It was pretty common for Mr. Olson to tell us old stories as he sipped on what he said was a soda, but, even at 14, I suspected was a booze drink. I slept over at their house all the time, and even when Sarah rolled her eyes and asked him to leave us alone, I nodded attentively, eager to hear him tell stories about his childhood in a way I had always wished my dad would.
“I was exactly your age,” he said through the heavy sighs of his daughter, “12.”
“Dad! I’m 14!”
“Oh right,” he said, “that’s right. I was 14.”
Mr. Olson told us a story that began with basketball. He said that he and his best friend, Skinny Mitch, were shooting hoops outside the community center with a kid called Joey Arnold. Mr. Olson said the boy’s called him Timmy back then, sometimes Tiny Tim. Mr. Olson told us how Joey Arnold wouldn’t stop bragging about how he was going to see The Faceless Man, the newest horror flick to reach their local cinema, that Saturday night. The little Mr. Olson, Timmy, and Skinny Mitch knew that Joey couldn’t get into a horror movie, and they called his bluff.
“Yeah, right, big man,” Mitch taunted, “you don’t look 12, let alone 17!”
Joey paused mid-three pointer, arms posed in the air dramatically to make his point.
“Oh yeah, losers, my brother Scott works the ticket booth. All I have to do is buy a ticket to Fantastical Mr. Turtle, and my brother will let me sneak into The Faceless Man. Take that!” On the exclamation, Joey went for the shot – forcing all his coolness into the hope for a swish. He hit it. Mitch and Timmy were beyond impressed.
“No shit, Joey! Are you for real?! That’s awesome. Come Monday, you’ll be the only kid in the whole 9th grade who’s seen it. Man, that’s SO awesome.” Mr. Olson touched the palm of his hand to the Nike Swish on his t-shirt. He said he could feel the jealousy swell up in his chest as he passed the ball to Mitch, but he had an idea.
"You don’t think Scott would sneak us in to the movie, too, do you?"
The deal involved Mitch and Timmy doing Joey’s math homework for a week. But it was a deal.
Back at Timmy’s house later that afternoon, he knew he had some work to do. His parents had plans to go out that Saturday night, so that was a plus. Since they were close friends of the Stewarts, Mitch’s parents, he planted some seeds to get them to go on a double date.
The double date plan went better than expected. A new restaurant had opened in town that only served family style meals – servings of 4, 6 or 8 – and Timmy’s parents really wanted to go. On that Saturday afternoon, he sat down at the kitchen table where his dad was prepping the dinner their son would eat after they left for the evening. Timmy brought got his plan in motion.
"You guys should totally go to that new place, Mario’s, or Luigi’s, or whatever."
"Gregorino’s Trattoria.” His dad corrected. “And it’s only for groups, unfortunately. Your mom and I have been interested in going there for weeks.”
He knew he had his in.
"Oh really? Just yesterday I heard Mr. Stewart saying how much him and Mrs. Stewart wanted to go there, too. You guys should ask ‘em.”
The older Mr. Olson hesitated in peeling his carrot for a minute, and pushed his eyeglasses up his nose with his finger. He called out to the Timmy’s mom.
“Sandy…Have you talked to Tom or Marcia today?”
Were they busy tonight?
His Dad suggested that he give their friends a call and invite them for a nice evening out at the Trattoria. His Mom thought this idea was lovely and thanked him for being so thoughtful. Mr. Olson laughed when he told us that his Dad peered over his mom’s shoulder and winked at him.
“Later,” he said “my dad told me that the trick to keeping your wife happy was the element of surprise.” Before they left that night, Mr. Olson said, his dad slipped him a five for a pizza in case he wasn’t interested in the casserole they had left for him.
“Wait a minute,” Sarah stopped her dad. She was incredulous. “5 Dollars? For a whole, pizza? See, Jamie, I told you he was lying.”
“Lying? No way,” Mr. O. quickly rebutted, “you have to remember this was 1972. Thing were a little different back then. You know I had a job stocking shelves at the market when I was 11…”
“I know, I know,” my best friend laughed, “up hill both ways, right?”
“Oh, have I told you that story before?” Mr. Olson winked at Sarah, I guessed just like his dad winked at him that Saturday night in 1972.
--To Be Continued--
Prompt: Begin a story with the following sentence: “I could have avoided all that trouble if I had only remembered..."
Questions: I'm having trouble keeping the frame in tact. I like the story as "Mr. Olson telling a story to Sarah and Jamie" but I think its really awkward to keep referring back or calling the narrator Mr. Olson. Any advice for how to rearrange so I can keep the frame without all the awkward? Check back for more of the story...