Thursday, 19 September 2013

Bruce Hornsby and the Range: Soundtrack of my high school love life

Bruce Hornsby and the Range provided the soundtrack for my love life in Grade 12. There were two moments, one in the fall and one in the spring, that were pivotal and Bruce was right there on the radio each time.

First date
Although elsewhere I described my first date, that was the first time I actually asked a girl out, she said yes, and we did something together. My first actual date was a lot more convoluted of a story.

You see I had mooned over this girl all through Grade 11. During that time, I lost a bet with some friends, which forced me to ask her out. I did, but made out like it was all a big joke. Well, I kept mooning after her that summer, and into Grade 12. We ended up bench partners in a class and became close. One day I asked her if she would have said yes, and she said she would have. So we set a date.

At about the same time Bruce Hornsby and the Range released their debut single “The Way It Is” and album of the same name. One day I was humming the song in class and she took to calling it “Get a job” after one of the more pointed lyrics.

Well, Saturday night arrived and I was so excited. I got dressed and drove to her house, which was on the edge of my hometown. She invited me in to meet her mom and that went really well. She asked about Thanksgiving, and I told her about my family and what we did to celebrate. We headed to Lethbridge, where we took in a movie – “Heartbreak Ridge” with Clint Eastwood. At one point he was putting some camouflage paint on his face.

“Should I do my makeup like that?” she asked, and we both laughed, much to the chagrin of the people around us.

Afterwards, we had supper at Boston Pizza, where we had brutal service. She actually filled out the comment card at the bottom of our bill, noting it wouldn’t hurt the waitress to smile at least once. The manager was at the till when I paid the bill. He noticed the comments and said he’d follow up. He also showed me the correct way to hold the pizza box – straight up and not sideways like a binder – so the cheese would not run on the leftover pizza.

On the way back to Coaldale we stopped to watch the stars by the CJOC radio tower, then I took her home.

While we were driving that night, she turned to me and said she had been listening to “Casey Kasem’s Coast to Coast Countdown” on the radio while she was vacuuming the house.

“You know what was number one this week?” she asked.

I actually knew, but shrugged.

“Get a job.”

Shot down
That did not work out in the end for close to a thousand reasons. By second semester, I had taken an interest in another girl, a Grade 11er who sat in front of me in biology. I told my best friend Chris Vining who, as always, encouraged me to ask her out.

I hummed and hawed, eventually deciding to do it at the end of the week. It was Wednesday at that point.

Then, I thought what the heck, and walked down the hall of the second floor of Kate Andrews High School where she was standing in front of her locker.

“I was wondering if you wanted to go out some time?” I was even surprised with my courage.

She paused and smiled.

“If you mean in a group of people, like my cousins that would be great – but not like a date or anything.”

Surprisingly I was not destroyed, although I really had no response other than, “Thanks. See you around.”

Me and Vining worked at this greenhouse after school, and I immediately found him in this big shop we often worked in.

He had no idea what had happened.

“So, I asked her,” I said.

“When do you plan on doing that?” he replied. He hadn’t heard me correctly.

“No, I just asked her.”

He turned and gave me his full attention now.

“What did she say?”

“The answer – is – no.”

His response was classic Vining, and just what I needed to hear.

“Aww, f--- that!”

We often had a radio playing and, shortly after I started shovelling soil, “Mandolin Rain”, the second single off “The Way It Is” started playing.

“Listen to the tears roll, down my face as she turns to go,” were the exact words I focused in on.

You can’t make this stuff up.

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