Our first ‘date’ was perfect! I played my bass that night as if I was a rock star — well at least in my mind I tried to do my best Michael Anthony impression. After our song was complete, I made my way to the hallway which lead to the back stage area of the auditorium. This hallway was on the complete opposite side of the school from the band room hallway where we spent most of our free time during the school day. While  I was hanging out in the hallway listening to the next band rock out their 80’s toons, Tammy popped around the corner. She must have run to the hallway because it could not have been more than 1 or 2 minutes since we had finished. She had been sitting in the auditorium with my dad watching the Scum Sucking Pig Dogs play their hearts out in front of a sparse crowd of mostly parents, who most likely did not have the right ear for Van Halen. Thinking back now, my poor dad was left to fend for himself while me and Tammy chatted in the hallway.

“Well…what did you think?”
“You all sounded great”, she replied.
I thought to myself, “She’s either lying to make me feel better or maybe that extra 10 minutes of practice actually helped”.

After the talent show ended, me and dad dropped Tammy off at her house on the way home and our evening had come to an ended. We exchanged pleasantries and said “See you tomorrow” and if there was such a thing as Cloud-9, I was on it.  The ride from Tammy’s house to mine was only about 10 minutes but when we arrived home I went straight to my room to drop off my bass. My mom asked how did everything go with the talent show and with all honesty, I really could not remember having been on the stage. All I could remember was Tammy saying, “You all sounded great”. I remember telling mom, “We sounded great!” as I went back to room. That night, as I was trying to get to sleep, I tossed and turned what seemed like for hours.  Finally I drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, I got up earlier than usual and was showered and ready for school in record time. I kissed mom on the cheek as she handed me my breakfast, which was mostly like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My mom was not the most inventive person when it came to meal time. She was good at fixing only a few things and was only really good at making goulash. She made the best goulash and I have a very fond memory of what was most likely the last pot of goulash she made during her last days. She was sitting in a chair at her kitchen stove stirring a large pot of goulash. I asked, “Mom, I can help with that?”  “No! I can do it!” –she could be a stubborn lady at times. Tammy and I had already moved to North Carolina but I was home visiting mom. I asked, “Mom, who is going to eat all of this goulash?” She replied saying this was the only pot that she had clean so she just filled it up.  Imagine a pot almost the size of one of those steamer pots full of ground beef, tomato sauce, and egg noodles seasoned perfectly as only my mom could do. We had goulash all weekend.

When I arrived at school, a mutual friend of ours met me in the hallway outside the band room.  See what I mean? This hallway was the place to be — at least for us band geeks as we were called back then. She said, “Jackie, if you ask Tammy to be your girlfriend, she will say Yes.” I instantly had probably the worst case of sweaty palms that had ever been before by anyone. Sixteen years old, having come out of my junior high shell, and with my new found self-worth and self-esteem, mostly as a result of Tammy being my friend, I did it! As only a sixteen-year-old kid who had been in puppy love with his now best friend since Band Camp could do — I passed her a note in our second period English class.

“Oh my!!  She said Yes!”, I thought as I opened the note.  There is the class bell, now what do we do? “Oh my!!  She is holding my hand!!” Here I am — just a sixteen-year-old chubby kid walking the hallways of Herbert Hoover High School hand-in-hand with my best friend who just happens to be the best looking girl in the world.

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