I had been at Bible college just a few hours when I was summoned to the office. I thought I’d buried all my teenage sins deep enough, but, as I walked across the green lawn to the administration building, I wondered if my college career would end before it started.
Turns out, they didn’t want me getting too comfortable in that nice dorm room thinking I had it all to myself. I would have a roommate. Barry Hardwick was on his way from Tennessee and that other bed in my room was his. I thought they gave me that nice big room because they recognized all the qualities of greatness I possessed and wanted to treat me with the deference I deserved. Instead, I was just a human RESERVED sign that held that quality space until Barry was ready to move in.
A couple days later, he showed up. He was nice enough. Undemanding. He made a good roommate. He was an upperclassman and I was a freshman so I tried to stay out of his way.
After school, I took off to change the world and figured that Barry was just one of the hundreds of guys I’d meet along the away whose name would come up now and then when we got to reminiscing about the good ole days.
But now, thirty years later, I can’t help but wonder if maybe something I did all those years ago rubbed Barry the wrong way. Every once in a while, he shows up to haunt or taunt me.
For instance – I’ve always wanted to live and pastor a church in a large city. A couple dozen years ago, a district superintendent invited me to submit my resume to a church in his state that fit that bill. Months went by and I never heard a word. Then one day I got a nice, short note signed by Barry. My resume wasn’t worth the church board bothering with, but since he was the secretary, he thought he would say hello.
My college roommate is running the search committee and I can’t even get an honorable mention. If he hadn’t sent his note, I could at least say my resume got lost, but he ruined that. His thoughtfulness insured my humiliation.
I still don’t know what I did to get on his bad side.
Imagine my surprise a few years later when one Sunday I saw Barry get out of his car in the parking lot of the church I now pastor. Seems half my congregation is related to him and I had no clue. I’m not sure how I got that passed him.
But here I am in Nashville, trying to find a place to eat after our General Conference service. Sidewalks and restaurants are full of people, so we walked back to our hotel and cleaned out the carryout tray from an earlier trip to Demo’s.
Taylor Swift is in town. According to a fellow who said he counted them all, eleven semi truck loads worth.
And all those people flooding downtown Nashville came to hear her sing.
But I think it is Barry coming back to haunt me.
It was his son, Drew, who didn’t pay enough attention to Taylor Swift when they were in school together. If he had, maybe she wouldn’t have had all those tears on her guitar that spurred her to write all those songs that generated all those fans. If she’s not so famous, then nobody wants to hear her sing, so the Nashville streets aren’t so crowded on the night I need to be here. And I can find something to eat and get some rest without all this noise outside my hotel.
Any way you slice it, I’m stuck here and Barry, whether he meant to be or not, is at least partially to blame.
It could be that Taylor is taking revenge on all Drew’s friends, but I’m leaning more toward the curse of Barry.
And I still don’t know what I did to upset him.
– end –
My son, Jonathan, thinking he is Drew.
***** For those who don’t know me personally – I’m picking on my friend, Barry Hardwick. We get along fine. But, I do advise you to be nice to your college roommate. Some day, you may depend on his sister-in-law to sign your pay check.