Rick’s Fine Chocolates and Coffees, 26 October 2019
Not exactly my commute – Guthrie, OK edition
Working in a chocolaterie in small town America today. Strangely mindboggling. More so than it would be on a Thai beach. Or a sidewalk cafe in Almaty. This isn’t any small town, you see.
Exotic, yet home. Different, yet familiar. Venue of many of my firsts: first drive-through (food, banking, dry-cleaners, you name it), first LARGE Coke or LARGE coffee or LARGE anything (if you’re not American, you’ll know what I mean), first school cafeteria (only Norwegians would get this probably), first pancakes (or waffles, or cake!) for breakfast, first time I’d seen 30-year-old items being called antiques, first billboards along highways, first American football game, first Halloween, prom, Valentine’s Day.
First date, first sight of police carrying guns, first prayers before a meal (all things that made me slightly uncomfortable, and still do). First time getting Christmas presents from people I didn’t know and first surprise birthday party (fond memories). Other more personal firsts, too, but this is getting too long already.
Back in the present, I’m pulling aside that thin veil between now and all other now’s that’s ever been and ever will be – and I see this 17-year-old exchange student jaywalking and getting away with it (on account of being a furriner that doesn’t know the rules).
She’s on her way to after school-work; receptionist at the Town House Motel. (Hardly any guests, so work was mostly watching Bewitched and chewing on Tootsie Rolls).
She’s astonished at the wide streets, the huge cars (and huge parking spaces, free), at the soda fountain in Mark’s Drugs, at the grocery store with the bewildering selection of, well… most everything, vaginal cleaning products say (oddly no condoms. Keep it hygienic but no messing around?)
Decades later, the grown-up version of her is astonished (and peculiarly pleased) how all this has remained the same.
Of course, the young ‘un will be even more astonished at seeing her grown-up self with a laptop (that doesn’t weigh a ton, doesn’t have green text on black screen, and is used for other things than playing Frogger), a mobile phone (that isn’t a Motorola and comes with its own suitcase), and drinking a caffe latte (not LARGE). In a cafe in Guthrie. Now to explain hashtags to her.
PS Jaywalking trick still works.