The following post also published in The Fresno Bee on March 8, 2020.
My kids are now at an age I clearly remember being… days on my elementary school’s playground (Manchester GATE!), dance rehearsals (Danceworks Unlimited!), vacations with close friends from church (Tahoe and Pismo!). My memories are still so clear it almost scares me how fast time has snapped. Now, I’m the mom. So why not re-live and reinvent all those times with my own kids? Give my daughters a taste of mommy’s childhood….
Thanks to an inspired idea by my sister, my daughters and I took a quick drive up the coast to meet her (with her daughters) and my dad for a 3-day weekend in Pismo Beach. You know, to re-live and reinvent all those memories from our childhood, to show our new generation of ‘Simonian girls’ how to really live it up like Mommy and Auntie did when we were their ages.
First stop? Dinner at F.McLintocks! We were like giddy teens, ready to once again watch that famous saloon novelty of servers pouring water from a plastic pitcher from 5ft in the air. Except, when we walked in, two of our four girls were instantly shocked that there were “dead animals” (their quote) on display. The bull with the bullet mark in the entry, the stag stuck to the wall in the dining room, the turkey perched near the kitchen entrance. Their alleged shock was disarming — it was as though we’d taken them to watch a live slaughter or something. “You’re kidding, right?” I sternly said to them, after much dramatic debate between themselves (ages 4, 7 and 9) about how we should leave the restaurant immediately.
Live country music blasted from the the bar and my sister and I stared at each other — half-laughing, half-offended and wholly fed up. “Girls! Relax! It’s all pretend and this is a fun place to make us feel like we’re in the Wild West!” They’ll change their minds once they see that trick with pouring water into a cup on our heads, I thought. “Why would we do that?! What if we get wet?!” one of them worried. We couldn’t believe what we were hearing. “Suck it up!” an adult ordered (I won’t sell out who said it…). “You’re doing it,” I demanded. “It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s something you may not ever get to try again.” My 9 year old sat in the chair, fearfully held the cup on her head and gleefully gasped — mouth wide open — when water splashed on her face. Everyone got a little wet, everyone laughed.
We feasted on potatoes, beans, steaks, bearnaise sauce, french fries, onion rings and all-things people are supposed to eat on vacation. Tan Ferraris were served to us adults post-meal (look it up — a must try)! By the time our girls picked their plastic whistles and spinning flyer prizes out of the old saddle bag, they were sold (mostly). The bull in the entry still bothered one of them on our way out… but we exited much more happily than we entered.
“What the heck was that?!” my sister and I commiserated at our hotel after everyone went to sleep. We ranted about how this new generation of kids is way too sensitive and wondered what was so traumatic about seeing animals on display in a Western-themed restaurant. We complained how only one of our kids wanted to try the water-pouring trick — a memory that is forever fixed in my mind as one of my most entertaining childhood vacation experiences ever. “Times have changed,” my sister mocked. “You should write about parents taking kids to the places we used to go as children… and how it doesn’t always turn out how we expected.”
“That’s a great idea!” I answered. The next day, we walked the pier, shopped for seashells and necklaces and talked about “that poor bull with the bullet mark in his side.” Reinvented memories, indeed.