DAD YOU MAY WANT TO SKIP THIS ONE. TRUST ME.
I know this is terrible.
But I really miss him sometimes.
Hads was one of my two band teachers in high school. He was this vibrant, dynamic, musically talented, southern gentleman.
I haven’t decided yet if I should write here about Hads and I.
After all, one of my two whopping readers wants some happy posts and this story is decidedly unhappy in the end.
So I’ve been thinking about happy posts to write.
And I always knew when I started this blog I was going to have to write something about it. Especially since the whole ordeal has been unearthing itself over the years.
Hindsight is always 20/20 right?
We met when I was 8 actually. 4th grade. He taught me how to play the violin first. Later I switched to the flute, and just like that Hadley was out of my life and replaced with dear old sweet mothbally Mr. Caron. We wouldn’t be reunited until much later, 8th grade. I was constantly forgetting my flute for days when I had band class. Hadley was a smart guy, he knew I never actually practiced when the flute was home, and though it was against the rules he let me store it in his office which was really a glorified storage closet.
I think that was the first thing that made me love him. Not in that way. But he was a realist, like me. I’m sure he figured better to keep the flute in class where he knew I was actually playing it as opposed to next to my bed under a pile of clothes.
At the end of the year I collected money from my classmates to present him with a gift at the final concert. A neon green glow in the dark baton. He still had it in his desk the last time I saw him.
When I got to high school I was dismayed to realize that Hads taught only drums and keyboard, not band class. Though he was the marching captain for our marching band so I still got to spend time with him. I would later join the pep band and the Kiwanis club at his request (he ran both clubs) and I would love every single minute.
I would lay on the radiator in his classroom while he played me jazz from his laptop and tried to explain it to me. I would dutifully read the Miles Davis biography he lent me. I would love it so much he would let me keep it. It’s sitting in my bookshelf at my dad’s house as I type this. I would make bagged lunches to bring to the school before concerts since he never had enough time to go home in between. I would be hugged upon delivery of the lunch.
I had a number of nicknames.
Pumpkin, Shorty, Namregnif, Babydoll, and Sass.
He used these names in front of anyone.
Which is probably why people whispered in the hall.
It never really occurred to me. At the time it seemed natural. Normal. Comfortable.
Hads was a young teacher, 29 when I graduated I believe.
Though he was a little overweight and his hair line was receding he was actually pretty handsome as teachers went. I think it was mostly the southern charm that got the girls. The twinkly blue eyes. The ability to play virtually anything on acoustic guitar or drums or piano you name it. The devil may care grin. The trouble with authority. He was also an incredible flirt. Not overtly, at least not at first.
His guitar and percussion classes were filled with the kids who needed them, the stupid girls who needed an easy A to boost their GPAs. The troublemaker boys whose guidance counselors thought it would be a “productive outlet.” The stupid girls, as legend always goes, were also the extremely hot ones and it didn’t go unnoticed by Hads.
Like I said Hads was a flirt but he was smart about it. He did it in such a way that you didn’t even realize it was flirting, not till later. Or maybe you didn’t realize at all. He would start the classic way, by poking fun at you. Not enough to hurt your feelings but just enough to make you maybe smirk, or try and prove him wrong that you could in fact stop talking to your neighbor and do a drum roll. He would then praise you and compliment the shit out of you, making you blush. Soon it’d be back to some snarky remark about you. It wasn’t flirting in the traditional sense. It was attention.
Maybe that was my downfall.
Some girls were uncomfortable with Hads. They didn’t know him as well. That’s just how he was! He was Manny being Manny! They had devised a plan to take him down, though he had never actually technically done anything wrong.
Three lockers down from me with the hustle and bustle of the changing of classes obscuring my hearing..
“But we can’t do anything without Sarah. She’s the only one who…”
I looked up and caught her gaze, believe it or not I found myself raising my eyebrows at her. Ashley T.
She really was adorable. Skinny in all the right places, graceful neck, dimples in her smiley cheeks. She constantly wore Hollister sweatpants, the fabric framing her ass perfectly and of course she had no pantie lines. Hads loved to harass her in his guitar class.
That evening I would hide out in my backyard, swinging on my swing-set, and I would dial my cell phone.
“They’re trying to get you trouble” I forced myself to say.
“Hold on a minute Dad the reception’s bad” he said as he walked away from Leigh, his beautiful blonde “too good for me” wife.
I told him everything I had heard. He acted strangely. Defensive. Almost acted as if I was making it up. I felt myself getting angry. This was how he treated me as I was trying to protect him.
“Listen, all I’m telling you is that you can’t act that way with them! They aren’t like me.
(looking back what the fuck did that mean I wonder) They’ll try and get you fired and then you’ll understand.”
And with every ounce of dramatic teenage angst I had in me, I hung up on him before he could answer. I spent the night in my room, crying over the possibility that he’d be fired and leave me.
When I arrived in homeroom the next day my cell vibrated. The text message read “Come to my class before the bell.”
He apologized and thrust a card and a bar of Hershey’s and a Cosmopolitan magazine into my hands.
It wasn’t the first card, and it wasn’t the last gift.
Months later, the day after I took my final bow in my last high school musical I would sneak down to his room, during my “independent study” block.
“Come look at the necklace I bought for Leigh, I’m not sure she’ll like it.”
Except the necklace wasn’t for Leigh. It was for me. With a matching bracelet. I walked over to the window, simultaneously thrilled and deeply saddened by the fact that the first man to ever give me jewelry (he remains the only man to do so) was my teacher.
He came up behind me and hugged me. And what I felt physically between us in that embrace was enough to finally snap me out of it. To make me see that something wasn’t right. Nothing was normal about this.
In the car my best friend examined the jewelry quietly, it was a popular brand apparently.
“Sarah, do you know how much these go for?”
I inhaled sharply and she laid it on me. He had probably spent close to 200 dollars on the set. A google search confirmed it.
One might think that this would be the end of Hads and I.
After I graduated was when it got worse. And everything just managed to feel bittersweet.
The drunken texts inviting me on a camping trip with he and his friend Darren was the nail in the coffin.
Eventually Had’s bad behavior caught up with him. I don’t want to put the details of another girl’s experiences on my blog but I’ll tell the bare bones minimum; He was caught texting a girl during school hours when her mom had confiscated her cell phone for the day as a punishment.
Hadley was forced to leave the school, he and his wife got divorced, and last I heard from him he was moving back to his parent’s house in Maryland to get back on his feet.
I later found out he was diagnosed as Bipolar and unfortunately starting my junior year of high school he had decided to go off his medication. Very few people, knew of his diagnosis.
Armed with this information I began to dig into the recesses of mind, where I had hidden away all the confusing “Hadley stuff” and though my opinion changes every day, I’m not sure his illness absolves him.
I’m not sure of anything, when it comes to Hads.
And mostly I can’t understand how I can still miss him so much when our relationship was clearly inappropriate and as the adult it was his responsibility to make sure it wasn’t. I mean. I know that.
But he was my confidant. He treated me like an adult (in more than just the inappropriate ways) and he always listened to me. And often I do find myself thinking “I wish I could call Hadley and ask him..”Because he always gave me the best advice.
I know that maybe you’ll judge me for saying this, but wherever he is I sincerely hope he’s in a better place.