Do Not Pass

There was a great little restaurant on PCH back in the late 1970’s called The Wine Cellar.  On the mountain side of the highway, nestled to the left of its small lot, it had a beach-chic feel with obligatory ’70’s low lighting.  Steve and Cher found it while they were living on Reading Ave, and frequently enjoyed the brunch on Sundays.  Those days Steve might drop by and mention how he didn’t need Catholic church anymore, that his Sunday connection with God was met in his garden or walking a sunlit beach.  Steve had mentioned the Wine Cellar, and apart from Mom asking if he and Cher enjoyed the brunch before or after mass on Sundays, she granted that it seemed like a nice place.  The family decided to meet there for brunch to celebrate Mother’s day.

That Mother’s day became significant because it remains the only time I ever saw Mom tipsy.  She was tipsy, not drunk.  As always, Mom fully maintained her dignity, albeit a little giggling.  We had a great time, and I was even allowed to try a sip of the complementary champagne which was offered to the Mothers.

Mom drove home that day.  Though not a drinker, maybe Dad had consumed a bit more champagne.  In any case, Mom drove, and the car flowed a bit more freely than it usually did.   The change was barely perceptible, but I did notice.  All was well, until we came upon the sign: Do Not Pass.  Mom began to laugh.  The laughter cascaded into itself, accelerating as it went.  Mom’s laughter sounded as she wiped tears away.

“Just don’t try to say it…”  Dad’s regalement took a teasing tone.  I had no clue what they were laughing about.

Mom explained, “We were coming home from Joe’s cabin, and I read the sign to your father,”  Mom’s story was interrupted with bursts of delight.  “And each time I tried to say the “Do Not…”

Dad interjected, “No! Don’t say it!”

Mom roared with laughter.

“I tried to say…. I tried to say…. hahaha…”

Mom skipped in her story, “Do Not …..” Mom concentrated, “PASS …. but it came out P-I-S-S..”   Mom spelled the last part instead of saying it.

I was already cracking up, partly from how much the two of them were enjoying the joke and partly from the joke itself.   After that, when we saw those signs I was complicitous.  “Moooom….” I’d sing-song and point.

“I’m not even trying!” She would respond, smiling.

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