I always thought “Music Appreciation” was a funny title. It was music, alright, but I didn’t appreciate it. Not at all. We listened to everything in Music Appreciation, from James Taylor and the Stones to Metallica and classical.
It was weird because everything appealed to me outside of class on a strictly artsy level, but whenever we were in class I dreaded having to learn about and memorize the history of the pieces. To make it worse, this kid named Nelson (total suck-up) sits in front of me, and loves every minute of said torment.
Sometimes, I sleep through class. Others, I daydream or doodle on the desks. Once or twice, I wrote notes to my best friend and crush, Ellen, but I never sent them. One Friday, as I’m sitting bored and almost asleep, my teacher announced in his monotone voice that we were about to do a class project. I tried not to let Nelson see me roll my eyes at the risk of getting lectured.
“We are going to split you up into pairs, and each pair will investigate a certain musical genre or period. You can pick anything you like from the list I’ll hand out in a second.”
I sighed. I was willing to be this didn’t include anything cool like Wu-Tang Clan or slam poetry. I doubted my teacher even knew what real art was.
As I started scanning the list, an overwhelming fear hit me that I might be paired with Nelson forcibly. In order to prevent this, I looked around and tried to find someone with exactly the same level of engagement I had–zero.
I was about to ask my friend Robert who sits next to me (he usually spends class making paper airplanes, that is when he shows up at all). But then, I noticed Nelson was about to get Ellen to pair up with him. I couldn’t let that happen!
“Um, wanna pair up, Ellen?” I blurt out.
She turns to me, and I can see she’s half-smiling. She had dimples. I love dimples. Especially hers. She nods with this perfect little angelic nod, and I smile.
“Yea, totally. Any idea of what topic you wanna pick?”
I was aloof for a moment. All I could think of was how perfect she was, and how happy I was I spited Nelson. He looked around for someone, and then paired up with Robert. Talk about a recipe for disaster.
Anyway, Ellen and I traded numbers and she agreed to let me know when she picked a topic. I had let her choose because I wasn’t particularly concerned with what we did, so long as she was in the room.
About a week after that fateful day, my phone lights up. I can barely believe it’s Ellen texting me..then I remember we have to do a stupid project. I grab my phone and take a look:
“Hey can we do the 1960’s?”
I say yes, and a few days later Ellen is over. We’re working on the project, with her doing research and me trying to find some clips to show examples of the types of music they listened to.
“So, I’m thinking we could make a little poster or diagram or something. Maybe like The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and The Animals?”
I nod even though I can still barely believe Ellen’s in my house. At this point, I’m pretty much just going with what she says so this project can wrap up. Then, it happens. I stumble upon Simon and Garfunkel’s song “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” I was never really into the songs of the 1960’s, but I’d heard of the band before, so I decided to press play.
The song trickles into the room, and I smile a little. It’s actually a really nice song, and so I decide to turn it up a little.
“This is a good song,” I say.
Ellen nods, shaking her long blonde hair a bit.
“Yeah. Simon and Garfunkel are one of my favorites. Maybe they should go on the pinboard, too.”
I smile back at Ellen. We spent a good part of the night just jamming to clips by Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, and many more. I’d never been so happy before. Maybe music appreciation wouldn’t be so bad after all.