7-19-16: The Rock Star

Happy early Tuesday morning to all and thanks again for those taking the time to read these semi-coherent ramblings off of an Instagram link. One of these days I may quit being cheap and put some money and more work on said blog. For now I’ll kindly call it a work in progress. Kind of like my chances of walking down the altar. Or training for the running of the bulls in Pamplona. Or running more than 40 yards for the first time since the Clinton Administration. Again, all works in progress.

Well, the intentions were there to write this on Sunday but the execution was not. After 8 am chapel at First Christian Church (open invite to all reading this as chapel is 8 and regular morning service at 10 every Sunday at 16377 Herriman Boulevard in Noblesville, IN), yours truly decided “well, no homework today either” and ended up watching yet another Cincinnati Reds-Milwaukee Brewers game. The Reds actually won by a score of 1-0. I don’t see the Reds win baseball games that often anymore, and I’m not alone because they’ve won only 35 of them the entire year and are on pace for their worst season in their history. Since the team goes back to 1869, that means you have one pretty p-ss poor team. But that’s another rant for another time. An epic rant, too be sure, but for later.

Right now more important business to discuss.

In fact important may not be the right word.

For all who those who may actually read this one day, this blog post-Post Number 4-is as important as anything I’ve ever wrote because it was a life-changing experience. You’ve probably seen the brief bio that was listed when I set up the Instagram account earlier the year…the one where I babble something about finally setting up a photo diary to celebrate the 25th anniversary of taking a beautiful girl (aka hot chick, or in my terminology “Hot Sonland Chick” for an attractive female that went to Noblesville High). However I highly recommend everyone to take a brief moment to scroll down to the ninth post that has a couple of black and white photos from the 1990 NHS yearbook to go with a signature with smiley face and a ticket stub.

While my photo-shopping skills rank with FOX’s ability to produce successful non-animated prime time comedy TV shows , nonetheless the very attractive female featured in said photos rocking the 90’s approved turtleneck/sweater combo stands out as being the main influence with setting the a tone for me making some important life changes. Because quite frankly without the events that were mentioned in said ninth post and without meeting said woman, there is no ability to keep confident and focused on going from 5 foot 4, 200 plus pounds as a freshman to 6 foot 140 pounds as a senior. Nor is there the ability to talk to attractive sisters-including the future Homecoming Queen-in one’s class year (see Post 2). Nor is there the confidence to go out of state for college..stay at said college….and graduate in four years. Nor is there the confidence to pledge and join a fraternity at said college.

Oh, and of course, without said woman and events then there is no Prom Date. That’s because I would have opted to watch the NBA playoffs all Saturday and Sunday during prom weekend because I would still have had the communication skills of a dead jacka– with anyone and everyone outside the halls of 300 North 17th Street. (Instead I just watched Celtics-Pistons that Saturday afternoon before prom. Yes, I remember a lot of unimportant information like that. And you’re not shocked I remembered that the Celtics won. After all I had to have something to do that afternoon in place of lining up a keg. I wouldn’t be doing that for another three years.)

You get the point, and yes I’ll now actually get to the point …..flashback to the Sunday night of February 18, 1990 as it was pretty damn important to me. It was the night I got to spend an evening with the real-life rock star of Noblesville High. That night I got to hang out with someone who even some three months prior I would have said “uh, she’s not giving you the time of day because you’re a loser and a fat f— since all those people in your English classes the last couple of years have said so and that’s all you’ll ever be.” Instead the very opposite happened, for that was the night I got to go to the Billy Joel concert at the now departed Market Square Arena in downtown Indianapolis with none other than said referenced rock star and the hometown hero of the Hamilton County seat.

The young lady who helped change my life for the better that night was one Jill Lyon.

Now, some quick background since I’m on a roll and just passed the 800 word mark….

To be the proverbial icon in Noblesville back in the late 80’s and early 90’s one just had to do what was the norm in most Indiana cities large and small: be part of a successful high school basketball team. The boys program had several near misses during that time as they often won the local sectional and then did the job to an Anderson area team in the regional. (I know that firsthand because I got to carry a clipboard and be a statistician for a couple of said squads. While knowing said clipboards could qualify me to be a third string NFL quarterback, that basically was the highlight of my athletic involvement in said high school because you’ve already seen what I looked like when I played football and have figured out that I had the athletic ability of a lamp post. Plus the post could run a faster 40 yard dash.) The girls teams, on the other hand, they won. As in won a lot. And Jill was a key part of said program as well as a history maker since she was one of the first two athletes (male or female) to be part of four consecutive state hoops Final Fours. Add to that her volleyball ability (future collegiate player at Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne) and her overall popularity (see said photo…no further explanation needed) and you had someone who generally wasn’t going to associate with someone like me on a regular basis. Or any basis for that matter. Or quite frankly any planet in your solar system of choice.

