His wrist flicked twice, and somehow I instantly knew he was listening to “RUSH -2112” in his head and playing air guitar.
It was my second day of high school in Greece. It was 1981, the middle of my junior year and I had just arrived in Athens with my father. I was in my first AP World Lit class. The previous day, the class was taking an exam and Ms Priles had dismissed me to the library, where I had met a nice girl named Mariani.
Ms Priles had her class arranged in a ring around the perimeter of the room. I spotted Mariani across the room from me, near the corner. She was studying the day’s text, “Death of a Salesman”, and not looking my way. Too bad. To her right was a stoner guy, black leather jacket, long blond hair parted down the middle. He reminded me of Tom Petty, or maybe Alex Lifeson. He didn’t seem interested in Arthur Miller, or anything else for that matter.
As the class discussion began, and I continued to glance Mariani’s way from time to time, I noticed the stoner’s wrist flick twice, and somehow I instantly knew he was listening to “RUSH -2112” in his head and playing air guitar. Without missing the beat, I replied with the two-chord response. We played together in unison for a few measures before he noticed me. As the hesitating, choppy intro drew to a close, our eyes locked, we silently counted three, then VROOM! launched into the galloping main theme. Wherever the song broke into a two-part overdub, we magically chose the opposing parts, never the same part.
As we concluded the Overture, we mouthed the first vocal line to each other, across the classroom: “And the me-e-ek sha-a-all i-in-he-e-e-ri-i-it the-e earr-r-r-rth…”
We telepathically decided not to push our luck and stopped there, not venturing into the explosive “Temples of Syrinx”. Even confined to the insides of our heads, that would have made enough noise to be distracting, not to mention I suppose I would have ended up flailing about in the middle of the room. So we turned our nominal attention to Willy Loman, glancing at each other from time to time and giggling. I think Mariani noticed but did not know what to make of it.
Looking at this guy more closely, I noticed I may have mis-classified him. He had the stoner style, but the droopy eyes were missing. Instead, this guy’s eyes were keen and shrewd; very light blue; and open no further than absolutely necessary. He held his back straight. I had the impression he was trying to keep his head, or at least his nose, as far above and away from his surroundings as possible.
When the bell rang at the end of class, we approached each other in the middle of the room. He exclaimed, “Dude, that was awesome! You picked that up instantly, like, from the first lick! How did you know what I was thinking?”
“I don’t know, man; You played those two opening chords, then paused, I thought, ‘Oh look, he’s playing 2112’, I jumped in.”
“Well, it was ******g incredible, definitely the best Priles class I’ve ever suffered through. George Weinschenk, how do you do?”
“Glen van Alkemade, great, thank you.”
“Glen… what? Never mind. See you at lunch?”
Turns out George was dating Mariani, and from that day through Commencement, the three of us were inseparable.