(The continuation of Throwing Fire Into the Water is at the end of the post)
Hello there and good day to you where ever in the world you are this morning on March 27, 2020. I hope you all are dong well and adjusting to the new “normals” in the the world. I have been spending more time outside with my plants. Spring is here and will be gone soon. Yeah, really. Well, I mean the Spring temps. Last year, I didn’t prepare for the summer heat and lost many of my plants because of heat and under watering. What lived, the bunny ate. Yes, really. This year, I think I have it all figured out. We have a glass patio table that I have converted into a table top garden and we have made it harder for the bunny to climb. Currently, I am growing brussel sprouts, celery, zinnias, sunflowers, gerberas, and various “herbs” and spices. Gardening is very relaxing. Often, when I need a break from my computer or I just need to walk, I go to the back yard and will tinker in the garden.
Hubby has arranged the furniture so I have a nice little reading area. Often during my children’s lives, we didn’t have the luxury of a back yard and we often had to retreat to a local park or a beach to get fresh air and sun. My heart goes out to all those parents doing their best to bring the sunshine indoors to their children. This will be over, maybe not soon, but it will end. How will life be after this event? I wonder.
Below are some photos I took yesterday. I am excited as I got an idea for an old frame that has been sitting in our garage. I hope to have that completed and on our patio wall soon. Also, I worked on the story, Throwing Fire Into the Water and pasted more below these photos. It really has been hard! I can see where my writing style started changing a bit. This really is practice for me as everything is. I am so not a professional at anything and never will be. So, you will never get a post from me explaining how to be better at anything or how to make money. God knows I do not know how to make money or hold on to it for that matter. (Laughing to myself.)
Thank you for stopping by and have a lovely day where ever you are and hugs to those needing one. Peace and joy.
Throwing Fire Into the Water (Continued from https://artofthebeat.com/2020/03/21/stories/)
My first few weeks on the job was both physically and mentally draining. This little local hangout was a pretty big place. It had a sordid history, a huge following, and people really loved this place and many people that really hated the place. The first night though, I thought I was going to run screaming from the building. My first night there was a test. Brett really didn’t need another waitress, the other two that were already employed there, made that point clear to me. I remember going up to one of them and introducing myself and I got this reply, “Stay out of the patio. Those are our tables!” and then she turned and walked away. Two of the bartenders, Karl and Bryan were nice but snapped at me and said they didn’t have time to train either. Thank God for Meg. She was in her 60’s, a bar staple. She had been through 5 bar owners and had worked there almost 2 decades by the time I walked in there.
“Hey, girl…you look a little lost.” Meg yelled over to me as I stood by the kitchen doors.
“Yeah, I am. I think I made a mistake.” I said looking a little dejected and lost.
“Come here.” She said. Then she handed me a shot glass. “Drink it.”
“Uh, I can’t. Tonight’s my first night on the job.” She then cut me off.
“Drink it.” She picked up her shot glass, so I picked up mine and we downed those shots.
“There you go.” She then picked up my glass. Then held out her hand and said, “I’m Meg, the guys in here are assholes, don’t pay any attention to them. Order from me. Have your orders and money ready and everything should be fine”.
“Huh? I have never done this before. Honestly, I am scared shitless.” I said as I made one of my faces. “Is Brett going to be here?”
“Yeah, he usually shows up around midnight. He told me you were coming in and to take care of you. He knew the bitches were going to give you problems. They handle the patio. You will get the tables in here. There aren’t too many so it should be easy-peasy. Most of the regulars and drunks hang out inside and the rowdy kids hang out inside and at the back bar.” She spoke and I tried to take it all in. The she asked, “Did you bring a bank?”
“A what?” I questioned.
“A bank, money? A waitress wallet? Never mind, I will get you set up…wait here, uh no come here…we don’t have a bar back so guess what…you are getting a training!” I followed like a puppy. She showed me where the beer cooler was, the liquor room was, where to refill the fruit trays and get the straws and bar napkins, how to clean glasses, how to pick up glasses, clean them and get them back into the proper place so they were ready for her and the other bartenders to pick up and serve customers. I never knew how much went into running a bar. That night went quick. I waited on a dozen tables, made decent tips, oh yeah, the bartenders reminded me that I had to give them their cut, I had to “tip them out”.
“You know you gotta tip us out.” Bryan said to me as he was counting what looked like $400 in wadded up cash.
Meg then snapped at him. “It’s her first day dick, she bussed and cleaned all the glasses, did more than those other whores. I made all her drinks. SHE IS NOT TIPPING US OUT!” She was right about those girls. The things they did for “extra” money. At least they were only there for a few more weeks. Brett got tired of them doing drugs in the bathroom and from fucking customers in the parking lots for money, so he fired both girls and I got the patio. Woohoo! No really, it was exciting and it meant I could keep my apartment.
“So, how did it go?” Brett asked. I thought he was asking me, but I guess it was a question to the “judges”.
