15 November 2011

And I asked myself, Was that really necessary?

I lived in Monterey, CA, and worked weekend nights at a bar in Castroville. The place was called Franco's Norma Jean Bar and Grill.
This is the bar, and this is Ernie, my boss.
Best Queen Evah.
The bar clientele was largely Mexican migrant workers and their families, and Mexican gay men. These groups were the same people. Many of the gay men had wives and children. One night it'd be a drag show, the next night it would be elementary school children lip-synching. Honest to god.

So while the bar and its denizens certainly warrant a post of their own, this isn't about Franco's. It's about driving home from Franco's after the 2 a.m. closing, and seeing into someone else's life.


Not the real Woman on the Bench.
She was heavier, and I only ever saw her at night.
I had the vague image of her there for nights before I specifically took note of her. She was, presumably, a homeless woman. She had been sleeping on a bench that was tucked away under a looming parking structure. She must have found this bench, isolated at night, and been grateful for somewhere relatively safe to lie down. She could relax and get sleep. Then in the morning hurry off before the City could shoo her away.

I grew used to seeing her there when I came home from bartending. Soon, I looked for her there as I rounded the curve each night.

But then one night, as I drove toward the parking structure, I saw that the City had cut the middle out of the bench. Now it formed two seats separated by about a foot and a half of space. She was sitting up, on one of the seats. I wonder how she felt when she came around the corner that night and saw what we had done.

1 comment: