Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Right Decision, Right Time

My last shift bartending at the Firehouse was on this past Sunday. It was uneventful, thankfully, as one certain crazy person did not show up. Several good friends did show up which totally made my rather long day and evening.

I arrived at 12 noon looking forward to a rather sleepy Sunday before Memorial Day.  After opening, an older bar regular named Brian came in. I think he is in his late 60's but due to the hardships and knocks of life, looks past 70. Brian dispenses advice with the thoughtfulness of a wise old sage. He speaks softly and deliberately. He always means what he says. It was an honor to spend my early Sundays speaking with him over his Camels, Yuengling Premium, and Crown Royal shots.

Brian had brought me in some National Geographic's to read now that he was done with them. He was very happy to pass on the magazines as he hates throwing them out.  We had one of our great in depth conversations and shoved off about 1:30 bidding me farewell. I was happy he stopped in.

I went through a stretch of an hour or two where no one was at the bar and then good friends from Lake Wynonah came in. John stopped in for a soda on his way to work. My good friends Sarah and Sue stopped in and hung out and then about 8 more from the Lake came in. Along with friends Carol and Joe, we all had a fun evening late into the night. I got home at 12:30 PM. It was a 12 ½ shift on my feet! UGH! Well let's just say, it was worth it. Good friends are always generous and I am extremely lucky for their company.

When I got home, I received more texts from my Lake peeps asking if I was open. Unfortunately, the Firehouse is in a dead zone and I didn't receive the messages until later. Otherwise, I would have gladly had everyone down! I am always about the more, the merrier.

I was disappointed that certain people did not stop in for my last shift. Such is life I guess. When you work in this business, whether full time or part time, you learn to differentiate between friends who come to your bar and just bar patrons.  Friends reached out to me, whether by text, conversation, or showing up. Others did not and honestly, it's no biggie, just an observation. It solidifies my decision to leave. It was the right decision for the right time.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Childhood Pictures

At work, we have various activities and contests put on by a volunteer committee.  The most recent was a baby picture contest. You submitted your baby or childhood picture and people tried to figure out who's who.  It was fun seeing all of your coworker's baby pictures.

The week prior, I pulled out a folder of school pictures from elementary through high school which my stepdad Barry had given to me after Mom had passed. It was a fun albeit bittersweet trip down memory lane. I came across a picture of me in 7th grade so horrendous that I had to have a retake. The retake came out really good but the first one, UGH. I am still to this day mortified by how bad it was. The evil photographer had taken it when I was speaking and leaning forward. My mouth was agape catching me in midsentence. I looked instead like I was throwing up mid-seizure. It was just awful. I shudder at the sight of it. That one remains buried in the pile. You will NEVER see it.

Marc in First Grade, Wenonah Elementary School

There was another picture of me in 2nd grade with a cringe-worthy RUST colored turtleneck shirt. Just hideous, that color. It was the 70's though and Mom always tried to keep us dressed in the latest colors and fashions. She loved dressing us in plaids with wide lapels. And still another of me in 3th grade, having lost a couple teeth, looking like a mess. I looked totally unkept. I laugh at that one. I must have just come off of the playground from recess.

I chose for the contest, a favorite picture from 1st grade at Wenonah Elementary School. There I am with my bowl cut. I love this picture of me. It represents such a happy innocent time in my life. If I look closely I can still see a scratch on my chin. Mom was being overly dramatic because I had a scratched chin just in time for my school pictures. I don't even remember how I got it but I had fallen somewhere.

Pictures got better, I grew up. Looking back at last three years of high school, the pictures  weren't as geeky. I started actually looking like a young adult and not some nerd from the movie Sixteen Candles. Thank G-d most of us went through this. And oh yes, to those friends who were good looking all through elementary and high school, I think ya peaked early my friends. Yeah, that's right, I said it. YA PEAKED EARLY. J

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Evolution of Friendships

Some friendships are like walking sticks. Others, like stepping stones. This concept is courtesy of my dear 2nd mom, Martha. I have always liked it. You have friends which stay with you through life and help you get through those tough times. These long term friendships are your walking sticks. Other friends are stepping stones in your life. They are the ones you connect with at different periods of your life. The time may be brief or over several times, in and out of your life.  It may be good and meaningful but it is just a blip on the radar. And there is nothing wrong with this!

Friendships are an interesting concept. I have wanted to write a blog for awhile now on them and kept skipping around on how to approach the topic. I find friendships are a constantly evolving abstract in one’s life. We are forced to attend elementary and high school with these other kids that we don’t know. That is our first experience with friendship. Most of us eventually develop bonds with certain kids. We deal with kids that we do not like and then with kids who turn out to be enemies, frenemies, and bullies. It is not until college that we are able to become friends with those of our own choosing, whether it be the theater crowd, the intellectual types, goth kids, the jocks, or those in the Greek system.

As an adult, we become friends with coworkers and those with shared similar interests. If you are single, you hang out with a single crowd. Once you start seeing someone, your single friendships invariable suffer and move to the background. Couples migrate to other couples. Single friends continue to hang out with single friends. No one wants to be a third wheel.

I have friends from each period of my life that I am still close with. I may not see them often, but when I do, we pick up right where we left off and continue as if not a day passed since I last saw them. But some of those best friends that I once thought I was extremely close with and were those "walking sticks", turn out to be just “old friends” now. It is disconcerting.