But before I ended up being in the same speech class with Jill during the fall of my junior year and her senior year at said Sonland (again my nickname for Noblesville High) I figure it would be safe to assume the following: even though I was like everyone inside the city limits who knew who she was, she probably wouldn’t know me from my sophomore year TV lookalike Dennis played by Dan Schneider from the then ABC ‘hit’ sitcom Head of the Class or the one and only Schneider himself from the 70’s CBS show based out of Indy called One Day at a Time, the late Pat Harrington, Jr. (You probably guessed I didn’t have a lot of successful interaction with girls for my first 16 years of life, didn’t you?) In other words it was highly unlikely I would have any dealings with her unless I was actually taking up space via being on the same class roster as her. Meaning that the initial memories of a mature and beautiful girl walking down the junior high halls every day with the George Hamilton approved tan of Bill Trainor (which again shows I have a good memory and didn’t always pay attention in said junior high classes) were pretty much the only memories or dealings with her. If she was the Mercury of the Sonland solar system, I was pretty much cast as Neptune. Point again made- I probably wasn’t going to be associating with her or vice versa.

However I had two connections to Jill…one directly and one indirectly. The direct one was how I knew and heard about her all the time because it was family related. On the other hand the indirect one was one that helped inspire me to get motivated to lose weight while giving me the initial chance to say “If someone like (indirect connection) associates with her, then I probably never will.”

Fortunately for me, I was wrong about the indirect connection. And I’d better damn well have been wrong since I’m already at 1,400 plus words, right? Guess I have a lot of stamina in this writing department. Or the caffeine from the Kroger approved Diet Dr. K hasn’t worn out yet.

Continuing on…the direct connection was from my older cousin Jennifer Sigman (@jen.s.alexander.92 on your Instagram dial) who also played and starred for said Lady Millers basketball squad during Jill’s time frame there. As I don’t remember having one conversation with Jill outside of ‘congratulations’ after said squad won a state tournament game, safe to say that connection wasn’t played to the hilt. Then again during that time I was basically little more than Sigman’s cousin or the fat little f– with Coke bottle glasses who could name all the World Series and Super Bowl winners-again, color yourselves shocked that I struggled dealing with women-and nothing more. So par for the course.

As for the indirect connection….here’s where the memories of growing up fat in a Ferris Bueller wannabe place like Noblesville High tend to make me start cussing:

IIRC Jill dated an individual by the name of Tom Edens (Sonland Class of ’88..three years older than me, two years older than Jill). As Edens was considered the king of Sonland boys hoops as a varsity basketball starter, then like most individuals who played high school varsity basketball in the state of Indiana said Edens had a bit of an ego and could be a (rhymes with dock). And if you think I’ve given the impression that Edens was not on my holiday greetings card list back then, then you’re damn right because a lasting memory I have to this day from frosh year was Edens standing outside the gym doors making fun of me, my physique, and everything about me while I was in 4th hour gym class (coincidentally when people had lunch so they could then look through said gym doors and make fun of me). Pretty obvious that the then 5 foot 4, 200 pound plus me remembered that. Also pretty obvious that I just gave any and all readers who I thought of the most when I started dieting and working to lose the weight for the next two school years.

Polite way to put it is that I hated the man and generally figured anyone who associated with him would never give me the time of day without being condescending.

Thankfully for me and for my future, Jill proved me to be very, very wrong.

Back to said speech class…..after dealing with people who I didn’t care for in honors classes my first couple of years at the Sonland (see Bowser, Steve from earlier posts) I had made the following decision: if I was going to make it through my last two years of high school without becoming a headline for the evening news, then I was going to take the classes that I wanted to take and actually somewhat enjoy. Out were honors World History, math of any kind and German. In were newswriting, regular U.S. history and Spanish. Not coincidentally, my grades and my mindset improved. And I kept losing weight. And I actually began to get some resemblance of having a minute part of self-esteem. All good things since I wanted to regularly gargle Liquid Drano for my first two years of high school. So I started to almost feel like a human being. Almost.

Oh, and speech class.

Third hour in fall semester I got to attend a class that I actually looked forward to because of three main reasons:

  1. I liked speech and actually did okay at it.
  2. There were plenty of attractive older women in said class.
  3. See number 2 because I thought of it daily.

