Posts Tagged ‘Shopping’

‘The Figure For-ummm…What Are You Wearing?’

In The 80's on April 25, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Angie and I drive the twenty-five minutes home to Norwalk. It’s dark by the time we get back, even though it isn’t yet seven pm. The strip mall where Body Design sits is bustling with ‘just got paid’ Friday night shoppers. The parking lot is full, red tail-lights and white exhaust  fumes billowing into the frosty night air.

A turquoise blue neon sign spells out ‘Body Design’ in script, hanging above the front door, sandwiched between ‘Joe’s World Of Golf’ and Jet Variety. One side of the store window, which we surprisingly snag a spot in front of is busy with classic dance related graphics: silhouettes of ballerinas doing plies and pirouettes, wearing tutus and ballet slippers secured to their perfect, pointy feet with silky ribbons wrapped beautifully from their slender ankles to their dainty calves, like vines on a trellis. These dancers are feminine to a tee: tiny, delicate sparrows who have the good grace not to take up space, girls whose every movement emulates a single ripple in still waters, or a chiffon scarf in a summer breeze. Though often quiet, one suspects they spar constantly with swords of discipline, denying themselves the pleasures of food and drink and leisure and fun: I imagine all of them to be impossibly petite and fluent in french. This is the dream being sold on one side of the store

The other side of the store’s floor to ceiling window is why Angie and I – two girls, who take up space, are outspoken, love leisure, eat pizza and drink beer without apology, is the reason we’re here. ‘Our’ side displays posters of fitness models and celebrities, decked out in spandex bodysuits, tights, leg warmers and headbands- in colors spanning beyond the rainbow. The pictures are posted beside Aerobics class schedules and 800 numbers for vitamins and various juice diets ‘that work like magic!’ Sale prices and brands (‘Danskin! 20% Off! Capezio! Just In!’) are written on the glass in neon chalk. The models in the ads have big hair and wear tons of makeup, even as they are seemingly in the midst of working out. Just like we will. 

We enter in a clamor, adjusting coats and purses, the sound of chimes announcing our arrival. We’re  greeted by a saleswoman, an older lady with salt-and-pepper hair,  wearing cat’s-eye shaped glasses- a rhinestone chain attached and a sensible gray wool dress. She’s parked at the register.

“May I help you, girls?” she asks, in a croaky, veteran cigarette smoker voice. I bet there are no wire hangers in here.

“Where are your coolest bodysuits, and stuff to wear at the gym?” asks Angie, animatedly, waving her arms. Some customers glance over at her, the walking commotion. She continues:

“We’re starting at the Figure Forum on Monday night and…” blah blah. I’m sure the woman wanted our whole life story. Thank god we got here when we did, as she’s obviously on the edge of her seat.

I don’t think I’ve ever answered the question “may I help you?”  with any answer other than, “No, thank you.”

I like to be left alone to peruse, and can’t stand anyone hovering, no matter how good their intentions. I have a way of shopping that utilizes a two-second approval/check size/dive for the price tag/ buy or reject/ system that works for me. Angie, on the other hand, volunteers for suggestions, will try on anything-and model it for the rest of the store- modesty be damned!  She’ll also pay top-dollar if she likes something -regardless of the fact that she’s usually broke. Between her parents and siblings she never runs out of people to borrow money from. We’ve been here for less than five minutes and she’s already giving the sales clerk her size, favorite colors, astrological sign and gym membership number. I wonder if she’ll tell her about Mr. New Wave.

“Let’s get Physical!”

I separate from her, and start at the clearance rack, where I quickly see lots of potentially cool body-suits. I zero in on a long sleeved v-neck number, in black and white chevron stripes.  It’s marked down to 16.99, and since it’s my size I grab it. No snaps on the crotch, which means using the bathroom will be an event, but it’s better than the possibility of an ‘un-snap’ during the stretching segment of our group workout. I move on to the tights section, and choose some  black Danskin tights in “Tall’, and go to look at the leg-warmer selection. I find a great pair of black ones, infused with gold sparkly thread that look awesome. 

‘Oooh! Bonus!’

