Matt, Rogers, and I were in Viva Young. I had been smitten.
But the smite –her was elusive, so Matt and I retired to the pool tables. Me hoping to fleece him outta some beer money. He hoping for good conversation and Lance Good Wolf-Ticket talk.
We both got what we wanted, until…
Until Pain walked in.
Pain (his real name) was my roommate back when I was in BUD/s Class 140. Pain was a pain in the ass. He was a tow-head boy, weighing in at about 150. All attitude. Bad attitude. He reminded me of Peanut, without the good to outweigh the bad. I did not like his style.
One of My Girls, (yes they were ‘mine’—this was My Bar, wasn’t it?) brought me a beer and said,
“Hey! Dat guy just walk in, he Na-bee Seal.”
“Yes Honey. I know him.”
“He yor frien?”
“Nope. He is trouble, and thanks for the beer.”
Still holding my pool cue, I walked over to Pain.
“Hey Pain!” I said. “How’s it hangin’?”
“Hey Ya. Uh… don’t I know you from somewhere? Oh yeah; Buds. Back in ’86.”
“Yeah,” I said. “Class one forty. You were my roommate for a spell, until you got kicked out for smacking my other roommate upside the head.”
“Yeah he was an idiot.”
“Don’t think so. He was my Friend.”
“What was yer name? Mark… something or other… Mark..um…?”
“Yeah, that’s right: Marcom.”
“You rocked out didn’t ya?”
“Yeah, I rocked out. Got hurt. Apparently you made it. In SEALs.”
“Yeah, I didn’t rock out.”
“Good for you.”
“No Pain, I do not. What I want is for you to take your ass outta here. You see, this bar is for ‘Black Shoe Sailors’—Fleet Sailors. This is MY bar, and we don’t really want all you prima-donnas hangin’ out here. This is a private bar—my bar—So… mosey on on.”
“I go where I please. Fuck you!”
“Excuse me, but this ain’t your kind of place. This place is not big enuff to house your Navy SEAL ego; I suggest you amble on down to The California Club on Magsaysay. They have high enough ceilings for your big head, and lots of bar girls. You will be welcomed there.”
“You’re pissing me off.”
By this point, I had reversed my grip on the pool cue, and turned it into a baseball bat. Matt came up to my shoulder and whispered,
“Lance, don’t do it.”
I had forty pounds on Pain. I could take him with or without the pool stick.
Mama-San, ever astute, came up to me and said,
“Sailor Man, you may need to sit down.”
I said, “Mama-San, Not until this asshole leaves.”
She said, “Okay, but you gonna fix the furniture.”
Standing two heads high over him, I turned back to Pain, “You need to leave Son.”
“Maybe I will check out that California Club after all.” He said. And left.
The Jar Heads on the other side of the bar applauded. One said,
“Great job! Squiddy! That guy is an asshole. Seen him around town.”
“Thanks!” I said. Then yelled, “Hey! Mama-San! Bring me a beer! I just saw my life flash in front of me!” (Not really. I fear no man, but it makes for good prose, eh?)
Pain was actually a good guy. But an asshole. Certainly I can relate,
“You can’t hide the thunderbolt. When it hits you, everybody can see it. Christ Man! Don’t be ashamed of it, some men pray for the thunderbolt. You’re a very lucky fellow.”
– Calo (‘The Godfather’)
So… Matt, Rogers, and I settled into the bar (After I had paid my respects to Mama-San).
Since it was still relatively early and the joint pretty much dead, Rog and I decided to shoot some pool.
Now I must tell you, gentle readers, I am a pool hustler, and Rog was a gambler. Good for me. Bad for him. After about an hour of pool, Rog owned me all the beer in Olongapo and his First Born. Wasn’t really interested in the First Born (I had seen the baby pictures and the baby dipped snuff just like his daddy),
So I told him to keep the First Born, but get busy with the beers. We sat back down at the bar next to Matt who was in some kind of serious philosophical discussion with a young bar girl who appeared to have a glass eye.
Matt is a gentleman and this girl seemed to have warmed up to him. Rog and I were not gentlemen so we interrupted their conversation.
“Hey Matt! Rog here is buyin’ the beer for the next ten years. Name your poison.”
“I’d like a glass of wine,” Matt said softly.
“What?!” Rog and I both exclaimed in unison.
