Remembering my friend Jody Nagel (1960-2021) with a goofy story which also involved Vaughn Bryner:
Vaughn and I were students in Jody’s Finale Notation program class for grad students at Ball State University the semester I was pregnant with my twins, Emily and Arin. Jody had a pretty short fuse with students in the class who struggled to navigate the program and would repeat phrases with increasing intensity like “Just click that!” or “What are you waiting for? Click it now!” or “NOOO!!! Don’t do that!!!”
I was very much “great” with children. Everyone in the department knew about my condition, and even if they hadn’t been told — it was obvious! I could barely move! One day, during the 8th month of my pregnancy, I pulled Jody aside (Vaughn was with me) and informed him that his escalating negative vibe might necessitate my leaving class from time to time because my doctor told me to avoid stress. Jody was a dear friend, so I knew he would not take offense. He looked very concerned and said, “Oh my goodness, Debra — have you been ill or something?” I was speechless, so Vaughn interjected (while pointing to my medicine ball-sized belly) “Well… she’s pregnant… with twins.”
Jody looked down at my stomach in shock and said, “What? Really? Oh my God!” and proceeded to congratulate me many times. He also reminded me that his wife just had a baby the previous summer. I asked him, “So, when did YOU find out about it?”
Of course, I teased him incessantly about the incident forever after. I still laugh at the fact that he saw me every day, not just in class, but we spoke often in his office, out in the hallway, or over lunch, and somehow it never dawned on him that I was extremely pregnant. He was the quintessential absent-minded, oblivious genius composer-professor. It was an endearing quality that I remember fondly.
Rest in peace, brilliant friend. I’ll see you on the flip side.
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