The Bar Chronicles: #20, It’s Nice To Be Driven…(and some Jeff Bezos)

“Dad, may I borrow the car tonight?  I’m picking up some friends and we’re going for a beer, or two, at Caverly’s Irish Pub. No, we won’t be late, nine-thirty, maybe ten.”

Okay, so I’ve conflated two phases of my life into one fantasy.

It was another night of ‘howling at the moon’ for our cadre at Caverly’s. Do ‘old dogs’ howl?  Regardless, this iconic corner bar with all its pub accoutrements wins our support, again, for its neighborhood ambiance…and cheap beer prices.

As we unfolded ourselves from the car, one rider commented, ‘it’s nice to be driven’. That line made me recall my teen years when I was fortunate to have a dad who let me take the family car, almost whenever I asked: high school dances, Sunday night youth group at church, movie dates or a late night snack with friends.  He trusted me with the keys, and I loved to drive.

Nowadays, multiples of teen years later, I still enjoy being the driver. And picking up my friends is the same now, as then, but today’s destination is quite different. Yet, the activity is somewhat similar, sitting around a table with friends and gabbing, with a drink in hand, beer today but a soda, or ‘tonic’*, then.

Caverly’s was irritatingly noisy this night. It was Thursday Night Football on the cursed TV, every bar has them, and one overbearing fan was in his full fan mode. Seemingly, every play required a bellow of approval or disapproval, making our conversation challenging.

But we did manage to discuss Jeff Bezos and his choice of Amazon as a name for his empire. Here’s an interesting speech by Bezos when Amazon was only six and he had hair:  https://youtu.be/YlgkfOr_GLY.

This is the twentieth night of ‘Bar Night’ and ‘The Bar Chronicles’ stories. Looking ahead, I suggested we do something special for the twenty-fifth gathering, sometime next Spring. My idea of a celebratory calendar, ‘The Men of The Bar Chronicles’, was poo-poohed. I was ready to rock ‘n roll with some camera shoots but the reluctance was obvious.

Any suggestions from readers?  Maybe we should just go for some burgers and beer. It would be like the teen years when a coke-a-cola and sandwich satisfied appetites at the local HoJo’s, or Friendly’s.

Times change, years go by, but some things are steadfast.  It’s nice to recall that my dad trusted my driving, and it’s a good feeling to know my adult friends do, now.  I still love to drive…

…and the Amazon River is still the biggest!

*New England speak for soda, pop, etc.

To all who remember the fun of driving the old man’s car

‘Sweet Sapphires’ and Senior Moments

There they were, in tightly arranged rows of open plastic bags, next to the buck ninety-nine a pound red grapes.  With a deep blue color and elongated shape that reminded me of ‘Good & Plenty’ candy I enjoyed as a kid, and a name that rolled off my tongue, ‘Sweet Sapphires’, there they were.  I was mesmerized.

However, at ‘two bucks ninety-nine’, these little jewels were going cost me a bit more than I normally would pay for grapes this time of year.  Nevertheless, if they tasted as good as they looked, and they looked good (the picture doesn’t do justice) the decision would be easy.

I like ‘observing’ people, not staring but just noticing their behavior, idiosyncrasies and habits.  Aren’t you repulsed by folks who stand over the grapes, pinch a few from open bags to sample, then walk away or buy a different bag?  How uncouth! And the ‘perps’ generally are Seniors, older people who should know better.

Yet, I must admit these ‘Sweet Sapphires’ were tantalizingly attractive.  I sensed they were teasing me. Then, I reminded myself, ‘Hey, I’m a Senior’ and there was my ‘in’, my excuse, the justification for what I sensed was about to happen.

In a moment of personal weakness, I was overcome with the same sense of entitlement these Seniors seem to have when fiddling with the fruit. My values became compromised, my judgement clouded and like Sandburg’s fog, I was surrounded by silence, guilt free, or so it seemed, as I stood fixated on those ‘Sweet Sapphires’.

My mouth was awash with the swill of free flowing saliva.  Discipline, be damned, I cast caution aside and succumbed. Delicious! No one grabbed, scolded or even glared contemptuously at me. Ahhh, entitlement, Senior style, it could be addictive.

I didn’t stop with grapes, I moved on to bananas and separated my number from the bunches. I peeled back the corn husks to check for worms and even squeezed the plums for firmness, putting each one back and moving on.

