Wearing shades in the classroom
while writing tunes
Appears to have gone over
like big lead balloons
Ahh, my second summer in Transcona but contrary to what the old song claimed, “The livin’ ain’t easy.” By then my father had decided that it was time for me to start working so he got me a weekend job at the local service station pumping gas. Around the same time, I started growing my hair out kinda more like James Dean.(me pictured above with my ever-present shades) This, of course, didn’t go unnoticed at home so once again I got to hear, “If I buy your clothes, you wear what I want you to wear and there is no menu here so you eat what your mother puts in front of you. Oh, and if I pay for your haircuts you’ll get it cut like I want it cut.” Oops, that was the line in the sand, “Sorry Dad, ain’t gonna do it, I’ll just pump a little more gas and pay for my own haircut. Hell, how many was I gonna need?
How’s that Sam Cooke tune go again? “It’s Another Saturday Night, And I Ain’t Got Nobody.” Well, old Sam was singing about me and my life, but how was I to know that it was about to change. There I was one hot summer night cooling off out front of the East End Community Club when a car pulled up and just sat there. Finally, a female voice called out saying, “Hey sweetie, can you come over here for a minute?” Doing my best James Dean, I strolled over to the car and stood there watching as the back window went down revealing the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. I was mesmerized and just stood there staring at her until she asked if I had a light? All I could manage was to mumble that I didn’t smoke. She then smiled at me and asked if I could get her one? Within minutes I was firing her cigarette up and while doing so she said, “Hey, you’re kinda cute, what’s your name?” When I told her, she placed a piece of paper in my hand and said, “George, why don’t you call me sometime” and with that, she disappeared into the night.
It took me several days to work up enough courage to call her, but she seemed very pleased that I did. After a little small talk, she asked if I knew of any dances that were going on that weekend? When I told her that there was one on Friday at the Maple Leaf Community Club in Transcona, she asked if I’d like to pick her up and take her. Thankfully, before I could confess that not only didn’t I have a car, I didn’t even have a driver’s license, she saved me by stating that it would be easier for her to take the bus rather than try to explain where she lived.
Ok, picture this if you can, a fifteen-year-old punk like me strolling into the dance that Friday night at the “Mapes” with this voluptuous young Marilyn Monroe look-alike on my arm. Suddenly, just like that, I’m surrounded by a bunch of seniors from my school who were all talking to me like we were best friends and they were wondering how come it took so long for me to show up. Hell, being a freshman, I didn’t even think they knew my name, but they sure did tonight.
“Oh, what a night!” I spent most of it dancing while wishing and a-hopin’ that my new love was one of those bad girls my Dad had warned me about. Being only fifteen at the time, I knew nothing about making love so I desperately needed this 17-year old to teach me.
Unfortunately, all she taught me, was how to smoke (which I did in an attempt to look older) but she also taught me something else which I’ve used my entire life. No matter how much money you may have, where you went to school or came from, who you know, or who your parents are, “It’s he who walks into the room with the best-looking lady on his arm that wins the game.”