The Road Trip, part two

stripsroad.jpg My friend John was a year ahead of me in school and a year older than me. He also came from an entirely different world than I did. He had been given and expected to carry responsibilities that I didn’t have until I was living away from home. He had experiences in life, stories he could tell, that it would take me 5 more years to begin to accumulate what he’d already lived. “The House That Sand Saved” was just part of his true story collection.

He had a lot of stories that centered around his experiences at MacDonalds. Stories that included the huge woman who always ordered a diet Coke with her Big Macs and Extra large fries. The guy who always took his coffee into the washroom with him. Steve, another manager who I met, who assumed every woman who worked at MacDonalds or walked into MacDonalds wanted him. He would do outrages things I won’t tell you about here that started with him simply dropping his keys. There was the story about the guy who took out the trash and ended up tangling with some rats at the dumpster who’d gotten into the rat poison before they bit him that left him with black flesh on his arms that eventually left behind hollows in his skin where flesh used to be.

Of all his stories, Toni was his favourite.

They went way, way back. They knew each other from work and friends and she was just slightly older than he was. She went to a different school and when we made our road trip was at University.

John was crazy about Toni. Most guys are terrified of asking a girl out. The probability of rejection is always looming and getting shot down is painful. Most guys won’t ask a girl out even if they really like her just because of that fear. Most guys who face the fear and ask a girl out will give up with “No.” John was not most guys. I’d been with him as he relentlessly pursued Toni. It had been “Yes.” And “No.” with lots of indecision in between. But we jumped in the car to drive 7 hours down I-55 and I-44 because it was currently, “Yes.” And John wore Toni’s class ring on a chain around his neck as a sign, a symbol of the love they shared for each other.

I had met Toni but I’d mostly heard about Toni. I heard about her mom, her family, funny stories about her, the 10 reasons she was perfect for him, why they were perfect for each other. On and on.

During an “off” period, when Toni was definitely not with John, he still talked about her and he measured all other girls against her. My life had been brief at that point but I had never and I’ve never since, seen someone hold on to the idea of being with a particular person the way John did with Toni. It was intimidating, inspiring and if I’m honest, a little weird to me.

But there we were, just passing St. Louis on 44 listening to Billy Joel. As Joel sang “Angry Young Man” John and I were both thinking of the same friend back home. As he sang, “She’s Got A Way About Her” we were both thinking of the same girl, but it wasn’t Toni. As we played along on steering wheel and dashboard with Billy as he sang, “Vienna” I thought of myself and wondered why I was going with John for a weekend with his girlfriend.

About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in Friends, Life, Once upon a time, Rambling. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Road Trip, part two

  1. john says:

    Sorry I haven’t checked your blog in a while, we’ve been quite busy getting ready for Josh and Laura’s wedding this Saturday. Your memory is incredible and I’m amazed with the details you recall. I still wear her class ring on the same chain with no clasp that I bought with Shellie in our quest for Mithril. I’ve only had if off for brief periods of repair work when the chain almost sawed through the ring. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. And yes, Toni still advises young woman of the importance of “The List”…

  2. brianmpei says:

    No worries John. Thanks for stopping by in the midst of wedding prep. That’s pretty cool. I’ve done a lot of weddings but haven’t been the father at any yet. I can wait. Blessings on Saturday and on Josh & Laura. Thanks for taking me along and creating stories with me. And seriously, we’ve GOT to meet up in TO.

  3. shellie says:

    Wait a second… from our shopping trips together, Brian still has the cool Frodo shirt, John has the mithril jewelry, and I’ve got… a finger?!? Where’s the fairness in THAT??


    John, wasn’t that shop called The Mines of Moria? (I can’t remember my appointments for tomorrow, but I can remember the name of a cool store from two decades ago! haha!) I recall going into that shop, but I’m not sure if it’s the one where you got the chain. I think that is romantic and wonderful that you still wear Toni’s ring on a chain! So sweet!!

    Great story-telling, as usual, Bri.

  4. brianmpei says:

    Shellie, we mistakenly thought you’d always have the memories. O.K., how about we trade the finger for my Frodo shirt?

  5. john says:

    Shellie, the store was called the Mines of Moria and it was indeed where I bought the chain for the “One Ring”. That weekend was a blast and I can still recall pounding out the piano for ‘All for Leyna’ on the back of the bus seats like it was yesterday. Happy sigh.

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