The bake sales at the biker bar finished last night.
Originally, we had been given authorization to show up and peddle our cookies once. But each night we were there, someone with the authority to kick us out would instead ask us to come back again.
The second week we returned, Hairball – the MC for the night – was first in line for the no sugar lemon bars. He was pale and quieter than he had been since the week before when we had first met him on July 3rd. He told me that he had had a heart attack on July 4th, angioplasty on July 6th, and was there talking with us on the 10th.
He said, “You know what I need?” I filled in the blank and said, “Of course we will pray with you!” To which he said, “Well…I was going to say that I needed a lemon bar, but that’s okay, too.” So we spoke a quickie over him and then gave him a sugar-free treat on the house. When he came back later, we gave him another one gratis.
Last night, Hairball looked 100% whole again, wearing an “Old Guys Rule” t-shirt and rosy cheeks.
Ursula, who had been assaulted by a group thought to be Roma/Gypsies at the funeral of her husband a few years ago, gave us $10.00 to help pay for school supplies. She never told me directly about that incident, and she spoke without bitterness as she talked about how much she cares about children and wants to help them have a better life. She gets it.
Abigail who had been adopted from Ethiopia came to visit us, carried in the arms of her parents Ru and Joey. She is still too young to speak in sentences, but her eyes said it all when she tried the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie/cream cheese frosting sandwich. After she finished, she wanted another one. When her mom told her no, Abby said one clearly understood word:
But her parents stood strong. So Abby gave me a fist bump and blew me a kiss as they left.
Ron, who likes to bake, brought us some of his desserts to sample. Last week, he had told me how the motorcycle clubs secure the room before their officers come in. It reminded me of what Joshua and Caleb had done when they were first preparing to enter the Promised Land: A prospect comes in first, someone not wearing any colors who hopes to earn a place. He walks the full perimeter of the room to see where they can secure a space that has a defensible position and where they can see everyone who enters and exits the room. Then the prospect leaves and reports what he saw. If it is safe, the security for the officers come in next and station themselves strategically throughout the room. Then the officers come in and settle in. Here, some usually sit with Ron.
At the end of the night, I walked past bodyguards to hug him because he had also brought me some of his sourdough starter as a gift. Last week, he and I had spoken about how our family always had sourdough from a 90 year old strain that someone had given to our Mom. After we all had grown up and moved away, our parents went back to college and ended up studying overseas. Our sourdough starter was a casualty because it had no one left to take care of it. Ron must have heard the nostalgia in my voice and decided to share what is most precious to a baker: His carefully tended herd of microbes. He promised that he had washed out the prescription bottle that he had put it in for me with soap, and then he and I thumbed through his favorite catalog, KingArthurBaking.com…
Not everything went perfectly smoothly between the church ladies and the bikers. The first night, a huge guy walked past me and I saw a glimpse of a cross on the back of his vest. I chased him down and started chattering about our shared beliefs. He politely corrected me. The logo and name, Chosen Few, referred to the first integrated outlaw MC. Formed around the same time and in the same place as my much-loved Harold, B.B., Lee, and Howard’s original band War, the Chosen Few features a cross and scripture on their club patch, but only some of their members believed as I did. He schooled me very respectfully and smiled. Despite my ignorance, he seemed to be rooting for us.
Today I got a text from D. who had originally opened the door for us and kept it open. He told me to be safe on the trip and to give one of the Gypsy kids a high five for him.
That will make a great picture. If I ever get a tattoo, it will be of that.
NEXT TIME: All for One, One for All…
Picture of Abigail (and her dad Joey) after her first bite of one of my cookies, from my cell phone.