“She sucked.” Karl said directly looking at me without even blinking.
“She could have showed more tit’s…just shitty.” Bryan added. “Fuck her.”
Tears started welling up in my eyes as I got up from my bar stool. Every employee right in the state of California had been violated that night. No breaks and sexually harassed. What had I gotten myself into?
Then Brett said, “Well, lady, I guess this means we will see you back here tomorrow, if you like us bunch of assholes.” Meg had just come back from the bathroom. She had missed out on the whole exchange. I guess she had already talked to Brett and told him that I had done a good job and was trainable and that the other bartenders liked me.
“Tell you what, can I schedule you Wednesday through Sunday? Thursday, Friday, Saturday 7 PM till 2 AM and Sunday we have a Blues Jam and the kitchen is open so you can run food and drinks in both the front and patio.” Brett instructed. I wrote down the schedule on the back of a receipt and stuck it in my purse. “Have a drink. You earned it.” So, at that moment, my bag of tricks included cocktail waitress.
The next day I worked with Meg. I really liked her. She felt like the mother I always wanted. She was street smart, funny, and most she became a great friend to me. She gave the greatest advice about men, life, money, just everything. She didn’t judge my bad decisions, and I had many of those. It really sucked when a few years later Brett sold the bar and the new owner let the bartenders take over and make decisions that were not in the best interest of the bar. They forced Meg out by moving her to the slower bar shifts.
“Hey, Sunshine!” Mike yelled to me as he sat down at the bar. I had been working there for 7 months and was filling in for Meg on the Sunday shift. She had trained me to bartend and none of the other bartenders liked working Sunday’s. Meg reminded me to never let them know that you can make good tips at the Blue’s Jams. Usually, Open Mic Jams are notorious for bringing in out of work musicians that only buy a soft drink which they nurse. Usually they don’t tip the host of the Jam or the bartender, either. I honestly didn’t care on Sunday’s because I got paid regardless. The host only got $50 bucks and two free drinks and had to hear a bunch of whining from the people that had signed up. Anyhow, Meg and I subtly, almost subliminally, would get these old coots to tip the Host well and then in turn, he seemed happier things moved quicker. It was a “win-win”.
“Hey Mike!” I leaned over the bar and hugged him.
“Looking good girl. How are you?” He asked.
“No complaints. Can’t believe I love this shithole!” I said as I laughed and grinned.
“I knew you would. We all love you here. Feels like you have been here forever.” He said.
“Yeah. It does.” He was right. It did feel like it. I had been here five nights a week for the last 7 months. I had not been on a date since the asshole broke my heart. The following night Brett’s wife Cara and I were going out for girl time. I was looking forward to it as I had not been out since I had worked at the last job. I used to go to happy hour with my co-workers but didn’t really get to know them as friends. Cara and I had become close. We talked on the phone on my days off and she often stopped in at the bar when I worked. She was my age and had been with Brett for 5 years. I wished I could be more like her. She was super cool. She had tattoos and always had her face made up and hair done. She also had a curvy body that hid the fact that she had four children. The words still echoed in my head…misfortune…if this is misfortune then I was okay with it.
Cara stopped in as she usually did on Sunday with the kids. She had dinner in the back patio with Brett and then came inside to bullshit with me and listen to the jam session. I usually waitressed while Meg tended bar, but she was off this day. I remember it well. There was this one guy that came to the Sunday Jams with his guitar. He and I had flirted with each other a few times. I never thought much of it, honestly, I thought he was just being nice or trying to schmooze a free drink out of me, like most guys that played there. Generally, I did flirt with everyone. That’s just me and I don’t mean to do it. Besides, it generally never went anywhere. The closest I came to a guy paying me a compliment was a few months ago. The guy drunkenly slurred, “You have a pretty face, but you really need to lose about 20 lbs. and then you would be perfect.” Really? This may be why I held on to the asshole that cheated on me for so long and ignored the signs of his infidelities. Luckily, Cara was right behind me and said, “I think she’s perfect! I’d bang her!”
Anyhow, I didn’t know this guy’s name or what he played, I only knew that he showed up most Sundays around 5 PM sat in on a few songs had a few drinks and then left. He came over and ordered a drink.
“Hey Janey, how’s it going?” he asked.
“Great. What can I get ya?” I asked.
“Fat Tire.” He said. Then he smiled and started to say something, but I walked away to get his beer.
“Five bucks. Did you want to run a tab?” I asked and hoping that he said yes so I could get a credit card just to see what his name was.
“Sure.” Then he handed me a credit card.
“Groovy.” I then looked at his card and said. “Shall I call you Joe or Joseph?”
“Joe. Just as long as you call me.” He said and he smiled. “Wanna hang out some time?”
“Uh, not sure if that is a good idea.” I was scared, number one and number two I didn’t know why I said that.
“Come on. We can go for coffee. It’s not like you are meeting someone on the internet or I guess you have a boyfriend. That must be it.” He said.
