Thank you Darcy for the oomph I needed to get on this blog and write. I watch too much TV and as I do I see myself getting fatter and fatter and lazier as the time goes by. I sleep in front of the TV, I meditate, (right) play on the computer, eat, pick up stuff, eat, watch tv, and watch me gain weight, go to the store buy food, eat, hate myself. Well you get the idea. It's not a fun existance.
Tonight I called Comcast to add stations to my lineup, so I could watch more TV. I must ask myself once a day, "what is my life about" "why am I here" "what good am I?"....my answer is always the same, I'm old and I'm done. Then I see others who live a full life and they're older than me, their lives are not over.
As I talked to this young delightful woman we began to chat about SF, her words brought back memories of what a "bad girl" I was and what a good time I had being a bad girl.
'You need to write a book" she said!! "No Book" said I, but I do have a blog and I should go write right now. This all brought back deja vu of a dream I had last week of being tied up in ropes, i kept saying over and over "I have to write I just have to write", I was trying and trying to get out of the ropes that bound me. My friend and writing teacher Susan, was trying to help me. When I would say "I just have to write" she understood and tried to get me loose, but something was holding me back.No matter how hard she tried she couldn't help me. It was like fighting in water trying to get loose and not being able to get to my journal and pen. I woke up saying it "I have to write I have to write" but I didn't do it, I didn't allow myself that joy. Instead I ate and watched TV. I have to write. I want to write, I just have to write. And here I am, challenged by Darcy to write and to tell my memories of SF that I have never written about or told my children about. They were just little kids when I lived the glamorous life of a young drunk, and they were caught in the crossfire, so I've been ashamed to put it out there, I thought they already knew. How dare I tell about times that were fun, when they missed me and wanted me home, but I am going to go there. I'm going to dare.
Believe it or not in the before the early 70's women could not set foot behind a bar. Not unless there names were on the liscense. A waitress could stand at the end of the bar and bend way way over to grab the wine bottle or try to draw a draught, but she could not put her foot on the planks. Only men could do that. Something about having a penis made it legal. I drank in a bar in the city at 16 years old, I was wearing my catholic school uniform and nothing was said. But the bar owner almost lost his liscense because one day being very tired he sat down to have some lunch and a cigarette, 2 men came in and wanted well drinks, the waitress said to him "oh take a break and rest your feet I'll get the drinks" , and that's what it took. They were from the ABC and he was closed. I think maybe breasts get in the way of pouring whiskey or not having a penis makes you a little off center or something.
There were a lot of dumb laws in the city, well probably all over back then. I remember it being a big deal when men of color and chinese were allowed to be police officers. The man on the street reporter went all over asking people what they would feel if they need a cop and a black man or oriental showed up. WHAT???? Well people went nuts when women were allowed to be cops. What happened to our image of superman rescuing us? A woman can't rescue me? Hell i could kick ass myself (or so i would say, when the chips were down I was a chicken) I really liked the idea of being rescued by a man, so the woman thing didn't work for me. However when women were allowed to bartend, and a big stink was made about it, deep down I knew I wanted to be a bartender.
In those days when a woman alone went into a bar, the bartender would talk to her, buy her drinks, try to keep her there, because women in bars brought men in. How could a woman do that? Well of course she couldn't. Women didn't like women. Women saw women as competition. But I knew I could do it. I could handle it.
I was offered a job behind a bar in the financial district on the edge of the tenderloin. A woman I knew asked me to go with her to her job and train to run drinks. The owner asked me to go in the back and talk to him, he offered me a job as a dealer, a TOPLESS dealer. Instead of saying "NO, I can't do that", I ran down my body and told him how ugly it was. I was so angry at myself for doing that. Then he offered me a job working behind the bar in a see through blouse. I didn't know how to say "no" so when I got time I went outside and called my boyfriend from the pay phone. I told him what I'd been doing, I was being used as a shill. I was sitting at a blackjack table with a fake drink in front of me, and I'd smile and flirt with guys and they'd buy me drinks. The drinks had little to no alcohol in them, just lost of sweet shit. I told Pete my BF about it, he said "why don't you leave?" "I can't I'm scared to". He said "Where are you now?" I told him I was in the phone booth. "Do you have your purse?" he asked, "Yes" i said, "grab a cab and take it here, I'll pay for it". Common sense. I didn't have much of that. Just leave is what he was saying. I didn't know how to take care of myself, it took me years to learn that, if I ever did. Learning to say "NO" has been the hardest lesson of my life. It's a complete sentence. Isn't that cool? NO is a complete sentence. 2 letters, yet I couldn't say them. The hardest and longest word I ever tried to say.
My work was waitressing. I had been a waitress since I was 13, I'd worked all over the place, and worked my way up to restaurants that had a name and i made a lot of money. As long as I was making money and was able to drink I was happy.
One afternoon a friend had asked me to meet her at a bar called "Zadors" in the Marina in SF. I'd never heard of the place but I found it and met her there. It was in the afternoon, and no one was at the bar. A man, a big man, greeted me at the door and walked me to a bar stool. He got me a vodka and grapefruit juice, lit my cigarette, and then sat down next to me. We began to talk and he told me he was the owner and that he'd had a really positive write up in the SF chronicles pink section where they wrote up restaurants. The place was packed at night, just packed.
Eventually I told him I was a waitress and I worked at the Franciscan on Fisherman's wharf. I didn't tell him I was sick of the manager and wanted to leave. He showed me around his whole establishment, explained to him what they had how it was served, how the lunch crowd was handled, the dinner menu including every table getting it's own loaf of warm home made bread. He showed me the extensive and expensive wines he kept. And then he walked away, I watched the waitresses work and how they interacted with the chefs and the busboys. When Irvin came back i said something to him I had never said to a prospective employer before. I said "I like your set up, it's really nice, and pretty well run, but you need me and here's my phone number. Call me when you realize I'm right". He looked at me like like I had a rock in my head and my friend showed up at that moment, and he left. I couldn't believe I did that. And the next morning Irvin Zador called me and asked me to come and talk to him. I did that, and my life changed. For the better? I don't know, it just got a lot more interesting.