Erin and Her Angels

My daughter is a cocktail waitress at a cowboy bar. As I’m sure you can imagine, she has many stories to tell. So I suggested she start a blog. She said, “You do it.” So I might.

But let’s just start with this.

This cowboy bar is situated on the fringes of the San Fernando Valley. Recently, Erin’s baby brother started working there as a bouncer on Friday nights. Yep, he’s our 6’3” baby. And he’s making all the purrty girls swoon. I don’t think they have ever really had a bouncer there before. I think Erin usually winds up filling that role. Erin is no brawny girl. She’s a bright and shining light with a smile that can draw even the most jaded of characters out. But what she lacks in brawn, she makes up for in unwavering determination to keep things civil.

A few years ago, a very drunken patron decided he was going to start tossing bar stools. Erin backed him up against a wall and told him he was to leave immediately. He suggested that she try and make him, so she shoved him out the door and locked it, proceeding to call the police. All the while, everyone else stood in stunned silence. From beginning to end. This is not the type of situation where Erin waits to see if someone else is going to take care of the problem, she just steps up and starts doing it. Many a man would be happy to rush forward and take care of this ruff customer, but Erin just doesn’t give them time.

So Friday night, a fella who was so drunk he could hardly walk decided he was going to get on his bike and drive off. Erin followed him out to the parking lot, telling him he was NOT to drive. He said he was okay to drive and would be fine. She insisted that she was not about to allow him to drive off, advising him that she didn’t really give a shit if he killed himself, but he was bound to injure or kill someone else. He reeled and said to her, “Do you KNOW who I am??” She said, “I don’t care if you’re fucking Spongebob Squarepants! If you get on that bike, I’m going to knock you over!” He hollered back, “I don’t think so! I’m a Hells Angel!” proceeding to straddle his bike.

Now it so happened that there were two real Hell’s Angels in the bar crowd. So this happened to be a big mistake on the part of Mister Squarepants. These boys came forward, pulled Mister Squarepants off his bike and tossed him hard on the ground, letting him know that if he EVER claimed to be a Hell’s Angel again, he would be severely beaten.

After the dust settled, someone asked Erin’s brother why he didn’t get involved. He said, “I think she had it all under control.” And she did. But the boys were all there to back her up.

Years ago, I found myself in hostile bar situation. I was in the Philippines, Subic Bay. As always, the Marines and the sailors had marked their territories at separate bars in town. The Navy Seals had claimed a bar called, “The Rolling Stone.” (Big neon tongue was on the sign outside.) I was inside hanging out with the Seals. Everyone was happy, having a great time. Dancing and drinking. Suddenly, the mood changed. I saw these happy men’s faces change as they began to walk toward the door in a group. A young Marine had wandered in, not knowing he was hostile territory. But he found out soon enough. They surrounded him and started backing him up until he fell backwards onto the dance floor. The whole place was silently watching. I said to myself, “Fuck this.” I pushed through the mob of attackers and stood in front of the quaking Marine. I told the mob to back off and leave him alone, promising to escort him out. Now this could have turned out badly. They could have turned on me, too. But they backed off and I took the young man out, advising him to be careful about which bars are which before he enters.

I don’t know if I had any boys to back me up that night. I suppose you could say that the Seals did the gentlemanly thing by deciding to disburse instead of pressing on with their irascible plan. I left there amazed that a happy crowd could so easily turn ugly. And I didn’t like that.

Still, I’m glad that Erin isn’t afraid to rush headlong into danger, knowing she has the right heart motivation, fed with the right kind of anger.

And I feel secure knowing that there are always angels watching over her. In one form or another.

*This story is all true. Except for the Spongebob comment. We added that later. We think all stories should include a Spongebob reference. :)

Easily Onward, Through Flowers and Weed

This is my mom (on the right). Circa 1967. And this is how beautiful she is to me.

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

I was thinking about my mom today while I was making my breakfast. When we lived in Japan back then, she learned to make an omelet in a wok. She would swirl the egg mixture around the pan and it would create a thin, thin wrapper for whatever you might want to put inside. She would put buttered rice inside of it for us and it was sooooo yummy. My sister, Tami, loved ketchup on hers. I hated ketchup. So I chose barbecue sauce instead. (You know kids. They think they need sauce on everything.) I know this sounds weird, but I love it.

This wok omelet is something I never learned, so I resorted to just making scrambled eggs on top of rice with bbq sauce drizzled over it. Still tastes like that great breakfast, sans the love. However, the memory of the love is there. In every bite. Every single time I make this, I remember the warm love of my mother. Today, as I drizzled the bbq sauce on my eggs, I had a little flashback to the sight of my mother doing this. She didn’t haphazardly toss it on my omelet. She made everything pretty and nice. I deeply felt that the reason she made things special was because I was special. She never complained about the terrible trial of raising four girls. I’m sure she had bad days, but I don’t recall her ever taking them out on anyone. She must have suffered in private. Because God knows, motherhood is full of suffering. But here’s what I learned from her:

Children ought to be made to feel important, but not most important. Children should not feel more important than their parents. The world (or the omelet) can be handed to them on a platter, but the world does not revolve around them. Parents should be given the position of respect. And it’s right for parents to respect each other. We were told when dad came home, he was tired and needed peace and quiet. She honored him highly. Never did she speak a disparaging word about him. By example, she made the demand that we respect him as much as she did. We got the same message from him. He revered my mother and by example, made sure that we respected her as much as he did. We were not given the first position. They were. But this made us feel no less important.

It’s tricky business, this. Friends and I have often discussed the issue that seems to come up when single parents date and develop serious relationships. Sometimes there are implications or full on accusations that “You are choosing your children over me!” First of all, if someone says that to me, it’s already over. Mainly because it is definitely not a matter of “choosing” but also because I think this makes that person a whiny bitch and I see no future for us. Most people respond with, “Yeah! Of course I choose my children over you! They are my children!” But as I said, I find this to be putting the concept on a level where it does not belong. And I refuse to put it there. Of course I don’t think it’s a good thing to put your children’s demands above those of your needs. The same goes for your significant other’s needs. I also don’t think it’s okay to put the demands of your significant other above the needs of your children. So you see what I’m getting at? Just as in the home I grew up in, my mother didn’t teach us that our father mattered more. Nor did she tell him that we mattered more. We all mattered. She just showed us that in different circumstances, some needs take precedence. And that love and respect should rule in all of these things.

So there you have it. Lessons from the wok of life. I love you, mom.