Welcome to 1986, ladies and gentlemen.
I turned 22 in 1986.
I went out a couple of times with a girl from the library that month or so. She was a very quiet and shy girl. Very pretty. But not into me. She is probably married and happy and living a quiet life somewhere.
The Challenger blew up on January 28. I remember sitting around the SUB discussing it with folks. A couple of weeks later, though, there was a company that came to the university to try to recruit some of the better students. For some reason, they decided to sit down with me. The interview went well, so well that I was called back for a second interview. That went less well.
I was taking an English course that semester. It was a Fantasy course. Not sexual fantasy. Fantasy as in science fiction and fantasy. In addition to my other courses, I had to read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. The professor had a King Arthur fetish, so there were several other Arthurian-based novels we had to read such as "The Sword in the Stone" by T.H. White; "The Dark is Rising" by Susan Cooper; "Firelord" by Parke Godwin"; and, my favourite, "Arthur Rex" by Thomas Berger. That last book remains the funniest book I have ever read in my life. I would have to put it down and howl with laughter . I eventually secured a hardcover edition of the book. I keep meaning to re-read it to see if it holds up, all these years later.
There was a young woman in the class who began to sit behind me and talk to me from time to time. She borrowed my notes and called me at my parents' place to help her interpret my handwriting. She talked to me more and more. I didn't respond. I just thought she was being friendly. The last time I saw her, was at the final exam for that course. She sat in the row in front of me, just to my left. Just before we got the papers, making communication inappropriate, she turned to me and smiled. We started writing. I would have loved to have hung out with her after the exam was over, but I had a second exam that day, right after lunch, and had to rush off to that. I never saw her again. And I don't know her name. Like I wrote before, regarding a girl I worked with at Burger King in 1983, it is fun to play "What might have been" from time to time. She's probably married with children and I am but a distant memory to her, if I am anything at all.
Exams were over. I was without a summer job. The library job wasn't gonna happen because I had given that up when I took my first co-op work term, and they had hired somebody else. CFB Greenwood, where I had just worked, but they couldn't take me back either. I was unemployed.
I registered for jobs everywhere I could. Finally, in June sometime, 2 months of little work later, I secured a job for the balance of the summer at the Wolfville Tourist Bureau. They call them "Tourist Information Centres" now for the same reason why schools are now called "educational centres", and "janitors" are called "sanitation engineers".
I got to meet people from all over the world. I worked with some interesting people. One person, though, resonated with me in a unique way. She was married to a man who was going into dentistry in Milwaukee that Fall. He was heading out ahead of her to find a place. She ended up leaving the job early so that she could be with him and asked me if I could work a shift or two for her. She would pay me for that trouble. I got talked into going to our old high school where she secured a copy of her official transcript and then doctored it to improve her marks, to make her chances of being accepted into whatever program she was applying for, better.
She paid me with a brace of cheques. I cashed the first one. A few days later, I discovered that the funds allocated to the cheque were removed from my account. The cheque had bounced. I didn't bother to try to cash the other one. And she had skipped town by then. I later found through a mutual friend that she was worried sick about having enough money to get down there. She would be driving one of those portable moving trucks that you can rent for 20 dollars a day, all the way from NS to Milwaukee.
So. I was used. I ended up working for free and was a witness to her changing her marks on her official transcript.
In the spring, I met a young lady, who was a mutual friend of a friend of mine. She began to sit at our table in the SUB. She laughed at everything I said, which I'm told is a sign a woman is interested in a man. Patricia never laughs at anything I say, so what does that tell me?
But I digress.
I found out her name was Dianne. She would be graduating that spring and would seek employment as a secretary after she returned from a European vacation. She had borrowed a book from me and returned it, with a small graduate picture and a friendly note on the back of it.
That summer, when out to a movie with a friend, she saw me and asked me to call her by putting her right thumb and little finger up to her ear and mouth, and motioning the dialing of a phone with her left. These motions were directed at me, it turns out. I forget how I got her actual number, but I did, and called her. We would date for a month or so in the summer. We spent time together a couple of years later. Of the women I have dated, I can't help but think that she is the one that got away, but we have remained friends ever since those days of our youth. She is married and happy and I am happy for her.
The summer was "getting gone", as my mother likes to say. I really couldn't afford to return to school that fall because of my unemployment situation earlier that summer. I decided to accept another co-op work term, this one at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth. I would start in September and finish in December, like I had a year before. Once again, I was working for the Feds.
This job was less fun. My boss was British, a man named Aubrey. I used to correct his English. I had no idea what he wanted me to do half the time. I knew we were speaking the same language, but I needed direction and training at first, and he wasn't giving me any. I worked with another guy named Robin and he had similar feelings about him. Robin was, well, successful with the ladies. He had a very outgoing personality and knew how to use it to his advantage. One of his brothers was a paramedic who, years later, would be killed in a drug deal gone bad.
Robin and I became pretty good friends for that semester. We would hang out as much as we could, given that I was commuting to the city every day.
During that semester, a young lady who worked there accepted another job in the building and left. They needed to back fill her position, and pronto. I remembered someone from high school, and her boyfriend, had studied things that would be useful to that position, so I called her. They were unemployed at the time, so they were grateful for the tip. They called the company the next day. Turns out that the woman hadn't even told the company she was leaving yet, so my friends had an advantage. They never forgot this small favour I did for them. At their wedding 5 years later, they asked me if I had another job for them. Sorry. One per customer.
The co-op work term drew to a close. There was a Christmas party there every year, and they were looking for people to participate in the talent show. Being young and stupid, we signed up. There would also be a party, a dance, at the Mic Mac Aquatic Club in Dartmouth. I had no intention of going.
One day, during lunch, a young woman who worked with us looked at me and said, "I don't know how to say this, but would you like to go to the dance with me?"
A woman, asking me out?
Are you kidding?
Before I answered, I looked behind me to make sure she wasn't talking to someone else. Then, I remembered that I was leaning against a wall. I agreed to the date request.
It turned out to be a very nice date. I had a wonderful time, and I crashed at the apartment that Robin and Solly shared. Robin had a lady friend over. I was on the cot just below the loft they were in. Never mind what I heard.
The work term was over. I ended up dropping Robin off somewhere in Dartmouth. We shook hands. He tapped my car as I drove off. And I have never seen him since.
At the wedding I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, I saw someone who had worked at BIO when I was there. I knew he was friends with Robin. We chatted and it turned out that Robin and Solly became an item afterward. 21 years later, I have no idea what they are up to. Once again, I hope they are both happy, whether they are still together or if they have forged a life with others.
1986 drew to a close. I got some stuff for Christmas. I bought some things for people. And I saw 1987, off there in the horizon, getting closer and closer. 1987 would be a year of hard academic work, another co-op work term, two marriages, and finishing my degree. It would be one of those pivotal years in my life. And "The Beachcombers" was heading into its final couple of seasons.
But, you know all that stuff already, don't you? That was post 1987 a couple of months ago.
We have reached the end of this series. In a few minutes I will write a brief follow up post with future plans for a spinoff series that I will start when I am back from vacation in a couple of weeks. The post will also have a request from moi.
See you shortly.