Hopefully The Sun will Come Out Tomorrow

I was in the third grade when my parents split up and we moved from a small town in Texas to a Texas town not quite as small.

My mom, big brother and I moved into a two-bedroom duplex that my grandparent’s owned and where my great-grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert See, lived in the adjoining house.

The See’s (unfortunately not the ones of the See’s Candy fortune) were Quaker tenant farmers from Illinois who’d come to live with my grandma and grandpa when they got too old to work the farm.

Robert, my great-grandfather, was in his 90’s. Tall, gangly, always wore a cardigan, work boots and pants slightly too big which were held up by suspenders. Every afternoon he’d get his cane, don a fedora, and slowly take a walk around the block.

My great-grandmother was eleven years his junior although you couldn’t tell it. I loved her even though she wasn’t very warm or grandma-y. She also didn’t seem to be a big fan of my brother or boy cousins (it’s okay, they know) but did have a soft spot for me and my cousin, Celia.

At least she was smart.

To be fair, there were always windmill shaped ginger snaps in her cookie jar, which was bright yellow and shaped like a beehive. I realize cookies are a grandma thing, but they were ginger snaps so I do believe the latter may cancel out the former.

She always prepared three meals a day. Breakfast, lunch and then usually breakfast again for supper.

Thornton was my great-grandma’s maiden name. Her great uncle (actually, not sure how many greats before uncle) was Matthew Thornton, the dude who signed the Declaration of Independence. So, I guess in a way that makes up for the lack of a candy empire that I should be running at this very moment. Because it’s my birthright. Even though it isn’t.

Matthew was the last of 56 people to sign this document. Hey, better late than never, right? Which happens to be a motto I have also adopted in my life and is a trait that obviously runs in our family.

She went by Lula but her full name was Lula Lavina, which she hated. (Not certain about the “Lula” but definitely the “Lavina”.) I liked to pretend I’d forgotten and would try to make her say it.

“Grandma, what’s your name again?”

“Oh you know my name.” she’d say sternly with a half-smile.

My mom was an emergency room nurse and also had several side hustles to support us (including working the medevac air ambulance, despite being deathly afraid of flying. Something else that runs in our family) so, I spent a lot of time on their side of the duplex.

They’d sit beside each other on the love seat holding hands, doing crosswords and resting their eyes. I’d sit in a chair across the room with my nose buried in a Harlequin romance novel and dreaming of escape.

The days seemed endless.

After my grandpa See passed our routine didn’t change.

I’ve been thinking a lot about them and that time in my life as I sit and read and the days seem endless.

Maybe it’s silly but that’s okay.

It’s what you’re supposed to do when the universe gives you time to reflect and figure your shit out.

Do what you have to do and feel what you need to feel until things return to some semblance of normal.

Until then I will read, rest my eyes, miss my grandparents and occasionally, I will have breakfast for supper.

SASSY WAITRESS

Chapter One
It was day two of a two week run in Indiana and I was standing in the back of the room waiting to go up. The night before, while on stage, I’d gotten into it with an open mic guy who was sitting in the front row taking notes during my set. Which means he was stealing my jokes.

Yep, front row. At least sit in the back where I can’t see your dumb ass.

Also, I had to break up a fight between audience members because no one who worked at the club seemed at all interested in doing it. So, I said, to two big-ole hammered farm boys, “You, aren’t going anywhere. And, you, are not kicking anybody’s ass. Both of you sit down right now.”

And you know what they said? Nothing. They just sat down.

I have found that if you speak to an intoxicated man the way his mother would, he will immediately behave. I don’t recommend this if it’s someone you feel romantic about because it kinda sets a disturbing tone. However, if that’s your thing, then have at it.

So, as I stood watching the opening act being verbally pummeled by the audience, I decided that my life as a full-time road comic was finally approaching its end.

Never saw that coming.

But, after way too many years of slugging it out on the road, I was over it. Not stand-up, but definitely the lifestyle.

I’d grown weary of living out of a suitcase, driving all night to get to the next gig, sleeping in my car or some disgusting comedy condo and staying in shitty, scary motels. I no longer wanted to deal with drunks, rowdy audiences or idiots who only wanted to hear dick jokes and thought it perfectly civilized to yell, “Show us your tits!”

Who raised these people?

I was physically and emotionally worn out but didn’t realize, or maybe just didn’t want to acknowledge, how much until that very moment.

Plus, I was always broke.

Always.

Fuck!

I was so sick and tired of never having any money, fighting with my boyfriend because of it and worrying about how to pay my bills. And also, getting to choose between eating or putting gas in my car.

In case you were wondering, the whole “starving artist” thing is way more romantic when you’re talking about it over a big, fat, juicy steak as opposed to a pack of stale peanut butter crackers. Hence the F-word, followed by an exclamation point a few sentences ago. For the record, I don’t exclamation point lightly. But then again what lady does really?

The older I got, louder became the siren’s call of having a pot to piss in or two nickels to rub together.

Perhaps someday I’d even own my very own Frigidaire. “What must that be like?” I’d ponder yet dare not say aloud.

At twenty-two, I gave up any chance of normal by pledging my undying love for stand-up. I made my mom cry, burned the boats, plus all the other stuff you do to prove you ain’t fuckin around, and then headed off in my Canary yellow 1974 Ford Pinto to make the world laugh one comedy club, hotel lounge, and one-niter hell gig at a time.

Oh, and also to assuage some unspoken ache.

I am too good enough, you’ll see!

They never see.

In a nutshell: After several years of roaming around the country and not living anywhere, I moved to Los Angeles in my late twenty’s. Met my ex-boyfriend. We lived (out of wedlock, much to my mother’s chagrin) in a great apartment at the beach for about a year. He got a job offer in San Francisco. I dramatically refused to go.

I went.

We moved into an apartment in Tiburon. That’s in Marin County across the Golden Gate Bridge. We had an amazing view of the city and Alcatraz. Alcatraz sits in the middle of the Bay. There’s a light on top of the prison that goes around every six seconds warning ships that it’s there and so please don’t smash into it.

My boyfriend would sit on the couch and time the light as it went around. He’d say, visibly agitated, “It goes every 6 seconds. It’s making me crazy.”  I would respond, “Let’s not blame the light, shall we? How about you just go sit in that chair instead?” His job ended five years later and we returned to Southern California. Eight years later our relationship would follow suit.

May I Borrow a Penny for Your Thoughts?

I have long been fascinated with the mindset of the mooch. I don’t mean someone who’s cheap, because there’s a difference. A cheapie doesn’t mind spending money, it just ain’t gonna be on you.

A few phrases you’ll never hear a skinflint utter; “My treat.” “Keep the change.” “This round’s on me.” And, “Put your card away, you’re killing me.”

If you’ve ever pulled out a calculator after dinner and said, “Your extra side of Ranch was seventy-five cents.” You’re cheap. But don’t feel bad, now you’ll know which box to check if you ever take a How much fun are you to hang out with? survey.

Besides, you don’t owe me anything and I’m sure that “Times is hard.” And, I most certainly have 2 quarters, a dime and 3 nickels to buy Ranch Dressing for which to dunk my fries.

A mooch, on the other hand, is a totally different beast. I find them both horrifying and fascinating.

Who are these people? These entitled scroungers who pay for nothing and feel no shame?

The drinker of free cocktails.

The borrower who doesn’t pay back.

“Can I catch a ride?” guy.

And, of course, the ne’er-do-well who’s never hungry, they “just came along for the company.” they say while scarfing down half a plate of your nachos and the majority of the artichoke dip.

I once gave a co-worker, who lost his driver license because of a DUI, a ride home every night for a year. Every night. He never once offered gas money.

One year.

Not one dollar.

Apparently, he thought it was no big deal because he only lived fifteen minutes that way. But, since I lived thirty minutes the other way, it kind of was. At least “fake” crack open your wallet, pal.

I probably wouldn’t have even accepted anyway because it was only fifteen minutes that way. But in the words of my grandmother, “It’s the thought that counts, motherfucker.

I bartended at a place where the cook’s wife would sit at my bar, while waiting for him to get off work, and drink wine. When the other bartender and I realized that she had no intention of ever paying or leaving a tip, we invented a game called ‘How long can we avoid eye contact before she freaks out?’

About fifteen minutes.

Then she’d chirp, “May I please get some wine, assholes?” (She didn’t actually call us assholes, her tone did.)

As her drink would start getting dangerously low she’d begin to panic, and when I was anywhere in her proximity she’d frantically stick her wine glass in my face like Oliver Twist’s empty porridge bowl.

Sometimes I call people on their stuff, sometimes I don’t. In these two cases, I did not. Their insolence fascinated me. How long could they keep going? Would tonight be the night when even they could no longer stand their own freeloading selves?

Turns out, both were perfectly fine with it.

Now, unless they were parented by grifters or a pack of Hyenas, they knew better, it was just their preference not to do so.

I realize how lovely life would be if everyone else would foot the bill and we could just eat and drink and do whatever we wanted and never spend a dime. But, sadly, that’s not how it works.

So, I guess the moral of this story is… pay for half of the nachos, leave a tip, offer gas money. Because, not only is it the right thing to do, it’s the thought that counts, motherfucker.

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