irvine ranch farmer’s market was the first job where i had to fill out paperwork to gain employment. i had worked odd jobs or construction or lemonade stands around the gate-guarded suburb where i lived. but this was an interview, waiting, a call and finally a congratulations. i don’t know if i remember my exact, first day. it was summer ‘89, right after i got back from a japan trip that warped me for the better. my pockets were empty, my heart was on ice and i coveted a ‘65 mustang. silver. convertible.
recently installed at the heart of this bleeding-edge, upscale supermarket was a coffee bar. a relic of the old days, re-invented to serve five cents worth of liquid for a buck fifty. some may not remember a time pre-starbucks, but there was an age when the term “coffee bar” begged for context. the idea in this place was for all the san fernando valley office heads and workout moms of the area to saddle up to the bar, caffeinate and carouse with the locals and us, the coffee bartenders. keep ‘em in the store and they’re sure to buy more.
my fellow ‘tenders were two sirens with whom i had the great pleasure to sling espresso. what two beings with vibrations this high were doing here, i did not know. one was a farm girl, blondie whose older sister is an actress I had a major crush on. the other was a beautiful, dark haired, goth-lite girl, the daughter of a local cult-radio deejay.
but their splendor could have easily been televised. they could have been heirs to the throne of some place like montenegro. i could not fathom what i may have done in previous incarnations to build the karmic reserve it must have taken to have them adopt me as a pet. but, alas, i was domesticated by the goddesses of fire and ice.
they were older women, 18 or 19 and totally out of my barely 16-year-old league. yet, here i was, allowed to leer, allowed to play. i didn’t dare touch, though. as much as every bit of me swelled, even in anticipation of seeing them. i dare not do anything to break the spell or loosen the chain that seemed to bind us (in my mind). fate would couple us alone to work sometimes; tempting me to break the glass, grab the axe and tear eden asunder. back rooms and boxes, eye contact that lasted a millisecond beyond, silence that wasn’t uncomfortable. but somehow (mostly out of sheer terror) i abstained from reaching beyond what internal fantasy provided.
they took me to see lenny kravitz and tom petty, we sang and danced and looked straight into the sun. they introduced me to their parents, even shared secret places. and for the seconds i spent with these teenage deities i am 20,000 leagues beyond grateful.
our time together didn’t last long. i was soon out of the coffee business and back at high school full-time. my attentions drifted and i fell unnoticed to a lower plane of existence than where they dwell. but as i was leaving, god or one of his halflings, stuffed some memories in the back pocket of my khakis, which i found just the other day.