#986: Forbidden Fruit

RECORD STORE TALES #986:  Forbidden Fruit

Even without the nostalgia, it sure seems like the second summer at the Record Store was an endless string of perfect sunny days.  It certainly was that on this occasion when I walked with confidence into the Record Store for my shift.   The hottest artists on the charts at the time were TLC, Boyz II Men, and Bryan Adams with “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman”.  The source of the mojo in my stroll came from the company I kept that day.  I was accompanied by the girl I liked and her kid.  My ladyfriend and I were not dating, but to use the parlance of the times, she was smokin’ hot.  She was seeing a guy I knew, but she confided in me that had she met me first, she wouldn’t be dating him at all.

File that under “things nobody had ever said to me before”.

We had been hanging out and shopping that afternoon as friends, but the truth was, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I knew it was just a matter of time before she dumped my buddy.  Because I’m not a complete backstabber, I tried to talk her up to his positive attributes.  In fact at one point she asked me to stop defending him because I was making it really hard for her to dump him.  OK!  I’d done all I could.  Had she met me first, she wouldn’t even be dating him.  The words rang in my head!  Would this be the summer that I could answer the question “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman” in the affirmative?

I was in the midst of my angriest of angry phases: 1994-1996.  But that summer was an island of happiness.  Still, I had gone absolutely mad for the doom, gloom and aggression of Black Sabbath, and was still in the middle stages of “collecting them all”.  I had ordered the rarest ones, Seventh Star and Born Again on CD from Japan (never came).  I had a CD copy of Headless Cross coming in and just got Technical Ecstacy on cassette.  And they had a brand new album coming too, reuniting the Tyr lineup.

The exact date might have been June 20, the day of release for Black Sabbath’s Forbidden.  I remember that our store received no CD copies, although I think we did get some on cassette.  What I do know is that we drove up to Waterloo to get it at HMV, and she was with me.  But I had a 5 o’clock shift back at the Record Store, and she gave me a ride.  Tom was working behind the counter that day.  After my ladyfriend departed, I distinctly remember Tom asking me a question that was also filed under “things nobody had ever said to me before”.

“How do you meet such hot chicks, man?”

I laughed and tried to say something cool.  The truth was I was tearing up inside because A) I’d never met one like her before, and B) she was going out with someone else!

I saw the ways guys looked at her.  I remember walking around uptown Waterloo with her, on our way to the Huether for lunch and a milkshake.  She was wearing a bikini top with an unbuttoned shirt loosely around it.  A creepy dude glanced and made a comment as we walked.  She was definitely the kind of girl that attracted lookers.

But I knew I had a chance.  I continued to be the friend.  I helped her out when she needed a babysitter and I drove her around when I had the car.  As the cool friend who worked in a Record Store, I hooked her up with music for her and the kid.

One weekend at the cottage, the phone rang.  A rare occurrence.  It was for me; a rarer occurrence.  It was my buddy Aaron, who was well aware of the situation with the girl and was in my corner.  Aaron always called me “Geddy”.  He still does!

“Geddy?  She dumped him.”

No way.  Finally!

“What’s your next move?” he asked me.

What to do now?  I was going to wait.

I got home and there was a message on the machine from my buddy.  “Mike, don’t call anybody else.  Call me first.”

On the phone, he told me of the Great Dumping.  It was hard for me to have sympathy knowing the other side of the story already.  If he didn’t mooch so much, if he didn’t hang out doing nothing all day, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.  But I couldn’t tell him that.  He had a plan to win her back.  I told him how sorry I was, but I sure didn’t tell him that I was going to make a move.


I waited a long time.  My birthday arrived; I had a murder mystery party and she came over to celebrate with me.  A guy hit on her at my house!  The birthday passed and I still had not made a move.  It was like some kind of emotional paralysis.  In fact I’d never asked a girl out before and had no idea what the hell to say.  I’m notorious for tripping over my words.  Finally, she confronted me.  On the phone one night she said “I’m not going to ask.  If you don’t, somebody else will.”

I asked her if it was lame to ask somebody out to dinner or a movie.  She said no, so I asked her out to dinner or a movie.

