The year was 1990.
I had gone back to Adelaide University to complete a 1-year “Graduate Diploma in Education”, which was a good thing for me, primarily because the student mix was from various backgrounds, rather than essentially all the “musos” I had seemingly known all my life. Between lectures and tutorials, much relaxed time was spent in the Union Bar and lunching with our Polish Professor J J (George) Smolicz at a nearby pub.
I had two great mates, both named Geoff. One had a convenient girlfriend interstate (I wondered sometimes if she actually existed); the other was a potential [later actual] romantic interest. The three of us got along very well, but the name thing created some amusing moments. For example, my younger sister would say nonchalantly: “Oh Kylie, someone called Geoff rang”. Me: “Which Geoff?” Sister: “How on earth would I know? He wants you to call him back”.
I also joined a Young Adults Group connected with my church congregation – another positive thing, as I had fairly studiously avoided attendance at “Youth” throughout my High School years.
Enter Stage Left, an important member of the Cast of Characters – Rhonda, a gorgeous leggy Blonde who had recently moved to Adelaide from Melbourne. She was planning a birthday celebration for her good-looking newish boyfriend Jonathan and I agreed to help with the preparations. The party all went well, and as a small “Thank-you” Rhonda invited me for a meal at her flat the following Monday night.
Unbeknownst to me, there was another young man (Martin) with whom Rhonda was friendly and she invited him as well. [Much later it occurred to me that this might have been a matchmaking attempt, as the delightful Martin was perennially single]. (Martin is also a significant part of the “Cast List” – take note!).
Martin was, that evening, playing squash with an Exchange Student friend, whom he had met a few years before while travelling in England. As his squash partner had met the lovely Rhonda already, Martin invited him along too.
So I was there first, and opened the door to two smiling young men, welcoming them both in.
It was nearing the end of the Uni term and the ring-in, Neil, had an assignment to finish, so he had pre-warned Martin “I’m happy to have a bite to eat with Rhonda, but I must leave no later than 9.00pm”. As 9pm approached, and the foursome was enjoying coffee, Martin conscientiously reminded Neil of the time. Neil waved him off, as he was lapping up the attention of not one, but two blondes. At regular intervals, Martin dutifully noted the time.
It got to around 10.30pm, and, as I was unaware of the assignment-finishing arrangement, but did know that Martin had brought Neil, I said breezily “If you have to go, Martin, don’t worry, I’ll drop Neil back to town”. Now somewhat cornered, and not wanting to give complex explanations, Martin dutifully left, leaving Neil to consume more coffee and then start on the Port with the girls until gone midnight. At the time I was struck with how fascinating and interesting he was – and LUTHERAN, to boot.
As a Classical Music Snob and aspiring Pipe-Organist, I was firmly in the camp of Traditional Church Music, and already critical of the moves within our congregation to include in worship services a “Youth Band” which performed a fairly limited repertoire of 4-chord Praise Songs. There had also been a 1970’s liturgy (Order of Service) introduced, which my Dad had described as “Musical Nonsense” and my Mum agreed “Failed Harmony 101”. [You can see why I didn’t enjoy much rapport with the Church Youth].
Much to my surprise, though, both Rhonda (who sang in the Choir at a neighbouring Congregation) and Neil supported my view that a shift away from traditional liturgy and hymns risked “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. This was, to me, quite a revelation – that I wasn’t the only musically conservative Lutheran in existence under the age of 40.
Eventually, the bottle of Port was emptied and I drove Neil back to his “digs” in North Adelaide. He gently asked for my phone number and enquired if he could call me “on Wednesday”. (I thought this a bit odd, but still didn’t know about the incomplete assignment). As I farewelled him from my car outside the Luther Seminary – at 1.00am – I smiled at myself as I knew I was breaking all my own “Rules” but, hey, he was charming… and that “Pommy” Accent…
The Die was Cast.