Sometimes the best decisions you make in life are the things that you pass on, that you say “no” to doing. Other times, we just make a bad choice when should have said “YES!”. My freshman year in college I had a roommate that fancied himself a musician. He had a great sense of humor and was a good friend back then. In fact when I was suffering through my “blue” period (I was sick for almost two years.) I contacted the now middle-aged Renard Cohen. We chatted and caught up, but unlike most phone “reunions”, it was a bit strained. I was still glad I called and found out what went on with Renny.
The first time I mention Renard brought a reaction from another college friend that I have remained in touch with, Michael J. Michael recorded with WTIT a couple of times. Most notably was his participation on the 100th Tape of WTIT. When he read about Renny, he left me this comment:
“Whatever happened to him? I only remember a few things about him.1) He was a nice guy but the messiest person I had ever met. Your dorm room was quite memorable in that regard.2) He had a girlfriend who provided me with an indelible image and an expression I occasionally use to this day.
On point number two, I happened to be in your room when the girlfriend showed up to spend the weekend. As you and I talked, she matter-of-factly opened up a satchel and began pulling out a variety of birth control devices, slinky nightgowns, sex toys, and other apparatus whose purpose was unknown to me. She methodically proceeded to lay all the material out on Renny’s rumpled, stained bed. As she saw me standing there, mouth probably agape, she smiled and explained simply, “It’s my Instant-Action Hit Kit.” As I say, the concept of an “Instant-Action Hit Kit” has stayed with me for almost four decades, although I have used the term in quite different situations. Renny, I’m sure, would be proud.”
Oh back to the beginning of this post, the part about “choices”. Renny woke me up on a Saturday morning and said I had to get up. I said “What the?” We had no classes on Saturdays and 8:30 AM was the middle of the night. Renny told me some musician was next door at our college radio station. “They swear he is going to be a superstar. They are only allowing a few of us to meet him and I got you on the list! Get up!” Renny ordered. I responded, “What’s his name?” Renny told me. I responded, “Wake me when he is famous,” and fell back to sleep. I had just passed up on spending the day with Elton John.
Elton, did wind up having a fairly good career without having met me. Maybe, I would have screwed up the whole thing. Nah, he would have been bigger! Maybe next time, Sir Elton? Your music will last forever.