Saturday, November 15, 2008

Memoir: Gateway Bar

The Gateway Bar in Ship Bottom, N.J. was a hangout after work, where most of the local carpenters, plumbers, workmen in general, gathered at the end of any summer week.

I was part of a six-woman cleaning crew. We had just polished off five houses one Friday and everyone decided to hit the Gateway for a beer. We piled out of the car, Mary in the lead, petite in her manner and form. I followed, with the rest of the women pushing and catcalling, coming up behind us. We were a rowdy group by the end of the week, sweaty, yet well paid.
We cleaned the houses of the tourists, weekenders, and vacationers, from windows to toilets to mopping floors.
I remember the look on one woman’s face as she saw us pile out of Mary’s van. I know she felt descended upon and made herself scarce. When I had had my own cleaning business a bunch of years prior, it was just me and a friend, Carol. A lot of respectful Capricorn energy was between us, so we weren’t a rowdy crew.
This all-women’s crew I had hooked up with were younger, mostly new people to me. I had been living in California and returned to rent a place with my two sons and needed quick work. I was hired.
Now the green door of the Gateway closed behind us, six women in angel blouses, t-shirts, and short cut-offs, swaggering up to the bar for a drink, orange juice for me, please, already buzzed from the joint we’d shared on the ride down-Island. Ready for a good time!

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