Here’s a mystery.
Years ago I ducked into a Six Flags gift shop to wait for my kids to finish a ride and to avoid the park heat, despair and abundant metaphors for the sweet fakeout that is the American Dream. It was a specialty gift shop. The specialty was special candles, like massive sand castles that would dominate an entire shelf of an entertainmentment center and required six wicks that you know the owner would never allow anyone to use.
The southern bank of the store was a dipping station. A couple in Harley t-shirts drew my attention because they were loudly groaning and going on about the cold water their hands were submerged in. They looked, as the saying goes, rode hard and put up wet. Her hair was peroxide-lift red, and as crimped and bushy as his beard; his jeans rough and wrinkled like her neck. They seemed happy. I was rooting for them.
The candle shop girl dried off their arms and forearms and applied globs of grease. She laced her fingers through each of their hands in turn to work in the lotion. They she commanded them to hold hands and they did, thumbs and fingers each finding their rightful place. She then silently guided their joined hands in and out of a tank of hot waxy plastic stuff, building up layers, in and out, maybe twenty times. They took her lead and stood silently while it dried. Then she walked them back over for an ice water dip before carefully helping them deliver themselves like infants from the holding-hands mold.
A small crowd of us held our breath. The mold did not rip or break. The couple laughed and leaned in to each other and held hands again.
It was a large lumpy thing I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting, but I’m sure he could recognize her fingers in the wax, I’m sure she could see the bend that was his thumb. I left the store at that point, so I don’t know what happened next. I hope the wax made it home okay. I imagined it becoming an ornament on his Harley, magically impervious to the Georgia sun, a testament to the idea that maybe Icarus could have succeeded if he had a good woman at his side.
Why do I remember this, when I’ve forgotten so much. That’s what I really want to know.