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. :)

A Whore By Any Other Name

Labels. We all hate them. Yet we all use them. Even those of us who hate them intensely. But I want to talk specifically about the label of “whore.” Often interchangeable with slut, hussy, loose, immoral or scarlet woman. To which I say, I've always looked good in red. :)

When I was a young girl, I heard about “these” women. But I must say, in movies and tv shows, they were the very most interesting women. I was intrigued by them early on. They seemed to possess a confidence that other women didn’t. Still, you certainly didn’t want the stigma of being called a slut or a whore when you were in school. If you were smart, you could even be promiscuous (and by that I do not necessarily refer to sex, because you can obtain those labels even by kissing too many boys) as long as you were careful about who knew about it. However, at the very least, two people knew about it… you and him! And let’s face it; discretion isn’t exactly a developed character trait in young people. So, unless you were very prim and proper, you probably stumbled into the label on one level or another.

My first sexual experience (and by that I do mean sex) was when I was 18 years old. That might sound young to some, but in the culture I was in, I was a little behind my female comrades. My boyfriend and I had been dating for a year and a half. He was RELENTLESS in his attempts to get me into the fucking position. I wish I’d had the nerve to smack him upside the head. But, I was determined to wait until I felt comfortable and ready. And then the day came when I told him, “I’m ready.” Sex was good. Nothing sensational, just good. I did enjoy it but I soon discovered he had another “girlfriend” in another city. She and I happened to run into one another at a mutual friend’s house. It was really quite uncanny. We hit it off right away and started chatting. She was great, actually! And then…………. She mentioned her boyfriend. And told me his name. And I said, “um… that’s my boyfriend tooooooo.”

Funny. So, we sat together and compared a few notes and then, he showed up. Surprised as hell to find us there together. So that was the end of that. In the end, I certainly wound up liking her better than I liked him. Hee.

After that, I did a fair amount of experimenting with my sexuality. I never did wander too far there. Didn’t really have a desire to try out same sex or multiple partners. But I did enjoy the physical pleasures that men had to offer. There was never a concern in my mind that it was wrong or sinful, as I didn’t really have that sort of background. Our society (and especially the society in Utah where I was living) definitely tries to impress that idea upon everyone, but I had never really grabbed hold of it. And it never really grabbed hold of me. My family background provided me with what I feel is a large level of self worth and no religious hang-ups.

I had fun. Unabashedly. One night stands, trysts with married men, trysts with younger and older men. Sex with two or three different men on the same day. Fun stuff. Loving every minute of it. But, as is wont to happen to a young woman, some young man comes along and wants you to themselves. Well this is okay. I don’t have a hard time being a one man woman. It’s quite natural for me, as long as he’s taking care of me… if ya know what I mean. *wink wink*

It’s okay if this story is boring you and you feel the need to depart before having to swallow any more of it. (hee, I said swallow) In fact, it’s kind of boring me. But I’m going to keep rambling anyway.

So along comes this man (and yes, let’s go ahead and use the term “man” loosely) who wants me as his one and only. After we’d been together a little while, he decides that he needs to know how many men I’ve been with. I think this is none of his business. But, being young and na├»ve, I don’t really have the nerve to say that. So I quickly deduce how many men I’ve been with that really counted. Like, not including one night stands. I say “Three.” The guy looks at me with shock and disgust. He can’t believe it. He says something like, “Oh… my… God… you are SUCH A whore.” And then goes on to tell me that he may as well go fuck a hole in the back yard as fuck someone like me. I was fairly devastated. I did not at all think that I was a whore. I just thought I was comfortable with my sexuality and enjoying my body. Never once did I think of my behavior as being wrong. We won’t go into the moral burdens he procured from his Baptist background but suffice it to say, he was the one with the problem. Not me. BUT I fancied myself in love with him. He got over it and apologized. But I’m not sure you can really fully apologize for saying something so deeply and intentionally hurtful. If we must, though, we can zip on ahead to the not too distant future and see that I married this man. And on we went into happily ever after, right? It took me 18 years to finally tell him that it’s wrong to talk to people that way and that he wouldn’t be allowed to do it to me anymore because I was leaving. Yes, he had continued to do so in many other ways, shapes and forms, attacking my self esteem as if it were his highest goal in life to make me feel inferior.

Ah, fresh air. Breathing. The light of the moon reviving me. I touched everything I could because I could once again feel things purely and unadulterated (pun intended…hehehe). I was able to enjoy my own sexuality again. During the years I was married, I was made to feel as if sex were my job. I resisted this idea at first. This made me never want to have sex. But eventually I realized that the only time my husband touched me or showed me any affection was during sex. So I kind of grew hungry for it. Starved, even. This created a sort of faux intimacy. It made it seem like our relationship was fine because we were sexually active. Sex should be the expression of the intimacy that a couple enjoys, but we were just trying to create intimacy. And so went the ups and downs of married life. (Too punny??)

But now I was free to enjoy sex again. Just as I am. No pretending. No sin. Just sex. The enjoyment of the bodies of two people entangled. And it was great. A friend of mine at the time asked, “Doesn’t it make you feel like a whore sleeping around like that?” I said, “No. I felt like a whore when I was married.”

So, cut to today. Labels. Am I a whore or not? Of course I’m not. And of course I am. I playfully refer to myself as a whore. And I gladly say it out loud to those puritans who have an absolute need to call me something. Hey, if it makes them feel better, who am I to stand in the way of their happiness?

What did I learn from this ridiculously long lesson? That it’s cool with me if a man calls me a whore right up front. That way, I won’t have to worry about him trying to beat me with his own emotional chains that he so desperately loves. Because a man who has problems with whores, is a man who doesn’t really need to be in my life.

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.