The Bowl

Almost didn’t get to write anything today. It’s been very busy. I’m very lucky to have people who work for me that do a great job of getting ready for a vacation so I don’t have to panic too much.

Cedarbrae sign, summer 2006

I don’t know why Cedarbrae came to mind today. It’s a real place and the cinema is real – I watched “Return Of The Jedi” there. I lined up with my friend who faked an asthma attack so we got to the front of the line. I stood at the back the whole time to watch it. As God as my witness, I don’t remember where I saw “Batman” for the first time, though.

Sidney visited Michael with a large water jug she brought with her on the bus. The long trip turned the water warm but he drank deep enough to nearly give himself a cramp.

She refused his offer to share. “Drink up,” she said, and looked down the tall steep, grassy bank of the Cedarbrae bowl that framed over half of the four hundred metre track which surrounded the football field.

“You have to mow the whole thing?”

Michael nodded, breathing hard and enveloped in sweat. “How’d you find me?”

She shrugged. “I called your house. Your mom told me about The Bowl. I don’t get how you do it.”

 “Let me show you,” he said, putting down the empty water.

He went to the orange Flymo his father left, along with a thickly coiled thirty-foot greasy, oily rope and a red jerry can of unleaded gasoline, before taking the truck and trailer to the next job.

 “Teach me, don’t just show me.”

He had started accumulating layers of grime at five a.m., collecting garbage from townhouse complexes his dad managed, then taking it to the transfer station before being left at eleven to mow The Bowl on his own, yet she still asked for a hands-on demonstration.

“Are you sure?”

She stood at the top of the hill, long blonde hair tied back, knee length jean shorts and ratty old shoes, looking like she came more to work than to quench his thirst.

He guided her through the steps, careful not to get too close.

“The idea’s to wrap the rope around the handle then slowly lower it to the bottom of the hill, then pull it back up, move over half the width of the mower, and do it again.”

After three lengths, they were as much out of breath from working as laughing. He worked twice as hard, protecting her from injury, but it was the greatest day he’d ever had working for his dad.

“Batman’s playing at the Cedarbrae,” she said, pointing to the cinema marquee cube perched on a pole across the street. “I mean, unless you’ve already seen it with the guys. It’s been out for, like, a couple weeks now, I think.”

“No,” he blurted. “Yes! I mean, no. No I haven’t. I’d love to. He’s my favourite.”

“Oh, okay. Well. Have fun. Don’t worry. You can keep the jug.”

“Wait!”

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