The bartending kept me afloat, but I didn’t want to get caught in that routine like so many others. I’ve witnessed it first-hand. I worked with several guys and gals that’d been in the bar biz for twenty years or more. Bartending was great at twenty-something but I just couldn’t imagine being a bartender at forty or fifty years old working for $2.00 an hour plus tips. I always had two things going: The bar job and my new business of the month.
Along the way, someone told me that owning rental houses was the way to get rich. So, I rented out my first condo and purchased another larger one across town on Powhatan Street. My new two- story condo had two bedrooms and two baths and a kitchen and a den with a fireplace. I rented out the second room of my new condo to a roommate, and that money, together with the positive cash flow from my first condo, made the payments on both condos a non-issue. As long as I had a roommate and my first condo was rented out, I was living for free! Eventually the volatility of condo association fees would drive me away from condos, but for awhile there I really enjoyed this condo ownership thing I had going.
I also bought some property out in Boerne, Texas, around that time. A man sold me a lot high up on a hill and financed it for me. The day I closed on it, I drove my mother out to see my latest conquest and to celebrate the occasion. We picked up a bottle of champagne and two long-stemmed champagne glasses along the way. We got there and hiked up to the very highest point. It was beautiful there and we could look out over the countryside for as far as the eye could see. I popped the cork on the champagne and we made a toast to the beautiful Texas hill country and my new purchase. The day was sunny and clear and the view was fantastic—then Mom slipped!
In reflex, she grabbed hold of me, but I wasn’t prepared. Off we went, like two square bowling balls, rolling down the hillside in a cloud of dust and tiny bubbles. I could’ve saved myself some serious bruising but I wouldn’t let go of the bottle or my glass or Mom. Finally, we came to a stop at the bottom of the hill right next to each other. The dust was settling over us, and in a silent gesture I immediately offered up the bottle for another drink. Mom offered up her champagne glass, but the cup part had shattered on the way down, and the only thing left was a stem. We laughed until we cried. I laughed until champagne came out my nose. Mom thought that was really, really funny, and she laughed so hard she inadvertently belched like a sailor. Now, I don’t think I’d ever heard my mother burp in my entire life so that launched me into a category of laughter way past hysteria—way, way out there somewhere where you can’t breathe kind of laughing happens.
We started to gather our composure after awhile but lost it again when we began to dust each other off and pick the debris out of each other’s hair. I didn’t think we were ever going to get off that piece of property. The next morning we were both pretty sore. I don’t know if it was from the fall or from laughing so hard for so long. I suspect it was a bit of both. In all honesty, we were lucky we didn’t get hurt.