Maybe it was bound to happen. I looked at both songs yesterday for “E” and got nothing. So I Googled songs beginning with “E” and found “Every Breath You Take” (did I want to write a stalker story?) and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” I decided on the thorny side of life although in retrospect maybe a stalker story could have been fun.
Growing Up When You’re Already Old
I avoid Deke’s Sports Bar on Friday nights. It’s like a drunken frat party with the invasion of the college kids and couples, always couples, blue jeaned limbs pressed together so that it’s almost impossible to know whose legs belong to whom. They inevitably remind me of Leah and what I rejected.
Today the old man told me he’s retiring, thinking of actually moving to that old folks state down south of here, wants me to take over.
“Ask Brett,” I said.
“Already did. Now I’m asking you.”
Yeah, just the threat of responsibility has me heading into Deke’s on a Friday night for a beer and a shot or two.
All the stools at the bar are taken except for the one cramped into the side where the servers pick up the orders. What the hell. I sit. Deke raises an eyebrow as he pulls a draft and then a finger of whiskey. I raise two fingers and he pours more.
“Must be bad if you’re here on a Friday night.”
I shrug. “Life, man.”
Deke nods because he’s known me forever.
“The old man’s thinking about retiring and wants me to take over.”
“It’s about time you did something,” Deke says.
“I work. I work hard.”
“Yeah, always for someone else. Now you got a chance to work for yourself.”
It’s my turn to nod. I don’t think I’m cut out to work for myself, but I don’t say this. Deke took the bar over from his old man and made a success of it. Although, damn, it’s a bar, bars always make money.
Something makes me look toward the back. Leah. She’s leaning into some guy I don’t recognize, some guy I couldn’t ever imagine her with. He’s clean cut, in a white polo shirt and khakis. Looks like he’s just gotten off a golf course. Their faces are almost pressed together and she’s smiling a smile I know, because I’ve been on the receiving end, but this one’s different. There’s something extra that was never in any of her smiles for me. Maybe it’s because she looks so relaxed and not like she’s about to pull her hair out. I always did have that effect on her.
“He’s a good guy. She deserves to be happy.”
“Did I say she didn’t?”
As if she feels my stare, she looks up. She smiles at me, like a friend. Despite the hand squeezing on my heart, I raise my glass. Damn, maybe it is time to grow up.