It feels like a lifetime ago when I rented a small white house just across the parking lot from the Oshawa Centre. I had gotten a job at East Side Mario’s as a server. I must have been in my early 20’s. I don’t think since that time have I ever gotten closer to people that I worked with. We were such a group and we were all coming of age. I decided to get out my video recorder and document our lives together. There was Jay (the groups designated cute guy. He reminded us of this lead singer from a popular band of the time), Paula (the crazy blonde because everyone needs a crazy blonde), Brenda (who didn’t actually work with us but was a friend of mine I brought into the circle as the perfect party companion), Aaron (the coolest and cutest fellow who had all the girl’s hearts a flutter, who also very sadly passed away recently), Grant who was the big boss with another intimidating dude name Sean, he was the owner. I did my best to make him laugh so he didn’t seem as scary.
It was the time of our lives, or at least it was for me. I never thought I’d get the job but my interview went off like a hitch! Grant, one of the managers I mentioned asked me what type of vegetable I’d like to be and I said a carrot. He asked me why and I calmly said it seems like a vegetable that could have a lot of fun. Well, I landed the job instantly and the next few years we worked and partied together it felt like every night. Enid, by the Barenaked Ladies was top of the charts along with The Tragically Hip and some early Sarah McLaughlin. The music just seemed so great back then.
All these people I mentioned and more came to mind today when I stopped into an East Side Mario’s near Eglinton and Victoria Park. The atmosphere and food has always been really great. I was craving that amazing house salad, the soup, and that warm garlic loaf. I sat in the booth and was transported back to a time in my life that was so expressive and awakening. Creating that documentary was one of the best times in my life. Believe it or not I still have it in my personal library. I pull it out once in a while and feast on the incredible memories. My server brought me back from my memories as he said hello and introduced himself. He was Connor. He was cute. I explained I just came in for the soup and salad combo and even though I had missed the serving time of that combo he smiled as if he knew I was reliving something that needed honouring and I was really happy he did. I watched everyone scooting around. I even heard one of their popular birthday songs I did so many nights on the clock! “It’s your birthday, where are you? We’re coming over to sing to you! East side Mario’s wishes you a happy day.” Etc., etc., etc. I can’t recall the rest but we all secretly hated doing it. Except for this guy named Darcy who always seemed game to lead the call for everyone. He was a funny guy. I think I annoyed the hell out of him if I remember correctly. Connor brought my soup, salad, and home loaf to me and again threw me another “I get it” smile. He may have been a bit clairvoyant. It was as great tasting as I remembered from years ago. The garlic loaf seemed smaller but that’s probably a good thing. I mean how many carbs does a mid-lifer need? Wow, did I just say that? It’s so true. I have to start embracing that fact if I want to avoid the pending mid life crisis which so far I think I’ve evaded. Connor was the best and really made my visit down memory lane worth every bite. I’ll be back. I always return home when I need to remember who I was so many moons ago! Oh bada boom, badda bing!
This blog is dedicated to every single amazing person I met and worked with at East Side Mario’s. There are so many I couldn’t name you all. I remember you all though. And to Aaron, one of the sweetest fellows I ever knew. I wish you didn’t have to go so soon.
edited by Mary Ellen Monk