(Matt was an artist. So I suppose this was to be expected: This Un-Naval-Like Bullshit Talk he could come up out the side of his neck from time to time)
“Mama-San!” I yelled over my shoulder. “Ya got any Pinto Greegee-oh?”
“Goddamn chew!” she yelled back. “Go to fuck you!” I turned to Matt, “Sorry Buddy. Fresh out. How ‘bout a beer? On Rogers here. He buyin’”.
“Sure,” he said, not even looking at us.
“Oh shit Rog,” I said. “Matt here done gone off into ‘That Place’ again.”
I glanced over at Matt, now busily drawing on a cocktail napkin what appeared to be a rather flattering portrait of the bar girl.
“Yeah, Rog. I suppose yer right.”
Rogers and I traded wolf tickets for an hour or so, and then aimed our affections at some Marines who had recently shown up. Things were about to grow unpleasant when the regular shift of girls came strolling in. This stopped the war between the Navy and the Marine Corps as the music got loud and the girls took to the runway.
I knew all the girls on the shift. They were all my friends. But I spotted a girl I did not know. ‘Spotted’ is probably not the right word. ‘Witnessed’ (Think ‘Baptist Revival’ here) might be more appropriate. She was the image of my high school sweetheart. (No, I wasn’t really that drunk).
OK, not exactly the spitting image but let us say the Ornamental Version of a spitting image.
I just had to have some chat with her.
And By God, I would.
I would become useless for the rest of the evening.
As mentioned in the previous post, Viva Young was a tiny joint about a block or two off Magsaysay Boulevard. Upon entering, immediately on the left was ‘Mama San’s ‘Office,’ which was simply an enclosed counter with an ancient cash register, a small table lamp, a perpetually over-flowing ashtray, and a counter sign which read: “No Credit.” Every bar or club had a ‘Mama San’—‘Manager’ to put it into Western Parlance. I had a bit of a history with this Mama San.
(Yeah we were ‘Fuck Buddies’)
We were roughly the same age and found each other mutually attractive. She did volunteer work for the mayor of Olongapo and was quite astute. She wanted a career in government. But first, she had a bar to run and girls to manage. In this regard she was all cold business.
When on liberty in Olongapo I generally spent the night with Mama San. She lived with her mother and a sister and a brother and a few children in a fairly decent (though small) house about a mile from Viva Young. She was supporting the entire family and was never ‘hesitate’ to hit me up for contributions to her domicile. I knew ‘the score’ and happily donated to her cause. What did I need money for anyway? We had a convenient relationship and genuinely liked each other. And to my mind, she was doing good work.
Running the length of the bar was the ‘stage’ or ‘cat walk’. Or picture a runway, similar to what one might find in a very low-rent fashion show. Bordering this runway on three sides was a narrow counter top: narrow-minded and horse-shoe-shaped. The open end faced the door and Mama San’s watchful eye. Bar stools (ancient and uncomfortable) finished the Spartan scene. The bar girls would line up on the runway and dance to the music from the equally ancient jukebox. Yes, this was best unflatteringly described as a ‘Meat Market’. But then, that was Olongapo in 1989. Matt, Rogers, and I knew all the girls. (Just not in the Biblical sense). I suspect some were under age. If you’d ask one hundred bar girls in Olongapo where they were from, you’d get one hundred same pat answers:
“I from da Pra’bince (Province). I make money so go to college.”
I never met a single gal (see how easily I throw in some Texan vernacular to cover up the horrible reality?) who told me she wasn’t actually from Olongapo. Nope, these were all ‘country gals’ with aspirations–from ‘The Province–the true aspiration was to marry a U.S. Serviceman and get the hell out of the Philippines. And who could blame them? Many a young Sailor or Marine, after having his first sexual encounter fell in love with a Filipina and did fulfill her dream. They would marry and the new bride would move to San Diego. Within a few months the rest of the family would be sent for. This was called the ‘Filipino Pipeline’. Sadly, more often than not, once secured with U.S. Citizenship and the rescue of her family, the new bride would divorce her Sailor or Marine and make her way into the American Dream, leaving the husband wondering what the hell had gone wrong.
I never felt sorry for the cuckolds. I was a cruel son of a bitch back then, and secretly, as a perpetual con and huckster, I was always for the Filipinas.
Actually everything always went wrong with such agreements.