A bubble-gum pink plastic case. Spinning like a top. Watching it blur on the turntable made it a moment, branded like a fiery poker on my eight-year-old brain.
People often wonder why I’m such an Anglophile. It’s simple, really. It happened one sunny Saturday in a liquid, hotter-than-hell July in the formal living room of my next door neighbor’s red brick ranch house.
She was an English mother. Her daughter was my age, my golden-haired, tomboy friend. We used to sit on the bed and ‘teach’ her poor mispronouncing-everything mother how to talk.
Say it. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhlllllllllllllllllll.
Ooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhllllllllllllllllllll. She had a walloping dose of Southern accent stirred in there, but the exotic quality, the othernnes, still leaped through the notes to me.
That desolate summer month, I dragged my despondent chin around the house, imagining. What was Beth doing in England, a place where they said ‘saint’ for ‘something’ and substituted ‘aah’ with ‘ooh’? The minute I saw their bullet-shaped station wagon lumber up the drive, I ran next door, hoping the foreign molecules – something, anything – would rub off on me.
Spinning in a raised bed of hot pink, a song blasted from the solo speaker in the background when Beth’s mom summoned me.
I got you saint to mark the trip, Andra.
Elton John belted out “Island Girl” on a 45, a diva on a grooved disc. Her motherly English eyes weighed the seriousness of the moment. She placed a shiny round coin in my childish hand, its bigness obliterating my palm. She was heavy, the regal lady who rode on the back of a silver-cast horse. An Island Girl I would never forget.
I can still feel the weight of that coin in my hand, my otherworldly Island Girl serenede.
Especially on days like yesterday.