Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sorry 'Bout That! - You Owe Me One part 4

The magnificent obsession continues..

On an afternoon when I was graced with a concurrent work shift alongside Susan, we stood engaged in the endless task of folding , or more aptly, refolding clothes carelessly flung back onto the display tables.

She had mentioned she wanted to replace her stereo. That was a subject I considered myself to possess expertise. We talked and folded and Susan's attention wandered to the song playing over the loudspeakers, courtesy of the campus radio station, KLA. I paid attention, too, since she was so interested in it.

"That's my song," she declared.

I waited for her to say more, but she didn't. She continued to listen so I continued to listen, too. A look of disgust had replaced her normally pleasant demeanor.

She noticed me staring at her. "It's.. that's my song," she shrugged. She didn't seem like she was going to offer anything more so I dropped it.

I was quite familiar with the song already, being that it was near the top of the charts and I owned the album. It was Elton John singing Someone Saved My Life Tonight. I continued folding, alternating between looking up at her and looking down at the poor misshapen fabrics scattered on the table. The look of disgust was gone; instead was a blank expression of one performing a mindless task, which certainly fit what we were doing.

The song finished and another began. We kept folding and started talking again. Somehow I managed to work in an impression of Grace Hutt, our floor supervisor, which made her laugh. I was pretty good at impressions.

"You always make me laugh." Her gorgeous smile was back.

"You okay?" I asked.

"Yes, thanks. I'm okay."

The first thing I did when I got home that day was take the record out of its jacket, put it on the turntable and give a listen to the song. The melody I knew but I'd never given a careful listen to the lyrics. All I could really hear above the din in the student store was the refrain at the end, over and over, "Someone saved, someone saved, someone saved my life tonight.." I had wondered who she was talking about and what she was talking about, and I had no clue.

I pulled out the lyric sheet and followed along with the album. It was the chorus that got my attention:
Someone saved my life tonight, sugar bear
You almost had your hooks in me, didn't you dear
You nearly had me roped and tied
Altar bound, hypnotized,
Sweet freedom whispered in my ear,
You're a butterfly, and butterflies are free to fly
Fly away
High away, bye bye...
I think I've got it, I thought to myself. I hope I've got it.

My suspicions were confirmed and my hope validated from nosing around with a co-worker the next day. Susan had a boyfriend; they had broken up.

Now, was the path clear? The last obstacle removed? You might well wonder why hadn't I just asked her out plain and simple a lot earlier if I felt that way about her. That's a fair question. It certainly was possible. But not for me. I was far too nervous and shy to do something that direct. Even though everything seemed to click, even though it was way easy for us to talk and joke about things.

Instead, I had to wait for the perfect moment. And that perfect moment was revealed to me when the next week's work schedule was posted. Wednesday evening, three people scheduled to work until the 9:00 closing hour: Susan, Oscar and me.

That would be it, the perfect opportunity. The store was normally deserted after 7 or 7:30; it would be just the three of us and Oscar didn't count. He was generally oblivious and I expected he'd be out of the way mentally if not physically, so essentially it would be just Susan and me.

Like I said, Oscar was a nice guy, but he was weird. His real name wasn't even Oscar. It was Harris. He told me that once. I asked, "You mean you prefer to be called Oscar?" Harris was an odd name too, and he looked nothing like a Harry, but Oscar? I guess the name fit, though. I always thought Oscar was an awkward name. He excelled at awkward conversations with everyone in the store.

The week ended, the new one began, and Wednesday rolled around. As scheduled, it was the three of us manning the Sportswear department and as I had expected, the employees vastly outnumbered the customers once it got past seven o'clock. Also as expected, Oscar was grazing up and down the aisles which left Susan and me alone so we could engage in more conversation.

And we did.

(oops, this is getting too long, I'll continue tomorrow)

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