Among the likes of Laura Peck, Heidi Huber (who once was part of a junior high bet with Andy Cambridge that she could act like she would hit on me during a trip to McDonald’s…like I said, I’ve got a pretty good memory as that’s a future post topic by itself) and Amy Zook (the current Mrs. Craig Lutz, whom incidentally I saw at the parking lot of the local Kroger a couple days ago and hence figured I’d mention it since I’ve already wrote 2,000 plus words and a few more can’t hurt) was Jill. Sitting in the front row. Generally acknowledged me and vice versa. Also didn’t make fun of me when I decided to do one of my speech assignments on the World Wrestling Federation and Wrestlemania complete with bringing in a VCR tape of the Wrestlemania V main event between Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. (Don’t ask how but I got a A on that speech. And the answer to ‘Why in the blue $!$$# would you do a speech on THAT?’ is that you tend to do stupid s–t when you are 16. Not coincidentally, I currently subscribe to the WWE Network and still watch Wrestlemania every year, so that probably doesn’t really help my case too much for the present. ) And when we got split up for or paired up for group work in class, Jill was always, ALWAYS nice and respectful to me. And considering that I was 1) still intimidated by her popularity while 2) holding her to a higher status as school icon compared to me…..safe to say I was super impressed.

After being treated like garbage by my peers in my first two years of high school classes, it was nice to actually feel like I somewhat mattered. That speech class was a big factor in that. And obviously you can figure out know I personally thought the biggest factor of all was. It was the school rock star in the front row who actually treated me like a peer.

Which leads to February 18, 1990.

A few weeks prior before Christmas break, yours truly decided to take some of his part-time cash from bagging groceries at a now defunct local supermarket to good use and do what other teenagers tend to do with said part-time job earned cash: get concert tickets. At the time Billy Joel was not the bald, frumpy, bad driving divorcee that we know him as today; he was doing pretty well with his Storm Front album and going to tour. As a lifelong fan of said Joel, I decided I was going to go see him in concert at the before mentioned and now departed downtown Indy arena. So I rolled out to Ticketmaster on a Saturday morning in order to get tickets. The show sold out that morning. Safe to say that two tickets to said sold out show were in my hands. Also safe to say that I wasn’t going to be asking my Aunt Marlene to go to this with me. It was time to man up and go to something social with a female. Not an inflatable one. As in one who wasn’t purchased from Spencer’s Gifts at the local mall. (Bad joke, but it’s 1:53 am as this is typed so I threw it out there).

So that following Monday at school, of course I did what all red blooded males would do….take the tickets to class, go up to the front of said class and say “I’ve got two tickets to the sold out Billy Joel concert…..who wants to go?”

After being shocked that there were women who actually rose their hands instead of throwing stuff at me, no guesses needed on what happened. In what would be as definitive a moment as the time my frosh year that I threw a few beverages down at my fraternity’s spring informal and willingly sung “Unchained Melody” to over a hundred people (again, don’t ask) I looked right at Jill, pointed and said “You’re going.”

Not exactly John Cusack hoisting the boom box in ‘Say Anything’, but it was a defining moment nonetheless.

I remember talking to Jill after class as I realized that said concert was going to be in the midst of the state girls hoops tourney. With the championship games being played on Saturdays, the concert was set for what would be the evening after the girls semistates where winners would then make the Final Four for the next weekend at, yes, the concert site of Market Square Arena. IIRC since I was still in shock because this is JILL LYON that we’re dealing with, I basically mustered up the courage to say (paraphrasing) “I don’t think you’re going anywhere during the month of February and the concert’s on a Sunday night, so just let me know the best way you want to handle it. And the ticket is yours to keep until then.” Apparently being in the same arena with me had not scared her off. And I soon left class before then saying to myself “Hold on….what the #!$%%! Did this just happen?”

No one was there to pinch me, so I did the honors. Apparently I was going to do something social with Jill Lyon. THE JILL LYON. 

And BTW…..after this sunk it I thought about Edens and freshman year. Now that I was down to 155 pounds (I still had another 15 to go), I thought things were doing a whole hell of a lot better for me now as compared to then…though in fairness even the late, great Ray Charles could see that was in fact the case.

Obviously my Christmas was better than the year before. Then again that’s not really saying much as I could have had the gout and STILL had a better Christmas then the year before. Meanwhile….countdown as I circled February 18 on the calendar.