This freedom to pick and choose exhilarated me as I made my way to the check out with a bounce in my step, albeit slowly and with a gimp. For here was the final payoff of my newly awakened older self, the Senior Citizen discount.

What? Not available on groceries?  I knew that but I’m asking anyway. The new me, the entitled Senior, will ask every time. I will tell corny jokes, drive at slower speed and use subpar hearing to my advantage. The wrinkles, baldness, sore joints and rounded shoulders tell the world that I’ve earned this status. It’s an entitlement world for me now, and I’ve got the ‘scars’ to prove it.

Now, if I can only remember where I parked my car…

“Excuse me, young fella!”

“Whosis, Whatsis and Whatchamacallit”

ALERT: this story isn’t for everyone, just those in long term relationships, say 30, 40 or 50 years. However, you’re still welcome to read it…

“Honey, I’m home from, ah, whatchamacallits. Whosis was there, she’ll see us at, you know, whatsis place Saturday.”

“Okay!”

And with that exchange, we affirm our relationship is stronger than ever…again!

Do you recognize it? Sound familiar? I expect those of you in long term relationships are nodding in the affirmative.  You know each other so well that substitute words suffice in place of real words, the ones that escape us momentarily. Gibberish fills the void and, strangely enough, we understand each other. How does that work?

This behavior confirms my belief that as we grow older with our life partner, our spirits, habits and language meld, allowing us to behave almost as one. There must be a term for it?

With a certain bravado, I proffered this theory to my whosis, a nonbeliever of most of my ‘proffers’. Almost had her convinced until the suggestion that we’re even starting to look alike, the longer we’re together. With a stare that would stop a charging ‘whatchamacallit’ in its tracks, that notion destroyed whatever credibility I may have had with her.

You may disagree but think of your own situation. Do you finish each other’s sentences? Do you say something like, “honey, I know what you’re thinking”? Do you both start to express the same thought on cue? See, you’re coming around, right?

How did all this ‘oneness’ happen? Where did our habits, idiosyncrasies and brains not just intersect, but converge and become of one mind on the graph of Life? When did I start letting her pick out my clothes? And when did she trust me with grocery shopping?

Whenever and however, the fact remains that it happens. And it’s a good thing it does. Think of the waste of time trying to remember the real words when gibberish will do. So,  when the time comes that you can’t think of each other’s names, just throw in some ‘gib’, keep the conversation going, enjoy yourself, no matter who your with, or think you’re with!

“The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.”
Friedrich Nietzsche*  

To all my friends and their whatchamallits…

Steve
Srbottch.Com
October 2018

*(Goodreads.com)

The Bar Chronicles: #19, “But, Your Honor, It Was Only Manure”…The Story Tellers

Bar Night 2

We sat among the boisterous patrons of Cavalry’s Irish Pub, enjoying a break from another long hot summer day. With cold beers in hand, the mood brought out the best in our diverse table-talk, as we prattled on about Leonardo DaVinci, mathematics, world population, and ‘stealing’ manure.  If that doesn’t run the gamut from haughty to hillbilly, nothing does.

Caverly’s was unusually noisy this warm September weeknight, even the normally sedate ‘bar dogs’ were feisty whenever a friendly face sauntered in from the street. Nevertheless, frayed by the season long struggle against heat and humidity of this oppressive summer weather, patrons were enjoying a relaxing evening of camaraderie. a typical bar scene, strangers talking with strangers as though they were long time friends.

It was difficult to hear the sordid details of the one among our small group describing his appearance before the local magistrate on crap caper charges, years ago, of course. A good story was developing and our Senior group leaned in with hand-cuffed ears, straining to hear the narrative and guffawing, as Seniors do, when a funny story is finished.

Seniors are good story-tellers.  With longevity comes a trove of life experiences, good fodder for comedic routines around a drinking table. We are wonderful receptors of these stories, too, because we’ve experienced a potpourri of crazy stuff and can identify with much of it, even when the details are embellished by the story teller.

What we did hear tonight was funny, the misadventures of a young man innocently trespassing onto a farmer’s field for a trunk load of bovine excrement to use as fertilizer, and the resulting incarceration in the back of a police squad car and subsequent court appearance to answer charges. How does one explain a charge of ‘stealing manure” to a judge? We laugh now, years later, but at the time, there was genuine concern for the potential damage to a good reputation.   