By this time, Angie is in the dressing room, babbling to the saleslady, who stands outside of the door holding a pile of clothes she wants to try on. You can only take five items in at a time, but five is nothing to Ang. I hear the words ‘Talking Heads’ and realize that she has in fact, brought up Mr. New Wave.

When she steps out I am ill prepared for what I see. She has on a purple unitard, with black zebra stripes. She’s added a pair of black high cut work-out briefs over the top of this get-up. She looks like Pat Benatar, only  bigger, with more make-up, and most importantly: not on stage!  I can’t let her get this outfit if I’m to show up in class with her. It’s just too much.

“What do ya think, Chooch?” she yells across the room.

“It’s….okay, I guess!” I say “But, y’know-It’s a work-out place, not a night club!”

I see a teenage girl out of the corner of my eye nudge her friend, and they both look over. Immediate whispering commences. I will admit that a part of me admires Angie’s fashion bravery and unwavering confidence.

The ‘general gist’ 

She’s already sashaying in front of the full length mirror, and lovin’ what she sees.

“Candace? What do you think?” Darla asks. Candace? The saleslady scurries over from where she’s assisting a mother and her two elementary school aged daughters who are buying tutus. She squints her eyes, then lifts her cat glasses, staring steadily at Darla. Please, Candace, please-level with her. Forget the commission and be honest! After a long pause,  she says: “You look fabulous, dear! Let’s ring you up!” 

“…and I’ll sell her ALL the unitards I have in stock, if it comes down to it, Missy!”

We go to the register. My total is $18.00 and change. Darla’s is $64.00. She promises Candace that she’ll be back soon for that “pink one!” I make up my mind then and there not to tell Darla about my brother’s party, lest she wear the ‘tard to the party. This is so underhanded and mean-I secretly feel like the kind of villain who ties someone to the train tracks, but I’m exhausted already from our day at the jail, the Trumbull mall and now this. 


Jailbreak: Part 3

In The 80's on April 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm

We head to the Trumbull Mall. Jess wants to get a new pair of high top Adidas, and I’m going to peruse the record store (another Karl Graf’s) for cassettes and rock mags. I also want to get a new Danskin bodysuit because Darla and I are joining Anne Marie’s Figure Forum Monday night.

 We jam tunes all the way to the mall-and I find myself  stealing quick glances at Jax in the rearview. He’s mouthing the words on point and knows all the tunes, therefore passing my ‘ musical compatibility’ test. (The ‘picking him up from jail’ qualm is totally forgotten. Hotness overrides everything)

When we arrive at the mall, it’s a jam packed Friday afternoon and we prowl the parking lot, looking for a decent space. Against the odds, we find a good one by the front entrance. I pull in and let the car idle, while Darla hands me my coat, which she had stored on the floor in the back (thanks!) so I brush it up and down to rid it of any lint it might have picked up. There’s a St. Pauli Girl bottle cap embedded in one sleeve that ricochets off the dash during the touch up.

Finn was in the market for this model. (Hopefully new)

“Where are we going first?” I ask everyone.  

Jess immediately says “Herman’s for my Adidas!”

“Wild Pair and G.Fox for my boots!” Darla chimes in.

“I don’t even care!” says Jax laughs “I’m just glad to be here!” ‘Here’- means being a free man, I assume.

I finally turn all the way around to look at him, without the added responsibility of driving. Jesus! Looks like Darla called it correctly- he’s such a fox! His eyes are ridiculously blue. I don’t think I’ve ever seen eyes that color before. Siberian Huskies would be envious of his eyes. His hair is dark blonde, with gold highlights. From nature, not frosting. It’s past his shoulders, and hangs softly across the side of his face when he moves, and he keeps pushing it back. He’s wearing a faded jeans jacket, which is not nearly warm enough in this biting February cold- but it’s probably what he was wearing when he got locked up. (I hope to hear about said ‘incident’ soon, and hope the word ‘felony’ isn’t involved. Not that it’s a deal-breaker)

“Maybe I should go to Command  Performance to get my hair cut?” Jax says.

Now, now people!!- let’s not get crazy and rush into anything as rash as a haircut! I  blurt out “Noooooo!” a little too loudly and much too enthusiastically.

All three of them shoot me a look.

