Self Rediscovery

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by Fifty150, Feb 14, 2021.

  1. Fifty150

    Fifty150 Practically Family

    The Barbary Coast
    It's almost been a year. The Covid "lock down", at least in this country, hasn't really been a lock down. More of a voluntary abstinence, with some restrictions. It has not evolved to martial law, with authority figures challenging your presence in public.

    I've been cutting my own hair. I stopped going to donut shops. Bars have been closed. Without sit down service, I stopped buying meals at restaurants. Less than a handful of visits to a hamburger joint, eating the burgers in my car, has convinced me that to pay for the meal is to eat the meal at the restaurant. I don't want to bring home restaurant food, reheat it on my stove top or in my oven, then still have to clean up everything.

    My limited cooking is learned from childhood camping trips. A more innocent time. Back when I had more hair on my head. We camped as the open road would allow. We gathered. Wild edibles were harvested - the forest is a salad bar. We packed the Jeep and hunted. We fished. It was common for the pack to ride out on motorcycles with backpacks, sleeping bags, and such......

    I baked bread today. What's special about that? Nothing. It's been over a decade since I baked bread. Perhaps a lost artisanal skill. Perhaps just a survival skill. Just as I did as a kid. Flour, water, yeast, salt, sugar.....stick your hands in, feel the dough, mix it until it feels right. Wait for it. It rises. Stick it in oven. As a kid, it was a little trickier, with cast iron and an open fire.

    I grew up in a different era. Where people still learned to make things by hand. Pasta, tortilla, cake, bread.....again, not so special. Mostly just flour and water.

    Nostalgia. Reminisce of yesteryear, and days gone by. Yesterday once more. The actual last time I actually baked a loaf of bread. My ex-girlfriend's parents were visiting from out of town. I had a pickup truck and a Harley. So I decided that we should take public transportation for a day of sight seeing. Her father was leery when I offered him a handgun or a knife in case he needed to defend himself.

    Him: "Are you serious?"
    Me: "Of course not. I'm just F*cking with you. You're suppose to not like me because I'm living with your daughter. Do you think I'd really let you take one of my guns?"
    Him: "Guns? You have more than one?!?!"

    I had cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Long before hipsters discovered it. I bought it because it was low in price.....and I actually liked drinking it. A snide & facetious fellow, her dad made snarky comments about how we are suppose to have this great wine in our region. And he was expecting to savor our marvelous coastal and valley varietals.

    After a day of taking the bus through bad parts of town to sightsee, it was still hours from our dinner reservation. I decided, for reasons I still can't fathom, to bake a loaf of bread. Just like I did when I was a kid. A loaf of bread which I haven't baked for a decade. We had been together 4 years, and the girlfriend has never even heard of me making bread.

    Flour. Water. Yeast. Sugar. Salt. It only took about 10 minutes for the dough ball to form. I covered as everybody cleaned up, took showers, and changed. No recipe. I took a look, and it looked like the dough rose. Just like when I was kid. Put it on a cast iron pan, into the oven on high, and when you can smell it, it's ready. Open the door, tap the crust, it's ready. I got a cheap bottle of $2 wine, the infamous "two buck chuck" from the back of the shoe closet.

    Her Dad: "Who is this guy? Jesus? Bread & wine? Look Honey, he's giving us Communion."

    Her: "In all these years, you've never baked bread. You never even told me you could bake bread. What else are you hiding?"

    So there it is. I baked bread as a little boy, camping with my dad and uncles. A decade passes. I baked bread as a teenager, camping with my friends.....then drift through life as an adult, in & out of different relationships with women, going from job to job, hemlines go up and down, watching hip hugging bell bottoms come back into style, stints in prison, cocaine and hookers, collecting t-shirts from strip clubs all across the country....... if I bake a loaf of bread to mark the decades in my life, I don't have too many loaves of bread left in me.
  2. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

    Vienna, Austria
    That’s actually a pretty good short story.
  3. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Chicago, IL US
    [QUOTE="Fifty150, post: 2777504, member: 1312]

    So there it is.... drift through life as an adult, in & out of different relationships with women, going from job to job, hemlines go up and down, watching hip hugging bell bottoms come back into style, stints in prison, cocaine and hookers, collecting t-shirts from strip clubs all across the country....... if I bake a loaf of bread to mark the decades in my life, I don't have too many loaves of bread left in me.[/QUOTE]

    Covid irritant alter and reflection is probably more common than supposed.

    I recommend you might read Boethius' The Consolation of Philosophy. Order online Amazon.
    Inner reflection and amendment to life where necessary can prove most constructive.
  4. Fifty150

    Fifty150 Practically Family

    The Barbary Coast
    The Holy Bible is suppose to be the best selling book of ALL TIME.