She seemed relieved that I finally asked.  I think she had everything for the first date pre-planned.  She told me instead of just dinner, how about dinner in Toronto after a day on Toronto Island?  I had no idea what that entailed but it all sounded great to me.  I got her flowers, first time I had ever done that too.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I bought them too soon and they wilted so I got more.  But it was a fun day and one of those magical, youthful memories that only get warmer with years.  The funny thing, even though I asked her out, she organised all the details and even drove.  Our relationship was a lot like that.  She showed me things she liked and hoped I would enjoy.  I remember listening to Loreena McKennitt with her.  Harp music; very different from metal, but not so different from Blackmore’s Night which was only a few years away.  But she didn’t care about my Iron Maiden.  And she really disliked my Kim Mitchell.  It wasn’t meant to last.  I got three months.

“Nothing you can do will hurt me, I am indestructible.”  That line from Black Sabbath’s “Kiss of Death” really resonated during the angry years.  It wasn’t true though.  The island of happiness was over and I was pretty was wrecked afterwards.  Took a while to recover.

We had a fun summer, but I needed to be with someone who didn’t want to change me or improve me.  Who demanded that I mature.  Who liked me as I am, warts and all.  Fortunately I have that now, even with the added mileage I’ve clocked since then!  That’s real love.

#904: 2000 Dates

A sequel to #616:  None of My Exes Live in Texas (But One Lives in Thunder Bay)
and #903: Online Dating in the Brave New World


RECORD STORE TALES #904: 2000 Dates

When I think back on the year 2000, I realize, holy shit:  I went on a lot of dates that year.  Most of them were first dates; things generally weren’t working out for me.  When I look back,  I can’t believe how many there were.  I’ve already talked about “Hamilton #1”, “Toronto”, “Hamilton #2” (in detail!) and briefly “Kingston”.  But there were more.  Many more.  Some names are forgotten; the rest are redacted.  The cities and places are clear in my memory.

“Kingston” was cute and I fell for her hard over the telephone.  I remember finding it cool that she wore mismatched socks on purpose.  Some people teased me for that.  But she was quirky and had great taste in music.  She was a musician; a really good one too.  She came up to visit me one weekend.  We met in the parking lot of the Cambridge Record Store as it was right off the highway.  We drove from there to the cottage where we spent the night.  She brought her acoustic guitar and played some of her original tunes for me.  She also brought her copy of Pink Floyd’s The Wall.  The next day we came back to Waterloo for a Record Store party.  You can see why I liked her.

I was supposed to visit her in Kingston next.  The day of departure, there was a massive accident on highway 401.  I was stuck in it for hours and ultimately had to turn back home.  Things fizzled out from there.  She was planning on going to school in Thunder Bay, and while I said “no problem, I can do long distance relationships,” it was not meant to be.  Kingston is four hours away by car.  Thunder Bay takes a whole day, unless you fly.  It wasn’t going to work and I reluctantly had to let her go.  She already knew there was no future to it; I was the holdout.

I wasn’t over her yet, but immediately I jumped into dating once more.  It was a new girl every two weeks.  I was on the rebound.

“Guelph 1” was nice.  She was a student, who had long black synthetic dreadlocks.  The most memorable thing about her was that she was legally blind.  Maybe that was one reason why she went out with me!  She could see, she could get around, but her vision was impaired enough that she was classified as blind.   This meant that she actually got in to movies for free.  She had to sit in the very front row to see anything, but that was OK by me.

We went to see The Cell, starring Jennifer Lopez, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Vince Vaughn.  It was shit, but good enough for a date movie.   We actually went out a second time, after she had relocated to Hamilton.  But she wasn’t into me and there wasn’t much chemistry aside from a couple pleasant dates.

That’s not be confused with “Hamilton #3”.  I distinctly remember going to have coffee in Hamilton with a girl I never saw again.  I can’t recall any other details about her.  She had short black hair?  I think she brought a friend with her?  I got somewhat lost on my way back home (as I usually did when visiting Hamilton) but managed to turn myself around this time without having to call for directions.

“Toronto #2” was more memorable.  I felt a little weird that I was meeting her in the same parking lot as “Kingston”, but she didn’t need to know that.   We wanted to get a bite to eat, so we headed over to East Side Mario’s in the mall next door.

“Make sure we get a smoking table,” she said.

To her surprise, I answered “No such thing here!”

“Whaaaat?” she exclaimed.

Unbeknownst to her, the region had implemented an indoor smoking ban on January 1 2000.  They don’t pay attention to Kitchener news in Toronto, so she had no idea.  Not happy!  That was our only date.  The indoor smoking ban was a trial run, and it was soon enforced everywhere else.  There was a lot of complaining then, and a temporary dip in revenues at bingo halls.  Just like with Covid lockdowns today, many establishments fought the ban and were served up hefty fines.  Things bounced back eventually.

