Sandra Sabatini’s The Dolphins at Sainte-Marie

When working on a novel, I think it’s helpful to read different genres. I love reading poetry–especially new stuff from Grain, Prism, Prairie Fire–or any lit journals. I’m also on this kick of rereading my Journey Prize Anthologies, and picked up Sabatini’s collection, The Dolphins at Sainte-Marie.

The title story is appropriate right now, as I watch young girls sell Girl Guides’ cookies outside the coffee shop. Ok I smuggled in some chocolate mint into the Blenz and munching on them as I speak:) When I was in grade 8, it was chocolate covered almonds–and not for Guides, but for a choir trip to Disneyland. Well, that’s what Mrs. MacDonald told us. What she didn’t tell us was that it would take 3 years–and me at a different school for Senior High–before we…I mean they…actually went. But back when I was an innocent 13 yr old selling my wares, the best place to unload choco-almond boxes? The Condos.

Kids all around knew the fame of the Condos. The best Halloween candy, awesome Easter egg hunts, moms who brought cookies and wore team colours when they came to games at Thomas Kidd: the Condos were notoriously excellent for sales. I didn’t carry around the usual cardboard boxes. I carefully packed several megaboxes into my backpack, and also carried two Safeway bags filled up. The first time around, the Condos kept their promise. Didn’t even have to finish my spiel: “Do you want to buy some…” before people were getting out the money. But by the third go-around (i desperately wanted the first prize= $50), I had to change my tactics. The second they opened the door I leaned eagerly forward, secretly wedging my foot in the door, yelling to the tune of Abba’s, “Take a Chance on Me”: Disneyland, DisneyLAND! Disney-Disney LAND LAND!!!

One woman, who was good for two boxes each time, couldn’t help but laugh at me. She even got me to run through other songs: “Do it to ‘Roxanne’! How about ‘Pass the Dutchie’! Friday Night Videos was brand new, but I knew them all, my voice hoarse to unload more boxes.

I didn’t win. The girl who won had a mom who was a nurse, brought all her boxes and just sat them on the counter with a jar for money beside it. She won the $50. When Mrs. MacDonald gave me a consolation prize–little gold musical note earrings, I whispered to her: “I was gonna give you back the 50 bucks, for the trip.” She said, I know you would’ve. You’re a gusto girl.

I still love to sing. But chocolate covered almonds? Can’t stand them. I’m good for buying them off your kid though:)

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