February 1, 2005

Happy Birthday Shelly Peterson!

DMG and Shelly PetersonHappy Birthday to Shelly (Bernardini) Peterson, one of my best and very dearest friends! This picture of Shelly and I was taken in 2003.

I've known Shelly since my first year as a journalism teacher at the Academy of Our Lady Peace, 1980-81, which was her senior year at the school. When I started there, the journalism class met during the first period of the day in a room that was occupied by the yearbook class during the day's second period. Shelly was on the yearbook staff, so she'd be arriving for her class about the time I was leaving, which is how we met.

I eventually moved the journalism class to the typing room, as it was tough to create a newspaper without typewriters in those pre-computer years. I had chosen Mike Rodriguez to be my editor-in-chief that first year, and he and Shelly were friends who had gone to St. Didacus Elementary School together (which also is my alma mater). Shelly started visiting Mike before school in our new classroom, so I often arrived to find her sitting at my desk, which I'd have to shoo her away from so I could sit down!

A bit of a precocious sort, Shelly went to her senior prom (where I was a chaperon, wearing a tie for one of the last times in my life) with a somewhat older man, a friend of mine named Chuck Martinez, who I'd met in 1974 when he played Professor Harold Hill in "The Music Man," Tom Rusch's first big summer musical for Covenant Ark Theatre.

About a year after Shelly graduated, she got an apartment with Lori Ludwick, who had been one of my students when I also became the yearbook adviser during my second year at OLP. That caused me to bump into Shelly from time to time, and I always had fun talking with her. Gradually we became friends.

In 1984 Shelly married Pete Peterson, and she and I settled into just trading Christmas cards for the next dozen years or so. I've always looked forward to receiving hers, which usually is one of the first I'll get each year and often includes pictures of their family of Boston Terriers, hamsters, birds, lizards, rats and assorted other wildlife. The envelopes generally also are full of little glittery things that fall out all over me when I open them!

During the last 7 or 8 years, Shelly started inviting me to hang out once in a while, usually when Pete was busy or wasn't interested in what she wanted to do. We've had a bunch of adventures together since then, including a fun trip to Los Angeles last November. Shelly needed to go to Culver City to take a test to see if she could get on the "Jeopardy!" TV show, and she asked me to go along to keep her company on the train/rental car trip there and back. I wrote about that journey here.

Last year we also went to see "Neverland" with tickets Shelly had won, and she took me to the San Diego Symphony's performance of "Handel's Messiah" for my birthday and to thank me for going to LA with her. I also went with her to a Learning Annex holiday party in December that most likely was the worst party I've ever been to in my life, although we did get to stand in line for some tiny slices of pizza behind 64-year-old Dave Cummings, who calls himself "the oldest active male porn star" and does a seminar about producing your own adult films! Yay!

Happy Birthday Shelly! Life around you is seldom dull, and I hope we will be friends for a long, long time! By the way, I'd like to go on record as saying I thought you were great as an actor and singer in OLP's "Spring Sing" your senior year, and I've always wished that I could have seen you act again!

Posted at 11:00 AM in Birthdays, DMG's Friends