This happens for a number of reasons. We now don’t have much in common and our history together cannot make up for that. Or as often is the case, one friend puts out more than the other to keep up the friendship, and it just isn’t worth the effort. The payout on the friendship isn’t worth the work involved. One side stops doing all the calling and the friendship fades. When people grow apart as friends and move on, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s just life.

Changing, evolving friendships are difficult and painful when they evolve into something less than what they currently are. I was friends with certain people whom I never thought I would drift apart from. I also know that friendships are a two way street. Why stay in one when both sides aren’t going to work at it. One person should not be doing all the calling, emailing, or texting.

When that light bulb goes off, that you realize that you are just tired of trying to maintain a faltering friendship, it is not a happy experience. It is akin to any relationship which fades and for lack of a better work, dies. It is sad. But it can also be empowering. You realize that you now can spend time focusing on the friendships that do matter. And there is nothing wrong with this! It is a simple fact of life. To accept that comes with age and wisdom.

You also have those friendships, as I mentioned before, where you can go for months or years with not contact and then just pick up where you left off. It is wonderful. You understand that your friend has had a tough or busy couple months and you eventually reconnect with their life settles down. That is a true friendship: one that stands the test of time, relationships, moving to a different area of the country, personal issues, deaths in family, marriage, divorce, children, etc. It stands through all the messiness of life, only to reemerge when you get together with that special friend and laugh out loud like when you first laughed with that friend, maybe decades earlier.

Not all friendships are like that. Sometimes you think it will be a magical reunion. But sometimes it is not and unfortunately it’s just a short trip down memory lane and then you move on. Not everyone is a walking stick. But that is what makes them so special when they are. How boring would life be if we got along and were best friends with everyone. Dealing with the messiness of life, understanding our faults and limitations, and yet coming back around and reconnecting is what makes close friendships so meaningful.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers out there including my close family and friends that are Moms.  I marvel at how you raise or have raised your kids. I have great admiration for anyone that is a parent. You definitely deserve this day!

It is a tough time of the year for those of us that have lost our Moms. I wanted to let them know I was thinking about them as well.  Some have just lost their Moms this past year. It will be a difficult holiday for you and I wish I could make it easier. Time does help, that's all I can say. 

I was recently happy to discover two facts about my Mom (who passed away in 2009) that I did not know before.  Learning things like this, no matter how minor, brings joy that you would not believe.


The first is that a couple weeks ago I was listening to a favorite RnB song "Better Days" by the great American Jazz singer Dianne Reeves. It is an uplifting but bittersweet song reflecting on her grandmother but it reminds me of my mom and the wisdom she would instill in me.  I emailed the video to my brother and sister telling them how much I loved this song as it reminded me of Mom. My sister later emailed me back that Mom always loved Dianne Reeves too. I was astonished as I had never known that.  It gives the song such special meaning now as it is just one more connection to my dear mom.

The second thing I learned when I was relaxing on the deck before dinner last week. John was grilling burgers and I was enjoying a beer while looking over the lush green yard. Spring was in the air, it had just rained heavily and the yard smelled like freshly cut grass. 

I said to John, "You know I really wish Mom had seen this place before she passed away. She would have loved the yard."
He said, "She did Marc."
"What? What are you talking about?" I asked.
"I thought you knew. One day we were driving down Mohave Drive and passed this house and yard. I told her how much I loved the yard. She said she thought it was a beautiful yard, too."
"Wow," I said. "That just means so much that she saw the place that I would eventually call home and loved it too."
I just smiled ear to ear.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bartender as Diplomat

I wanted to explain some bar etiquette to all my friends out there. Most of you know this but there are a couple which may need a refresher course. When you frequent the same neighborhood bar, you become friends with the bartender. As your bartender, I really enjoy seeing my regular patrons. It's a fun job, I get to talk with everyone. If you know me, you know I love to talk.  I pride myself on remembering someone's name, what he or she drinks and immediately getting it for them when they arrive. 

There are others which come into the bar which I do not know as well but I still strive to treat them with the same politeness, courtesy, and respect as I do everyone else. I make a point to spend time and chat with each person. I do this for the ones that I do not particularly care for.  It is part of the job. Remember that.

The way I figure, I represent the bar or restaurant as a sort of a diplomat of the establishment. You, the patron, are there to have fun and enjoy yourself and I provide the liquid refreshment for you to do so. That of course, is within reason. If you become rude to me, don't expect me to come back to you for more. I will provide you with your beverage and move on to the next person. I don't put up with being treated badly.

We as bartenders are not your punching bags. I will listen to your gripes and problems but do not put me in the middle of your fights or disagreements with the other patrons. I have to be nice and treat everyone equally.  Putting me in the middle is uncalled for, creates an awkward situation, and really doesn't make me want to like you. I had this happen to me the other week and after days of wondering "What did I do to trigger this?" I realized I did nothing wrong. I was only doing my job.

So as your bartender, I will strive to be polite and friendly to you. I will treat you with respect. Please do the same in return. Realize I have to spend time with everyone at the bar, even those that you personally may not like. Finally, remember that I am the one who is actually working and representing the establishment while you are the one drinking there. Now cheers, drink up, and don't forget to tip your diplomat ... I mean bartender.