In case you haven’t noticed, I’m horrible at naming blog posts. I suppose this will have to serve, for a post on nostalgia and missing someone.
Once upon a time, in the 90s (I marvel that some people reading this weren’t even alive back then–where does time go? It’s a mystery.), I decided to take the most challenging college course. Not because of content, you see. But because it was at 9am on a Saturday morning. Yes, you heard me. Saturday. Morning. When sane people are asleep.
It didn’t fill a requirement, it was actually a class for non-traditional students, and I was, like, nineteen (no, I actually was nineteen, it just sounds less committal to say ‘like’), so while I was in my senior year of university, I was hardly traditional. But it fit my interests, and I really, really wanted to take it.
So despite the inevitable sleep deprivation, I registered for Warren Scheideman’s Sherlock Holmes class.
I already spent far too much of my meager student pay checks on pastiches and questionably legal VHS tapes from Ebay, the only place you could get that stuff before Amazon. I’d read all the stories eleven fold, and I was ready for the hardest, easiest class I had ever signed up for.
I’m sure a lot of people knew Warren. He was a BSI member (Count Von und Zu Grabenstein) for many years and traveled in wide academic and Sherlock Holmes circles. It was easy to love his class. He was interesting to listen to, and never talked down to any of us. A handful of us would stay after class and just talk to him about Sherlock Holmes and life. Sometimes the conversations were an hour. More often, they ran into the five to seven hour category. One time I think someone had sandwiches delivered.
But that’s the kind of guy Warren was. He wouldn’t turn anyone away if the conversation was good, and always let things wind down to their natural conclusion.
I ended up taking his Shakespeare class the subsequent semester, then doing an independent study the semester after that, where I researched and wrote a Sherlock Holmes pastiche. It’s still unpublished, sitting in a drawer on fading laser printer paper. But I’m proud of it. I think I’m proud of it mostly because he was proud of it. And his opinion meant a lot to me.
I went to the Theatre School at DePaul University, where I never quite fit in. I think my brain was just slightly out of synch with everyone else there, for good or for worse. I also spent most of my time alone. I didn’t have any friends, just a few acquaintances that didn’t avoid me instantly. So really, Warren’s kindness, and dare I say, friendship, meant a lot to me. He listened to me, he took me seriously. He wasn’t waiting until I was finished speaking to explain to me just why I was wrong. In fact, he made me feel kinda smart. Yeah, I was graduating university at 20, managing to do it in only three years, and I still felt stupid. Warren made me feel like I might actually be a competent human being.
So I miss him. One time I was back in Chicago visiting, and I did try to ring him up, but got his office voice mail. I was too chickenshit to leave a message. Would it be creepy and weird to talk to him or visit him again, after graduating? I didn’t know. I’ve been far too socially awkward all of my life to be able to properly tell. But I regret it. All the other times I made it to Chicago, it was over the Thanksgiving break… and then he passed away in 2011.
I dedicated The Twisted Blackmailer, my published pastiche from MX Publishing to him (and a few others), but I still feel like that doesn’t make it entirely right, somehow. I do wish he could have seen it. Even though it’s a gender-swapped AU that takes place in a high school in America, I am pretty sure he’d have found things to like. And we’d have spent a whole Saturday discussing the canon parallels between the book and the ACD Sherlock Holmes stories. And I’d walk away feeling like I’d done good. Like I was clever and competent. His smile could do that.
If you’re out there, somewhere, Warren, hey. This one’s for you. Thank you so much.
With deepest, humblest admiration,
Tammy Garrison is the author of The Twisted Blackmailer – Watson and Holmes Book 1 – the first in a new Sherlock Holmes YA series available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Book Depository (free worldwide shipping) & Kindle