My name is Jannifer Smithmaker and I can still remember my son’s first day of Biergarten like it was yesterday. It was early September, the weather was still warm and my son, Danny, or Lil’ Dan, as I called him, was about to start Biergarten.
I went down to my basement, where he had been living ever since he dropped out of high school, seven years before, to wake him up. To my surprise, Lil’ Dan was already awake! He looked so cute in his raggedy, acid washed jeans with the cigarette burns. He was wearing his favorite shirt, the one that simply said, Suck It. My motherly emotions nearly bubbled over right then and there, I was so proud, my baby was growing up into kind of a man, but I held it together.
I made his lunch; a peanut butter sandwich, some string cheese and pudding. When I handed him the brown paper sack he threw it on the ground and cursed me for treating him like a child. I knew he didn’t mean it, he was just nervous for his first day of Biergarten. It was normal. We climbed into my rusted-out, brown-paneled, nineteen-eighty-nine station wagon and we were off!
I have to admit the ride over was hard for me. I was a bubbling cauldron of feelings. As I looked at him riding next to me, I was reminded of all the other firsts of his I had been a part of; kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school and juvenile hall. My eyes misted and I wiped away a tear. Soon we arrived at his Biergarten.
We didn’t say much. It was too emotional. I just hugged him as hard as I could. I didn’t want to let my baby go, but I knew I had to. I tried to hand him his lunch bag again but he punted it into the street. I said, “Lil’ Dan!” and he got so angry. He told me he wasn’t little anymore and that I had ruined his life. I didn’t realize just how upset he was for his first day. I started crying as he walked away and got back in my car. After several backfires, I got it started. With thick, black, noxious smoke belching from the area of the car where the muffler used to be, I drove away.
I parked my car in an alley and cried for a while. I didn’t want my Lil’ Dan to be mad at me. I was so worried about him. I decided to do something about it.
I popped the trunk and pulled out my curly wig, fake glasses and skin tight leather jumpsuit. As I climbed into my disguise, I was no longer Jannifer Smithmaker, I became Olivia Snapdragon. I had done this many times before, so that I could infiltrate, undetected, into Lil’ Dan’s schools to check up on him. Back in the day I was Olivia Snapdragon the Lunch Lady, Olivia Snapdragon the Teacher’s Assistant, Olivia Snapdragon the Janitor and Olivia Snapdragon the Prison Guard. I had only been arrested every time I had done this. Today I would be Olivia Snapdragon the Biergarten waitress. Emotions in check for the moment, I headed back to the Biergarten.
I stole an apron from the kitchen and waded into the throngs of drunken revelers enjoying their seventy-five ounce beers. I spotted Lil’ Dan at a table all by himself. To say I was heartbroken was an understatement. My little baby had no friends! Suddenly, as if in answer to my prayers, his waitress walked over. I felt a wave of relief wash over me. This was the kind of waitress that could really make an impact in a young man’s life. She was tall, beautiful, and absolutely busting out of her skimpy lederhosen uniform. My son smiled at her as she dropped off a gigantic beer and seven shots. It was at that moment that I was caught by the manager, thrown out of the Biergarten and threatened with arrest if I returned.
I parked across the street and watched Lil’ Dan as he slowly got smashed out of his mind. He looked so lonely and sad. I wanted to go to him, to wrap my arms around him, to scream at his classmates that Lil’ Dan was the best and that they should all be friends with him, but I knew this couldn’t be a repeat of juvenile hall. I knew my baby had to learn to fly on his own this time.
As my tears and emotions bubbled over something amazing happened. Lil’ Dan made friends! He joined a table filled with a bunch of his classmates and continued to drink with them. As the revelry built into a cacophonous crescendo I watched Lil’ Dan get into a brawl with several of his classmates. Chairs, glass and fists flew through the air. It was just like the first day of kindergarten all over again.
It was almost time for Biergarten to be over so I drove to the front and waited. Lil’ Dan came stumbling out a few minutes later, bloodied and bruised, but with a smile on his face, because helping him walk out of the Biergarten was his waitress. “Do you know this guy?” she asked me. I said, “Yes he’s my son.” She replied with, “Get him the fuck out of here, he started a fight, he’s expelled.” I had heard those words so many times before. Tears rushed down my cheeks, my stomach felt like it was on a roller coaster, my emotions had gotten the best of me. Just before Lil’ Dan piled into the car he kissed the waitress. At first she didn’t seem to enjoy it, but after a moment, she kissed him back. As they kissed, I was reminded of Lil' Dan's high school girlfriend, his biology teacher, Mrs. Randolph.
On the way home Lil’ Dan threw up all over the dashboard and cursed me for being a terrible mother. I know he didn’t mean it, he just had alcohol poisoning. I tried to hand him his lunch bag once again, but he tore it open and smeared the peanut butter sandwich all over the inside of the windshield. I couldn’t see so we drove into a tree. We walked the rest of the way home and Lil’ Dan passed out in the entry way. It felt so good to get him home. I made myself some tea laced with acid and settled into my favorite easy chair with a good book. I was a tornado of emotions but I had made it through another first.
As I tripped out on my book I realized I would go through this all over again when I had to take Lil’ Dan to his first day of rehab.