I had a rough day at work. I needed to relax and while a good nights rest is the safest and cheapest idea, I figured drowning my worries and anger in a glass of beer is a better idea. I am not condoning drinking as a problem solver. I am not telling you to drink to fix the problems work drops on you. Sure work can bring you sob stories of decaying teeth, people with the precognition of being sick three days in advance, or the inability to chug water faster than a paralyzed penguin with a feet shuffling problem. I cannot control those things. I cannot stop people from doing the things they do that send me in to fits of rage. I cannot blame them for the foul words and vulgarness that spews from my lips and the degrading words that dangle and roll of my tongue. I drink not because you do things like call in sick or complain about your horrible life, I drink because I know you. Your presence alone will point me and literally drive me to the bar to drink and fix problems with barley, hops, and wheat.
If I go the bar alone, it’s for a reason. I don’t want to be bothered. I just want to relax and enjoy the few drinks I have before I head home to shower, sleep, and then repeat over again the next day. If someone does talk to me at the bar, I will be respectful and chat back. I’ll say hello or I will say, thank you. I just won’t get into a meaningful conversation with you about politics, religion, or the lives we lead. I will not divulge secrets about me and will not try to theorize about life and why we are here. I just want to be alone and I just want to relax after what I see as a long and stressful day.
I have been to this certain bar four times now. The first time I went there, I wasn’t bothered by the help or by the other folks. These folks are regulars. I can tell. Anyone can tell that these poor schmucks frequent this bar more often than a catholic priest frequents an altar boys changing room. They look the same. The all sound the same and they all treat the bartender (who is usually, smoking hot) like a cheap hooker with no morals. These sickening boozehounds are prowling the bar and tossing the lamest and most vulgar pick up lines her way. Rest assured, she won’t take any of them up on their Indecent Proposals. She is there for a job and if she has to deal with these guys to get an extra five bucks on the tip, she will show some cleavage.
I wonder if I will become one of these saps down the road. Will I be a horny middle-aged man lusting over a bartender who is old enough to be my own daughter from a broken marriage? Will I try and woo her with jokes about my penis and how I want to get her in the sack and show her what a real man is? Can’t tell now. I can’t do much. I went in for a couple of drinks and instead of be ignored, I am stuck talking to an American hero. He was in the war. He helped protect this country. His name is Bruce. Let me tell you about Bruce and the two hours I spent with him.
I sit at the bar. I wait a few minutes before the bartender notices me and comes to see what frosty beverage I want. The bar is a little busy. It’s not overly crowded but it for a Thursday night, there are lots of people getting an early start on the weekend. I sip my beer. It’s delicious. Bruce walks in. He is talking loudly and being very friendly with the staff and talking to people like they are family and old chums. I don’t like him already. I don’t like the people at bars who come in and talk loudly and act like they are the big dogs of the bar just because they are there all day and all night. Just find a seat and shut the eff up. I don’t want to talk to you and from the looks of the two clearly underage drinkers, they don’t want to hear you talk either.
Can I sit here?
Shit. It’s Bruce. He wants to sit by me. Why do you want to sit there? I can see plenty of open seats scattered all over the place. Why not pick the seat in the far corner on the bar? Yes, the lonely table and chair in the dimly lit corner of the bar. Sit alone and sit far from me and the other people here. You came here to drink away your problems, so why not keep those problems to yourself and sit in that chair far from us normal people.
You can sit there as long as you don’t have cooties.
Bruce asked what cooties were. I couldn’t explain it. Trying to explain a joke to someone ruins the joke. Jokes are not meant to have instruction manuals. If you don’t get the joke, half-smile and laugh a little. Just pretend you got the joke and move on. Bruce didn’t know about cooties and I wasn’t about to explain to him the meaning behind this childhood disease. At least the other drunk sitting close to him knew about cooties. He smiled and chuckled. Or maybe he didn’t get the joke and just half-smiled and laughed a little to amuse me.
Bruce explained to me and the bartender that he was diabetic. He was very vocal about it and mentioned numerous times that he was going to pass out if he didn’t eat something. I haven’t eaten all day. I might pass out if I don’t eat soon. Bruce, you need to eat something! Don’t just tell me that you need to eat. Effin’ eat and don’t die. I told him that. Maybe not exactly word for word but I did tell him not to pass out. Told him,
I don’t know CPR. I have no medical training. Don’t die or I’ll feel bad.