Now you’re not surprised that I still had some doubt about whether Jill would go to this concert because 1) this is me we’re talking about 2) Edens and 3) the Lady Millers were in the midst of gearing up for their state tournament run. When speech class ended in mid-January, I then basically did the following: go to the girls hoops tourney games (usually in tandem with @markcoverdale3), congratulate Jill after she won said girls hoops tourney games, and then plan on calling her the afternoon of the concert to see if this was in fact not going to be a rib and that she in fact would be going. Quite frankly I was too nervous and in awe of her to do otherwise. Not like I was going to do anything to stir s–t up.

So next thing I know I’m with @markcoverdale3 at Indianapolis’s Ben Davis High School on the afternoon and evening of Saturday, February 17. We see said Lady Millers win semistate. We then talk to some of said team members as they are cutting the nets down afterwards. You can figure out who I talked to. It was the history making rock star who started at guard I remember Jill’s smile. I remember saying something along the lines of “see you tomorrow.” I also remember (or I do now, anyway) thinking “This is still a rib…after all this she’s not really going to spend tomorrow evening with ME, is she?”

There was confidence going to class and there was confidence doing things outside of class. I still had little to none of the second.

Either way I roll back late on Saturday night (I’ll say around 1 am or so) and sleep in on Sunday. As in Sunday February 18, 1990 which means I wake up and say to myself “Self, day’s here. We’ll see what happens.” If something did happen, Aunt Marlene was on standby.

I muster up the courage (there’s that word again) that afternoon to call Noblesville High’s reigning hoops queen and resident rock star. Being nervous was an understatement. I actually had to psych myself up to use the phone. Hugh Hefner I was not. But I made the call and actually spoke to Jill. Apparently she was in fact going to this. After picking myself off the floor and not stuttering too badly, the setup was made that she would in fact come over and pick me up at my house. Directions were simple as I told her “Go to Cortnea Lammers’s house. Look to the right of it where there’s a 1977 Buick that’s as a big as a boat. You’re there.” Not bad for a pre-Mapquest timeframe, says I.

Now not only did that avoid the need for me to use said 1977 Buick, but it also meant that HOLY S— JILL LYON IS WILLINGLY COMING TO MY HOUSE AND LETTING ME RIDE WITH HER. For another Hefner like comparison, for the 16 year old (soon to be 17 in two months, for what’s worth) her doing this was the equal of a Playmate personally coming to your house to drive you to the Playboy Mansion. Or at least that sounded good back then. Actually, #$%^! with it; it sounds bloody damn good right now too.

So I get ready. I end up sporting new jeans, the new black Reeboks I had gotten for Christmas, my black SKIDZ turtleneck courtesy of the Merry Go Round at the mall, and a brown leather jacket because everyone at Noblesville back then had a brown leather jacket or so it seemed. And I wait. As in “This can’t be happening, can it?” To say I was in awe of Jill was-and still is-an understatement.

Around 6:30 or so that evening (concert started at 8) what I remember as either a Ford Thunderbird or Chevy Corsica (either way…it sure as hell wasn’t a 1977 Buick) parks on the street. This is in fact happening after all. And to my credit I have not wet myself or started talking like one of the Three Stooges.

The Rock Star is here. At my house.

I answer the door, Jill is fantastic and nice to me and my late mother (RIP) and of course because since you’ve already figured out that I asked her to sign the back of my concert ticket that I had a camera ready and said something to the tune of (paraphrasing), “We don’t have rock stars over here very often, so is it okay if you and I got a picture?” I wasn’t really joking, either. She gladly took the picture. And she had one of the greatest smiles I’ve ever seen past, present, and future. (BTW….ensemble for her was jeans, turtleneck and sweater, and leather jacket. You’re not surprised I remembered that. After all, you’re not surprised I’ve wrote nearly 4,000 words about this either.)

What I remember a lot is the trip there to Market Square Arena is how down to earth and sweet Jill was. (Also the previously mentioned Roxette cassette single “Dangerous” which is the first song that was played in the car when we left. Like I said, I have a decent memory when I’m procrastinating and not doing homework.) Here she was less than 24 hours after earning the right to play for the state title and she’s actually interested in stuff I think and stuff I was doing….in particularly the weight loss and what I was doing in order to lose and maintain keeping the weight off. She actually cared what I had to say and didn’t look down at me at all like others had way too often done in the past. Throw in the fact that I’m still in the mode of (paraphrasing deadspin.com writer Drew Magary) WELL DUR SHE SHORE IS PURTY DUR like one of the buzzards from the old “Looney Tunes” cartoons and you’ve got one memorable car ride. Plus I still haven’t wet myself, either. Always a plus.

