A Mirror Ball, an Echoplex and One Jobless Teen

“Well, my mom and pop told me, ‘Son you gotta make some money, if you wanna use the car to go ridin’ next Sunday.’”

Having a car was everything.

So when Dad took away my car keys on July 4—of all the damn days of the year—I would be carless, he stated, until I got a job. And it wasn’t like I wasn’t looking. Apparently Charley Farley could get me a job at his mother’s spa, but since his family was on vacation, I couldn’t follow up. (Or, more likely, was slow to.)

Wheels were one thing, but I also had a sailboat. And that’s exactly what I did when I was drawn to Tipi-Waken apartments to see Michelle—jumped into our tri-hull tethered off the dock and set sail for Spring Park Bay. Since Skeeze lived at Tipi-Waken, too, and if Michelle was out working or at her dad’s (her parents were separated), then I docked the boat and hung out with my buddy instead.

July 3, 1977, was sweltering. The Mound Bank downtown clock read 88°F. The annual exchange of grandparents happened when the Adams contingent left and the Maupin clan arrived (photo at below right from early 1970s). Steaks hit the grills and cans of Grain Belt were cracked open. On July 7, I sailed to Tipi-Waken, then walked up to the Skelly gas station where Loren worked just to hand him my summer camp registration form. Camp Shamineau was due to start Sunday, July 24. Perhaps I convinced the folks I’d “really look for a job” in August, after I’d had a week of summer camp to “clear my head.” I was looking forward to seeing Lisa Tepley again, wondering if she’d attend that year.

Michelle, on the other hand, proved elusive. With 30-plus years’ hindsight, it’s easy to see why: I’d sunk the Kimliner hoping the “Michelle raft” would naturally stay afloat, only to realize nobody wants to be another person’s relationship lifeboat.

Just over a week after our Star Wars date, the July 9 diary entry reveals a statement that surprises me even now: “…I would like to talk to [Michelle] about us, and our futures, and maybe our plans. I also am going to ask her ‘to marry me.’ [emphasis mine, 2012] She sprung that on me when were out in the parking lot of Tipi-Waken that Friday we went to see Star Wars, and I didn’t have an answer for her then. But now I’m sure I do.”

Look, I think I know what 17-year-olds do, but one thing they don’t do is talk about getting married—especially after seeing Star Wars for the first time. Best I can guess about my rationalization is that if I got her to just listen to my argument, all would be clear. Even if it wasn’t clear to me at the time. I mean, how could it be?

It all came to a head Thursday, July 14, after I’d convinced Dad I needed the car to buy clothes at Ridgedale and drop off some film at Brown Photo. On the way home I stopped at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts to play piano, but there was a class in session, so I moved on. At Tipi-Waken I learned Michelle was at her dad’s place on Phelps’ Island, so drove there instead. The diary goes into detail:

…there were two guys from Nebraska waiting to see her, but I followed [Julie B.] out to a place in the woods where [Michelle] was sitting, avoiding them. We were alone for a while, and we started talking (I seemed to do most of the talking), in the dripping rain. I asked her to ‘marry me’ and she said, ‘no.’ I reminded her about when she asked me to ‘marry her,’ she said she couldn’t remember that and I said, ‘Why? Or do you have another face?’ (I shouldn’t have said that) then I said: ‘There’s nothing more that I can say.’ She sadly said ‘goodbye’ as I quickly left…

Two days later, Dad railed at me to get a job again, then put Brian and me to work hauling new garage doors in the heat and humidity from some godawful place in Richfield. Skeeze even put me to work, helping him pick up a mirror ball and echoplex at his brother Roger’s house, for a show in Delano.

Adrift again, I wondered just what I was gonna do … ’cause there’s damn sure no cure for the summertime blues.

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~ by completelyinthedark on April 21, 2012.

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