My words weren’t exactly as stated above but they were along those lines. Even the bartender told him she didn’t know CPR. If Bruce was to clutch his chest, keel over and pass out, he is all on his own. Bruce did order some food. He ordered a steak. I thought about getting something to eat but I wasn’t feeling it. I had just left work and while there, I enjoyed some pizza. Bruce sipped on his Coke and I ordered another beer for myself.
Bruce wasn’t aware of being diabetic. He went to his doctor one day complaining about being dizzy, rapid heart, and other issues that sounded much like the symptoms I have when I get panic attacks. The doctor told him that he wasn’t sure how he was walking or even speaking. Bruce was a medical marvel. Not my words. That was what Bruce said the doctor told him. The doctor called Bruce a “medical marvel” He should be dead. Bruce was so bad that he was basically in a diabetic coma. But Bruce was tough. He is a tough guy and he wowed the doctors with his perseverance to beat the diabeetus. I was wowed by his story but still, he was a stranger and I didn’t come to the bar to talk to people. I wanted to be with one person and one person alone. I wanted to be with me. Oh, and beer too.
He talks to me about the food and even offers me some. He cuts a piece off and sticks it with his fork. He shoves the fork into my face and hovers it near my mouth, like the airplane spoon ready to enter the hanger.
Bruce told me that I shouldn’t drink. He said it is bad for me and it will kill me. All the drinking I do will stunt my growth and I will not live to see 30. I did correct him that his logic of dying by 30 was off. I am 33. Looks like Bruce is getting his information from the wrong source. I drank my beer and his Tony Robbins style pep talk continued. Bruce talked about his sister who died of live failure. This was getting very uncomfortable. It worsened when he talk about his brother and how his brother was murdered. I am drinking. I am drinking my problems away. I cannot drink your problems away too. Please stop talking about how awful your life is. I already hear it from other people.
Bruce tapped my shoulder. I cringed. He isn’t even drinking and he is getting all touchy feely. He pulls out some cigarettes from his pocket. They aren’t real. They are the electronic ones that are odorless and safe. He tells me how he wants to scare the bartender and the other patrons inside. He takes a puff and smiles, and giggling after eacb non-toxic drag. His ruse was a disaster. No one believed he was actually smoking. They knew it was fake and didn’t even play along as this, walking medical marvel took another puff and hoped to get some sort of rise out of the sexy bartender. I thought about telling Bruce that I quit smoking but I feared that doing so would get me into a lecture of how smoking is bad I shouldn’t do it.
His steak arrives. It’s a mighty good-looking steak. I feel like food now. Maybe I’ll order a burger or some chips. I always get hungry when I drink. I’ll just have a couple more beers and then head to McDonald’s or Burger King. That’ll be nice and cheaper too. Bruce eats and is loving it. The juices from the steak dribble down his chin. He is in pure ecstasy. It must be a damn good steak.
He talks to me about the food and even offers me some. He cuts a piece off and sticks it with his fork. He shoves the fork into my face and hovers it near my mouth, like the airplane spoon ready to enter the hanger. Try it! Take a bite! Try it!” I decline the morsel of food. I wasn’t be rude. It was unsettling and slightly awkward to have a grown man who is nearly 60 to spoon feed me. I like steak but not enough to eat it off the same fork you’re using. Bruce even offered to buy me a steak all my own. He offered to buy me a meal. This was just supposed to be a night out alone with s few drinks. I wasn’t looking forward to hooking up or going on a blind date with a military man. Bruce was in the military. He served his country and protected us from the evil Nazi’s, the North Koreans, and the British. Bruce informed me that he just got out of the service today. You didn’t read that wrong. That isn’t a typo. Bruce, a man who is about 60 had just got out of the military that very day. A diabetic military man with a love for steak was sitting next to me.
He is getting interesting by the minute. Bruce didn’t talk about the war. He spoke of his time before the war and how he worked lifting 70 pounds bags on his shoulders. He was a manly man. He tossed them and carried the 70 pound bag, sometimes more than one at a time, up and down the stairs at the warehouse he worked at. Bruce showed me his arms. He showed me his legs and how they resembled pythons. His arms are the same size and Bruce was persistent on having me feel his arms up. He wanted me to touch those WMD’s and gave him some congrats to how strong and buff he is. I declined that offer too. I declined everything he offered me. I wasn’t there for a date and wasn’t going to go back to your place. I mean, your roommate may get upset if I do. You’re bringing her home your leftover steaks and then introduce a complete stranger to her. According to Bruce she isn’t a looker. She is just his roommate. He mentioned that all the gals in the bar are a lot sexier than her. His roommate can’t (his words, not mine…)
Give me a hard on.
/the tale of Bruce