“What I mean is- don’t let them mess up your hair- like- you know…sometimes…..it’s just that….” I’m doing a shabby job of back-pedaling. Luckily, Darla comes to my rescue.

“Lisa’s right! You should see what they did to my hair last year. I said, ‘cut off two inches’ and next thing you know I looked like Peter Pan!”

“Well….you can’t really blame Command Performance for that!” laughs Jess. 

“Shut up!” Darla growls. 

“Hey!” I say, while checking the front seat for my essentials: cigarettes, lighter, purse. “Did you ever think Jax might be hungry?”

I figure he’s been living on bread and water for the last however long- he’s been in the ‘Big House’. 

“Y’know? I kinda am!” Jax says, flashing an Ultra-Brite smile. Straight teeth. Bright and clean. Jesus Christ, I’m gonna faint.

“Then let’s go down to the Food Court first!” Jess says. ‘Get slices or something?”

We all nod in agreement. I grab the keys out of the ignition and say “Let’s book!” as Jess and I hop out, then hold up the front seats so Jax and Darla can climb out of the back. Jax asks me why the back doors don’t open, and I explain it’s because ‘they’re broken’. He leans down and peers at the door handle, then  tells me he works on cars, and might be able to fix them. Oh- really?! Then we’re face to face- he’s an or two taller than me, and looks great in his jeans and Nike swoosh sneakers. He could probably fix a lot of ‘things’ for me. har har.

It’s windy and cold, so we move quickly. Jess and Jax walk ahead of us- Darla waits up for me while I’m putting the keys in my purse. When I reach her she locks arms with me, smiling. She puts a gloved hand up to her face and says out of the side of her mouth” ‘Didn’t I tell you he was gorgeous?!’ I look at her with the intention of keeping a straight face, but I can’t and I just burst out laughing.

“Yeah…..okay. I’d have to admit you were right about this one!” 

“Haaa!” Darla yells “He IS A BABE!” loud enough that the guys turn around.

“Shhhh!” I say, giving her the wide-eyed, ‘shut the freak up’ look. Like we’re in fifth grade

“Nothing!” I shout, and motion Jax and Jess to keep going with a sweeping motion of my hands. They continue on.

“Just look at that ass!” says Darla in a muffled voice.

I lightly punch her in the arm, and laugh. A car starts to back out of a space we’re walking by and almost hits us, before slamming on the brakes.

“Heeey!” Darla bellows, pumping her fist in the air. Sometimes her voice comes in handy. Both the car and us completely halt. When we’re sure we’re not going to get plowed down, we scoot by quickly.

“What a stunn-odd” I say, in a fake Italian accent, imitating my father from way back.

“Killers on the road!” sings Darla, singing a snippet from a Doors song . 

Ah, the ambiance of an 80’s Mall!

Once inside the mall, we walk directly to the escalator and head downstairs. We walk down the moving stairs, gliding towards the bottom. No way are we going to just stand there like lummoxes. Only old, lazy and majorly uncool people do that!

The food court is at the bottom. We walk to the pizza place, and order a Budweiser and a slice each. We get carded as usual. We’re all of age, and are put out at being forced to prove it. We take our beers in plastic cups and our slices on paper plates and find a table. Jax pulls out a chair for me, and one for Darla.

“Ladies” he says, indicating the chairs. We’re so flattered we start giggling.

Jess can’t help himself:

“Those are NO ladies!” he says, guffawing. I roll my eyes.

Darla scowls: “Y’know-you should try being nice and polite like that sometime!” shaking her head.

“I will, when I find a lady!” he shoots back.

“Thanks!” I say, in my low, dejected voice.

“Not you!” Jess insists, reaching out and squeezing my shoulder. Jax is looking at all of us like: ‘what’d I do?”

“Just EAT!” Jess commands, and we all bite into our slices.

C’mon kids! Get a good one!

When we’re done, we map out our store-hopping plan, while Darla and I reapply our lipstick. First, the bookstore-B.Daltons. I’m the only one who wants to go there, so I tell them that they have rock magazines, and that I’ll just skim the shelves. (Suckers!) Next, Herman’s for Jess’s sneakers. Karl Graf’s after that. Plus, anywhere that sells dance-wear. We stand up, deposit our empty cups and plates into the trash and start walking towards the bookstore.

