“Always wanted one,” I said to you, fingering the wooded dark brown record player in the store.
We had met in Spanish class that day.
That’s a lie, you’d say, if you were reading this story. I’d noticed you first through the window of my class that morning. And we didn’t really meet until afterwards, that afternoon, when I asked if you’d like to join Amanda and me to the Seville mall.
You lit a cigarette when I’d asked, and it was the first time I’d notice how you never took a drag without pushing your hair from your face.
“Sure,” you’d said. “I’ll go. What’re you looking for?”
“A Valentine’s Day present for my boyfriend.”
“Who happens to be her au pair kid’s teacher,” Amanda jumped in, grinning.
Your eyes flickered. “Oh-la-la,” you mused. “Bit last minute, mate.”
“I didn’t know if they celebrated Valentines Day here.”
“Yah,” you snorted. “America’s not the only country to celebrate shit holidays.”
I’d smiled back at you, but it was a nervous one. And when we’d walked to the mall, we stayed on either side of Amanda until we were well in the store.
Looking back, I imagine I made the record player comment because you seemed like the type of 22-year old girl who owned one.
You walked over to me when I did.
“My dad bought me one,” you said, fingering the stand. “Compensation prize after he bunked off on my mum.”
I looked at you. “It’s true,” you said, shrugging. “All divorced kids get ’em.”
“You’re that type of person,” I said, but it came out a question. “You like to make people uncomfortable.”
“I lack a filter.”
“I do too, sometimes.”
“You?” You grinned. “Doubt it. You’re American: polite enough to know when to bite your tongue.”
“Isn’t that true of British culture as well?”
You shook your head. “Maybe in London, not so much where I’m from.”
I repeated the word, but didn’t know why. And you looked at me, slightly confused. “Never heard of it?”
“No,” I said, looking away. “I have.”
“Home of the Buzzcocks,” you said. “Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, Stone Roses, James,” you trailed off. “Others too.”
“I don’t know who James is.”
You faked abhorrence, and clutched your chest like you’d been stabbed. “How do you not know who James is? What do you live in a fucking oil pipe down there in Texas?”
“Laid?” you said. “Getting Away With it? Sometimes?”
I shook my head. “I’ve never heard any of those.”
We were still standing over the record player.
“Well,” you paused. And then you pointed down to it. “You bloody shouldn’t purchase one of these until you have, Mate.”
You did too.
I said “Can we be friends, then?”
And that was the first day I met you.