Optimism

Optimism

Love stories can’t always end well, but you don’t always get to see the happy beginning. Sometimes, you only get to see the bad ending, and in doing so, you have to follow the story backwards, and find your happy ending in the optimism of the beginning.

Let’s go back, long ago, not so long in years, but in miles, feelings and technology, a girl in pedal pushers  working as a curb hop,will meet a boy with slicked hair in a convertible.The town they both live in, is divided quite literally by a set of heavy train tracks. Heavy because, it separates the town in financial and class status, and both of our subjects live on the wrong side of it.The girl is painfully shy with red hair, and the boy is outspoken, and seemingly self assured.

Overloaded with orders, and obviously frazzled, the girl is working after school. A car pulls up that she has seen around, but her aunt takes the orders from the cars, and collects the money. Her aunt Betty is fat. Her chubby face, which is caked in makeup, is framed by bleached blonde hair, cut badly in the latest bob. Betty’s husband cooks in the cramped kitchen of the drive in.Being that it is already afternoon, he’s almost as drunk as he needs to be to take some money from the till, and leave with a flourish of cussing and a slamming of the drive-in’s back door.The girl tries not to think of this as she gathers the food and drinks from him onto her tray.The car full of older boys, much older than her, looms, and she is overcome with nervousness, as she usually is. The driver is handsome, and the boys with him,crowding the car are loud and laugh heartily.She walks up to them shakily, and begins handing them food with her head down. Using one hand, she holds the tray, while she tries to get a lanky boy in the back’s attention to take the next to last shake from the tray. The driver’s chocolate shake alone, totters precariously there on the yellow plastic tray.

“You’re going to drop that.” The driver of the convertible says.He has seen the girl around before, usually alone, walking to work or school. She wears a Chinese print jacket sometimes, he’s noticed,but this is his first true words to her. The girl glances up from what she is doing, still trying to get the thick headed boy in the backseat’s attention silently. She realizes he is right,and attempts to adjust the tray one-handedly. The tray tips with the action, spilling the driver’s shake directly in his lap. The girl’s face flushes with embarrassment, and she rushes into the building for napkins, not saying a word. The car is filled with laughter, as the boy opens the massive driver door and slides out, trying to slick the cold chocolate off his jeans. The girl reappears quickly, and yelling can be heard from behind her as she closes the building’s door, her shoulders slumped. She hands the boy some napkins in a wad, and he smiles at her, beginning a conversation, that slowly, she contributes to, until she feels a little less nervous. As she begins to answer his first questions,we can see they are both smiling now, and we can tell, there’s just the slightest spark between these two.Is that Perry Como on the radio of his convertible?We can’t be sure , because you and I can hear the sound of an alarm going off. Our time is up here, and we have to turn from chrome and chocolate shakes,pedal pushers and slicked hair.It’s time we returned to the present.

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