Suddenly we hear “Jax! Jax!” in a sing-song voice. A dark haired girl, who looks to be still in high school, comes jogging out of the Fabric Tree, arms spread and heading straight for Jax. She jumps into his arms, they laugh and he’s beaming. Or maybe that’s his normal smile and I’m just vaguely jealous. Awww. They make such a cute couple. (I hate cute couples)

We stand there for a minute, waiting, but Jess isn’t having it.

“Meet us at Herman’s!” he shouts, and Jax gives him the thumbs up, while the girl jumps  around him like a high strung pocketbook dog. When I turn around a minute later, she’s leading him by the hand into her store. What’s she gonna do? Cut him a pattern? Show him some swatches?

 Now that Jax is gone, we can talk about him.

“Well, so much for him!” I say, laying the bait, hoping to get some inside info without seeming too interested. Jess doesn’t even care enough to comment.

“I want to go get my SHOES!” he says as we head towards the bookstore, and I do a sudden U-turn, saying “Oh, for God’s sake- let’s go get those EFFING sneakers, already!” Darla heaves a big sigh in my direction.

“Darla!” I snap,’It’s easier to just get it over with. It’s the only thing that will shut him up. Trust me!” Jess shakes his head up and down, wholeheartedly agreeing and says “That’s my girl!” and smiles sweetly at me.

He has a really nice face.

“You know you love me!” he says, as if reading my mind. Do I? Once again, I roll my eyes and laugh. 

Just get the damn shoes!

We go up the escalator, two steps at a time until we’re blocked by a ‘stander’, who’s old, lazy, and uncool. We find Jess’s sneakers at Herman’s, which cost $55.00 and include an ‘every sneaker in the place’ fashion show by him, at no extra charge. We next go to Wild Pair for Darla, but the only pair she wants are sold out of her size. Jess teases her about her big feet, but Darla points out that a lot of girls wear size 10, otherwise why would they be sold out? We are walking towards Karl Graf’s when we spot Jax heading our way-this time with three different girls, and no sign of the one from downstairs. Talk about a chick magnet (and I don’t play the harem game…too exhausting; impossible to win, my crush slowly begins to deflate)

We stop to ‘chat’. The girls, all dressed as Madonna lite, look Jess up and down, practically licking their lips. Since he loves attention, he automatically cranks his charm to ten, and the five of them are all about it. Meanwhile, Darla and I twiddle our thumbs. It’s a stand-off at Hickory Farms.


Picture three of these. This one’s trying to lure Finn in with her Adidas….

Jax steps to me and says thanks so much for the ride, but he’s going to catch a ride back home with these ‘friends’ of his. I say you’re welcome. He promises to let Jess know when I can bring my car to him so he can fix the locks.  Meanwhile, the three Madonnas work on talking Jess into going with them as well. You’re kidding me, I think. One thing about these girls- they have some pretty big ‘Ciccones’-if you get my drift. It’s beyond eye-rolling.

“Me and Darla are going to Graf’s!” I say, loudly, and we walk away. I have no interest in front row seats to the flirt festival.  I feel like I’ve been dumped, even though I was never picked up in the first place. I can’t believe I’ve been foiled by the mass-market appeal of freakin’ Madonna copycats! That’s so not rock’n’roll.

Luckily, we eye some long-haired babes in the crowd by the record store, which gives us hope- and  a reason to live after all.  


Jailbreak: Part 4

In The 80's on March 31, 2012 at 10:07 am

We head to the record store. We purposely act pre-occupied, as if we couldn’t be bothered. We saunter into the Trumbull Graf’s like it’s an afterthought- perhaps we ‘veered’ in by accident. (The long haired guys are no good up close- they’re ancient. Twenty-seven if they’re a day)

As we walk by the registers, towards the fields of records and cassettes,under banners of rock posters and hanging t-shirts, we sense we’re being checked out, and we know how to play the game. We make no eye contact, as we’re being tracked by at least a few male shoppers in our age group. We pay special attention to our movements, knowing we’re on display. I venture into the vast collection of records, which are divided by musical style, and in alphabetical order. I  head to ‘S’ to check out the Scorpions, and Saxon, just for Starters.

