Drop Edge of Yonder

When I bit into it, I could hear the ocean.

Archive for Herb Tarlek

Diplomatic Immunity

I’m fond of saying I have more degrees than a pot of boiling water, although that’s not really true (no matter what temperature scale you use). That said, I am really good at going to school, and I kind of love it. Today I was filling out the education portion of my new Facebook profile, and I remembered that I never technically graduated high school.

I was really busy in high school…with extracurricular activities. In fact, I was so busy with three kinds of band and two kinds of choir and two publications (but absolutely no sports whatsoever) that I couldn’t fit all my academic classes into the regular school day.

But because pretty much all the academic classes I did take were advanced placement or college level, the guidance counselor let me fulfill my last math class via a correspondence course. In fact, I took the paperwork in one day to show her I’d enrolled in it, and she promptly wrote it down on my transcript as completed—even though I hadn’t cracked the spine on the book.

I did do a few lessons, but come on: it was math. Eventually I realized the guidance counselor would never know the difference, and it was already on my transcript as a done deal. That was enough for me.

So despite my not, strictly speaking, having enough academic credits to graduate, I still came out at the top of my class. Because of that, I was invited to attend a special event the Clintons hosted at the Governor’s Mansion for that year’s high school valedictorians. At the time I didn’t think much about it. Arkansas is a small state, and I’ve met each of the Clintons several times; once I even played in a band wherein Bill sat in and shared his smooth sax sounds.

In retrospect, though, it was a pretty sweet deal. It was May 1992, and it was the last time I’d see either of the Clintons in person. Six months later, the nation would elect him as its president.

Frank Bonner, best known for his four seasons on WKRP in Cincinnati, attended the event as well. While I was busy schmoozing with the next leader of the free world, my daddy was chatting up Herb Tarlek about the state of Razorback athletics at the University of Arkansas. Good to know he had his priorities straight.

In retrospect, I suppose it’s fitting that over the years I’ve lost my diplomas from high school as well as three universities; after all, I never technically earned the first.

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