By Regina McConkey
One evening my aunt was in town visiting from Seattle. We sometimes stop off for a glass of wine when she’s in town, so I called my mother to see what the game plan was. Mom casually dropped that she and her sister were off to visit Chilkoot Charlie’s and have a drink. I was welcome to come if I wished.
My mother is one of the classiest souls I know. I took a moment to imagine this “mom goes to Koot’s” event in my mind. My petite mother would cross through the fog of cigarette smoke and a metal detector. She’d fork up a cover charge and likely show ID [maybe she’d throw a wink to the bartender? That would be entirely uncharacteristic, but at this point I’m just letting my imagination carry me through this mom at Koot’s thing]. She would belly up to the ice bar and order a cheap beer. Or maybe shots? Her usual glass of wine seems weird in this scenario. None of this computed. My imagination simply couldn’t extend to the possibility that mom would go to Koot’s. Surely she had no idea what Koot’s was.
It was my opportunity to offer daughterly advice. I suspected moms went to places like Crush, Ginger and classy restaurant bars. On a wild night, maybe they end up at SubZero before heading home when the clock strikes Jay Leno.
“Interesting. Mom, are you sure about that? How’d you come up with that idea, anyway? There’s a nice farmer’s market at their parking lot on Saturdays. You may like that?”
I earnestly waited for her to ask me for other suggestions.
After a long pause, something along these lines came out in a surprisingly harsh tone for such a gentle woman. In that tone where only a parent can put you in your place, she scoffed, “So because you’re young, you must think you know more about Anchorage nightlife. You do realize I was living in Spenard during the ‘70’s when I was your age? You didn’t visit Koots then, did you? Oh, no. You didn’t. I take offense to this. You can’t even imagine the things we saw in Spenard in the ’70’s!”
Then came a list of things she’d seen in Spenard in the 70’s. Things you can’t imagine your sweet-dispositioned mother seeing. For the first time I realized that mom has more street cred than I do, for simply being exposed to an environment that I can’t possibly imagine. She finished her lecture with, “Now we’re going for that drink and you can come if you want, but I honestly suspect it’s too much for you.”
And that’s how I wound up hearing about Mom’s lovely trip to the Birdhouse while sipping my Sunday morning tea.