She obviously gave him the t-shirt.
It is hot pink and it says, “Dipped in HANDSOME sauce.”
Not the kind of shirt he would have picked up of his own volition at The Gap.
“Oh-oh, you’re halfway there,” he is singing. If that’s how you desribe the wobbly noise burbling from between his puffy, chapped, teenaged lips. Probably chapped from too much kissing. Although, if asked, he would surely say there was no such thing as too much.
Then, a key change: “oh-OH living on a pray-er...”
His girlfriend looks at him adoringly.
They are by far the cutest couple at Rock Ridge Tubing Park in Huntsville, Ontario on this snowy, Sunday afternoon. The sign for the park proclaims GREAT FAMILY FUN and it is true. The hill is dotted with families, riding up the tube lift like snow-suited sausage slugs, then linking hands at the top and spinning down the greased ice track squealing at the tops of their lungs. But not a lot of young couples. And certainly none of them as full of romantic fever as these two.
They have just come into the snack chalet for some fries and hot chocolate after an hour or so on the slope. Their cheeks are pink, flushed. There is a sparkle in their eyes. They are 16, maybe 17, and sugary enough to give diabetes to the hardiest of blood flows.
She is tall and slender and blonde. Her eyes are big and blue, framed in a plastic fringe of Maybelline. She is wearing a magenta ski jacket with white fake fur trim. He is not as well accessorized but his hunter’s orange toque looks strangely colour compatible with the day-glo Handsome shirt. His hair hasn’t seen scissors since they were invented but the curly dark locks suit him. Women pay big money for hair that great. It is no wonder she is playing with it.
He scarfs down the fries, which are mired in pools of ketchup. He licks his fingers and eats noisily. She watches his fingers move the chips from plate to mouth, plate to mouth. Is she wishing she had ordered something to eat (something young women never do while dating. They want guys to think they are ephemeral, that they live on air). Or is she staring at his long, strong fingers, thinking about how they touched her last night. Or daydreaming, wondering how his ring finger would look encased in gold.
They have been together for a while. He calls her “silly goose” several times. Obviously it is a “thing” between them. Her pet name.
She calls him “honey.” They sit close on the cheap plastic chairs in the snack shack, touching, smiling, whispering, sipping hot chocolate, playing with their cell phones.
He sings to her, off-key. She encourages him.
When the fries are gone they start to get ready to go outside again, putting on their coats and pushing back from the table.
“You haven’t even finished your hot chocolate yet, you silly goose,” he admonishes her in a teasing voice.
“You can finish it if you want,” she says, smiling at him. He drains the cup in a fast gulp and wipes chocolate off his mouth with his coat sleeve. She grabs the sleeve and holds it up to him to show the brown stain.
“And you call me a silly goose,” she says.
He shrugs goofily and she smacks him with her pink mitt. He snatches her arm and pulls her close. She giggles and pushes him away and they make their way towards the door, wrassling and play-fighting and teasing. He holds the door for her. “After you, honey.”
They go out into the snowy afternoon, wrapped in a warm cocoon of romantic fantasies. They are as in love, at this moment, as they ever will be. From now on, each intimate entanglement they encounter will be fraught with disappointment as they try to recreate this day at Rock Ridge.
Twenty seconds later, a young family struggles in through the door. Four kids between the ages of three and eight. Three whining. One crying outright. Two frazzled parents.
They take the table recently vacated by the happy couple.
P.S. The photo of my son, Sam, was taken at Rock Ridge this afternoon. While my family was tubing, I was writing because tubing scares the crap outta me.