Late Summer, 1986 “Cruel Summer” “Has anyone checked the mail today?” Mayson yelled out the patio door over the whine of the lawn mower her…
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Spring, 1986 – Part II
“Something About You”
“Class, today we are going to take a moment to read and discuss the recent events at the Chernobyl nuclear facility in Pripyat, Russia”, Mrs. Halsey announced to her morning Civics class. Mayson and Ainsley were halfway through the latest issue of Seventeen and in typical teenage fashion, the last thing on their mind was an incident at a facility thousands of miles away. A stern look from Mrs. Halsey told them all they needed to know so Ainsley put the magazine away – lunch was two periods away and they would revisit it then.
Mayson was thankful that their desks were in the row next to the one window in the classroom as it afforded her a lovely view of the school’s main parking lot. This afforded an escape from having to listen to classmates drone on about all the fun they had over the weekend, none of which sounded even remotely fun to her. Usually this was as unexciting as it sounds, but today was different. She heard the familiar crunch of gravel under tires and looked out to find a red sports car whipping into a park. Nice ride, she thought to herself, but who in the world is this? No sooner had she had the thought, a familiar young man stepped out of the car. Familiar, but now clothed in a nice suit and tie which somehow made this already attractive person even more ridiculously attractive. Mayson audibly gasped, which caused Ainsley to turn and look at her with wide eyes as well as the rest of her class. Mayson felt her cheeks heat up and she gave her best friend the ‘we will need to talk ASAP’ look.
“Hmm…what’s Greg doing here?” Rhoda, seated behind Mayson, casually asked aloud because by this time everyone was more interested in the stranger in a strange car here than a nuclear meltdown halfway around the world.
Mayson briefly lost her mind and whipped her head around. “Wait, you know Greg? How?” she asked Rhoda incredulously.
“Oh yeah, he and my dad have played in a band together. He fills in for their drummer sometimes”, Rhoda casually offered, then asked, “So how do you know Greg?” with one eyebrow raised in humorous suspicion. Mayson felt her face continue to flush and grow hotter.
“I…I don’t know him know him, I just met him at Davis’ – he sold me my white sticks I used at our spring concert”, Mayson offered distractedly, stumbling over her words and hopeful she was not showing her true feelings in her answer. Now her mind was racing a thousand miles per minute…What is he doing here? Wait…did he really take my mother up on her suggestion? Stay cool Mays, don’t be suspicious. I’m sure there is a reasonable explanation for why one of the cutest guys you have ever laid eyes on or talked to is now at your high school. Perfectly reasonable explanation…
“Oh yeah, right right…I remember those. Sweet sticks!” Rhoda said, thankfully not seeming to notice her awkwardness and going back to the article they were supposed to be reading but was now completely forgotten about by Mayson.
Her heart did a big flip flop and seemed to fall into the pit of her stomach, but she wasn’t sure if this was due to seeing Greg for the first time in a few weeks and looking painfully gorgeous, or at the thought of him becoming a teacher at her high school. That would certainly put a wrinkle in her relationship with him, wouldn’t it? Wait a minute – where did that thought come from? Not that there was any relationship at this moment. This was all new territory for her, as up to this point the only guys who had taken more than a passing interest in her had either been too young or no one she really saw herself dating or had any sort of chemistry with.
How would something like that even work? She had to have an emergency discussion with Ainsley because she didn’t want to take any chances. She quickly scribbled a note and passed it to her best friend on the opposite side where the currently preoccupied Mrs. Halsey wouldn’t see – the note read “WE NEED TO TALK!” in large bold letters. Ainsley glanced at her over her shoulder with a questioning look and nodded.
In her normal ‘I-like-a-boy’ situations, Mayson would use the last couple of pages of her notebooks to scribble down her many random thoughts and observations as the days wore on. This seemed like a compulsion as she felt like the thoughts and feelings would be lost forever if she didn’t commit them to paper. It was also humorous to go back and read what she was thinking and feeling at random moments of her life – ahh, teenage angst. Somehow this felt different, more grown-up. With that, she recorded a snippet for that day: G pulled up to the school today – what is he doing here? He looks even better than he did before – all dressed up! And his car…WOW…I had no idea! And all this time I thought I was the only one who knew him. Interesting day for sure!
Lunch arrived and the two best friends met up on the front lawn. Most days they enjoyed the freedom that open campus provided and would go to each other’s homes for a good home-cooked lunch, but on nice days like this it was nice to be able to sit outside and enjoy the 40-minute lunch respite, picnic-style. Mayson’s mom packed the usual – sandwich, chips, Little Debbie dessert and a thermos of sweet tea. Ainsley’s mom was on a health kick, so she had fresh veggies in addition to a healthy sandwich and her dessert was a crisp apple. Ainsley spread out the beach towels they usually brought for these days while Mayson swapped her chips for Ainsley’s celery, and soon they were happily munching and dishing her news.
