The Bar Chronicles: #14, A ‘One Beer’ Night

Rock ‘n roll, ants and war…we covered all the bases…except baseball.

Bar Night 2

Another evening of beer and brotherhood convened at Caverly’s Irish Pub on South Avenue in Rochester. Here, the beer is reasonable, the people friendly and the ‘bar dog’ can sniff only as high as your knees.

Caverly’s is cozy and casual with a few round tables scattered about a high bar rising over a well-worn hardwood floor, a common man’s pub. The bar area, itself, is a colorful array of tap handles and an oversized chalkboard menu featuring an ample variety of brews.

Bar TAps

With beer in hands, we raised our glasses and cheered each other in genuine fashion. These nights of friendship give us Seniors a chance to get caught up with each other. Sometimes, we learn something new, sometimes we’re surprised and sometimes it’s both.

Tonight was just such a night when one of us offered that ‘ants weigh more than humans’. The rest certainly were surprised and showed it, as the ‘huh?’ look spread across our collective brows. But when the source* was cited…well, we learned something new, and ‘ant weight’ aside, we were bemused that someone in our group actually read, ‘Journey To The Ants’.

Does the adjective, ‘eclectic’ apply to a group that can drink beer and discuss ants in the same evening?

And would you be surprised to learn that another traveled 75 miles to see a former Beatle, Paul McCartney, in concert? Remember, we’re products of the 60s, give or take a decade.

As teens, we borrowed the family car and drove around with other music lovers, slapping out rhythms on the dashboard ‘drums’, our mops flopping side to side while head bobbin’ to rock ‘n roll. We still move to the beat when we hear the oldies, but ‘head banging’ today with scarce a wisp, leaves much to be desired.

Detailing an event or destination as vividly as the concert was allows me to feel there’s no need to go there, myself. I often say, facetiously of course, that ‘the listening is the same as the going’. I’ve ‘been to many places that I’ve never been’ with this philosophy.

Unlike war…

One among us went there**, and we deferred to him briefly when the topic surfaced. A cacophony of silence spoke volumes to our lack of personal knowledge of the real horror of war, except for the one. There is no substitute for being there, a loud exception to my ‘philosophy’

We paused with our own thoughts, finished our one beer and called it a night, a rather solemn ending. The summer-like evening air on this fall night was comforting as we took our time to the car. Another enjoyable evening was behind us…

Friendship is a wonderful thing!


*‘Journey To The Ants’ written by Harvard professor E.O. Wilson
** Viêt Nam

I’m a Senior Citizen and Proud of It!

“Dammit, my car is stolen!”


I recently celebrated another birthday, putting me a year deeper into my status as a Senior Citizen. It’s wonderful. Now, if I have time, I can set my own hours and take life at a leisurely pace.

That’s the challenge, isn’t it, finding time. Things get in the way: part-time jobs, volunteering, honey-do’s. Where’s the time to kick back and relax, just be a Senior?

This Senior status allows me certain behaviors that I completely avoided, heretofore, and with good reason. I can let my eyes squint and mouth droop open when I’m idling at a red light.  There’s no need to tuck in my shirt or shave everyday. There are just some days when I say, “to hell with how I look”.  If my plaid shirt and plaid pants clash, it doesn’t matter, I’m not dressing for success at this point, I’m dressing to cover up and be decent.

Senior Citizenship comes with perks like discounts at restaurants and movie theatres.  I unabashedly ask for them because preserving money is important, which explains why I cut my own hair. That alone is $30 a month right to my bottom line, and with the little hair I have left and its color, no one notices an uneven border.

I’m allowed to say ‘huh’ and ‘what’ as often as I please. And if I wear a tie, it might be thin while the styles are wide. Or, it might be a bolo, the western ‘string’ tie. I get up to speed on medical issues and the latest in joint replacements just by having coffee with a few contemporaries.

Corny jokes get laughs, primarily from other Seniors, and I can tell the same joke a few days later because… well, just because.

On the bright side, my Senior status allows me to give advice to young people, and I do, even if it’s unsolicited. Some listen. I remember my dad gave advice and most of it turned out to be good advice*, when I listened.


Friendships become more important among Seniors. We support each other, laugh at each other’s foolishness and share our woes. Our spouse truly is our best friend; sharing life draws us closer. Oh, the dog is a good friend, too, but not really our best friend, in spite of the long standing marketing to the contrary.

Yup, Senior Citizenship is a rewarding phase of my life. By the way, I found my car, I always do. I was in the wrong aisle. Honestly, it gets ‘stolen’ and recovered half-dozen times a year.

“Now, where the hell are my keys?”

