I don’t know what colour your eyes are, baby
But your hair is long and brown
Your legs are strong, and you’re so, so long
And you don’t come from this town…. – Love and Rockets
I had recently been curious about and coveting an alternative girlfriend. The preppy bobbed haircuts and coordinated socks and cardigans were becoming the equivalent of vanilla ice cream, and I wanted some mint crackle pop for a change. I was presently in my place of worship – Dr. Disc on Clarence Street. It was my home away from home, and I would actually spend about three to four hours in there at a time. It was the only place where you could find imports, bootlegs and every artist imaginable. I would lay in bed from midnight until two in the morning, listening to “Brave New Waves” on CBC radio, where they played all kinds of previously unknown punk, new wave and independent acts from around the musical universe. Then, I would descend upon our local record store, ask for the latest Camper Van Beethoven album, and receive the requisite blank stare from a gum-snapping harlot behind the counter, as she gestured towards the classical section. “No, Camper Van Beethoven,” I would correct her. Frustrated, I would then plead my parents for the use of the LeBaron to make the trek to the good doctor – Dr. Disc.
As soon as you entered the store, you knew it was different. The floors creaked as you walked and the new releases rack was devoid of Madonna, Michael Jackson and William Hung. The walls were littered with posters of bands like Killing Joke, Skinny Puppy, Dead Kennedys, and Suicidal Tendencies. You know, a real positive energy. The staff were unique as well, and one of the girls working today had unexpectedly befallen my interest. She was wearing black fishnets, cherry Docs and a black denim skirt, and her black spiked hair matched her black eyeliner. However, the coup de grace was a t-shirt emblazoned with “kiss my grits.” I was smitten. She was so cool in her irony I didn’t know how to approach her. She was just starting her shift behind the counter, which meant she was in charge of the music that blasted through the store. I cautiously waited, curious to see what she would select. I have always been a music snob, and I silently prayed that she wouldn’t put on Mr. Mister. I was currently flipping through the “P” rack of music. My routine was to flip through every album in the store alphabetically, silently compiling a ranked list of what I would purchase, until my friends had reached their limit of patience. Then I would zig zag and pluck my choices from the bins and be at the checkout right away. I had already dismissively waved them off twice, but now they were back pointing angrily at their watches. I’d barely made the jump from the Plasmatics to the Plimsouls. What if I wanted to buy something from the Pogues? My attention returned to the counter as she had just dropped the needle on “Love Cats” by the Cure. Perfect, I just have to buy a Joy Division bootleg and I’ll be speaking her language. I took a deep breath and sauntered up to her, checking of course, that nobody else was within earshot. Just like in chess, my opening move often got me killed right away, and today proved no different. I plopped my vinyl on the counter in front of her and smiling suggestively, borrowed a line from the “Love Cats” lyrics. “This song is so wonderfully, wonderfully pretty!” I said. She snickered as she sized me up. I was in a brief ska phase, and my wardrobe bore the proof – chuck Taylors, jean overalls (one strap undone) and a “Madness” t-shirt. “Who are you supposed to be – Punky Brewster?” she laughed, obviously aware of my awkward attempt to wheel her. “Inside, I’m a sad clown,” I responded, suddenly feeling as awkward as a right-handed man trying to pass the duchie. “Nice try, preppy,” she continued. “We don’t sell David Cassidy here.” Cornered, I reached into the Shakespeare well. “Preppy? If the Stone Roses went by any other name, wouldn’t they sound just as sweet? Music is our common denominator, and remember – Andy decidedly chose Blaine over Ducky, so let’s not get hung up on labels…” She rolled her eyes and rang up my order. She offered me a consolation smile, but the words on her t-shirt seemed to specifically pertain to me at this point. I hustled my friends towards the exit, choosing to ignore their knowing looks. Yes, I’d been denied. “Mind if we stop at Baskin Robbins on the way home?” I asked. “I have a sudden craving for some vanilla ice cream.”