You know when the bar tender's had a bad day when she walks behind the bar at the beginning of her shift and fixes herself two double shots, while staring at the customers in front of her, from one end to the other.
In this very moment, the piercing scan with that glassy glaze over slitted eyes, tells you all you need to know about how your evening is going to go while sitting at your favorite bar with only one thing in mind. You need a cocktail right now, because your day has just ended with one drudge cycle and the serious need to begin the next.
It's what we anticipate through all the commuter traffic, gaseous odors that weave their snake-like trail into your vehichle through the tightly closed vents, the repeated breaking and wall to wall traffic, sqinting to see the familiar exit to take you a few more miles, a couple more blocks, dreams of parking kharma and a hurried walk across the street, around the corner, through the open doors, while spying the last stool at the end of the bar. Long winded and out of breath, you've arrived.
Favorite bar tender preparing to clock out, you plead with your eyes for him to make contact, offer you a long neck, cold burst of suds. You see him filling a chilled glass from the tap and the anticipation stirs you to stretch your spine upward, stiffen your anxious posture and create presense. Your pleading body language maintains feigned dignity as you open your mouth to ask for a drink (pretty please)?
"I'm done," sounds like unfamiliar words from a foreign land, the lingo that disrupts your breathing and the very purpose for being in this moment in time. "You are?" (you can't be serious). "Could you please make me something special before you leave?" (What you're really saying is, "Can you give me a hug?") "Sure, OK." (Bless you, darlin' boy!)!
As visibily aggitated bar tender glares at your end of the bar, you pretend to be invisible. It's her bar now; her shift and covetted tips that await her expectant hand-to-pocket. This will likely be the only drink you order this night as the energy has clearly changed, both in substance and in attitude that is thicker than the frigid morning fog.
The perfect "Special Margarita" with the mouth watering floater on top, arrives none too soon. Tempting green straw finds it's way to your mouth just in the nick of time. Instant, melting relief washes over you while the cool tart liquid swirls around the tongue and down the arid throat, cooling the heat of the day's events. If ever there was time for a genuine prayer of thanks, this was it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Oh, oh. What's he doing?! Bringing her over to my end of the bar, she gives me an unusually steely look, directly into my eyes so I return the look as softly as possible, daring not to blink...as he introduces us. (yikes!) No hint of friendliness in her manner or attitude, he tells me she is taking over my tab. He turns to her and makes some comment on her uncommonly different attire for the casual neighborhood bar, to which she says quite matter of factly, "When I feel like killing someone, I get dressed up!"
Without stopping to take a breath, she said, "I've had a really bad day!"
Well, OK, then. On this point, we can agree on something. Wisely intending sincere interest, I became the ear she needed for the next ten minutes, between her trips to the tap to refill her regular's glasses, wine refills and some casual introductions to those seated around me. Seemed like many pairs of eyes were on me during this intercourse of female bonding (of sorts). Even more interest directed at me when they learned that I was "Julie's Mom." Bar tendress, too, lost the intense glaze in her eyes, which warmed at the realization that I was mom to one of their own. (phew)
"What are you drinking," she asked? Explaining that Scott had made me a "Special Margarita," Julie walked in to join me with a big squishy mother-daughter hug. Instant sunshine surrounded Julie (birds singing over the rainbow; you name it!) Well...at least a feeling of pure relief and joy overcame me when she arrived. She needed some "Mommy time" and I was more than happy to oblidge.
Being the baby daughter of three, she has always had my maternal heart strings wrapped around all her beautiful, perfectly manicured fingers. And she knows it! She promptly and confidently walked around the bar and fixed herself a concoction of gin, freshly squeezed pink gratefruit juice, splash of Triple Sec and a hint of bitters on the rocks and rejoined me, offering me a sip. A recipe of her making, I was surprised that I liked it at once and comlimented her for her creative culinary skills. She had clocked out at 5:00 PM, after a seven hour shift, to spend an evening with her mom, with a scrumptuous Sushi feast to follow at another local favorite eatery.
As we walked out of the bar to head to dinner, all eyes were on us approvingly and enviably even, as we possess that mother-daughter bond that is as tangibly obvious as it is warming. Corny, I know, but it's the best feeling in the world to be with your baby daughter, flashes of life events and glimpses of years of struggles, fears and maternal angst all melting away.
Clasping my hand in hers, walking down the block, I felt like the luckiest mom in the world. Because, I am.
It's good to be "Julie's Mom"
Photo taken on Mother's Day - May 2011