It was the summer of ’77. I was 18. Which in my case, meant, at least around 6, emotionally speaking. Me at 18: short, slim; with small, high breasts; & a (comparatively) big butt. Long – and I do mean long – brown, hair. No grey yet. Skin not yet scarred by acne. Zero self-confidence, half a dozen dates – in the old sense of the word – with the same long-haired boy. I heard Elton John’s “Yellow Brick Road” album for the first time when we listened to it, together, in his bedroom. Tellingly, my favourite song was Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen”.
Long hair on men: -clean; no comb-overs. *Sigh* Where are the ’60s & ’70s when you need them? Oh well, at least beards are back.
So there I was, 18, and the closest I’d ever got to a job was painting Grandmother’s garage – which I then pronounced “ga-rog” (1) – the summer before. (2)
So the summer of ’77, I decided to find a job to fill the time between high school graduation, and starting college that autumn. Stupidly, but understandably, I asked at our local library, Allen Park Library. They, or rather the nice lady at the desk, said no. I then inquired at Summers’ Flowers, our local florist, run by a Mr Summers, a man around ten years’ older than me. He mentioned that he had been thinking about getting a cleaner. (3)
As I recall, my main interview consisted of showing up the next day, and cleaning the main, public room, not the workroom: think Hercules, and stables. So I got down to it: moved things; dusted; cleaned the sliding glass doors on the big refridgerator unit full of buckets of carnations, roses, and Baby’s Breath; swept up leaves, and mopped the tiled floor.
Mike (4) Summers walked in. “Looks good,” he said, as he cut a leaf from a fern he held in his hands. It fell, disregarded by him but not his newly hired cleaner, to the floor.
Here’s the shez: my memory of that summer is of working in the backroom, with him and, sometimes, his younger brother, who did the deliveries; and his mum, who was also a florist. On the radio is Stevie Nicks, singing “Dreams” from the album “Rumours”.
Listen: doesn’t it sound like she’s saying “shez”? It took nine years, a marriage to the Beloved, and an entire new musical education to realise that, instead of “shez”, whatever I thought that meant, she in fact is singing “washes”.
Next blog, I’ll discuss my discovery that Carly Simon does not actually say “And when you’re not/ you’re with some underworld spy/ Or the wife of a postman”.
(1) As opposed to “gar-ridge”
(2) Thanks, Grandma.
(3) Anyone who has visited my house in the last 10 years will no doubt be ROFL at this point.
(4) I think it was Mike: it might have been “Chuck”