Darla is quickly caught in a web, and within a minute is flipping through the poster display with some guy who looks like the singer in The Cars. He’s wearing a horizontally striped black and white shirt, black jeans and sunglasses fit for the blind. I think he’s an employee. Blondie’s ‘Heart Of Glass’ is just ending, and the Police’s ‘Walking On The Moon’ begins. I can’t stand New Wave music, but I defend to death anyone else’s right to listen to it. Ok- maybe not defend to death, but I’d at least suffer through a slap or two. Maybe. I think.

I love the sight of album cover art in the afternoon…

I flip through the S’s and pull out some older Scorpions albums, mostly to be seen holding them, as I already own all of their stuff.

“Oh MY GOD! LOOK AT THAT ROCKER CHICK!” I hear someone yell loudly.

I look up.  Oh, brother! Literally. It’s my brother, Rob. He’s pointing right at me, and heading in my direction with his two sidekicks, Steven and Paul. He’s spinning his keys around on his index finger because he’s cocky, like he has the world by the tail. He’s wearing his black satin roadie jacket and fingerless driving gloves. His buddies are from the Norwalk High School Bears football team and are wearing their jerseys to prove it.

“What up, Sissie?” he says when we meet halfway. 

“What’s up with you?” I say, my standard response to the ‘what’s up’ question. Let them go first.

“We’re having a little soirée tonight at the Manor! Everyone’s gone till Wednesday!” he says, putting his keys in his jacket pocket and then rubbing his hands together. “You’re coming, right? Bring some beer!”

‘Everyone’ is my Dad, step-mother and two younger brothers. The Manor is our house- the place I used to live, before moving in with my mom. After the very dramatic Rich incident.

“Where are they?” I ask.

“Mount Snow. Brattleboro.”

Ah…skiing in Vermont.

“Well, good thing I saw you!” I say, ‘otherwise I wouldn’t have known” I say, enjoying the opportunity to act slighted.

“Oh, Annie!” he says, imitating my father, who calls me by my middle name “I already called Mom and gave her the message. You’ll see when you get home!” 

“Oh.” Guess I can’t argue with that.

‘Rock Lobster’ starts to play. Darla squeals. I look over to see she’s still full-on flirting with her new friend.  She’s doing a ridiculous dance holding her nose and shimmying up and down, her free hand wiggling in the air above her head.

Darla is one of those people who can be ‘into’ whatever music is trendy at the moment. I’m much more stubborn, and fight trends like they are cheap knock-offs sent from the Universe to annoy the crap out of me personally. Unless, of course- the trend appeals to me, and then I’m all in. I feel I’m more loyal, (and admittedly  superior)  staying true to one ‘scene’ (like I’m somehow more ‘real’) but others sometimes see it as being close minded. Either way- I’m getting tired of being bombarded with New Wave songs. I glance at the record store clerks working the registers, and note they are both wearing skinny ties. The New Wave isn’t going to end anytime soon, and even if it does- these guys wouldn’t play hard rock if you paid them double and put a gun to their heads. 

The Cars? Or C.A.M? (Clerks Against Metal)

“Are you getting anything here?” I ask my brother, ever interested in other people’s record store purchases.

Paul pipes up: “He’s getting the Debby Boone album!” We all laugh.

“I’m getting ‘2112’ actually…” Rob says.

“Whaaat? That’s so old! You already have that!” I say.

“Yeah, but I lost it on cassette, and I wanna listen to it in the car” he says. Rob’s big on steering wheel drumming and Neil Peart is his guy.

“Well….yeah, I always liked that album.” I admit, and then gift them with some tone-deaf ‘singing’: “We’ve been smokin’ Lebanon….” and then pantomime taking a hit off of a joint. Everyone smiles. (The actual lyrics are ‘Wreathed in smoke in Lebanon’ but none of us know that)

“Who are you here with?” my brother asks. I point to Darla.

“Oh, shit!” Rob gasps, “I think it’s time to go!”