“So, you remember the guy I told you I met downtown a few weeks ago?” Mayson paused while Ainsley checked her sandwich for any weird ingredients before taking a bite.
“Umm hmm”, Ainsley mumbled while chewing. “Real fox. I remember that much!” she laughed. Mayson continued. “And do you remember me telling you how Caroline worked her voodoo magic on him and found all those interesting facts out about him?” Ainsley nodded and popped a chip in her mouth, crunching loudly.
Even though they were the only two truly within earshot, Mayson leaned in conspiringly and with a raised eyebrow said, “Well, he’s here.”
Wide-eyed and astonished, Ainsley stopped mid-bite and gasped. “HERE? At Beaux Ville High School? WHERE? And more importantly, WHY? Oh my gosh, why do I feel like this has something to do with what your mother suggested and Mrs. Halsey’s retirement?”
Mayson nodded and smiled. “Well, you know yourself that Caroline Reed can be quite convincing. Especially when she thinks she’s ‘helping’. Although in this case I’m not sure she knows who she’s really helping!” She scowled and taking a bite of her ham-on-wheat, gestured toward the row of cars. “That’s his car over there – the red Fiat convertible with the Gilley’s bumper sticker.” The bumper sticker was gauche, but it did indicate to Mayson that Greg was someone who liked to travel and have fun – Gilley’s, after all, was the self-proclaimed “World's Largest Nightclub”, and we all know everything’s bigger in Texas.
Ainsley dropped her super dark sunglasses down her nose and glanced over the top of them at the line of parked cars, smiling and nodding her approval. “Oh yes, I can totally see you in the passenger seat, dark sunglasses and hat, all I’m-too-cool-for-ya’ll vibe..” She laughed as she imitated what she thought Mayson would act riding shotgun in a convertible.
Mayson picked up a chip and threw it at her, sticking her tongue out. “Oh hardly Ains. I know he knows who I am, I know he was definitely checking me out and I know that’s NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. But…a girl can dream, right?” She flopped back onto her towel on the lawn, arms behind her head, dark glasses on, soaking up the sun and becoming lost in her own reverie.
Ainsley quickly snapped her out of her dream and back into reality. “NO it technically shouldn’t. But, if we are being technical, you met him before he applied and besides, there’s no guarantee he will get this job.”
“Come on Ains…he’s perfect for the position. Old enough to teach, young enough to still be engaging with the students. For goodness sakes, he toured with the Peace Corps! That practically screams well-rounded and wholesome. He told my mother that he is idealistic enough to think he can mold us into productive members of society. Heck, I’d hire him based on that line alone!” Mayson exclaimed.
“Mays, you would hire him based on how often you would get to see that fine ass – you are NOT fooling me! Remember, I’m your best friend, known you from birth, and I know that look in your eyes…I don’t see these circumstances getting in your way whatsoever.” Ainsley’s tone turned serious, and she leaned in. “This is a different situation than any you’ve ever been in. Please don’t do anything that would be…illegal. I can’t make it through high school without you!”
Mayson spit her sweet tea out. “Illegal? What do you think I’m going to do? It’s not like I was going to force myself on him!! I’m just talking about being…friends with him. That’s all.”
“I know silly, or at least I hoped that was all. Besides, have you talked to him since that day at the music store?” Ainsley asked.
“No, so I have no idea if I imagined that entire interaction. Well maybe not the entire interaction, I definitely know there was a spark there.” Mayson’s hazel eyes clouded over behind her dark glasses. “I’m probably just some random kid to him.” She shrugged her shoulders and frowned. “Maybe he really only saw me as a sale for the store and then my mother took over and steered him in a more economically promising direction.”
Ainsley hated to see her friend down on herself. “Well, like I said, there’s no guarantee he will get this job. Either way, we need to make sure to go by Davis’ and scope this situation out. But if he does…”
Mayson put up a finger and interrupted. “…WE won’t do anything. Case closed. My heart and ego will be bruised, and I will recover. Eventually. End of story.” And with that statement, the conversation ended while they finished up their lunches…even though in their silence they both knew that this was a lie. Mayson was not one to give up so easily when met with a challenge, and this certainly felt like a challenge. She had never in her short time on Earth felt the magnetic pull of a man on her heart, but here she was, and the pull was strong.
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