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playing poker and teaching science: Back On Stage
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Location: Indiana, United States

I'm a middle school science teacher, wrestling coach, poker player, scuba diver, aikido black belt, amateur writer, and student of life. In the past I have tried to give back a little by volunteering at a children's home in Belmopan, Belize, Central America. I also love Frosted Flakes. I have taken a year sabbatical from my teaching position in order to sail the Caribbean. Does that sound crazy to you?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Back On Stage

I’ve never been famous.

I guess I’m pretty well known locally and there are a lot of people that know me that I don’t know or remember. Most of the people I don’t know or don’t remember are parents of students past, present, and future. They stop me in the store or at a concert and start talking to me like we’re best buds. I smile and chat about whatever they bring up.

“Who was that?” my wife asks.

“I don’t know,” I answer.

She’s used to by now.

I rarely forget a face. Names however stay in my mind about as long as a Twinkie on my heavyweight’s lunch tray.

I remember Henry Lee Summer as a high-energy rocker. He had a few hits in the late 1980’s, including three in the top ten and the number one single, “I Wish I had A Girl” in 1988. Henry Lee toured with Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eddie Money, Chicago, and Richard Marx when things were going well.

Things stopped going well for a while. Finally, in 2006 Henry Lee was arrested after the car he was driving crashed into several other vehicles and a mobile home. He was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, resisting arrest, and failing to stop after an accident.

In his defense, he said he was taking Ambien. It’s the old “I’m not stoned I’m sleepy” defense.

Webster’s New College Dictionary defines “things aren’t going well for you” as any time you crash your car into a mobile home…

Henry Lee is trying to make a come back after a crashing into mobile homes and an alleged substance abuse problem. As he took the stage last night, you could see that time has taken its toll. He has the sunken cheeks and ashen skin that are associated with age well beyond his chronological years and he has a natural stoop as if as if he’s carrying an unseen burden.

The first cords were a little rough and his voice cracked as he began to sing. You could see the members of the sparse, Thursday night crowd look at each other apprehensively. It didn’t look like the come back would happen.

You can’t go home again.

You can try though.

Henry Lee Summer can still play a guitar. As he loosened up quickly, hit his musical stride, and began to lay down some incredible riffs. He’s never had a great voice, but he did start to sound like the Henry Lee of old, playful and full of energy.

After two hours he completed the second set, obviously tired but there was a gleam in his eye as he talked about his wife, who was in the audience celebrating a birthday.

“All she wants for her birthday is a hamburger and a milk shake from Steak and Shake. That’s love ‘cause she knows I got no money. I ain’t had a hit record since electricity came in!”

I don’t know what it’s like to have so much and to lose most of it. There’s a school of thought that we make our own luck, good AND bad.

Welcome back Henry Lee. There’s a lot of us pulling for you.


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