Our Oratorio

I met Wendi during my freshman year in college. She transferred to University of Michigan in the winter term and, seeking out like-minded people, joined the Champions game I was in.

For those unfamiliar, Champions is a Hero System RPG for playing comic book super heroes. If that doesn’t make sense to you, just understand that we were a merry band of geeks armed with bags of dice and 2-liters of caffeinated beverages.

I instantly took a shine to her, and not just because she happened to have estrogen. She was attractive, funny, and confident. Also, she was a junior. I figured she was out of my league. She didn’t agree, but I had no idea of that. I was busily having an odd sort of breakdown in which I started creating my own reality.

Fortunately a summer spent back home rooted me firmly in consensus reality again, and I’ve never lost my mind quite that severely since. Nope.

Um. This was meant to be a fun post. Forget all that stuff about my stupid brain, okay?

Fast forward to my sophomore year. As the fall term progressed Wendi and I started hanging out more, in part because I had switched to the dorm next to hers to be with the majority of our friends. I’d skip Russian class so we could share long lunches at my dorm’s cafeteria. I was failing anyway, so I figured that I might as well enjoy myself.

By the time November came around, I’d started working up the nerve to ask her out. On a date, not just another of our semi-regular trips to the hobby store.

Then Wendi got tired of waiting for me and started going out with Bruce. I call him that because he was fixated on an ex that who reportedly looked like Demi Moore, specifically as she appeared in “Ghost”. I wouldn’t know; I never met either of them — Bruce and Demi, I mean, although I’ve also never met Bruce or Demi.

Wendi and I were still having lunch together, as I nobly stayed beside her just in case Bruce died. The wisdom of this plan was confirmed for me when she bluntly said she’d have gone out with me if I had asked. It hurt to know for certain that I’d blown it, but now I could hope for another chance. All I had to do was never to give up on her. I’d stay at her side, believing that I’d just be happy enough if she were happy.

As it turned out my resolve was never tested, which is probably for the best. My intentions are good, but my attention span isn’t brief so much as it is deeply lazy. It can’t put forth the effort needed to focus on such a long-term commitment.

Less than a week after dropping truth on my lunch, Wendi called me. She had gotten tickets for a performance of Messiah but couldn’t reach Bruce. Would I like to go?

My instinctive reaction was to decline, as I knew that I was not fit for an evening of culture. Fortunately I quickly recast the event as an opportunity to spend time with her — under date-like conditions, no less! Sometimes my brain works perfectly well, thank you.

The night of the performance found us sitting somberly in the theater, trying to absorb culture while deciding whether or not this constituted a first date. By intermission we were worn out. We talked nervously, and out of desperation we scrutinized the program.

That’s when we finally realized that the lyrics were in English.

For the rest of the evening we giggled uncontrollably, under the resentful glower of those around us. I remain unashamed; you can’t expect the repetition of a sentence for five or six minutes to be met with gravitas — not from Gilbert and Sullivan fans. The line we were hearing rattled through my brain, transformed into the meter of “Modern Major General”.

     “He was rejected and despised
     And despised and rejected
     And despised and despised
     And rejected and rejected…”

After that we felt very much relaxed and ourselves. Over dessert at Stucchi’s we talked comfortably and decided that we were indeed dating. We’ve been best friends ever since. I have no idea what happened to Bruce, but his loss was my gain.

We’ve had ups and downs, like any couple, but every time we hear the “Hallelujah” chorus we look at each other and smile. We may not be cultured, but we’ll always have Handel’s Messiah.


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