Some stories are best told in a bar scene when the collected few are mellow and easily moved to believe, and laugh.  And the teller, himself, is likely more animated by the attentive audience he knew, and the few strangers he didn’t, leaners-in from adjacent tables and stools, hanging on for the verdict.

These stories are the essence of our ‘bar nights’, friends gathering to enlighten each other with opinions, observations and anecdotes. The beer is secondary. We can’t drink that much, anyway. One or two and we’re on our way home, richer for the experience and ready to drift asleep with good thoughts and smiles of another ‘bar night’ with good friends 

Do you have a story waiting to be told?  Tell it to friends and have a good laugh! Maybe have a beer with it.

Steve
September 2018
srbottch.com

The Bar Chronicles: #17, A ‘PSA’, The Asian ‘Jumping Worm’

Bar Night 2

A warm stretch of May days, summer like, goosed the ‘bar chroniclers’ to find our way to Caverly’s Irish Pub. We seem to be stuck on Caverly’s, but how can you beat $20 for 5 beers? Add the intimate bar with its colorful array of taps, friendly patrons, the worn hardwoods and oversized chalkboard beer menu, and Caverly’s is as comfortable as any watering hole we’ve patronized on ‘bar nights’.

Bar TAps

The sidewalk tables were taken by heavily pierced bikers, with their black leather chaps and vests and a potpourri of busy tattoos covering any exposed skin. In contrast, wedding bands and silver fillings was the extent of our body metal, no pierced ears or tattoos, at least none visible. Our belts, the only leather we showed, were functional, holding back the 34s, 36s, maybe a 38. A couple of beers tonight would bloat us enough to test those straps and push the limits of the numbers.

We posted inside, at our favorite table, a wobbly one with a napkin shim. Following the customary toast to good health and good fortune, the gabfest began. The clinking of glasses was like the gates swinging open at a horse race, we were off and running with an evening of books, biology and beer.

Normally, while our ‘beer clutch’ is not a book review club, we occasionally refer to them to support our discussions or show off our intellect. Tonight, we hit the trifecta with ‘The Great Halifax Explosion’, ‘Beneath the Metropolis’ and ‘The Winner’, another Baldacci thriller. But the best read & reference was a newsletter about the invasive, Asian ‘jumping worm’.

‘Disturb a jumping worm and it’s like a nightcrawler on steroids: It violently writhes on the forest floor, recalling a snake in a bad horror movie. Try to catch it, a piece of its tail will detach in your hand — still wriggling as you hold it.’ *

Creepiness aside, this invasive invader goes against all positive thoughts we have about earthworms as great aerators of our garden soil, and good bait for adventures at ‘the ol’ fishing hole’. These summertime squirmers are underground giants, up to eight inches long, that render the ground void of nutrients for any type of plant growth with their piranha like foraging.

I’ll be watching our gardens, as you should yours, for telltale signs of these monsters. If our ferns flop, the sedum sag or hydrangeas halt, I’ll call the ‘authorities’ to report the invasion, a government bureaucrat who knows about snakes and worms, and they do.

When our refills were finished, we cautiously walked to the car with an eye to the ground for anything that jumps. Some fascinating conversation tonight, but, worms aside, the real takeaway was, once again, the friendship and comradery among a few senior neighbors…with the help of a cold beer, or two.

Steve
May 2018
S’amusing @ Srbottch.Com

*https://blog.nature.org/science/2016/10/31/jumping-worm-the-creepy-damaging-invasive-you-dont-know/

The Bar Chronicles: #16, ‘Beer By The Numbers’

Bar Night 2

Bar Night #16, and our first of 2018. When ‘old’ friends get together after a long hiatus, a seat at the table with a frothy beer in hand is a good way to reacquaint and kick start our ‘bar nights’.

Once again, Caverly’s Irish Pub is our choice of watering holes, and why not? It has a good variety of beer at fair prices and a proper atmosphere, including a ‘house dog’. Navigating the parking lot potholes was the only impediment to the pub’s front door.  Not uncommon following an overbearing winter in western New York.

House Dog

Our usual table was full tonight and the bar was noisy, with patrons in a festive mood for a chilly mid week night. We convened in the back room, a wise move for four sets of Senior ears. Here, we could spin tales, and more importantly , hear them, away from the constant humdrum and boisterous dart games in the forward quarters.