* see story, “My Father’s Pearls: A String of Old-fashioned Wisdom and Advice” 12/15/16


To all my Senior friends around town, at the gym, in the neighborhood, there’s a little bit of this in all of us…

The Bar Chronicles: #5, ‘Seniors Say The Darndest Things*’

*thank you, Art Linkletter!

Bar Night 2

The heat and humidity has been off the charts this summer in western New York. Lawns are brown, plants are wilting, farmers are worried and throats are parched. Sounds like the perfect time for another ‘bar night’.

So, tonight we found ourselves gathered around a back room table at Johnny’s Irish Pub in Rochester.  Four seniors, friends from our neighborhood, here to enjoy some beer, brotherhood and ‘man talk’, the simple art of filling time with random thoughts, guffaws and past recollections.

Four old guys, we seem to be a bit of an odd attraction to the regular patrons, a generally younger, blue collar type. Then again, everyone is generally younger nowadays.  And the collars?  Well, we’re retired, collars are a low priority.

This is our fifth ‘bar night’, we exhude confidence, experience and maturity as our beer is served.  “Run a tab, we’ll be back for more”, one of us bravely barks out, earning a few approving nods from customers standing at the bar.  There was a time, once, when we could stand at the bar,  but now, sitting is preferred.

The beer was cold and the brotherhood about to begin. With a clinking of our mugs, a “here, here” to each other and our hands cupped behind our ears to catch every word, we leaned in and began our evening in earnest.

The cacocphany of background chatter  interfered with our own table talk, as we huddled closer, like a football team calling a play.  The interval between our yawns grew shorter. Our energy level was was being tested when the call came for a second round. We endured, ordered refills, closed out our tab, and began the ‘second half’ with unexpected profundity.  ‘Who was your favorite teacher and why?’, I asked.

“Simple, it was Miss Sullivan**”, one of us enthusiastically blurted out, “she had the biggest bosom.” The answer grabbed our attention and would have been enough, but he continued.  “And, she dressed provocatively. My 10th grade friends and I never missed a class…”.  I bet they didn’t.

While not the insight I expected, nevertheless, it was honest. More importantly, to the four of us, it was funny, a classic way to end our ‘bar night’; good timing, excellent delivery and a willing audience eager to kick back a chair, slap the table and ‘guffaw’.

The bar quieted as we filed out to a humid night. Neon signs from other establishments gave a colorful tint to the neighborhood and tall street lights lit our path to the car with another good time behind us.

As we drove home along tree lined streets through old neighborhoods, the car was quiet. Two beers may have made us sleepy, but I imagine the real reason was that three of us were silently wishing that we had been in Miss Sullivan’s** 10th grade class, too…

**name changed for obvious reasons.

Dedicated to Steve, Tom & Jim

Today, I Stopped the Bleeding: First-aid in the Locker Room

Styptic 2

I have become the purveyor of Styptic pencils in the locker room at my health center. This past year I dispensed personal ‘pencils’ to three different gentlemen who apparently have not mastered the art of shaving and sliced themselves on the lip, neck and earlobe.

As an experienced blade shaver, I understand a nick on the neck, but a laceration of the lip and excision of the ear, or portion thereof, befuddles me.  It’s awkward, if not impossible, to have a conversation with a man whose blood is squirting down his cheek, cascading off his chin and splattering onto the floor like ink leaking from a cheap fountain pen. If not for the grey hair and loose skin that is a curse of us ‘senior citizens’, the bleeding gave each man the look of a pugilist who stepped out of the ring with the great Carmen Basilio*.

However, quick action saved the day, when I offered my Styptic pencil and stopped the carnage.  For the uninitiated, the Styptic is a pencil thin chalk-like instrument packed with astringents that “contract tissue to seal blood vessels”(Wickepedia).  A short stinging dab on the cut and the bleeding stops quickly. Every blade user should have one in his kit, or medicine cabinet.

Understand, the Styptic pencil is not ‘loaned’ to the bleeder.  On the contrary, it’s a giveaway with the proper response, “no, keep it” when he offers to return it.  Then, buy a replacement to make sure you keep supplied, as I did.

Styptic pencils are not expensive and last a long time, unless, of course, one spends his workout session during the peak ‘senior hours’ when shaky hands and diminishing eyesight contribute to cuts and nicks that call for a Styptic pencil, as they’ve called for mine, 3 times.

My ‘heroics’ wasn’t life saving but it still was first-aid.  And, over time, my embellishment might just make it seem so.

Everyone who shaves with a blade must have a ‘cut story’. What’s yours?

*Carmen Basilio was a boxer who won both the welterweight and middleweight crown in the 1950s.  He was well known for being a tough fighter who would wear down his opponent as the fight progressed into late rounds.  Carmen certainly was accustomed to getting cut or bruised on his face and his ‘cut man’ would stop the bleeding between rounds. I wonder if he had a big Styptic pencil among the tools of his trade.