Bill's Birthday

Monday, September 18, 2017

Because he managed to survive a significant blockage & stent placement last week, my dad lived to see 60 on Saturday. I took him to dinner at the iconic Loveless Cafe in Nashville, after I spent a week lecturing him on diet. We both passed on the fried chicken, but we did try their famous biscuits. And, they are indeed the most delicious biscuits I have ever eaten in my life. I don't even want to know what the nutritional facts label would look like because the butter content is obviously very, very high. Just, don't ruin it for me.

If you aren't from around here, a little history on the cafe: Lon & Annie Loveless started their restaurant outside Nashville on Hwy 100 back in 1951. After awhile, they built a surrounding 14 room motel which is now an assortment of gift shops. You can buy food stuffs like preserves, country ham, etc. You can buy touristy stuffs like tshirts, keychains, and a variety of merch emblazoned with 'Got Biscuits?' You can even have a wedding reception in a fancy barn they've added out back.

 The Loveless is about a 15 minute drive from downtown Nashville. It is located along a winding country road that takes you into the hills and offers only a peek of the Nashville skyline between the trees. Judging by the signed pictures on the walls, just about every musician from Nashville plus those American Pickers guys have been there. The decor is cute & kitschy. We really enjoyed it.

 Under doctor's orders, Bill couldn't really party like it was 1979 but we did drive down Broadway to see what the crowd was up to. It was the typical Nashville scene...various revelers, lots of honky tonking, an overly intoxicated bachelorette party being loaded into a waiting cab by a Nashville police officer, and somebody robbed the Subway nearby.

 I did run into Elvis again. For some reason, it's a thing that happens to me.

My dad is the stuff legends are made of. I desperately want to sit down with a recorder and write a book about him & his four brothers. They did the 70s & 80s BIG. I have memories of seeing them roll up my aunt's driveway in an assortment of muscle cars, Harley Davidson motorcycles(dad), and even a probably stolen limo. I do not know how I share DNA with this group because I have never had the intestinal fortitude to brave even half of what dad did before he was ever 30.

One story I don't think he would mind me sharing... He and his younger brother, Richard, had been out cruising around town and fighting with a few locals back in the late 70s when they were picked up by law enforcement. At the jail, the arresting officer said he wasn't sure what to charge them with and decided to place a call to the judge to seek his advice. The judge asked to speak to one of them and my uncle took the phone. He told the judge his side of the story and then, "Yes, sir...oh yes, sir, we promise to stay out of trouble." and he hung up the phone. He told the officer the judge said he would let them off with a warning as long as they learned their lesson and would go home. So, the officer said they were free to go. They made it the door as the phone rang and Richard turned to dad and said only, "Run." Which, they did. Apparently, the judge had told Richard he was on his way to throw the book at them. And, that was him calling back to tell the officer to lock them up because he knew what Richard was up to when he said what he said. God bless rotary phones for buying Richard a few extra seconds to lie through his teeth. Anyway, Richard jumped on his motorcycle and made it back to Tennessee but dad got picked back up a few weeks later and spent a weekend in jail.

So many good stories, mostly incriminating. I don't know how he survived it all, but I'm thankful that he did! He's a character, that Bill. I'm lucky to know him.

This Little Light of Mine

Monday, September 11, 2017

...has recently stopped saying 'hashbrows' for eyebrows. But, she still says 'Kamp you' for 'Thank you' and there's no sign of that slowing down. She loves to play dress-up and has recently discovered the joy of clip-on earrings. She asks to get into my jewelry box and goes right for the same ring of my grandmother's that I always asked to play with. She is girly girl and 'I am woman; hear me roar!' all at once. 

Oh, how I love her.

