Toby’s biggest fear when he woke up on the morning of his date with Phoebe Barker was how she would respond to the most important question you can ever ask a girl on a first date: Who is your favourite singer or band? He made himself promise that he’d be polite if she said Katy Perry or One Direction, but he would never ask her out again. There was only way to find out, and that was to take her to his favourite place in the city: Melodies.
Other independent record shops had come and gone from downtown Torville, but Melodies had somehow managed to hang on for the past fifty years. And it’s where Toby took all of his first dates. He was just as impatient with the Katy Perry lovers of the world as he was with the hipsters who thought they were something special if they could name one Leonard Cohen song other than Hallelujah. He was hoping, though, that Phoebe’s nose ring was a signal for “Yeah, I know who Patti Smith is, and I’ve seen her in concert. Three times.”
Toby was impressed with himself for getting a parking spot right out front of the store, although he shouldn’t have been really. Since the mall opened up on the outskirts of the city, downtown Torville had pretty much been a ghost town.
“I thought we’d hang out here for awhile, if that’s alright with you,” Toby said to Phoebe.
“Sure, we can do that,” Phoebe said.
“Hey Oscar,” Toby said to Melodies latest owner.
“Hey back,” Oscar said to his most regular customer.
Toby wanted Phoebe to know that he was on a first name basis with Oscar, but he didn’t want to be all “Hey, look at me! I know the guy who saw Dave Grohl perform before Dave Grohl had even joined Nirvana!” about it.
“I’m going to head over to the Import section for a bit,” Toby told his date.
“Okay, sounds good.”
Toby was eventually planning to hit the Import section, but first he wanted to test Phoebe. If he were to make what looked like an impromptu stop in the Blues section, would she stop too, or would she keep going to check out the music she was passionate about?
“Who’s Robert Johnson?” she asked a few seconds after Toby stopped.
“The father of the Blues,” he said to the woman who was going about applying for the job of future mother of his children in the wrong way.
“Cool,” she said in return.
Cool? Cool??!! Eric Clapton was cool. Robert Johnson was the man who stopped you from going full-on Jack Nicholson in The Shining crazy on the days when it seemed that life had it out for you.
Every time he moved, she moved. Every time he stopped, she stopped. She watched him flip through vinyl record after vinyl record, but never checked out anything herself. After an hour, the time had come to ask the pivotal question.
“So, what kind of music do you like?” he asked, all the while praying that the words Katy Perry wouldn’t pass her lips.
“I don’t know. People like Taylor Swift, I guess.”
Good lord. Katy Perry…Taylor Swift. That’s like trying to convince someone that being stabbed is better than being shot.
Toby was polite about it, however, and took her to his second favourite place in the city: the food truck down by the canal. It wasn’t anything fancy, of course, but they made a pulled pork sandwich that more than warranted a visit from Anthony Bourdain.
“You should try the pulled pork sandwich,” Toby said to his date.
“I don’t eat anything on a bun. I’m gluten intolerant,” Phoebe informed him.
Toby bought her a plate of fries and then took her home. On his way back to his own place, he made sure to stop again at Melodies and pick up that Robert Johnson album he had seen earlier. It had been one of those days.