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After more than six years I’ve finally finished writing my book and have done quite a few rewrites. I’m finding out that I will probably never be completely happy with my work so I’ve decided to share some of it despite my trepedations. With the Bike blessing just behind us I thought I’d share the story of our first one as owners of Johnny’s. Thankfully we’ve changed a lot since the crazy early days as bar owners. I’m way too old and much too wise to tear it up like I used to and praise God Tommy has now been sober for more than six years. Those of you who knew him back then know what a miracle that is. I hope you enjoy the story. Please feel free to send me your comments.
Another first – The Bike Blessing of 1996
One event seemed to run into another and before I knew it the annual Top Hatters Bike Blessing was around the corner. Danni explained to me that every Palm Sunday the local motorcycle club met at Johnny’s, rode to the Catholic Church up the street to have their motorcycles blessed, and then rode out to Bolado Park for a barbeque. She said we could expect about forty or fifty riders to show up around 9:30 a.m. and at noon they would all be gone to head to the church. It sounded easy enough. Since breakfast was new to Johnny’s I looked forward to the extra restaurant business. What we got was a lot more than Danni had suggested and I learned a tough lesson that day; never plan a party the night before the bike blessing.
I planned parties at every turn for any reason when I first bought the bar. The day before the Bike Blessing we had a Jagermiester party. Jagermiester is one of the nastiest tasting forms of alcohol known to man but is refuted to have numerous herbs with medicinal qualities. What it will do is get you seriously drunk. The Jagermiester girls; little hotties dressed in skintight black dresses, brought all kinds of party favors. There were small basketball hoops with matching nerf balls, little hand clappers, tattoos, hats and t shirts. And what a party it was. We played a very physical game of basketball resulting in a couple of minor injuries. We sang and danced and tattooed each other. A couple of bald men left the bar with tattoo’s on the tops of their heads. By 10 p.m. the only people left standing were quite wobbly. Jeana played her usual chauffeur self and got many people home but I shudder to think of the ones that got away. Tommy and I fell into bed and I don’t know about him but my head was spinning.
The alarm went off at 7 a.m. and I felt like someone had taken a jack hammer to my skull. I pulled myself out of bed and looked in the mirror to make sure that my eyes weren’t bleeding. I looked as bad as I felt.
“Oh Lord I’m such an idiot,” I said out loud. “If you make this pounding stop I swear I’ll never do it again. Please help me get to work.”
Tommy felt badly too, but was much more experienced at dealing with hangovers.
“How am I going to get through this day,” I asked him as stepped out of the shower?
The blow dryer was too loud on high and it took way too long to dry my hair on low. I burnt my scalp with the curling iron, poked myself in the eye with my mascara brush and jammed my funny bone on the sink before I was finally prepared to get out the door.
“This is going to be a long day,” I told Tommy.
“What time are these bikers showing up?” he asked.
“They are supposed to be there at nine. I sure hope Teresa feels better than we do. I don’t know how many customers will want breakfast but the thought of food is making me ill.”
“You usually can’t wait to eat breakfast. You must feel bad.”
“Oh yeah, real bad.” As a testament to the fact, as Tommy was unlocking the front door to Johnny’s I was emptying my stomach of its contents into the dumpster behind the bar.
“Oh Lord please,” I promised once again. “Get me through this day and I’ll never drink like that again.”
Somehow between trips to the bathroom I managed to get the bar set up. Our weekend cook, Teresa, wasn’t in much better shape than me but toughed it out. As if drinking a truck load of alcohol the night before the Bike Blessing wasn’t stupid enough, we got our cook totaled too. We were family after all. At 8:45 we heard the roar of motorcycles outside the front door and by 10:00 there were so many bikers in the bar we didn’t know where to put them all. Thankfully not many of them wanted breakfast because Tommy and I had a rough time keeping the beers, Bloody Mary’s and screwdrivers flowing. We ran over each other almost knocking each other down many times. We snapped at each other and then apologized repeatedly. Teresa tried to pick up empty beer bottles, wash glasses and get us ice but she was absolutely green. At promptly twelve noon a whistle blew and just as fast as the room filled up it emptied. The three of us dropped onto stools and laid our heads on the bar.
“Oh my God, I said. What did we just live through? That wasn’t any forty or fifty bikes. There must have been two hundred.”
I checked our register and was amazed to find that two owners and a cook, all with massive hangovers had done two days business in three hours.
“That’s it, I’m whooped. We are closing up shop for the day. Let’s stock up and blow this Popsicle stand,” I said.
I didn’t get any complaints from Tommy or Teresa. We locked up and went home to the couch where we stayed until it was time to go to bed. I decided that I needed to try a little harder to find extra help.