    Yet, it has never cracked the Amazon Top 100.
  5. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Chicago, IL US
    Neither has The Consolation of Philosophy.
    An epistle considered against the Bible but focused inward and writ in prison.
    Writ circa 524, read for the past 1,497 years.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2021
  6. Fifty150

    Fifty150 Practically Family

    The Barbary Coast

    My Days of Being Wild. No helmet law. Every kid on the block had a bike. The poor kids, like me, had bikes which belonged in a junk yard. Beat up Harleys which kept breaking down. You learned real fast to be handy with a wrench. We drank Billy Beer as Billy's brother was .......... we'll leave the politics out of this. We hung out in the bars in Chinatown, picked up girls from the strip clubs on Broadway, and the Punk Rock scene was exploding at Mabuhay Gardens.

    Something came up. Something always comes up. For some of us, it was time to saddle up. I'm a cowboy, on the steel horse I ride.....Get out of town. Lay low. Cops couldn't find us anywhere. No cell phones to track the tower pings. No GPS ankle monitors. I donned my leather pants, pocketed my S&W Model 19 .357, and rode off with nothing more than an extra Pendleton, 2 pairs of clean socks, and a 6 pack of beer in my saddlebags.

    It never occurred to any of us that we stood out like sore thumbs in Mexico. 8 kids from Chinatown on motorcycles. And we only spoke enough street Spanish to insult your mother, order beer & food, and haggle down the price of a cheap blanket sold on the side of the road. All that we cared about was disappearing for awhile, so the cops couldn't haul us in, and that we don't get shot by the real bad guys.

    We headed south. Then just kept riding. Bordertown to bordertown. Cheap tacos, cheap beer...... a pretty good time for kids still in high school.

    Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
    I fell in love with a Mexican girl

    El Paso has the largest Harley dealership in The US. A good place to stop. Get spare parts. T-shirts. Go to Wal*Mart. None of us had seen anything like it. Stores like that just don't exist in Chinatown. Cross the border to Juarez.

    Her name was Lola
    She was a showgirl
    With yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there

    Lola: "Didn't I see you at WalMart today?"
    Me: "What? You must be mistaken."
    Lola: "There aren't that many Chinatown kids in El Paso. You're still wearing the same leather pants. The cops were there. Did you steal something?"

    So maybe her name wasn't Lola. But that doesn't really matter. Names are changed to protect the innocent. Her Copa was a seedy, smoke filled, strip club. Located in a rural area beyond city limits, and beyond the reach of the Juarez city police. The kind with rooms upstairs in case you want to spend a little more. I wasn't old enough to be in there. She wasn't old enough to work there. Or maybe not. Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico isn't in The United States. Who knows what kind of laws they have or don't have. Nobody was checking ID. And we had US dollars, which more or less meant we were okay to be there.

    No romance. Lola wan't swept off her feet by my lack of sophistication. I smelled like 4 days of pee and sweat, wrapped in dirty leather. Lola was different. She just wanted to talk. In that little corner of the world, you don't meet many outsiders. Well, you get the military, and everyone from the base fits the stereotype of an American soldier on leave. Trying to get drunk, get high, and get laid. Then there's the UTEP kids. Privileged frat boys crossing the border to get drunk, get high, and get laid. And she was right. I needed a room with a shower, and some fresh clothes.

    Lola got the truth. In the days before cable TV fake news, nobody knew what was happening anywhere else. Things were too dangerous back home. People were getting shot left and right. Anyone left standing; the cops were rounding up the usual suspects. We took the money we made selling 4th of July fireworks, and left town before we got shot, or ended up "detained for questioning" in the basement holding cell - where the cops can use you as a punching bag, and you had no rights because nobody knew you were there. We weren't murderous felons. Just high school kids from a bad neighborhood.

    It turned out that Lola and her brother attended a parochial school operated by Franciscan Monks. Lola was only bartending, not hooking. That skanky brothel, thinly veiled as a s**thole cantina, was owned by her dad. And the family devoutly practiced Catholicism. Which now makes sense to me, as a person who practices Jewish holidays just to get those days off from work. I eat matzo with gefilte fish at work, just to remind the human resources lady that I'm getting holiday pay for Passover.

    We parked our bikes in a corrugated tin shack they used for storage. And we stayed. All 8 of us. Very generous of Lola's dad. For a price, we slept in the f**kshop beds during the off hours of the day when they weren't generating revenue. Don't ask if there were fresh linens.

    According to Lola's brother, we were "good for business". In their small corner of the world, it was an open secret that a "gang" was hiding out with them. Suddenly, people who owed their dad money were expediting their payments. Lola's dad was renegotiating terms on his "businesses", and getting better terms, because people feared his "gang". Lola's brother always took a couple of us wherever he went, as if to show off his new found "connection". For the rest of that summer, we hung out in the bar drinking beer, and eating some of the best Mexican food I've ever had.

