Conversation In A Neighborhood Bar

Say, I see your drinking that Budweiser beer. That your regular beer? I only ask ’cause I could never drink it myself. Gives me gas, eh? Now this Miller, this I can drink no problem.

What a day…I don’t know about you, but myself, I can do without days like this. See, I lost these three friends today. One I barely knew, and one I knew sorta well, and the other I was pretty close to, eh? But it’s funny, ‘cause I feel about the same about all of ‘em, you know, like they were all my best friend or something. I mean, they were all special to me, you know, in their own ways.

Listen, can I buy the next one? Budweiser again? Good enough. Hey Art, can we get a Bud and a Miller over here?

Now Denny, he’s the one I knew the best. Me and him worked together for a long time, and you know, like everybody you work with, there’s a lot of experiences you remember. Not that they were all good times, see. In fact, some of ’em were downright unpleasant. Many’s the time I wanted to knock the little squirt right on his keester, but I never did. And when I saw him leave for New York this morning, I guess I’d be lyin’ if I said that I only remembered the good things. People always say that, you know? That all you remember is the good. Not me. Not this morning. But I will say that remembered a lot more good than bad, for what that’s worth.

Anyway, it’s not like he’s dead or nothin’. I mean, we’ll probably write a couple of times. ‘Course, you never write as much as you say you will, or think you will, or want to. Did you ever write as much as you thought or said you would? Me neither. Never.

But like I say, we’ll probably write a little. And I suppose I might get out there to New York City. Before he left he said to me, “Walt,” he said, “Drop in and see me in New York City.” And Denny, he’s the kind of guy that when he says, “Drop in and see me,” he means it. And when I told him I would, it was about the only time I ever said that to someone who said to drop in, and actually felt like dropping in. That’s the kind of guy Denny is, you know? The kind you wouldn’t mind dropping in to see.

You like your beer in a bottle, eh? Me, too. I just don’t get why folks pour their beer out of a perfectly good and cold glass bottle into a warm old glass. Don’t make no sense to me. Never did. I’m with you. A bottle man.

Now, Kathy, she left today, too. Her I only sorta knew. I kinda got to know her a little ‘cause she was friends with this lady I sorta dated. It seems kinda funny when I think about it, ‘cause I got to know Kathy better after this other lady moved away. It wasn’t anything like you might think, ‘cause Kathy, she’s a married lady, and I had met her husband and everything, and thought he was a real nice fella, and besides which, I don’t do that sort of thing anyway. I mean going out with a friend of somebody you used to date, or going out with a married lady. I’m no super moral guy or nothing. I just don’t do those kinds of things, is all. Don’t seem right somehow.

Ah, nice and cold. Ol’ Art sure serves up a cold one, don’t he? Hey Art, good and cold, pal. Just the way I like ‘em.

Anyway, Kathy and me would have lunch together and just sorta talk about stuff, you know? We seemed to have a lot in common, at least the same kinds of problems. I dunno, maybe that’s true of everybody. Havin’ the same kinds of problems, I mean. Seems like we’re forever runnin’ around trying to prove we’re all different from each other or somethin’. Maybe we’re not, ya know? When you get right down to it, maybe we’re all the same, really. I dunno.

But like I was tellin’ you, Kathy and me would have these talks, and she was a nice person, and I was kinda looking forward to having her as a friend. But her husband got transferred to Cedar Rapids and she went along, so I guess I lost her today, too.

Ready for another? Me, neither. Can’t see throwin’ ‘em back, like some fellas do. I like the taste of beer, eh? Some people drink it but don’t like the taste. Not me. I like the taste.

I lost Erich today, too. Now Erich…well, I didn’t really know Erich at all. Erich was a baby boy who belonged to a couple that I know pretty well. I only saw him a couple of times, but I heard a lot about him, eh? Proud parents, and all that. I didn’t mind though. It was kinda nice to see your friends that happy about something.

So like I say, I only saw him a couple of times, but those times I thought he was a pretty cute little guy. I don’t claim to know nothing about kids. Especially babies. But he looked pretty cute and healthy and everything.

But he wasn’t. He had a bunch of problems being born. Didn’t get all the oxygen he needed. At least, that’s the way I heard it. He was always having these seizures, and he had to spend a lot of time in the hospital. He was hooked up to all kinds of fancy machines, and had to take all kinds of medication, too. The funny thing is, like I say, he looked okay to me. But I haven’t seen that many babies, so I’m no expert or nothin’.

Anyway, Erich died, and I went to the funeral today. It was the first kid’s funeral I ever went to. You ever been to one? Yeah, me neither. This was my first. It was pretty sad, what with all the folks there being older than the dead person. And everybody was crying and everything. It makes you wonder why things happen the way they do, eh?

I’ll bet you’ve heard that at funerals before, huh? Me, too. Why’d this happen? Why him? Why her? Why now? I’ve heard that a hundred times at a zillion funerals. And then you hear the other side of the coin. You know, all that stuff about maybe it’s for the best, or at least he’s out of his misery. Or now she’s with God. Doesn’t seem to matter who dies. You always hear the same old stuff.

You okay? Another Bud? Yeah, I’m good, too. Nothin’ like sippin’ ‘em, eh?

I don’t know. I guess God has a plan for us. I’m a Lutheran myself. Oh, a Methodist, huh? I got an aunt that’s a Methodist. Never been to her church, though. Anyway, I guess He’s got His reasons for things, and maybe we’ll get all the answers someday. And maybe not, right? But to my way of thinkin’, it don’t really matter, ‘cause knowing why doesn’t change anything, eh? It’s like that old saying, if He wanted us to know, we’d know. So I don’t worry about it much.

So anyway, I lost these three friends today. Two of ‘em I might get to see again, and one I won’t. Not in this life anyway, right? And I guess I got no guarantees about the other two, either, when you get right down to it.

You know, when stuff like this happens, I always say to myself, “Boy, you really got to appreciate people when you have ‘em, ‘cause they won’t always be there.” You too? But often as not, I forget about it in a couple of days, and go right back to being real self-centered and believin’ that all the dumb stuff I worry about is really important. ‘Course, it isn’t, but I never think about that until something like this happens. You know?

Well anyway, I guess I oughta try to appreciate people a little more. You know, tell ‘em that I like ‘em, and stuff like that. Losin’ three in one day and all, maybe I can keep it goin’ a little longer than usual this time. Funny how it takes losing friends to learn lessons that you should’ve already learned, eh? Well, that’s the way it goes, I guess. Like I say, I’m no different from anybody else, and nobody else seems to learn that lesson either, right? So I guess I’m not dumb or slow or nothing. I guess I’m just normal.

Takin’ off, huh? Okay. Well, maybe I’ll just have me one more cold one. One more Miller, huh Art?

Hey, nice talkin’ to ya. Maybe I’ll see you again. I come in here pretty often, right Art? I like it here. The beers are always nice and cold. You know?

Today’s Fact-Cetera

Genghis Khan killed his brother in an argument over a fish.


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