|Me n' Bartender Mom (early 90s)|
For a period of time during the early 1990's, my Mom lived down in the Florida Keys with my stepdad Barry. She had divorced my Dad a couple of years prior. It was a difficult time for my family but thankfully, we all survived that period of emotional turmoil.
Mom was attempting to find herself and it ultimately became an incredible time for her, a period of regrowth and discovery. As a family, we rebuilt our relationship stronger than ever. The same can be said with our relationship with my Dad as well. It was the first time I truly had an adult relationship with each of my parents, being able to receive advice from them and give it back (solicited or not, LOL).
Mom and Barry lived at Barry's place in Tamarac Park, Key West, Florida. Specifically, they lived off of Mile Marker 10, down Boca Chica Road. If you know the Florida Keys, you know that places are often informally referred to as by what mile marker they are located at since the Overseas Highway it one long 113 mile stretch from Miani to Key West.
I remember the trip well as I drove it at least a dozen times. From Miami, travel about 3 hours south towards Key West and then make a left at Mile Marker 10, right at the Circle K convenience store. Simple enough directions, right? It was always a scenic drive of resorts, motels, and bugalows, sport fishing spots, bridges connecting the keys, plenty of palm trees and mile after mile of the most beautiful turquoise blue waters you can imagine.
Mom and Barry lived in a little resort-style neighborhood called Tamarac Park on Geiger Key. It was off Boca Chica Key, where the US Naval Base was located. Mom had recently married my stepdad Barry. Geiger Key was 99% residential but did have a great little RV park, marina, restaurant and bar. It was here at the Geiger Key Marina that Mom took a job on a whim as bartender of that little bar in the open air restaurant sitting next to the endless mangroves and canals.
Everyone loved Abby the bartender. My Mom was feisty and ready to give you a frosty beer along with her wit and (sometimes barbed) wisdom. Standing at a petite 5 ft 4 inches and barely over 100 pounds, Abby become the favorite bartender of the locals who loved her sassy personality but knew she couldn't be taken advantage of.
Even being of small stature, Mom was very well respected. When someone would get drunk or out of hand, my Mom would raise her voice, "Just try me buddy, just try me!" She would grab the bat hidden under the bar and slam it right down on the bar top. She apparently had lots practice doing this with wooden spoons on my childhood backside. She had the back up of her bar patrons of course.
My sister Sheryl saw her bartending and said Mom never looked so happy tending bar. She was in her element, helping people and also able to talk as much as she liked. LOL
|Bartender Marc at the Lodge in 2016|
One of the joys that I get while bartending is knowing that my Mom did it for a spell for before me. I see her in myself. The mannerisms, the attitude, the loudness, and the ability to have multiple conversations going on at once with friends, strangers, and anyone in between! Knowing that I have so much of her personality in me makes me smile. So when I have a shot at a bar ... ANYTIME I have a shot at a bar ... and I look up, know that I am toasting my incredible Mom the bartender.
***"This holiday season I can truly say that I ate like a king and I drank like a fish."- ME***