A Big Coke Please
Updated: Oct 19, 2021
Being fourteen in the 80’s was madness. I couldn’t figure out if I was still a child or not. I still wanted to play ‘Barbie’s ‘ with my sister and the next minute I wanted to be at the skating rink watching a boy named Owen skate around and round the rink. My sister would tease me and say Owen had a fat neck and make kissy faces. I would push her and whisper I would not play ‘Barbies’ with her anymore, and she would stop. I’d be drinking my Coke watching Owen skate like a pro, after I had played Barbies with my sister. Maybe the two worlds could meet? Maybe Owen could come to my house and play Barbies with us? Then I could watch him dreamily as he dressed the Barbie in an evening gown I made out of my father’s good socks? Maybe.
My father was a hardworking man who was not that in tune with the art of raising children, let alone girls who one day would get their period and cry about it. Little did he know that one day he would be in the store searching for pads and other Menses paraphernalia in an aisle a mile long trying to choose between, wings or no wings.
My father and I struggled through my teenage years both grappling with ourselves whether I was still a child or young woman; going back and forth between each awkward encounter we had. Was I still a child? Was I a young woman? I had just gotten my dreaded period that year and added extra costs as the pads without wings were cheaper. I needed to have the pads with wings in order to assert my voice, my choice and rejoice that I could get my father to listen to me, "I need the ones with wings".
My father called me ‘my girl’ and every time he said it, I would feel proud I was his daughter. It masked me in a loving embrace without actually trying to hug awkwardly trying to keep my new boobs from touching anyone in my family let alone strangers on crowded buses.
Mr. Jinn's corner store was where my dad like to pop in to grab a cold drink and have a conversation with Mr. Jinn. “Hi Hoiman”, Mr. Jinn exclaimed. My father, Herman, would talk with Mr. Jinn and this was a regular thing. I guess men get lonely and a little crazy too. Mr. Jinn did not carry pads with wings.
One day, my father and I walked into Mr. Jinn’s store and as they talked and laughed, I leaned on the counter with my elbows on the counter and my hands propped under my chin. They were talking about the lack of jobs and agreeing with each other. I was bored and just glanced back and forth between them wishing they would stop talking
and I could go back home to watch the Degrassi on the few channels we had and if they didn’t stop talking soon, I would not get to see the man I was going to marry: Joey Jeremiah. Never mind Owen.
My dad asked, me on that fateful day, at Mr. Jinn's store, “What do you want my girl?”. At that time, Coca Cola had just come out with 500 ml bottles and we started calling them Big Cokes. To be sure we weren’t cheated out of a ‘Big Coke, heaven forbid they bring home a small Coke, especially when we specifically asked for a Big Coke. I looked straight at Mr. Jinn and answered my father, I said, “A big c*ck”. Mr. Jinn and my father stared at each other, I ran out of the store without my Big Coke, tears of shame running down my face. There are times when daughters say things they thought about as one of the worst things that could ever mistakenly be said.
I never did go with my father again to Mr. Jinn's to hear them shoot the shit. But I will always remember these two old men (Who were younger than I am now), talk, laugh and enjoy each others company despite the two different world’s they both came from. I am not even sure if my father ever went back, maybe he was too embarrassed, and maybe he never looked at Coke the same way again; because I never did.