Passed a texmex restaurant called Casa Olé on our way through Brenham, Texas the other day and it got me thinking. I told my wife the story, and she said, ‘You should write about that.’
Well, I always do what my wife tells me. Right, Miriam? Yeah, ok. That’s not entirely true. I try to at least consider what she says, before I do what I wanted to begin with. Back to the story, though.
Casa Olé was an institution when I was growing up — even went to one years later in Pasadena, Texas of all places with my then girlfriend & her family, I think.
It was the same bad texmex goodness as it’d always been. We ate a lot of that stuff, if I recall correctly.
We used to joke that dad could pay our lunch money with his beer bottle deposits from the Ragin Cagun we lived near in the Gulfton ghetto.
It was no joke.
The things that pass for frivolity when your mom’s then boyfriend, soon to be 3rd husband is drinking himself into a catatonic state on a nightly basis.
People love to talk about what a great man our dad was, and I hope I’m as revered and loved as he was at the end.
The jury’s still out, but I doubt I can make the impact on people’s lives that he did once he put the plug in the proverbial jug and gave up drinking for good.
But when we were little? Me, nine, and brother Michael, seven, hanging out in the Sunny’s parking lot while Bill, mom’s aforementioned dude, was inside playing pacman and swilling Lone Stars.
Where was mom? Teaching night school at UH Downtown, which was one of three gigs she had if you counted slinging Avon.
I still despise Avon. Even the look of one of their bags makes me cringe.
Why weren’t we at home eating chefboyardee Ravioli, which ol’ Bill had become expert at plopping out of a can into our gullets.
Our incessantly growing appetites as we transformed from children toward teenagerhood.
We were mere babes at this point. Nine and seven years old, hanging out at the local convenience store while a man we barely knew got wasted on cheap Texas beer and there we were.
In his charge.
He turned into a fine man, though. That’s all that matters, right? We’re all doing the best we can with the tools we were given.
I shared something I wrote here with a friend and he asked me very nonchalantly when I was going to be getting over my pity party?
Everyone had a rough childhood in one way or another.
Just get over it.
My wife insists I’m too negative here. She asks something like, ‘This is how you process your grief? Out in the open where everyone can see it?’
I guess so.
Perhaps I should reconsider.
Here’s the thing, though. Whenever I write something truly raw, somebody thanks me and says my words somehow helped them.
I can’t ever predict how what I write is going to help somebody else. It’s a weird alchemy, if you ask me.
Read that New Yorker article about Prince and he hated that word alchemy. While I understood his point, I have no problem comparing writing to it.
You take something dirty and embarrassing. Something good people wouldn’t share openly. Or good isn’t the right word.
Thoughtful people wouldn’t do what I do here. It might be circumspect and ponderous. That’s what I’m going for, by the way.
And weirdly, whether it’s clear or not, hopeful. I’m trying to work through this stuff from my childhood, because it makes me hopeful.
That my kid doesn’t have to deal with what I did. She can have a whole ‘nother bag of issues that I’ve hopefully not made worse.
Ponderous and hopeful.
What d’you think? Am I succeeding?
Leave your thoughts in the comments here.
Not on feckbook.
I hate that place.