Not me though.  I was still rebounding.  Around the same time as  “Toronto #2” came “London”.  That was my first drive-in movie in 15 years.  The setting was more memorable than the movie, which was the Kevin Bacon turd called Hollow Man.  All I can really remember is the windows fogging up – and we weren’t even doing anything.

Then came “Mississauga”.  This is the one I felt worst about.  Most of the other dates were just dates.  We went out, we hung out, we went home.  “Mississauga” met me at the local Chapters store and we went book shopping.  Then, I believe, we went to see a movie.  I can’t remember exactly because the night ended with us making out in the back seat of my car.  Although I felt cool as hell at the time for having finally made out with a girl in the back seat of a car, afterwards I felt shitty.  She went home, and we never saw each other again.  I didn’t like that.  I was really confused, working my way through all these feelings.  But it was a mutual thing.  She didn’t call me, and I didn’t call her.

“Guelph #2” was the second last date of the year 2000.  Also a student.  Nice enough girl; we went out a couple times.  I think the moment I bailed was when she messaged me one weekend telling about this other guy she was hanging out with.  I had no problem with her seeing another guy.  We had just gone on a couple dates, we weren’t exclusive or anything like that.  It was the nature of this one specific message that scared me away.

“I’m here with a guy and his penis is stuck in a bottle!” she said.

All the best of luck to ya!  I didn’t have any follow-up questions.

At the same time, I had just met “Kitchener #1”.  The year was coming to an end.  I was 28.  I was tired.  I had done all the rebounding a man could do.  I was ready, but the first date didn’t work out as well as I hoped.  We went to the Boathouse and had lunch.  Afterwards she sent me an email titled “Let’s Hang”.  She just wanted to be friends.  I was OK with that because I did like her, and I thought, “Being friends is OK.  Nothing wrong with that.  I would like more friends.”

Right around the time some dude in Guelph was struggling to remove his penis from a bottle, “Kitchener” was having second thoughts.  We got along really well, and had continued to hang out as she wanted to.  A few weeks after that first date at the Boathouse, she had a change of heart.  She asked if I was still interested and I was.

And so, as the year 2000 ended (and with it the millennium), so did my misadventures in dating!  “Kitchener” and I stuck together for two years which was the longest relationship I ever had at that point.  We had good times.  She became like a member of the family.  In fact she still has Christmases with our family today, even though we split in 2003.  When I finally met my true soulmate Jennifer, my ex attended my wedding.  I liked that we were able to do that.  And now, my dating days are truly over!




#903: Online Dating in the Brave New World (2000)

Attention:  Mike’s mom.  You don’t need to read this one.  Skip it please.

RECORD STORE TALES #903: Online Dating in the Brave New World (2000)

It was the year 2000 and the world seemed new to me again.  Iron Maiden had a fresh reunion album on the horizon, ushering in a long-awaited rebirth of classic heavy metal.  The snow was melting, and spring was in the air.  Things were going really, really well.  Especially at the Record Store.  My store had a “head office” (actually a broom closet) in its back room.  That’s why the upper management was always breathing down my neck.  But I had heard through the grapevine (actually Tom) that head office was moving to a new location across town.  They never told me, but Tom did.  I was elated.  Things were looking way up.

I also had what at the time I called “the best first date I’d ever been on”.  I even washed my car before driving to Hamilton to see her.  That’s how my parents knew something was up!  Her name was Terra and she fancied herself a photographer.  Strangely her apartment was filled with photos of herself.  That should have served as a warning.  T-Rev also dated a girl who was obsessed with photos of herself, and that didn’t work.  His story was told in a song by local band The Candidates called “Who’s Your Daddy Now?”  “Sold your soul for a photograph, I tore it up and had the last laugh.  Who’s your daddy now? He ain’t got nothin’ on me!”

But I had to take my chances.  The first date went so well that I called up T-Rev on my cell phone and told him I thought I met “the one”.

I did confide in T-Rev one thing that was unusual about Terra.  She didn’t drink or do any drugs, which I liked.  I rarely drank and had never touched a drug.  What was unusual was that Terra was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.  In my mind, trying to ease my concerns, I said “that means neither of us drink or do drugs – so that’s a good thing.”  I wouldn’t be heading out to bars with her, or anything like that.  I had to give her a chance for date #2.

