Electric Light Orchestra – “Don’t Bring Me Down”

When: 26 April 2008
Where: Altadena Drive
Who: My father
Weather: Mild, clear

These were exciting times. First, there was Monty Park. I’d used the power of the internet to prove my coolness to everyone else, and it worked so well I began to worry if I was the kind of person who peaked in high school; thankfully I wasn’t.

Secondly, Jeannie (not her real name). On her own, she was terrific. She was the nerd girl every thinking man dreamed of, and awesomely candid. Nerd culture was mainstream now, which made us a veritable power couple, but the very fact that I had a girlfriend had power on its own: it meant that I could, that I was normal, competent even.

The third part of the equation came the day after Jeannie and I “made it official”– the day we decided we were officially boyfriend and girlfriend– and only a week after we met, and that was employment.

My friend Adrian worked at a really trendy gelateria up the road from my house, and he hooked me up without any trouble except that he made me eat a spoonful of pure pistachio butter. The boss was kind of creepy, but he was hardly ever around, and when he was it was hilarious to see him work the counter. He wanted to see his employees smile, and nothing made us smile more than watching him lowered to our level. For the most part, I worked the cash register, but occasionally I did other jobs, including selecting the music. I almost got away playing an entire Flight of the Conchords album once– after that we had to keep the TV on Rai Due. I saw people come in from all across greater Los Angeles. People I knew came in all the time. We were in Der Spiegel.

But occasionally there were reminders that I was still a teenager. On my second week, my dad picked me up, refusing to take me straight home. He did this a lot when I was younger, and it always turned into a huge fight that he immediately forgot and wondered why I didn’t like being shanghaied into his antics. This time it was a forest fire in Santa Anita Canyon. Fires were common, but not in the spring. It didn’t get far anyway. As a compromise, I put my iPod on, listened to this song, and nodded whenever I saw his lips move. It worked.

Next: The joy of Doctor Who.

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