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Courtesy of Special Collections

Reflections by Marmalade by Andy Hershberger

Andy Hershberger is a chiropractic and physical therapy provider in Baltimore.

During a spiritual migraine, I got Facebook messaged about this 50th anniversary Retriever/UMBC thing. Someone was interested in my pitching 500 words of anything and submitting it. I was touched, after all these years, someone remembers me. Then I thought: everybody I worked with at the “Bark R” – as it was never called – is gainfully employed and someone knew of my current “he has a tremendous amount of free time” non-skills.

Doesn’t matter. I can attempt to write about anything, who couldn’t. Included in the message was a line, “Reflection pieces on your time at UMBC.” Reflections! Ugh! That word makes me think of new age shops with greeting cards that read, “There were two sets of footprints in the sand, then there was one, cause when you started talking about your past, I bailed.”

And it reminded me, as a male music enthusiast who collects “oldies” of that 1969 Marmalade song, “Reflections of my Life.” You probably don’t know it, it goes: “The changing of sunlight to moonlight/Reflections of my life/Oh how they fill my eyes”. Argh! Those post-Altamont 60s/early 70s, one big collective suicide posture.

Reflections, did I have any? Since UMBC is 50, it probably can relate to my memory lapses. But I recall having a presence where even though I didn’t fraternize with the staff much “off the clock” my image had somehow implanted itself in other people’s memories of fun things they did.

I had nothing, so I called an old acquaintance to see if they might help with reflections.

“Why don’t you take an impotent middle-age shit all over younger generations. Make a feeble insult. Call them Generation S-U-X.”

“I’m shooting for reflections, not unchecked vitriol.”

“Reflections?! Instant boredom! Just add talking!”

“Yeah, I’ll just write 500 words of non sequitur one-liners.”

“Please don’t. Instead, Embellish! Exaggerate! Lie! Tell everybody that you were doing ad copy and there was a job listing for balloon animal “artists”, no age requirement, no experience necessary. You listed it as: Blow jobs for everybody!”

“Didn’t happen. But I did wreck my car and wound up sleeping on The Retriever office couch and lost 15 pounds from malnourishment. I was so skeleton skinny they called me “the cow.”

“OK, either you’re a moron or terrible with gallows puns. Say you wrote an ad, “Free Porn Mags! Lost hands in shark attack, call now.”

“I didn’t do ad copy. I wrote music reviews & the Happy Horoscope.”

“Then write about living in your parent’s basement and getting irate at Rolling Stone Magazine top ten lists.”

“No, I think I’m just going to choke, just quote a bunch of line from “Reflections of my life” like:

“Oh my sorrows/Sad Tomorrows/Take me back to my own home”

“Great, if they do decide to publish you, remind me not to pick up a copy.”