I shuffled through the milk crates stuffed with LPs. My knickers chafed uncomfortably, spurred by the hot sweatiness of the St. Mary’s gymnasium. Wet slicked down my back as I pulled out Supertramp’s album. The one with “Goodbye Stranger.”
I planned my outfit with him in mind. We had the same last name and sat next to each other in most classes, sandwiched between Bill Andre and someone else whose name I’ve since forgotten.
One day in the 6th grade, he told me how he’d “almost asked me out,” then didn’t continue, and I wondered why.
Now, we were in 7th grade. I’d come to the dance with my best friend and I could barely see her outline in the humidity hovering in the air. I squinted uncomfortably at Supertramp. I didn’t like them so much as I liked the song title. I’d be content to sit here in the dark and read the titles all night. Finding my beauty in the shadows. I handed the album to the DJ and he promised to get to it soon.
I stood in the corner and watched my namesake’s blue courdorouys sway to the beat. A tortoiseshell comb poked out of his back pocket and his Docksiders slapped in time to the music. His eyes caught some stray light and twinkled, then darkened again.
He looked at me briefly, and I quickly looked down, shoving my glasses back up my sweaty nose.
Then: “Do you want to dance?” He stood right in front of me.
I stared for a minute, not quite convinced he was talking to me. His longtime girlfriend (her last name started with a “B”) lurked nearby.
“Sure,” I quietly hyperventilated. Then, I didn’t know what to do next.
“Goodbye, Stranger” began to play and I couldn’t look him in the eye. I put my hands on both his shoulders and tried to move to the music. He put his head down, looking at me below my bangs, trying to catch my attention, but I kept my eyes trained downward, too embarrassed to look up.
“Goodbye, stranger, it’s been nice
Hope you find your paradise
Tried to see your point of view
Hope your dreams will all come true,”
The music stopped, and I breathed, “hope your dreams all come truuuuue.”
He paused a moment, then chuffed me on the shoulder and said, “You’re a nut.”
He never did ask me out.