    I'm monumentally naive. I thought it was completely normal that the neighborhood pimp had parties every day, where different people in the neighborhood would bring chickens and lamb for him to roast. Every day. Enough food for his family, and all of his hookers. Neighboring ranchers would offer up their farm fresh produce and livestock for our supper. It was insane. Lola's family never went shopping. They got deliveries of everything, every day, as if her dad was entitled to free food. It started in the morning with fresh goat milk and eggs, and all day long, the food kept coming. Even packaged dry goods like 50 pound bags of flour, rice, and beans. Almost like tribute. Or a bribe, so that their daughters don't end up working as b-girls.

    Weird that they didn't have a maid or cook. Lola and her mom were in charge of the food. Most of it. Her dad and brother always tended to the barbacoa. As if roasting meat were a masculine task. A few of the hookers helped out with prep work. I was told that they didn't have to. It was very clear that the whores were not domestic servants. They were employees, hired for a specific job, and it wasn't to be maids. All the hookers had to do was generate revenue. They were just bored waiting for customers. And at least when they helped with, they had some influence on the menu. One of the hookers made the best mole. Another was from Yucatan, and she made Cochinita Pibil which I couldn't get enough of.

    A hooker from Michoacan made carnitas, and fresh tortillas. Actually, she made the tortillas almost every day. She taught me how to make tortillas. Again.....flour, water......a little salt, and lard. To this day, I still make tortillas that way. By hand. With an iron skillet. Although I found that olive oil could replace the lard when I'm making tortillas in The City. Not that I make tortillas all that often either. About as often as i bake bread. But I can do it. If you're cute, and you take me home from a bar in Chinatown, I might make tortillas for you in the morning.

    I made a loaf of bread for the prostitute. Not that romantic either. She was there for the money. She needed to send home enough to support her family of 4 grandparents, 3 aunts, mother, father, siblings, and cousins. And me? I was too shy to make a move. And too cheap to pay her for her professional services. That was a life lesson learned. There's no "free meal" from a "working girl". I have a good left hook. But no girl could ever flirt with me enough, for me to knock out her ex-boyfriend.......for free.

    As the season was about to change, we had to saddle up and ride off into the sunset. Head west. Back to The Golden Gate. Lola's brother had the last laugh. "Are you f**king kidding me? Tough guys have to go back home, because school is starting."

    Lola: ".....and those 3, the 1 with the leather pants & the 2 who do not drink beer, are starting City College".

    I didn't have leather pants. They were leather chaps. I was wearing Levi's.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2021
    Cheech and Benny Holiday like this.
  7. Benny Holiday

    Benny Holiday My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Sydney Australia
    Like something out of James Ellroy, only real.
  8. Fifty150

    Fifty150 Practically Family

    The Barbary Coast
    Vignettes of my reality read like a porno mag. People who know me say that if they weren't there, they wouldn't believe it. Strange that my entire life has been one debaucherous adventure, followed by a deeper dive into depravity.....even stranger that I have witnesses. As in more than 1 witness. They actually tell the stories better than me. "Oh, yeah? Let me tell you about that time in (Vegas, NY, London, Tokyo, Singapore, or fill in the blank location), when '5150' got into......." I don't know. I stumble through life half drunk, and things happen.

    Actually, I'm not all that lucky, either. We got of town to avoid the gunfire. Only to get back to The City a week before the restaurant shooting. So it didn't work. Any one of us could have been shot in that restaurant. After all, we hung out at The Buddha Bar, not 50 feet away. We didn't even know what was happening. We were downstairs in the basement at that moment. Loud jukebox. Rowdy card game. We didn't hear a thing. Then the cops came. Rounded up the usual suspects. It was nuts. Every kid on the street. They saw our bikes in front of the bar, knew we were in the basement, and scooped us up too.

    What could I say? The Inspectors and the foot beat cops knew us..... "I was downstairs playing cards. You guys know that we play cards in the basement. You think I'm dumb enough to go next door, shoot up a restaurant, then come back down here to finish the card game?" Yeah. Sure. And park my bike in front of the bar, so you'll know where to find me. I got it. I knew the routine. Squeeze us. Get us to talk. We might know something. "We were out of town the whole summer. We got nothing to do with this. You think if I knew this was going down, I'd be hanging out 50 feet away?"

    Every little storefront in Chinatown has a little basement where the bathrooms are, and just enough space for kegs of beer. General storage. Nothing sinister like a network of underground tunnels. We hung out @ The Buddha Bar, Li Po's, and Red's. Ate almost all of our meals at The Pork Chop House, Capital, and Sam Wo. All these places are still there, as of today, when I walked down the block. If you're a cute girl, and some guy hanging out in front lured you into a Chinatown bar during lunch hour; only for you to miss returning to your desk in The Financial District, and stay in there partying until closing've met me.

    A future Chief of the department, "What the f**k were you doing in Mexico?"
    Me: "Baking a loaf of bread for a hooker."

    Bing. Bang. Black eye. Broken nose. 3 loose teeth. Sore ribs.
    Justice was served. A 1 armed man committed the murder, and got away with it.
    Benny Holiday likes this.

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