Darla and my brother- much like Jess and Darla- have a love/hate relationship. Something about Darla rubs certain guys the wrong way- I don’t know if it’s because she’s loud and outspoken. It’s somewhat perplexing, because she’s an attractive girl, and -not to be weird- she has big boobs. Which seem to be a feature lots of guys approve of in a tunnel-vision kind of way.

“What time tonight?” I ask about the party.

Rob laughs. “We’re picking up a keg from Pathmark Liquor after we leave here- and I don’t know about anyone else- but the party starts then as far as I’m concerned!” 

Rambunctious energy ensues from the left.

“Roooooob! What are YOU doing here?”

Darla plows into our circle like a freight train, and practically topples my brother down while wrapping herself around him. She plants a kiss on his cheek, which Rob immediately wipes away.  He looks frightened. Me, Paul and Steve look at each other with wide eyes as if to say “What the hell?” Darla releases Rob and proceeds to fake-punch Steve and Paul “What are you JOCKS doing in here?!”-as if sports and music don’t mix.

Darla was a concussion risk.


Darla’s all hopped up. She squeezes my arm (ow!) and whispers “Oh my God! I just met such a babe! He asked for my number!” She hugs herself, childlike with giddiness.

My brother stands there, rubbing his arm, and gives me the split second ‘what the hell?’ eyes. I just shrug.

“Welp! we’re gonna get going now!” my brother announces.

“ALREADY?” Darla yells straight into my ear. I wince.

“See ya!’ I say with a quick eye roll and wave.

Rob and his boys walk towards the back of the store, and I confer with Darla as to  where we can go to buy bodysuits for the gym. We decide to go back to Norwalk, and check out Body Designs. I still haven’t decided whether or not I’ll tell Darla about Rob’s party. I might just want to go by myself so I can spend the night and not have to drive anyone home. We leave Graf’s and walk towards the exit. Darla tells me all about Mr. New Wave- his name is Glenn, he’s from East Haven, blah blah. He’s going to call her tonight. They might go see the Talking Heads in concert. To me, it sounds like torture.


The Warning: Part Four

In The 80's on March 12, 2012 at 2:02 pm

We exit the record store- when Finn stops to talk to Jolly Jim, an old, decrepit gambler who hangs out in front of the OTB window, which is diagonally across from the record store. Jolly Jim looks like a mangy Pop-eye….covered in a layer of grime, dirty brown ski parka, ripped dungarees. He’s about 70. He still thinks he’s going to win the big one, and who knows? Maybe he will. When he laughs, (inappropriately loud) you can’t help noticing  that most of his teeth are gone, and that his breath is at least 80 proof. Finn gives him a high five along with a dollar, and tells him ‘That’s for the Wheels bus, Jolly. Don’t you go buying beer with it!” Jolly gives us the thumbs up and an exaggerated wink,his chin jutting out and mouth falling in like the Man in The Moon. We wave good-bye and walk towards the King Liquor store, where our friend Tom works, to pick up some beer. On the way, I point out to Jess that if anyone really needs a drink, it’s got to be the lost souls like Jolly Jim and why do people give a shit what a poor, homeless person buys with your measly single dollars and loose change?

Tom’s working the register when we walk in, bagging up the Saturday afternoon liquor booty for a small line of customers. There’s a huge tower of Budweiser six packs stacked in the middle of the store with a giant sign that reads ‘Budweiser. $2.29!! Stock Up!!’ “We should just do beer tonight” I say, and Finn agrees. Enough with the ‘fancy’ mixes and crazy concoctions. Tonight it’s back to (cheaper) basics. We each pick a six pack off the Tower O’Bud, hoping the whole thing doesn’t topple like some bizarre beer can Jenga.  We then head to the back of the line and wait for our turn to pay. The line moves quickly-and soon we’re face-to-face with Tom. Tom hangs out with my brother Rob. He’s always using big words that none of us understand. Not normal words (as a voracious reader, I’m quite literate) but rather, the kind of words you’d see on a “Word-A-Day’ calendar, or that might be used by a snobby old man with an english accent and a monocle. For instance,  if Finn said he was still looking for a band to play with, Tom might say: “Oh, how I admire your juvenescence!” to which Finn will say: ‘Thanks!’ Or if I’m wearing a ton of jewelry he might say “Madame-let me see your hand, for I am a master of dactylology!”. Or, upon looking for a new apartment because he can’t stand living with his brother anymore might lament: “Oh, I must find a place soon, I simply cannot live much longer around such lestobiosis!”. When I first met Tom (whose brother happens to be the one and only Trey-my ‘gang’ buddy from middle school-good old Nathan Hale, the Junior Jail!) I would pretend to know what he was saying, and if I could even remember the word- I’d look it up afterwards. But now-a couple of years in, I just sigh and say flatly: “OK…what does that one mean?” rolling my eyes. I finally realized that no one knows what he’s saying, so I’m not playing anymore, but I don’t mind learning new words-even though most of them don’t stick, and are never heard from again for that matter. 

