Monday, June 06, 2005

It's LOVE Monday, according to Mrtl's Motif Madness .

Boxing Day, 1987

"Amy, can you come in to work today for a couple of hours to make popcorn? We need to prep for the WWF tomorrow."

I say yes. I take the Upper James bus downtown to Copps Coliseum, the arena where I have been working part time for five months.

The place feels so empty the day before an event. There are little pockets of life that catch your eye: someone sweeping in the stands, another person wiping the escalator rail, another person pushing a dolly with big cardboard boxes. I take the elevator to the concourse level. I round the corner of this huge place and I can smell the popcorn before I see the lighted plexiglass rectangle with steam coming out of the popper above it.

There is a guy in there. I know of him. A few of the girls I work with think he is cute.

He is not my type. Even though, at 17, I don't even have a type. I myself am an interesting but awkward hybrid. I wear saddle shoes from the Bass outlet, with a preppy ducky yellow raincoat. But I shop at thrift stores and adore both charming, ancient sweaters and hippie skirts. I like The Cure, but I love Mel Torme.

This guy. Is A Rocker. He wears tight Levi's and fake Converse high tops. He has long layered hair halfway to his waist. He is skinny. His name is Jay.

"Hey," I say, watching him pour a coffee cup of coconut oil into the top of the popper. "Is the oil pump thing broken?"

He looks up, smiles. "Hey." "Yeah. You gotta pour it in like this every time." He shrugs. "What are ya gonna do, eh?"

I enter the stand, take off my army purse and put it on the counter. There are bags and bags of popcorn. The floor is greasy with oil. The air smells like fake butter.

"You're Amy, right?"

"Yep." I am casual. He looks me up and down. I am wearing my sister's boyfriends navy turtleneck sweater, my sister's black Edwin jeans, and a leather belt. I wait for him to talk.

"I'm Jay. I guess we are making popcorn together today."

We get to work. I bag the popcorn with a big metal scoop. He holds the clear plastic bag open for me. We shoot the breeze. He goes to John A. (Rocker school down the street from Copps.) He has a sister and they live with his mom. He has already been promoted to Stand Manager, though he started at the same time as me.

At one point he takes the elastic band from his wrist and puts his hair back in a low ponytail. He has a nice face.

The coconut oil is solid and yellow and we have to melt it. He does this, with a heated metal bar contraption. I can tell his fingers are getting burned almost every time. He says nothing about it. I say, "Let me do that for a bit."

"Nah," he says. "It's friggin heavy."

We talk about the place, our bosses. I laugh when he describes Bruce, the head guy, walking down the concourse like a big shot. "All you gotta do, when that guy comes by," he says, "Is grab a J cloth and start wiping the counter. Then he just walks by. If you are standing around, he gets pissed off and yells at you."

"Good to know." I say. He is not my type. But I am enjoying this long haired guy, with his light green henley top tucked into his jeans. He has a great butt. He has warm brown eyes. A nice mouth. We work for a couple of hours, then take a break.

He plugs in one of the pop machines. The top lights up, and it hums. "What's your poison?" He asks me, unaware that he quotes Emilio from The Breakfast Club.

"Sprite's good." I say. We get our pops and some nacho chips out of a big box. We climb up on the counter in the stand and sit there, not talking, just sipping our pops and eating the nacho chips.

"Better get back to work," he says. "Lots more popcorn to make."

And so we work. And talk. And the bags of popcorn pile up across the counters, and line up in front of the stand.

This Jay has these beautiful hands. And this long thumbnail. I point to it. "What's the deal with the nail?" I say.

"Oh," he says, looking at it, scraping a popcorn kernel out from under it. "I play guitar."

I nod like I know how a long thumbnail and a guitar are connected.

He tells me about his guitar. It is a pink flying V, Ibanez, sort of like what Steve Vai plays. I nod like I know who Steve Vai is. He talks about the guitar players he likes. He tells me about Randy Rhoads, and Jake E. Lee, and Vito Bratta.

I tell him about Drum Corps, and being on student council, and how I always wanted to take dancing lessons my whole life, so when I got my job at Copps the first thing I did when I cashed my first paycheque was walk into a dance studio and sign up for tap, jazz, and ballet.