We get to the arena. You’ve seen the signed ticket stub…our seats were behind the stage. And yes the whole time before the show starts I’m sitting by Jill and nervous as f— because I’m still in shock that she’s actually willingly in the same building (much less the same zip code) as I am for this. (Coincidentally the Joel song “A Matter of Trust” is now playing on my YouTube, just because. Makes sense.) I remember saying something in the mode of “Just think, you’re going to be out there playing in this arena next weekend.” My message to the high school me upon thinking back about that: No s–t, Captain Obvious.

Fortunately for my lack of conversation skills, the lights eventually dimmed to a sold out Market Square Arena and that Joel fellow emerged at his piano singing “Storm Front” and “I Go to Extremes.” To no one’s surprise the show kicked a–. With the exception of “The Longest Time” and the before mentioned “A Matter of Trust” the then married to Christine Brinkley dude from New York played all of his hits past and present. “Piano Man” was the encore. I’m half in awe of the concert as it definitely was no double bill of Winger and the Bullet Boys.

Those still reading-which again is impressive to say the least-can guess what I was also in awe of. It was I’M AT A CONCERT WITH JILL LYON! REALLY! NO S–T! IT’S JILL LYON! And she seemed to be enjoying herself…even if I was standing next to her.

In other words her going to this concert…her apparently having a good time and enjoying herself despite being with yours truly…and most importantly not looking to make an excuse to roam the building or see if I can get stuck in the fire exit…it was making for a pretty memorable night for me. To quote a fictional media man of last decade, one Johnny ‘Drama’ Chase, “VICTORY!” (Not surprisingly, last weekend when my homework was done I did a marathon of watching Season 3 of Entourage. Also not surprisingly, I’m still single.)

Next thing I know the show’s over, she’s driven us back and she hasn’t left me at a pay phone or reached for any mace to spray. All good things.  And she’s still as down to earth and being sweet to me as she was at the start of the evening. Meant a lot to me, no question. Also no question that I’d pass up the chance to have a late dinner with her because, well, it’s pretty damn obvious that just hanging out with her was the greatest thing I had done at that point of my young life.

So it’s around 11 pm and I can’t believe I’m still out in public with Jill as we are the only people left at the soon to be closing Pizza Hut in Noblesville. It was sinking in how cool this deal was. (IIRC Jill worked part time as a waitress there in the summers.) Since it was Pizza Hut, we ate, yes, pizza. Since it was me, I got Jill to sign the pizza box that I took home for carryout. Admit it, you’re not surprised about that. Hey, as my Instragram account shows I tend to collect autographs from popular women. One of those deals.

The night ends with Jill dropping me off at the house right before midnight and me doing what all people do when they want to end the biggest night they’ve ever had; thank her with a nervous sentence or two and then-to my surprise because I actually had the gumption to do this-take her hand and kiss it to thank her for actually putting up with me that night. To her credit-and my surprise-she did not get repulsed. Perhaps both Johnny Drama and Turtle would have been proud….or critiquing me afterwards with some BROS while trying to bum money off Vince. And yes, I need to find other hobbies besides watching Entourage.

And for one night I actually felt like I mattered. Which was the first time that had actually been the case since I had been at the Sonland.

To all those who stuck around to read this as it’s now 3:40 am in the morning, guess the best way to put it is to recap this as such: I had spent years feeling like crap and allowing myself to be put down by people who on their best days could never, EVER compare to Jill even on her worst. For one night I actually found that the most successful and popular girl in school-someone who could have just looked down on me and said ‘dude’s a f—‘-could actually take one evening to hang out, be civil and be awesome to someone who ranked much lower than her on the social stratosphere. I never forgot that.

And I never will.

Like I said, without Jill there’s no more concert dates….no Prom Dates…..no getting the courage to successfully pledge a fraternity and win Best Pledge before eventually becoming an officer…..in other words there’s no confidence to do little more than allow others to put me down and make me have no self-worth.

Without Jill there’s no self-confidence go back to college in my mid 30’s to earn three more college degrees.

In other words I owe Jill a lot because that night meant a hell of a lot..so much that words really can’t express. Even the nearly 5,000 I ended up typing tonight in order to finish up by taking the time to say this:

Thanks for everything Rock Star.

Best wishes always and thanks to all who read this and God Bless

Jeff Fitzpatrick




3 thoughts on “7-19-16: The Rock Star

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