Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tom Foolery

I'm sure you have one of these situations that you keep bumping into, but I just have to explain it to someone because it makes me crazy and it happened to me again tonight.

There is a manager at one of our grocery stores that I knew in a previous life, but whom I can't acknowledge now because I've looked at him way too many times and NOT said 'hi', so to start saying it now would just be weird.

Let's go back.

When I was in high school, I worked part time at a drugstore.  I loved it.  It was a simple job:  put stuff on shelves, make them look nice, ring people up, vacuum if you have the last shift, put little displays together.

Sometimes I fantasize about that job.  When I have 20 8th graders throwing tomatoes at me because I am "wasting their time" and being "so unfair" because I have the audacity to expect them to work.

When I'm listening to the school committee look at a budget and drop the ax on so many crucial programs.

When I'm calling back the 100th parent to explain that the reason their kid got an F is not because I don't like her, it's because she is an effing lazy liar who has not done a single thing all term and then tells you she has NO IDEA why she failed and I must hate her.

When I'm correcting my millionth paper on a day off.

Because that job was so easy.  And I didn't bring work home.  I did what I was told, so my managers liked me.

But I only brought home $4.25 an hour.  So I guess I'm comparing apples and oranges here.  I get paid a little more than that to teach.

While working at that drugstore, I met a guy, I'll call him Tom, who also worked there.  I didn't work with him often, but when I did, it was fun.  Our manager liked him, so we had a blast from 5-9 on Tuesday nights.  We laughed.  We joked.  We worked.  We had silly games we played.

He was really friendly.

And then I never saw Tom again.

Until we both ended up taking a tap dancing class together.  At 1 o'clock in the afternoon, on a weekday, one summer.

That's right.  Tom, the pharmacy guy, and I took a tap dancing class together.  The only other student was another guy.  The instructor was a VERY LARGE woman who was about 70.  She was VERY LARGE and dressed in very flowy clothes.  But she could move those feet!  To this day, I cannot imagine why her feet could move under the 100s of pounds that she weighed.

I cannot fully convey how awkward this situation was for all of us.  3 college aged kids, one female, 2 male, one VERY LARGE woman  on a weekday afternoon, in the summer.

As I write this, I feel like I dreamed this, but I know this was true.

I've always liked dance and I've always been determined that tap was my dance that I just never got to learn right.  I have tried like 4 different times, but the situations always fall apart and my lightning feet never get to perform like they so desire.

So, that one summer, I was working for my father and therefore had a flexible schedule, so I trotted off to tap class for a few afternoons after lunch.  With 2 guys and a fat lady.

It was a silent class.  Tom and I did that Tom and Jerry bug eyed "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaooooooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuugaaaaaaaa" thing when we saw each other and promptly pretended that we did not know each other.   This was not easy in a class of 3.  You couldn't really just "blend in".   I was sure when he walked in with the other guy that he and the other guy did actually know each other.  But then they never talked.

I spent that entire class wondering 3 things:

1)  is Tom gay and that's his lover?
2)  are these 2 in some show together and they are totally straight but they have to learn this dance ASAP?
3)  HOW did this lady get so FAT if she tap danced her whole life?????

I remember a lot of dances I've learned in my lifetime, but other than what Tom and his buddy were wearing, and the fact that the lady was so FAT, I cannot tell  you another thing about that time.  Oh, except that it was very hot at 1 in the afternoon to be dancing in a non air conditioned space.

There was no recital.   I was too old for my mother to be driving me to class or to  be paying for it, so I am sure she has no idea what this is about.

It was like I was in some vortex of inappropriateness involving 2 guys, a fat tap teacher and the summer.  

Fast forward to some time after college when I returned home to teach.

I walked into the grocery store, the very same building where Tom and I once worked at a drugstore and LO AND BEHOLD who should appear in front of me but TOM!

My first thought was "OH GOD the last time I saw you, you were tap dancing with knee high athletic socks on!"  And I ran the other way.

We have 2 grocery store options within 1/4 of a mile of each other.  I tend to go to the non-Tom store not because of Tom but because the non-Tom store is usually offering some deal (like the current gas deal) or because they have the hand held scanner that has cut down my shopping time like 25 minutes, TOPS.  Tom's store doesn't have these.

Over time, I have seen Tom countless times in his grocery store.  He is a store manager.  I think it's ironic and kind of sad that he never worked anywhere but in this very building for his entire career.  So far, anyway.  He's probably not 40 yet.  I estimate him to be around my age, maybe a little older.

Each time I visit his store, I find myself going "hmm, I wonder if Tom still works here" and then I turn a corner, and there he is.

And I run away.

Because there are now 2 things I think when I see him:

1)  I once took a tap dancing class with you and we pretended not to know each other but there was nowhere to hide and it has left permanent scars on my psyche
2)  why does Tom look FREAKISHLY identical to the way he did when we worked together in 1991?  Like he has not aged one single bit.  He's a good looking guy who always looks ready to laugh.  But he does not age.  Like, in a freakish way.  It's been 21 damned years.  Everyone I went to school with looks a LITTLE different.

Not Tom. He still has his 1980s style permed looking hair(his worst feature).  His nice grin.  He hasn't put on weight.

Who is this enigma called Tom?

Why was he taking that class and how could he do that in the middle of the day?

How long will we play the 'I don't know you ' game?

Do you have these situations?  I can't be the only one, right?


1 comment:

  1. There is a picture of Tom in his attic that is hideous looking!

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