We make enough popcorn to feed ten thousand wrestling fans. Then we clean up. My saddle shoes are covered in coconut oil. I have smears of yellow popcorn salt on my sister's jeans. My hair is tied up at the back with a twist tie. We walk down the concourse together, to sign out at the office. Kim, one of our bosses, asks Jay to stay for another half hour to deliver some CO2 canisters. He says yes. He looks at me.

"Thanks for making popcorn with me." He smiles.

"No problem." I say. I turn to leave, wondering if he is checking out my butt.

I go home, sitting on the bus, swaying from side to side because I am tired. And I think about him.


PS. Fast forward almost 18 years. That same guy just walked in the door from night class. I gotta go see how his day went. Night night.


At 10:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a tale! You had me there in the stands - watching this awkward teenage love thing starting to bud! Very cool! Ang

At 11:25 PM, Blogger Bente said...

Great story. You've got one good memory there!

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Jason Silver said...

How romantic!! Ugh! I'm all shivers and tears.

At 12:42 PM, Blogger Brian said...

Hey, you forgot about the ultra-cool distribution guy that delivered the oil, salt and kernels that were used to make the popcorn that created the opportunity for love to bloom.


At 1:18 PM, Blogger KC said...

Awwww - that is sooo cute. Wow, the high school sweetheart thing works out sometimes. Amazing.

At 4:27 PM, Blogger LadyBug said...

What a lovely story, Amy. You told it so well. Such vivid imagery. Just beautiful.

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Candace said...

I adore the ending. Truly.

At 7:01 PM, Blogger Annejelynn said...

#1 - I love this...I like The Cure, but I love Mel Torme.
#2 - you are soooo Canadian - "paycheque"

#3 you gotta post a picture of your man from 18 years ago - he'll let you? won't he? ask him! DEMAND! DO IT!

At 10:15 PM, Anonymous kalki said...

Wow, Amy. Just wow. That was SO well-written. So engaging. So real.
(And geez, I SO sound like the English teacher I used to be.)

Well done. I loved this.

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Spurious Plum said...

Aw! How do you remember all these details?

I love a good story where the girl gets the guy with the rockin'-ass.

At 6:29 PM, Blogger mrtl said...

Haha! I caught the foreshadowing. You know it's true love and that you're going to spend the rest of your lives together when you said he had a cute butt.

Wonderful story, but missing the hitch. How did you hook up?? huh huh huh?

At 9:22 PM, Blogger jennifer said...

sweet jesus that was good amy!
hey, still got my edwin's - god those jeans were involved in much romance back in '87...

At 11:33 PM, Blogger Amy said...

Ang- thanks! It was quite the rush being there again in my head!

Bente-yeah, it's a sickness with me, remembering every little thing.

jason-it IS kinda mantic, ain't it?

Brian- right! You and the clipboard and flatbed! VEry cool!

KC- yeah, i guess it did, but like all rel'ships, there was/are/will be ups and downs, of course! Now THOSE are some stories!

Ladybug-Thanks! I write so much better at NIGHT. When kids are SLEEPING.

Misfit- yeah, it kinda freaks me out sometimes that that guy and the guy who walks in the door every night in his workboots are THE SAME GUY.

Annejelynn- I am looking for it, baby. You'll be the first to know when I find it.

Kalki- Thanks very much! coming from an English teacher, I am very flattered!

Plum- like I told Bente, it is crazy how I remember the littlest things. And because noone remembers like me, I get to be right!

Mrtl- He called me a few days later, and I was into a movie, and I was like, "Jay? Jay who?"
Then I was like, "Oh! HI!" And then there was a whole bunch of events that happened that eventually brought us together, including his ex girlfriend chasing me down the street with a paring knife.....

Jean-Claude! What? You still have them? That is AWESOME. Did you notice that I didn't write that I wore Terry's coin necklace too, it looked so good with that turtleneck!

At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the "p.s." made me start crying.

At 9:45 PM, Blogger Mainline Mom said...

So cute! You have inspired a post in me I think.


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