In the Beginning; Part Two

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Whenever his grandparents would ask for Dylan to stay the night, I would come stay with you. It didn't take long to figure out that nothing about our courtship was conventional. We didn't go out to eat or to the movies. Our dates mainly consisted of hanging out at your place while the random visitor dropped in to play video games and smoke a joint or two. Occasionally, we'd head to the college dive bar downtown on the square called Kelly Greens. On some mornings, we would eat oversize bowls of Lucky Charms on your front porch. I just loved being with you. We had such a good time together that I never felt like we were missing out by staying in.

Do you remember the afternoon we got busted by your mama? We were upstairs in your room when suddenly someone was in the hallway alerting you to the fact that your mom had stopped in for a visit. You went, and I procrastinated as long as possible. I don't know why my brain works the way it does, but, for some reason, I tried to make light of us having freshly fornicated by cracking a sacrilegious joke about being left to study the bible on my own. You laughed, but possibly just to expel nervous energy. It was a great example of 'Know Your Audience'...but, it worked out okay.

One weekend, I made plans with some friends to go to a music festival. You made a comment about me not hooking up with anyone there, even though you hadn't really made any effort toward exclusivity. In hindsight, it's kind of your signature move. You prefer to let it ride, until fate forces a choice. Not long after that weekend, you asked to meet Dylan. And, you two were peas in a pod. He called you Bean. You flew to California to see your dad, and when you came back you brought Dylan a little bear dressed in a baseball uniform. He was over the moon about that bear, and you.

Every few years or so, we like to skim through the letters we wrote to each other back then. They are full of the typical new lovers verbiage. Oh, we couldn't wait to see each other, we felt like there was never enough time together, flirty talk, and signing off as 'the future Mrs. LaBelle', or 'your future husband'. So cute, so innocent, so embarrassing.

Almost a year after we met, we were engaged. We got an apartment and planned a small wedding at a bed & breakfast. For the ceremony, we told the pastor that we'd like to say our own vows. But, he forgot that part...which is good because neither one of us had anything prepared. We are opposites in almost every manner, except for when it really blowing off our vows. Mine would probably have amounted to 'I never thought I'd have children or a husband, but here we are.'...awkward pauses, bad jokes. There's no telling what you would have said, but it probably would have left everyone slightly confused after the ceremony ended. You always list pros & cons in every speech and none of us ever really know which side you're on.
'Wasn't his pledge of eternal love so touching?'
'Wait, what? I thought he backed out, but, like, she was just super cool with it?'

Then we were a family and our beginning transitioned into our middle...which almost crashed and burned into our end, but we circled back around to the beginning somehow, and here we are now. Now is my favorite time ever. We live in a modest house which would easily be a million dollar property in Los Angeles...the kids are both still under our roof, you come home for lunch every day, and life just feels so damn good. We are good. If there ever was a time I wish I could stretch into eternity, it would be now. I mean, just for us, obviously, the world is an actual dumpster fire.

My favorite nickname for you is Jerry because of the movie The Mexican. Art imitates life when it comes to the personalities of the main characters, Jerry & Sam. When my mama saw the movie even she said, 'Well, that is you and Bergen made over.' And, it is are probably not the luckiest fella in the room and I can be...well, uhh, opinionated, passionate, loud...but we love each other enough for this lifetime and maybe even the next. It has never been boring, babe...and that is why I'm still here.

I love you, Jerry. 

In the Beginning; A Letter to My Husband

Monday, September 04, 2017
We first met at a bookstore, which is ironic since you don't like to read. You've read one book that you weren't assigned, Dante's Inferno. I believe you tell me this because you think the complex nature of the book gives you some kind of street cred or literary pass. What I remember from that first encounter are your eyes and how unbelievably kind you seemed. You don't remember me at all. I was just some hugely pregnant chick who wandered into your store. How funny fate can be, no? You were close enough to reach out and touch us both, your future wife and the boy who would call you Dad. But, that scene wasn't even a blip on the great cosmic radar yet.

'Can I help you find something?' you asked. Possibly. But, can you give me a few years? I've got some pretty heavy shit I'm going through at the moment. So, I went home, put 90s grunge in my Discman, and daydreamed about the guy with the eyes. I'm almost positive this is why I think of you instantly when that genre comes on the radio. Like Pavlov's dog and his bells...except it's Nirvana and your face.

