We cruised west for some time, Frank behind the wheel, Kiki Dee chirping on the radio. I was relaxed, looking out into the dark. The cast glow of overhead street lights and store fronts flickered past, marking passage like a metronome. We were somewhere out St. Clair West. I didn’t try to figure it out. This was not my part of the city. Streets running perpendicular to the familiar grid. Streets like Scarlett and Rogers Road always confused me. I assumed Frank was driving us over to his place.
Frank. My Italian Stallion. I had met him a few weeks earlier. My two roommates (old school chums) and I were at an upscale dance club called Heaven, in the Hudson Bay Centre boogieing under the glitter ball. Frank and his two friends Elio and Enzo started buying us drinks. These boys had all the moves and in no time we were paired off: Frank and me, Sue and Elio, Nancy and Enzo. It worked out perfectly. Each of us had our own personal Rocky Balboa.
This was the summer of 1997. Sylvester Stallone was number one at the box office, the Bee Gees ruled the air waves and I was crushing a Dorothy Hamill wedge haircut. Since graduating from university one year previously we had all gotten great jobs, moved downtown and with our combined wages, we easily carried the rent on a three-bedroom walkup in the Annex. We shared our closets, food and wasted our money on Barbara Streisand and Haygood Hardy records, shoes and makeup.
Dancing, Dancing, Dance the night away
I loved the dance club scene. Spinning, twirling on my platform shoes under the flashing disco lights. Energized and in the moment. Music pounding, driving. Later, much later, we girls would pile into a taxi and head home. I was living a Mary Tyler Moore life.
Frank was like no one I had ever personally known. He was from a different world. He was very Italian. He was Catholic. He was from the west end. I grew up in south east Scarborough. I recall his appearance though. Frank was quite tall 6’2 with a line backers body; board muscular shoulders, strong forearms and narrow hips. He had a roman nose and I swear, a cleft in his chin. Around his neck he wore a gold horn of plenty charm on a chain. I remember this because the top buttons of his shirt were usually undone. Frank was the first man I had ever lusted after.
That night, as we left the downtown core there were fewer and fewer cars. It was well after midnight and the streets were empty in this strange neighborhood. After several minutes of driving, Frank slowed the car down. We pulled down a darkened road. Bump, bump over street car or rail way tracks. It was dark all around us now. I guessed we must be in a park. The headlights picked up on two darkened buildings. Frank pulled the car into an alley. Perhaps it was a deserted industrial area. Total darkness surrounded us. It never occurred to me to be nervous. I was with Frank. I was an independent educated woman.
Frank turned the engine off and leaned over towards me. He glided his big mitt of a hand around my neck and pulled my head closer. The whiskers on his chiseled jaw felt rough. Another new experience. I had never dated anyone who really needed to shave before. He nuzzled my hair with his lips. I recall drawing in his musty scent of Brut cologne and something kind of barnyard. I excused his manly odor I think he worked in construction, and I accepted his kiss. At the same moment, I was kind of wondering what the game plan was? Where were we and how long were we staying here. This wasn’t high school. I didn’t make out in cars.
Suddenly an unmistakable sound broke the moment. Quite loud, quite clear, and very close. I jerked my head back. That was the sound of a cow. Mooing. Suddenly more bovines joined in. We were surrounded by bellowing cows in the dark. I screamed. Frank chuckled. He explained that we were parked at the Toronto stockyards. All around us were caged cattle awaiting slaughter in the morning.
To be fair, Frank was a gentleman and promptly drove me home when I asked to leave immediately. It was over. Our magic dissolved. Sue and Elio continued for the rest of the summer but it seemed that Frank and I didn’t have much in common. We had misread who each other really was.
That experience still stands on record as my worst date ever. In retrospect, I was lucky. I wasn’t hurt. I wasn’t violated. It didn’t change my love of discos and the music of the 70’s.
I went back to dancing, dancing, dancing the night away ….. but with other partners.