I grew up in Cambridge, Ontario. It is a medium-sized city with a population of approximately 133 000 people. It is a very picturesque place with a river running through it, and a few old and very statuesque churches scattered throughout the downtown. It also has a wonderful farmer’s market and the best chocolate store called Reid Chocolates. If you are ever passing through, make sure you stop there. The “tortoises” (like extra-large Turtles) are amazing.
As nice as Cambridge is however, it wasn’t the most exciting place to grow up. Typical bush parties, and walks to the burger joint for a bowl of fries and gravy – that’s about as thrilling as it got for me as a teenager.
The only other fun thing we had was the town roller rink. “The Forum” as it was called, was the highlight of my world for about two or three years – from the time I was about fourteen until I was old enough to use fake ID to get into the scummy local bars. You see, “The Forum” – not to be confused with the strip joint that was located directly across the street – transformed every Saturday night into a huge dance party for kids my age.
I remember getting all dressed up in my 1980’s outfits – one particular gem was a knitted red pencil skirt with matching top and shoes…and probably matching purse and hair accessories as well. No one ever told me that dressing like a tomato wasn’t attractive, so I went with it.
I remember waiting in line at 8:30 for the dance to start at 9 p.m. We all got there early. We had nothing better to do. I mean, what does life consist of when you are fifteen? For me, it was reruns of Happy Days and Love Boat, and my cat Nelson. Surprised? Probably not.
I remember finally getting in and then hanging around the edge of the rink, leaning on that half wall (the dance floor was the rink itself), sipping our drinks, scoping out the crowd. Were there any cute guys? It’s not as if they were going to talk to me, but there were always a few.
I remember the flashing disco lights and the faint smell of sweat. We were younger teenagers then. I don’t think any of us knew about deodorant.
I remember watching from the wall when the slow songs came on and all the cool kids were “close-dancing”. I wanted so badly to dance to Sister Christian’s “Night Ranger” or was it Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian”. Either way, I was a nerd. Nobody wanted to dance with me except for the fellow with the huge dental apparatus. He asked – spit on me in the process – and I said no.
You know the funny part? My husband used to frequent these dances too. He lived in a city close by. Whenever I tell this story he always says, “Thank God I didn’t know you back then. I’m not sure we would have ended up together.”
When he declares this, I always reply, “Look who’s talking.” He was a big nerd too with even thicker glasses, so what if he ran track and played football as well. I was a cheerleader – once. And then I quote Alice Sebold from The Lovely Bones – “Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had.” And finally, I add, “It was destiny bitch, and there’s no escaping it now.”