This morning, I went with my mom to breakfast at this diner in downtown Petaluma called Hallie’s. We parked on the side of the street and as I got out of the car, I noticed a woman, around her early 50s I’d hazard, with an older woman who had her same long blonde hair, and I assumed that it was her mother. It was quite easy to notice the daughter; she wore long, colorful scarves, leopard print tights and a long tan coat. She carried around a messenger bag and also had a bunch of small bags attached to her hip. Her hair was up, crazily shooting out in fringes.
I saw the two woman walk past me as we walked a bit to the diner. When we got there, outside, the two woman were sitting waiting on the waiter’s service. I noted the coincidence, but didn’t think much of it after we were sat down and had our breakfast.
As we finished our meal, the daughter came in to use the bathroom. Upon entering said restroom, she started to yell about how small the bathroom was, how there were regulations in place that disallowed bathrooms to be that small. Her voice boomed in the small diner, so the rest of the customers could hear her. The owner came out—hearing the boisterous woman—and her confusion matched that of the faces of the customers in her restaurant.
The owner went outside to let the mother know what was happening. The daughter was audibly slamming and opening things and had to leave. The mother knocked on the door of the restroom, went inside, and let her daughter know that they had to leave, but she was still preoccupied with the size of the restroom. After ten to fifteen minutes, and a threat of calling the cops because she was now yelling in the bathroom, the two woman left the diner, but not before the daughter went up to the counter and demanded her cup of coffee to go.
By this time, my mom and I had finished our breakfast and were ready to leave. We left the diner and saw the two woman standing a couple feet away. The daughter was on her mother’s cellphone, now yelling at somebody on the other side, asking her to identify themselves. All this time, the mother pleaded with her daughter to go in the other ear, trying to communicate that the cops were going to come if they stood outside of the diner for any longer.
Eventually, the mother just walked away. My mom and I passed them as we headed to our car, and as we got in to leave, I saw the two woman one last time, the mother looking forward and the daughter trailing behind, whipping one of her many scarves across her neck as they both crossed the street and turned the corner.
I don’t know why I wanted to blog about this particular event today. And I don’t know why I remember it so vividly. I guess, throughout the whole debacle, the only thing I could think of was the story behind it. I felt this deep sense of empathy for the mother that I started to imagine the background relationship between the two, how this was the first time they were meeting in years, as the daughter was very obviously poor or homeless. I thought that maybe the two had had it out in the past and today the daughter promised her that she was better now, that she “had it together,” whatever that means. The mother believed her, only to be blindsided by a strange series of events in a diner called Hallie’s, surely embarrassed in her own right, though no fault of her own.
As we drove back home, I told my mom all of this, my imagined backstory for the mother and daughter. And now, as I write this blog, I realize the living story inherent in such an event — the embarrassment, maybe the betrayal, but surely the sadness of those two old, blonde women.