#7) The Waitress

It’s been said that a woman can learn about how a man will treat her in 20 years by how he treats the waitress on the first date.  Recently I’ve found this concept to have a couple of parallels in my own life.

Many people who know me know that music, once the love of my life, has been a struggle for me lately, and anyone who read my “Weather Channel” post knows that my relationship with my city of Long Beach, CA has become, to say the least, love-hate.  That hiking (see http://www.nobodyhikesinla.com for more info) has become my #1 priority in life is as clear to me as the view of the San Gabriels after winds have blown away the smog; also relevant is the fact that not a day goes by when I don’t imagine a life away from the so-called “LBC.”

But it’s also occurred to me that perhaps how I now feel about music and Long Beach represents, respectively, how I just might feel about hiking or living elsewhere in five or ten years.  It’s that age-old theme of the grass always being greener.

So what have I been doing with this idea?  In music, I’ve been trying to find more meaning in the shows I’m playing and the lessons I’m teaching.  When my band played our sacks off to a less-than-enthusiastic room this last weekend, we didn’t dwell on the luke-warm reaction; we just took pride in playing well and started looking forward to our next gig.  I also was happy to teach a new student this year who found my name from a business card that I had left at the local coffee shop.  Most of my students have come from the internet or by word of mouth, but it was nice to have one contact me from a business card.  In addition to the fact that that one lesson itself paid for the business cards, it reminded me of a time, about ten years ago, when I was first starting out teaching music and every call, every new prospect, was exciting.  I’d put up posters and business cards everywhere I could – I nicknamed the practice “territorial pissing advertising.”

Sometimes the magic never can be recaptured.  I know that while I have been winning a few battles lately, I might lose the war, and there may come a day when I simply don’t teach music, either by choice or economic circumstance. We might not live in Long Beach for ever; being closer to my family may be necessary at some point.  (I’d say the same for M’s family but that would require us to move to Waco, TX, something for which no one should hold their breath waiting.)  True, also, is that the customer’s relationship with the waitress is often only temporary.

But it’s a nice feeling to go back to a restaurant and have the server remember your name; it’s nice to be able to make conversation with them.  So too, it’s nice to be able to enjoy the little things about my job and my city – the student who finally “gets” it; the new pub that opens up down the street.  Even when my current situation annoys me, I’m a big boy and I have to deal with it.  I must respect Long Beach and I must respect music, and no matter what – first date, 10th anniversary, IHOP or RM Seafood in Vegas – I must respect my waitress.  After all, she’s the one with the final say on exactly what’s in my food.

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