Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Ultimate Cookie

The summer before my senior year in high school, I worked at a cookie store on Haight Street that was in a former bank (and that is now a clothing store). This was in the '80s when Mrs. Field's were everywhere, the snack food of the times. It was late summer when I started, and I expected to have a pretty light senior year - not to mention that we got out of school around 2:30 anyway, and said so in the interview. I was hired despite the fact that the manager, as she told me, didn't usually hire teenagers because we were unreliable.

I worked a couple days a week as a baker in the back of the shop with two other people. The dough came in tubs and we scooped it out with ice cream dishers onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. After baking and cooling, we wrapped most of the cookies in paper and boxes to be delivered elsewhere. The back room was the "wholesale operation."

There was a "retail operation" in the front of the shop, and the cookies to be sold in-house were slightly larger than those packed for delivery. I worked behind the counter on Sunday evenings, playing the Dr. Demento Show on the radio and goofing around with my coworkers. There were two of them, both of whom I thought were at least ten years older than I (but I was only 16 that summer), and one was older than the other.

Hanging out with them was confusing. Sometimes it felt like they were both "kind of" flirting with me and that they were in competition for my attention. I wasn't used to this sort of attention being paid to me and I didn't really know what to think about it. I was flattered, but I wasn't attracted to either of them - and the fact that both of them were way off limits (since I was 16) did not make them more attractive either. It was exciting, though.

When school started the guys started making plans to be my senior prom date. First one, then the other, both in full hearing of each other, would talk about going out to dinner, renting a limo, and all that prom stuff. Eventually they agreed they would both escort me to the prom, and that the African-American guy would wear a white tuxedo and the white guy would wear a black one. It was totally silly, and yet it was fun to imagine people's reactions to my a) showing up with two dates who b) no one knew.

I quit about a month into the fall semester. I had found myself in three AP classes, and wasn't really interested in working at the cookie store anymore. When I gave my notice, the manager said that she had never really expected anything else, and that she had been planning to fire me anyway. I never even went into that cookie store again after that.

I went to the prom with a friend who had graduated the year before. He wore a black tuxedo.

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