I have a couple of friends who will be alone this Valentine's Day because they just recently broke up with their significant other. So, if you're in that category, I hope this unfortunately true story from out of my past will at least give you a much needed laugh...
As I may have stated, I have worked many jobs. In between college and the military, I had a job at a shoe store in the mall for a hot minute selling women's shoes. It didn't pay anywhere near the kind of money I needed but, I got to talk and socialize with a variety of women and hang out with the other former college students (like myself) who were working minimum wage jobs to start paying off those hefty student loans. Jobs that were once going to teenagers were now going to us twenty-somethings who were just coming out of college and entering a recession. (Why does that time period remind me so much of today's world?)
Valentine's Day was coming up and I had just got my first paycheck from this job. It was very disappointing but, I was still living with my parents then so, I was able to keep most of it. I had a date with one of the girls who worked in the bank and the date with her depended on if I could hook her girlfriend up with a date too. My date's girlfriend was attractive but, she and her boyfriend had recently split up and she was facing sitting at home alone on V-Day.
All of my other running buddies in the mall had dates so, the only person I could think of to hook her girlfriend up with was a guy I'll call Clem who worked in the Children's Place. Like all of us, Clem had a degree, had come home from Lincoln University, was hit with student loans, and had to take a job as a cashier at the Children's Place to start paying off those loans and not default. Nobody I knew had gone to college without a student loan... grants and scholarships were far and few between us.
I didn't really know Clem, except to speak and occasionally talk about sports during lunch break. Most of the guys in the mall would either go to Burger King (where I also worked on the weekends sometimes) or McDonalds to sit, eat, and chat. I approached him and pointed out the girl he would be taking out and he readily agreed. The date was set up and I went to get my suit out of the cleaners.
There was something about Clem that bugged me though... he had little nervous twitches and little weird habits that sometimes I overlooked but I felt that a girl would notice. I thought about it and then I figured... well, I'm not the one going out with him.
The four of us went to see Luther Vandross (I still can't believe that he is gone...) that night. I remember because he was a relatively new singer then. His first album, "Never Too Much", was out and he was touring with Angela Bofill, for those ol' skool R&B heads out there who remember her. Luther gave out plastic roses that lit up to all of the women in the audience that night and the roses were $8.00. The first thing I noticed about Clem... he was cheap. He yelled out, "Eight dollars! Do I get a drink too?"
Both of the girls kinda gave him the side eye. Then, he whispered to me..."Uh, yo player. Listen here. Can you help me out? She's kinda lookin' like she wants one of those damn cheap ass light up roses." He could've been a little more discreet because she heard him and saw me pass him some money so he could buy her one of the roses. However, the biggest shocker of the night was yet to come...
We left the concert which was on Broad Street at the Merriam Theatre and walked down to 17th Street. Today, there is a modern state of the art office complex on that street called Liberty Place, which has a very "tony" mall inside that houses Victoria's Secret, J-Crew, and several other establishments. But, back then (in the 80's), there were several movie theatres and clubs on that street.
One club we frequented was called Blueberry Hill and it was notorious for it's "buy one, get three" drink specials. (I sure miss Blueberry Hill!) We found a table and because it was Valentine's Day, you can imagine that was not an easy thing to do. We sat down and Clem decides to take his shoes off! We all gave him the side eye but, little did we know, it would get worse. After a few drinks, he got a little too comfortable and took his teeth out!!! Yeah, took 'em out and laid them on the table!!!
Okay, I'm going to stop right here... I said that I didn't know him that well. I certainly didn't know that he had false teeth and I didn't know he was going to take them out and lay them on the table. I have memories of being a little kid and some relative would take their false teeth out, put them in a jar of water, and leave them in the bathroom. I would walk in, see that, and was traumatized. I would run out crying and screaming. So, here I was, a grown man and reliving this experience with Clem.
All I remember is that my mouth dropped to the ground and I heard a sound that sounded like a girl screaming. It wasn't me... it was Clem's date! My date put her hand over her mouth and dropped her head. I didn't know if she was crying or laughing. I looked at him and started cussing. I won't write what I said but, I asked him in no uncertain terms if he had lost his mind and would he please put his teeth back in his mouth!
Like all bizarre people, he couldn't see what he did wrong. What he did was ruin any future I could've had with this girl (I can't even remember their names now). I never did go out with her again and her girlfriend demanded to go home right after that happened. I was a gentlemen to the end... I gave both of them cab fare and apologized profusely.
I don't know to this day if they blamed me for the way he acted or not. All I know is this... the next day, I was broke, didn't have a woman, and thoroughly embarrassed. Now, I needed a drink and couldn't afford one. The only good thing that happened that Valentine's Day is, I got to see Luther Vandross during his first tour to Philadelphia so, the night wasn't a complete bust... but, I've certainly had better Valentine's Days!
Enjoy the weekend everybody and...