Bent Words

Bent Words

September 25, 2020


A lot going on today.

Drea is having her baby. Her mother owns the Nice Ash and is babysitting the boys. Chuck is dying. Phil is four days new to tar bending at the ripe young age of 67. He has no idea how to pour a drink, that the Ash doesn’t sell pitchers or how to ring up a gift card but DAMN does Phil have a story or two.

He’s afraid of heights so he had his 80th skydiving experience end up with a 35MPH head first crash into the earth about 19 years ago. He shouldn’t be walking let along balancing on top of two barstools to turn on a beer special light.

“You look just like my daughter but younger,” he said.

“Oh yeah? Is she beautiful?” I asked.

“She is. And very tall.”

Come to find she is on her second child and 34 years old.

“I’m about 42, Phil, but thanks for the compliment!”

“You are NOT!” he said.

You get a big tip, buddy.

That’s about when Bear walked in with the tragic news. Chuck is dying. Couldn’t keep anything down so he went to the doctor after he collapsed to have a CT scan which showed a body ravaged with cancer. Bone cancer. Hit the lungs, took a dive and came back up again to hit some other major organs necessary for sustaining life. Moved him straight from intensive care to hospice. No one can see him. No one but family.

For fear of WHAT?? COVID? Taking him out 19 minutes faster!? FUCK YOU. He’ll be dead by Monday no matter what.

Bear and I embraced. Met in college while both of us were too old for college or for the newspaper biz and at the bar when both of us were too rowdy for the bar scene. Fuck is my timing always off or what?!

“I don’t recall you ever crying, Laura,” he said.

“I had like 17 kids so now I cry, Bear. I love you, man.”

He cried, too.

Phil doesn’t know what Brandy or Scotch or Whiskey is (and neither do I) so Bear hopped behind the barren bar to pour the drinks while Phil reconciled himself with a ceegar. He played in a band with the Police in 1969 or whatever. He is 35 years married to his best friend. He swears at all the taps that hold too much head. "FUCKER!"

I dragged him into the ladies room to show him a picture of Chuck nestled between all the Barta babes.

“That is our man, Phil, right there.” I said through tears.

Some chick nearly screamed coming out of the bathroom to see that I had a man in the bathroom with me while I was in tears.

AND FUCK YOU, scared little thing!!

Be loud! Be Big! Cry hard and love harder! Be obnoxious and don’t say stupid fucking shit like “Get better soon” or “Heal up, quick, dude!” because that’s just generic, thoughtless and annoying and repetitious and fucking ignorant. But I get it -- what do you say?! What is there to say? I don't know if I ever get it 'right' but say big things, give big hugs and kiss those fuckers that you think are too old on the fucking LIPS because no one is too old for a fucking wet lip kiss!


I’m sorry for saying sorry too often because you should NOT say sorry so often. You should be you with the fucking intensity you sing to on the way home down the back roads at 30MPH over the speed limit. Don’t speed – seriously – but be bold. And go slow. Everything else goes by too quickly.

SLOW the fuck down. Sit with me for a spell. Listen to the men with the stories in a smoky bar in the afternoon and guess what you’ll never expect – men like Phil who have a story to tell. Guys like Mick who have lost Nice Ash bums and hug whole heartedly. Boys like Chuck who open doors, drive women home late at night and who fought for their country without question.

Remember the grins and guffaws.

Remember the bad jokes and the crowded rooms you belonged to.

Dance with them when you think you’re too old, too heavy or too drunk – because you never really are any of the bad things you think you are. You are all the good things that happen in between and you are too precious to pass over without at least a pause. A smile, a compliment, a story, a bar napkin soaked with tears.

You are LIGHT and LOVE and LIFE and thank the fucking stars for you.

You could be the man at the end of the bar whose son was taken at 24.

You could be Jeff Barta who owns the bar and is taken at one shy of seven grandchildren.

You could be JPC and taken by pneumonia at the height of his career.

You could be 67 and my good friend and your name is Chuck and we didn’t get to mingle over dead pig a month ago and I regret it because fuck dead whole pigs sitting about but HELL FUCKING YEAH to someone like Chuck who makes the world a better place, one ass squeeze at a time.

I FUCKING LOVE YOU and miss you already.


Written at 7:46 p.m.