The blue toque
March 3, 2015
My mom in her 40-year-old figure skates, taking J on the ice for the first time.
Hello from sunny, bright, frozen Nova Scotia! I’ve got a story for you today. One of those deliciously nostalgic ones, if you’re into that. I happen to be a bit of a nostalgia junkie, myself.
My little sister Steph came to visit this weekend, super gung-ho to take J skating for the first time. Which we did, and it was sweet and hilarious – something like an adorably drunken newborn deer – but that’s not what this story is about.
When we arrived at the brand new community arena, it was pleasantly quiet. We ambled up to the cashier, arms full of snacks and skating accoutrements, my little blue sausage of a boy teetering along in his puffy one-piece snowsuit and clunky new boots. There was a young man in line in front of us. A tall, rugged, be-toqued beardo, his hand gently resting on the shoulder of his little daughter. I couldn’t see his face, but I could see hers. She had startlingly bright, ice-blue eyes and was wearing a royal blue toque that read Li’l Devil in white.
And I promptly had a perfect TV-calibre highschool flashback. Speckled linoleum floors, rows of lockers, etc…
When I was in my first year of highschool I had a big crush on this grade 12 guy. I first saw him when he scooped my ice cream on the way back from summer camp just before school started. Ridiculous small town idyllic mush, I know. I thought he was fantastically good-looking, and there was something lovely and unusually direct about his bright, blue-eyed gaze. And although he played hockey, he also took art. Which, you know, clearly meant he was perfect.
My two best friends and I nicknamed him L’il Devil because of – you guessed it – the words on his his royal blue toque (so we could track important sightings privately, obv).
Our relationship (hahaha) culminated in no less than TWO exhilarating, and not entirely shallow conversations, before he started dating a grade 12 girl and that was that. With waning interest, I continued to scan the grade 12 art projects for his name and kept my eye open for his blue toque in the halls for the rest of the year. Then he graduated and I literally never saw him again. Not even on Facebook.
And that’s it! Nothing bad or traumatic happened. In fact nothing happened at all. Which is probably why I have such a pleasant nostalgia about him. He was just this simple, lovely symbol of the wide, wonderful world of possibility that I felt unfolding. That’s the whole story.
And then I saw that blue toque again, and I knew right away who ol’ beardo was. I ever so smoothly asked him if he was himself. And he was, of course. And I inquired about the hat, fully revealing my teenage stalkerdom. And he laughed lightly, affectionately placed his hands on the little girl’s head, smiled kindly and said “yeah, that’s the one.” And I smiled too. And we went our merry ways.
I watched him looping playfully around the rink with his little girl in her pink helmet as I sat placating J with cashews on one of his many “skating” breaks. It was just so perfect, so kind of reassuring that there he was, my sweet symbol of growing up, looking healthy and handsome and yep, all grown up. A kind father.
I know I am totally romanticizing the crap out of him here, but the point isn’t him, really. It’s me of course. He was just this gorgeous window into my own life. We were there and now we’re here. With lives and families and baby bellies or beards. And it’s good. In fact, when I can get over myself and see it, it’s delightful.
So thanks, beardo! Thanks royal blue toque. That was nice.