We settled in, clinked our glasses…’here, here’… and commenced with our wit and wisdom. After the usual potpourri of small talk, we somehow melded into a ‘deep’ conversation of airplanes, rockets and mathematics, dropping names of icons; Robert Goddard, Wernher von Braun and Fibonacci**. No, not Liberace, Fibonacci.

The mathematician among us took the lead and enthusiastically, neigh, excitedly guided the conversation into sequences, ratios and solutions, a Fibonacci fanatic. The pilot at the table, a technocrat of sorts, listened attentively with approving smiles and nods. He got it. The one tool & die maker nodded, as well, but with eyes closed, as though resting. And the salesperson, while feigning understanding, did what all good sales pros do, found some way to ask a topical question to keep the conversation going. The answer was irrelevant, but the continuity was critical.

0-1-1-2-3-5-8-13-21-34-and so on…

Do you see the number pattern, the ‘sequence’?  The next day, I dug into the Internet to learn more about Fibonacci and his Sequence.  I absorbed enough to hone some math skills and learn a trick, or two, to share at our next ‘bar night’.  Curious?  Research it yourself, Google ‘Fibonacci’.  .

“The Fibonacci Sequence is a set of numbers that starts with a one or zero, followed by a one, and proceeds based on the rule that each number (called a Fibonacci number) is equal to the sum of the two preceding numbers.” (definition from ‘WhatIs.com)

The wonderful part of ‘bar night’ is that we never know the direction of our conversation, but it always seems to lead us home with a belly full of gratification and a little beer from an evening well spent with friends. And, importantly, we learn from each other.

As for the beers, when we were young men we certainly would have climbed a few rungs on Fibonacci’s Sequence, but tonight, as mature gentlemen, we stopped at step 2, or one apiece.

Group Photo

Fibonacci, himself, would have been underwhelmed.

Steve
5/4/2018
srbottch.com

**Fibonacci was considered to be the most talented Western mathematician of the Middle Ages’ (Wikipedia)

To Moish, a S’amusing follower and math professor.  Wish you had been here. I’m sure you would have enjoyed the conversation.

The Bar Chronicles: #15, “Was It Something We Said”?

Bar Night 2

As we slip-slide our way into winter, the fluctuations are remarkable.  The thermometer toggles between mild and frigid, then back to mild, then frigid, while the only constant is the early darkness.  

By evening, the streetlights guide us to ‘The Back Nine’, a sports bar in Pittsford, NY.  The fare is a bit high but the atmosphere is classy, and we fit the bill with our khakis, pullover sweaters and ‘Curious George’ sweatshirt (2 of 3 isn’t bad).  We opted for the quiet air of the backroom where our own conversation was audible… and our fashions were not a distraction.

Unbeknownst to us, as we clinked our glasses and huddled in conversation, The Back Nine would be closing within days of this evening’s beer fest, if one beer qualifies as a ‘fest’. It’s a disappointment, we enjoyed our two visits here, on ‘Bar Night’, and looked forward to returning, upscaling our outings a bit.

There are many reasons why an establishment shutters its doors, but a watering hole in a classy town, closing?  A bit of a surprise and made me think, ‘was it something we said’?

The closing certainly wasn’t due to rowdiness, we’re a docile group and any swaying or tippiness was a result of our age and equilibrium, not too many drinks.  Was it our overheard conversations that intimidated patrons and discouraged them from returning?  The mention of the world’s ant population outweighing humans, or insects dying at alarming rates or mollusks having eyes, may have been inappropriate for a crowd looking for something less cerebral on their ‘bar night’?

Soaring property assessments and declining school performances maybe was too staid for the ears of the common bar fly. Did we discuss the genius of Churchill and Aristotle too loudly for a drinking crowd?

The problem for bars that accept small bands of Seniors is that we don’t drink much, we talk too loud and our topics are extrapolated from editorial pages of the NYT or WSJ, instead of the Sporting News or NASCAR weekly. We may be haughty and tend to bloviate.  We are polite to a fault but can be pompous…and we wear curious clothing. We are Seniors, you know.

It’s about time for another gathering. We’ll go back to our favorite ‘dive’, where every spot is loud and the patrons don’t care what we say, the crappy music is too loud to hear anything, and a dog walks among us. The cheap beer will guarantee the doors will always swing wide…

…a Curious George sweatshirt will be a welcome attraction!

“Education is the best provision for old age” Aristotle

Steve
Srbottch.com
Jan 2018