life… Dean pinpointed it lo those many years ago when he was holding a Lynyrd Skynyrd album in his hands. I just didn’t catch on to it. I think I’ve finally got it. Pity I don’t know where Dean is so I could tell him. I just don’t remember where he was from… too many years and too much rock and roll ago.
But I do remember Dean of the pretty green eyes.