She thought it would be fun to catch a sunrise together.  She lived in Hamilton so it would take me an hour to get there before the sun came.  I had never watched the sunrise with a girl before, so I was on board.  The people at the Record Store thought I had a screw loose.

“You’re going to drive to Hamilton at 5:00 in the morning, to watch a sunrise?” asked one of the supervisors.  They didn’t get why I thought it was such a cool idea.  It sounded romantic to me and I’d never done anything like that before.

I called Terra up the night before our sunrise date and she had suddenly changed her tune.  “That’s reeeaally early,” she complained about her own idea.

So that idea was off.  Instead I came down in the afternoon.  We hung out and watched MuchMusic.  Britney Spears had just come out with “Oops! I Did It Again” and I can remember watching that video in her apartment.  “I want a PVC bodysuit!” said Terra.  I just wanted to do anything but sit around watching MuchMusic.  After a few hours of watching Static X, Disturbed and other staples of the era, I headed home.

Date #3 was the weird one.  She had an AA meeting that night and didn’t want to miss it.  I offered to drop her off on my way home, and that turned into her inviting me to the meeting.  Going to it was one of the most regrettable decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

I didn’t know what I was doing.  I did not realize it was a “closed meeting” or what that meant.  I don’t know why she thought bringing me along was a good idea.  I was curious, and I liked Terra.  I trusted her that this was OK.

The AA meeting was in the basement of a nice church.  We all sat in a circle.  “When it comes your turn to talk, just pass,” said Terra.  So I did.  Instead I listened to stories that, quite frankly, I never should have heard.  Me being there was an invasion of the group’s privacy and I felt uncomfortable immediately.  I wanted out that door.  I waited for an appropriate break.

When the group leader broke the meeting into smaller groups, I said to Terra, “I have to go, I’m not comfortable, I’m really sorry.”  She said it was OK and that we would leave together.  We briefly spoke to the group leader.  His name was Mike too.  “We have groups for beginners too, if you feel you’d like to come back and talk about whatever is going on.”  This made me feel even worse.  I was masquerading as someone I was not, for the sake of sitting next to a girl in this room.  I thanked him and we left together.

I decided that would be our last date.

Which is why I am still surprised I went on date #4.  Mother’s Day weekend 2000.

The phone rang on the Friday night.  “What are you doing this weekend?  Do you want to come and hang out at my mom’s place in Huntsville?”

I silenced the alarm bells going off in my head.  The suddenness of the invite was strange but if she was introducing me to her mom, that sounded alright.  I packed a small bag and headed to Hamilton to pick her up.  A few hours later we were in Huntsville.  We went to a bar where her friends were.  There was a covers band playing.  I found a spot to watch.  They played “War Pigs”.  I was happy.  But where was Terra?  She left me there watching this band while she hung out with her friends.  Outside, one of them passed her a joint and she had a haul.  On the way back to her mom’s place, she said “I really shouldn’t have smoked that joint,” and I was shaking my head wondering what the hell I was thinking.

Her mom was really nice and made me feel very welcome.  They had a beautiful place up in Huntsville.  Huge, with a guest house in the back where I slept.  But by the end of the weekend, her mom was giving her shit for hanging out with her friends instead of the guy who brought her to Huntsville.  I felt the same way.  The whole weekend was her hanging out with friends, and me tagging along.  We never did anything just the two of us.  I felt good that her mom at least recognized there was something fucked up about it.  They had a big argument in the kitchen while I sat in the living room with one of her friends, not speaking, just staring at the newspaper.

I raced back to Kitchener barely in time for Mother’s Day dinner.  This time I really did mean it:  that was the last date.  That was the end of it.  No more.  I never saw her again.  I could tell when I’ve been hosed.  She promised me $50 in gas money that I knew I was never going to see.  I shot off an email mentioning the $50 debt, and that was our last communication.

Iron Maiden came out with a brand new single called “The Wicker Man” which served as my cheer-up.  I bought the CDs and the vinyl and immersed myself in new music.  I always turned back to music when stuff went sour with a girl.  In this case, one of my favourite bands were triumphantly returning with their strongest lineup.  Three lead guitars.  I couldn’t wait to hear it.  Terra was the past, but the “Wicker Man” was the future!  I felt that jolt of energy again.  The life-giving electricity of rock and roll.

Valuable lessons learned here.  Not many of my friends can say that they’ve been to an AA meeting.  I’ve been there and I know it’s not a place for outsiders.  A learning experience and not one I’ll repeat.


To be continued….