You had long since faded from my memory when you clocked into work at Hop's the second time we met, so I didn't even recognize you. I was getting a drink for a table and you came around the partition. By the time you walked away, the counter was covered and it was spilling onto the floor. "He's cute, isn't he?" a coworker asked. "I'm going to marry that boy." I said. But, in truth, I only said 'marry' because what I actually intended to do with you isn't something you just say out loud without knowing the location of your boss. Every day, I would throw ice at you and you would smile. I'd talk to you on my loop through the dish pit. And, I always found spare dishes to have a reason to loop through the dish pit. "Here, sir, let me get you another fork as I see that one touched two different vegetables on your plate."

I really, really liked you. One day I decided to show you a picture of Dylan. I wasn't ready for you to meet him, as I preferred to keep him out of my dating life, but I didn't want to keep his existence from you. If it was a dealbreaker for you, I'd rather just face that sooner than later. You laughed nervously and asked if he was my nephew. The child with a tiny version of my face? Umm, no. But, it didn't change anything between us. One night, I offered to give you a ride home in my janky '87 Firebird with the 400 big block engine, which you actually liked. As it turned out, you were, ahem, in between houses and living with your mama. So, we made out like teenagers in the parking lot at Heartland Apts. You asked me out, sorta. We made plans to meet at the bar, which I now know meant you and your best friend and maybe even your sister were supposed to meet me at the bar whenever you felt like showing up. After I sat there for hours, I got so mad at you that I left the bar and drove back to your mama's with the intention of telling you off. Lucky for us, I am easily confused by parking lots and so I turned in, did the circle drive in front of the complex's clubhouse and wound up right back out on Wilkinson Trace. Defeated, I just went home. The next time I saw you, you acted like nothing had happened at all, and asked why I didn't show up. I kept my crazy in check and said it must've just been a misunderstanding. This was uncharted territory.

And, then I showed up to work one day and you were...gone. I didn't blame you. Our boss was a complete asshole and I didn't last two weeks without you. I had given you my number, but I didn't have yours. I wasn't going to stalk you at your mama's. Though, I mean, I definitely wanted to. I couldn't believe that those few months of working together was the entirety of our story. I missed you. Weeks passed, and then I started dating a childhood friend I had no business dating. We had been the best of friends, even sharing a locker during junior high. But, he was a solider who needed someone something to do when he'd come in, and I was bored. One night he said we should get serious about each other. By 'serious', I knew him well enough to know that he'd still date whoever he wanted back on base, so I told him it sounded good to me, but that I was still a little hung up on a guy and if he ever called, I'd be gone. I think it was about a month later when you finally called.

"Is Cameron there?" a voice asked.
"Bergen LaBelle, where in the hell have you been?" I answered.

You said you had just moved into a house on campus and was wondering if I could come by soon. No shame in my game, baby, I told you I'd see you sometime the next day. I tied up my loose end right after we hung up. Looking back, I don't remember actually pulling into your driveway, or very many details of that old house on Regents Ave, but I hope I never forget the sight of you leaning your 6'6" frame against the doorway as you looked down at me. My playful fussing about you disappearing and making me miss you was instantly met with a softer, apologetic tone as you pulled me closer to you. I must have lost my bearings because I fully intended to play hard to get to teach you a lesson. Cameron Thomas would wait for no man and you had better remember that, buddy. Oh, but you seemed genuinely sorry. There wasn't enough air in the tiny space between us for me to be sure. I was sure I had been mad at you earlier, but it could have been just another lifetime. Could I stay the night? No. Yes. 

Then you put your lips on mine and every other man in this world blended into a conglomerate of Not You.
Your room back then. This one was in a series of pictures we took with the timer.
 You blushed & laughed when I pounced on you before the timer went off. 
(to be cont'd)