“What’s crackin?” Tom asks, grabbing a bag and lifting a six pack, giving it the once over. “The usual” “Not much”…..Tom rings up one of the six packs, but puts both in the brown paper bag. “Hey! You don’t have to-” I say, but Tom just laughs. “Have a drink on me!” he says.”Libations!” I say with gusto , an attempt at impressing him. “Ah! And you, Miss- must then be my God!” he answers. Huh? We bid him good-bye and head towards the door. As we’re walking out  we hear ‘Heads Up!’ and  turn around. I throw my hands up and catch a mini bottle of Absolut. ‘THANKS!” I yell, grinning back at Tom. I hand the small bottle to Finn who throws it in the bag. “What was that all about?” asks Finn as we stroll towards the mall exit. “Ummm- do we ever know?” I answer. “Maybe he’s getting religious?” guesses Finn. I shrug my shoulders. “Could be.”

We walk through the Mall doors, and are assaulted by the glare of the sun off of the snow. Plus it’s freezing. The wind is doing awkward things to my hair. I’m pulling it out of my eyes and mouth. Finn straightens his posture and does a weird scissor-leg fast walk towards the car. Good luck getting in when I have the keys, pal. He’s holding the bag of beer and turning in circles outside the passenger side door when I catch up to him. “Come ON!” he yells, teeth chattering “I’m dyin out here!” I pop my driver’s door lock open, jump in, lean across and pop Finn’s. He throws the beer bag in the back with a big thud and slams his door shut, as I’m starting the car. Power on, heat blasting. We put our hands up to the vents for some straight- on warmth. “I’m so fucking sick of the winter!” Finn says. Me too. It’s only January, albeit the end of. I rock the Scorpions, turning up ‘Lovedrive’ as we navigate the busy parking lot. The biggest decision we face is where we’re going to go tonight. When it comes to committing to a particular bar or activity on a Saturday night-, you have no idea the pressure!  It comes from all sides: Who drives. Who’s playing? How much is the cover charge? What to wear. Who comes with. It’s a whole thing!

Where should we go tonight? What a dilemma!

“Hey-don’t you have next Friday off?” Finn asks. As a matter of fact I do! (Yesss! High Five!) The Tennis Club is closed for renovations.

“Ok-listen….I need you to drive me somewhere. To pick up a friend of mine” he says.

Finn has a license, but still no car. It’s an issue. He always give me gas money though- enough that I rarely complain.

“Where?” I ask.

“Bridgeport” he says.

“Really? Who do you know there?” I ask.

 Finn looks at me sheepishly. I know him like the back of my hand. I squint my eyes in suspicion.

“WHAT?!” I ask. “Why are you looking at me like that?!..Oh, man, what?”

 Finn starts laughing. Then he clears his throat and  pulls an earnest expression across his face, wide-eyed and solemn.

“OK-but don’t freak. I have this friend .We have to go get him from jail.”

“Oh, jesus!” I say “that is soooo lame! I don’t want to go to a jail! And pick up a prisoner!” I yell. What do I look like over here?

“I’ll give you fifteen dollars for gas and pay for the new import tapes next week!” Finn says, sweetening the pot. I’m so easily bought!

“Do we have to go inside?” I ask.

“Hell no!”….

“Ohhhh……….Okay…What time do we have to be there?” I say.  Something tells me this isn’t a wise idea, but I rarely listen to my own advice. Even when it sounds really loud- like a warning.


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