I always liked this bar; it had a feel to it. ‘Olive or Twist’, sounds like a martini bar, but it was really whatever you wanted it to be. Dark wood, mirrored background, comfortable bar stools, lots of exposed bar ware and liquors all reminded why you were here. The bar was quiet tonight. The background music, mostly Sinatra, Beatles and the like was pleasant and turned down low.
You always had a couple of guys drinking beer, usually Stella Artois or Budweiser and almost no one drinking wine. Most people were drinking hard liquor—bourbon, scotch, or gin. There were a couple of women sitting at the bar and several more at tables, but it was mostly men, using liquor to find a place and find the way.
After a bit, a guy sat next to me. Didn’t take long before we introduced ourselves. Said his name was Jones, Lincoln Jones, his friends called him Linc. I told him my name was Augustus Patterson and people called me Augie. I’ve always believed that anyone sitting at a bar wanted conversation, unless they were too depressed to talk. Linc was one who wanted conversation. He ordered a Hemingway Martini, Bombay gin on the rocks with olives and almost no vermouth. I had my usual, Jack on the rocks.
We went through the normal guy bar talk. He was a Cowboy fan, I was a Packer fan.
“Remember the ice bowl in ’67? I guess that was about the coldest day in pro football history. What a win for the Pack. Dallas almost…”
“I was a little young to remember, but I sure read about it enough times. What about the playoff game in 2015 when Bryant caught the ball and the ref said no catch. The Cowboys were robbed that day”
After more sports reminiscing the conversation began changing. We were becoming comfortable with each other and we started opening up.
“You married, Linc?”
“Yeah, I’m married, been with the same woman about ten years now. Course, I got a mistress, too. She’s a real bitch with an itch. All told, I’m supporting eleven people with kids and all.”
“I’ll bet that makes you easy to ask out to go get a drink at the bar. A man can’t hang around that many people all the time.”
“You got that right, Augie. Why do you think I am sitting here right now. What about you?”
“My life is simpler, married to the same woman forever. I got a couple grown kids who have gone their own crazy way. Wife does her own thing all the time. We mostly live separate lives. We don’t fight, we just don’t do…I think I need to find a girl with a bit of the ‘ready’. Know what I mean?
“Sure do. Say, reminds me of a joke I heard…A man locks his wife and his dog in the trunk of his car. After several hours, he opens the trunk. The wife screams, cusses at him, and wants to kill him. The dog jumps, wags his tail and licks his face. Now, I guess the question is, which one would you rather spend the rest of your life with?”
“That’s good, Linc. Maybe I ought to get a dog. I need someone to keep me company”
“I’ll give you some of my brood. I got plenty.”
“Haha, thanks, but no thanks. I’ll just tool along on this road to nowhere, looking at the scene and trying to make up my mind what to do next.”
As we ordered another drink, our third, Linc said, “Don’t let the sun go down on hope. A man’s got to stay focused, or at least think he is focused, Augie.”
“That may be true, but hope doesn’t necessarily lead to truth. Truth leads to truth, and we men mostly don’t know what truth is, anyway. We see her out there, arms open wide, inviting us in, but we don’t know if she’s a spider web or a king size bed. That’s how it is. Guys don’t figure stuff out, guys just fall in and it’s not always where they want to go. So, what do we do, Linc?”
“Don’t know. More of what we’re doing, I’m guessing. If we change, we’ll do like women and start going to meetings, doing yoga, talking ‘bout things in groups and trying to make things better. I’d rather order another drink, check the score, tell another joke, and just let people be who they are. You know that’s what we’re going to do anyway. A man’s better off just letting all that other shit go and just be who he is.”
“You know, Linc, I believe you’re right. We just gotta let go of the pain and wait for the glory. At the Little Big Horn, Sitting Bull said, ‘It’s a good day for dying.’ Isn’t that what we’re doing anyway? We’re born so that we can die a little each day”
I sat next to link at the government street lounge too