“No, I do not have a boyfriend. I just am…uh I don’t know, I am going out tomorrow night, we can go for coffee tomorrow afternoon or the day after. I work here five nights a week. Makes going out kind of hard.” Now that was true but really, I had no self-confidence. I was scared. He was cute in a nerdy way and I was not good looking.
“Well then, how about brunch tomorrow, I know a great place. We can meet there, or I can pick you up?” He asked
“Uh, yeah, uh okay. I will meet you there. Give me the name of the place and directions.” I said to him. “It’s a date!” He grabbed his beer and then said. “I will write down the directions and then give them to you when I close out my tab.”
“Cool.” I smiled; kind of a crooked eyebrow raised lip smile. He laughed back.
“You really are cute.” Then he winked at me. I could feel hot beads of sweat forming on my forehead and my cheeks turning bright red. This is when Mike sat down in front of me.
“You look a little hot and bothered, what’s going on?” he questioned.
“I have date…tomorrow.” I told him.
“Really.” He said, as he smiled and raised an eyebrow. “which one of these losers is it?”
I laughed and said, “Uh, Joe, that guy over there.” And I pointed to where Joe was sitting waiting for his turn to play.
“Ah, does he seem nice? Should I shake him down?” Mike questioned.
“Nah. It’s only or breakfast. I think it will be okay.” I told him. We continued talking throughout my shift and Joe closed out his tab and reminded me that he would see me at the restaurant tomorrow at 10 am. He and Mike also exchanged pleasantries and then he left. I remember the weird sick, rumbly, tumbly, about to get on a roller coaster feeling in my stomach. Was I getting sick? Was I excited? This was a feeling that was going to follow me around for years to come, little did I know.
The next morning. I got up at 6 am and started getting ready. Well, ready as is in, I was so excited or was nervousness, I couldn’t sleep. So, I drank a pot of coffee, I walked my dog around the block 3 times and put on a little make-up. I called Cara and she gave me a pep talk.
“Call me as soon as you are back from your date!” she said before we said our goodbyes.
“I promise.” I said before hanging up the phone. My preparations continued. I changed my clothes seven or eight times. Brushed my hair and put different clips in it a few times. Sniffed my pits several times to make sure that I put on deodorant (one can never be too sure when it comes to deodorant!) grabbed my key and purse and left for my date. Joe was waiting in front of the restaurant when I arrived. We hugged and then went inside.
“Well, thank you for showing up.” He said, making small talk.
“You’re welcome. Of, course I would show up…I never turn down a meal!” I joked.
He laughed. “I see how it is.” He said as he raised an eyebrow. We then ordered drinks and food. We talked about his music, he played guitar, he was separated from his wife and they were going to get divorced. PSA!! Stay clear of men in the early stages of a divorce or separation from their wife!
“I feel like I have told you about me, why don’t you tell me a little about you?” he questioned me.
“Uh, nothing really to tell. I lost my job almost a year ago as a corporate accounting clerk and now I am working in a bar as a waitress. Uh…I have a dog, not sure what I want to do with my life.” I told him.
“What about boyfriends? Have you been married? Engaged? Children?” He quizzed.
“No boyfriend, at least not in a year. Never been married or engaged and no children.” I answered.
“What happened? If I may ask?”
“I caught him with one of his co-workers. That is all I guess. No fancy story to go along with it.” I answered.
He then stared at me, I could see that he didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t sure if he felt pity or what.
“Sorry about that.” he said. “Guys can be such jerks.”
“Yeah, I know, maybe that is why I have not dated since that happened.” I told him. True, I feared the whole dating thing. I wondered what I had done to make him stray. Maybe if I had tried harder to lose weight or had been more adventurous in the bedroom. My only hope was that I did not make the same mistake again.
“His loss. You are cool, and I like your attitude girl. I have been trying to get your attention for a few weeks.” He said and it sounded sincere. I smiled back at him, but I could feel my cheeks getting hot and sweat forming above my lip.
“You are too nice.” I told him as I grabbed my napkin and wiped my upper lip. We finished our meal and talked for a little longer. The waitress then brought the check over and he paid. This signaled the end of our date. We got up and headed for the door.
“May I walk you to your car?” he asked.
“That would be nice.” I smiled and we started walking toward my car. When we got to my car he gave me a hug.
“Thank you for breakfast. It was fun. See you next Sunday at the Blues Jam.” I told him.
“Sooner?” he questioned.
“Call me.” I said, and I smiled at him and got in my car. He smiled back waved and then turned and walked away. I started my car and left. I called Cara as soon as I got home.
“I made it through the date!” I said excitedly, “I didn’t fart or burp or anything!”
“Sicko!” she laughed.
“Anyhow, I will pick you up about 7 tonight and I can fill you in on the rest of the date. See you later!” I hung up and went over the date in my head and then tried to not make too much of it. For the first time in months, I felt hope and excitement. I had friends and plans, what could go wrong?
To be continued…