Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chapter 6 Reunion

Every second of free time was spent at the floral shop where I worked. A couple of times a week I would assist the manager by doing a myriad of assignments ranging from manning the front cash register, taking orders and giving recommendations for amateur, overwhelmed men and surprising women with flower deliveries. My favorite assignment, however, was designing floral arrangements. I could take an assortment of flowers, filler and greenery and craft it into a work of art that would delight some unsuspecting person. I experienced such joy knowing that the corsage I was making would go on some blushing teen’s wrist for her Senior Prom or perhaps a bouquet for a beautiful bride. Sometimes I would escape to the floral fridge, take a deep breath of earthy goodness and wonder what I had done in life to deserve such a fabulous gig, and was baffled that someone was actually paying me to do it! During business hours, there was always a soft rock station constantly spewing out The Carpenters, Journey, Olivia Newton John, Abba, Barry White and Neil Diamond. To this day, if I hear any Air Supply song, a smile creeps over my face and my nose is immediately filled with an organic, floral fragrance.

Once in a while, the owner would entrust me to go the wholesaler to restock our floral fridge. There were rows and rows of cheerful Gerbera Daisies, colorful roses, lovely lilies, fragrant stock, exotic orchids, filler flowers and foliage. I had free rein to choose whatever colors and varieties I wanted. All I had to do was sign at the X and walk out with armfuls of botanic delights.

I was working at the floral shop the day Parke was coming to town. He was going to pick me up at closing time. I was jittery during my shift thinking about Parke and our approaching date. I wanted to see him, but at the same time, I didn’t want to see him. He was so perfect. Would my expectations match the authentic Parke?

What if he…

…had a snaggle tooth I never noticed?

…liked Bob Marley?

…was a horrible kisser?

…was racist?

…had body odor?

…played the harp, talked with a lisp, had a huge butt……?

Arggg! Stop it Ashley, You know Parke. You spent 3 months of lab with him. Plus, you’ve questioned him extensively online and he is awesome!

Then the insecurity dragon started focusing on me. I knew he admired me from afar, but would he like the person I was outside of lab?

What if he….

…spotted my tattoo?

…realized he was a rebound?

…found out I sung out loud to Air Supply songs?

Stop it, Ashley! I didn’t know why I was so nervous about the date, but I was.

He wasn’t.

When I saw him walking up to the front door of the store he was smiling, calm, collected, and confident. When I saw him smiling at me, all of my anxiety melted away.

Oh yeah. That’s Parke. I remember everything now.

He was as gorgeous as I remembered from that day in the hallway, except more so. He was a masculine vision, more like a walking, breathing Michelangelo’s David. He was wearing an untucked, white, button-down shirt with thin blue stripes, dark blue jeans and white Adidas shoes. To this day, I can still see him walking toward me. That memory will be forever etched into my mind. Parke was six feet tall but he looked so much taller, even at a distance. He had longer hair and tanner skin than I remembered, a fortunate summer side effect. With the addition of hemp bracelets he looked like a bona fide California surfer. Do they surf in Wyoming?

Let’s see the teeth…wait for it…wait for it…I zeroed in on the smile.

Oh. My. Goodness. His teeth were absolute perfection. Large, white teeth filled his mouth when he smiled. His canine teeth were a little pointed, waiting to sink into my neck. My neck instinctively exposed itself.

I am a “teeth person”. Some men are boob-men. Some women are all about the hands. I have always had a teeth fetish.

I’m not sure when the teeth fascination began. It probably had something to do with Loren. Loren moved to our city in 6th grade. At a time when most pre-pubescent boys are spindly and awkward, Loren had a coolness about him. He had black hair, tan skin, a prominent nose, great sculptured lips and great teeth. He. Had. Great. Teeth. His dad was a dentist. I don’t think he had any work done, but having a dad as a dentist made his teeth seem even better. If a guy has a snaggle tooth, yellow teeth or big spaces, I’m finished. But if someone has straight, white teeth with nice lips to boot, I’m swoonfully smitten.

The first time I spoke to Loren I was very nervous and the first thing I blurted out to him was…. “Nice Teeth” and walked away. Later, I was so embarrassed and kicked myself for saying “Nice Teeth” instead of “Hi, Loren, I’m Ashley, welcome to the neighborhood” or “I wanted to introduce myself; I’m Ashley”. Actually, that’s how adults talk. In sixth grade I probably should’ve said something like “Isn’t Axl Rose radical?”

We ended up “going out” and shared one, magical kiss on the eve of my fourteenth birthday. It was his first kiss. I treasured the fact that I gave Loren his first kiss. Randomly enough, seven years later Loren and I ended up in the same singles ward at BYU. At a church activity we had to introduce ourselves to the group with our name and an interesting fact. Locking eyes with Loren in the crowd, I stated that I was Ashley and I had given someone in the group their first kiss. Everyone laughed and pressed me for a name. Accompanied by a swell of catcalls and whistles, Loren stepped forward proudly.

Today, he’s a dentist.

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