At first glance, there was nothing particularly remarkable about the Key Food on Broadway and 186th Street in Manhattan.
Outside, one of the letters in KEY often hung precariously from the awning, and the bulbs were generally blown in any two given letters of FOOD. Inside, the linoleum was old and soiled, and the walls were paneled with remnants of an era past.
But what the regular customers knew — the store had an exceptionally singable playlist.
On any given visit, you might hear Africa (Toto) followed by All I Wanna Do (Heart) followed by Karma Chameleon (Culture Club). It was just impossible not to sing along audibly.
One night after an exercise class, I stopped by the store on my way home for my usual sweets and drinks. As I strolled down the aisles selecting my treats, Loverboy by Billy Ocean came on the system.
I let it all go. There I was dancing in the aisles. Twirling, side stepping and pointing my arm and finger (sigh), nearly belting out the words to the most addictive chorus in a song ever.
wanna be your lover, lover, mmm, wanna be your lover, lover, loverboy, wanna be your lover, lover, yeah
As someone with a distaste for parties and other such social gatherings, I don’t have much opportunity to dance. So the aisles of Key Food were as good a place as any. Later that night, I listened to Loverboy on repeat for hours while dancing around my living room.
And there was one other time before this. A sweet memory.
I was working at a law firm at the time, and my mom and I went shopping for a dress one Sunday afternoon. A client was throwing a party, and the dress code was black tie with sneakers (ugh). I didn’t have either. After the delightful day, mom drove me to the train station, and the Sunday Scaries set in. The lump in my throat. The pit in my stomach. Like every single Sunday.
Just before the train, we stopped by a drug store, and as we shopped, Build me up Buttercup came on the radio (pretty sure it was the radio back then). Every person in every aisle was singing out loud in synchrony. Some danced a little (though not like my Loverboy escapade). In my head, the scene still looks choreographed — it would have made a great TV commercial. I think it was one of the main events that gave me the courage to leave that career. There’s happiness everywhere if I seek it!
I haven’t written a post on Some Small Things in two months. I’ve dropped my commitments to other bloggers, and I haven’t even read anyone’s posts. I’ve been sad. I haven’t wanted to write. Things are sad.
But a weekend or two ago, Breathless by the Corrs came on in the grocery store. And I went dancing. The camera’s a little shaky because I was jumping around. Quieter this time. But that’s OK.
Here’s to dancing in the aisles.
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