I’ve never been a catholic priest or minister or any type of clergy, but I must have one of those faces to whom so many individuals seek to confess their “sins” or problems. Almost without fail if I am sitting in a bar or pub someone will come up to me and start talking. The next thing I know is I am their father confessor and they are pouring out their hearts to me and almost asking for absolution. If there was good money to be made I swear I would put a confessional in several bars around this town and make a very good living listening to people and taking donations for the poor box, namely my own. Needless to say I do not spent much time in bars or pubs as the price of refreshment is about four times what I would like to pay. There are times when I do seek a bit of human companionship, or at least the close contact of a crowd of people. Usually I prefer a couple slices of pizza and one or two half price beers on a Friday or Saturday night before heading home for the weekend.
About two months ago I had worked that Saturday, over ten hours extra of overtime, so I came home and changed my clothes. Then a short walk to the sports bar for a few slices of pizza and a pitcher of beer. I had barely made it in time from happy hour, not that I couldn’t had afforded to pay full price but it’s the principle that counts. Lucky for me there were no games scheduled that night so the usually loud mouth crowd was elsewhere. The waitress came over with my pizza just as I finished my first mug. Just as I was about to take a bite of my first slice a man I judged to be about thirty sat down in the chair on the opposite side of my table. His mug was half full an his eyes looked a bit watery and bloodshot. I suspect he had been drinking earlier in the day and was still at it. It was obvious what he was going to say, they all have that lost little lamb face, baa, baa, baa. At first I ignored him, which is means they take that as a challenge. I took a couple of bites from my first slice, I was hungry and was thinking about ordering another couple of slices if these didn’t do the trick. The day had been cold and rain soaked so I looked forward to clearing my mind. there was an old movie on the big screen and I would have liked to watch it.
He looked at me for a few minutes and then hung his head as if to give me time to finish that first slice before he launched into his story. True to his look, as soon as that first piece had be eaten he began. I really didn’t want to be bothered but I knew it was impossible to ignore him or get rid of him with out creating a scene. So I took a couple of sips of beer and looked into his eyes. “She’s gone, man. My baby’s gone. You know?” “That’s really tough, sorry to hear that.” I started to pick up the other slice and he continued. “I just came home one day and she was gone. She’s gone, gone.” Hey, damn it, I’m hungry, so I took a couple more bites with out looking at him. But he was not to be discouraged. They never are. “I mean, I don’t know why. She’s just gone.” A couple more sips of beer and then another bite of pizza. “Hey man, can you tell me why?” “I wouldn’t know why. I don’t know who she is and she is to you.” Well, not the most tactful thing to say but in his state tact has no currency. I knew he was now going to tell me the love story of his life. Hell, I might have to order another pitcher just to get through this story. “Oh, but it’s not like that, you know? I mean she and I were madly in love, you know?” No, I don’t know. She’s gone for two hundred, Alex. The clue is anything. I’d pay the devil to replace her, Alex.
Yeah, the man is hurting inside and the alcohol isn’t killing the pain of rejection. So he continued this story of love and happiness. It’s always the same, you know. Life is beautiful and then suddenly, without a clue, life is shit. I mean, this guy had it bad. I mean the torch he was carrying was far larger than a blow torch. Man, this was statue of liberty size. “I worked so damn hard to give her everything, man. I put in the extra overtime, you know?” Now I am not going to tell this guy that perhaps his absence was a possible contributing factor, not in his condition. Might as well as throw a match on a pile of oil soaked rags. “You know, we used to come here every Saturday night just to have some pizza and a pitcher of beer, Every Saturday, you know? You don’t think she got tired of that, do you?” Well, yes, there is a strong possibility that she might have wanted some seafood and a glass of white wine. what do I know, I never met your girlfriend. Okay, so I am feeling a little hostile and I need to collect myself. I get up and excuse myself, “Got to piss, you know.” and head for the men’s room. some cold water splashed upon my face and I am ready for another hour of his miserable life.
I sat back down and notice that his glass is full and my pitcher is lighter. so I fill my mug up and now the pitcher is empty. The waitress takes both the empty plate and the empty pitcher away. The beer is starting to mellow me and I am feeling a bit more disposed to my guest or my jailer, I’m not sure which. So I listen to this litany of perfect love and companionship. Yes, he sacrificed for her and where was she now, now that he needed her? I know the color of her hair, the color of her eyes, the softness of her lips. Hell, I even know the brand of tampon she uses. I think I need more beer, so I signal to the waitress for another pitcher. she brings on in a few minutes as I listen to what their favorite sang was. “We’ve only just begun by the Carpenters. That was our song. OH, Oh, and she loved Bon Jovi. Yeah, and that Boston thing, eh … oh yes, More Than A Feeling.” The waitress returns with a full pitcher and I start to pay. “Later, later.” is all she says and walks back to the bar. Now he is starting to describe their love life in detail, so much more than I want to know. I really don’t do pornographic confessions well. So I must put my hand up in front of his face. “Stop, I don’t really want to hear about your love making. Okay, that is inappropriate. If you need to tel someone, tell your doctor.” That stuns him for a moment. “Oh, yeah, right, sorry, er I guess I should do that.”
It must be going on eleven pm and his speech is a little slurred. So I start in, “You are going to learn how to live without her, you know? You can’t go on this way. She’s gone for good and is never coming back. You got to pull yourself together and find another woman. Man, the world is full of them. Just look on any corner. So forget her, learn to live without her. But another toothbrush and put it tin the holder if you must, but forget her.” Well, he is in agreement and he isn’t, you know what I mean. Unrequited love is the pits and innocent bystanders suffer because of it. By this time I’m trying to give him absolution. It’s okay to forget about her, god is surely please when you do, almano dominae, all you drunks get off my lawn. Meanwhile he’s drunk most of my beer and has his head on the table, starting to snore. So I get up and head over to the bar to pay my bill. The owner is a good man, he runs a clean place. “what do I owe you?” “Forget it, I owe you. Next time you come in it’s on the house.” “What about what’s his name over there?” “I called his brother, he’ll be here soon enough and take care of him. thank you for listening to him, you did me a service.” “I guess, it’s not easy listening to these guys.” “By the way, my wife and I have a bet on you.” “Yeah, what’s the bet?” “She says you’re some kind of therapist.” “She loses. I work outside construction for the phone company. ” “But there’s more to you, the way you talked to that man. I think you have training.” “Well, if you must know, I also have a degree in psychology.” “Ah, I thought there was something else. good night and come back soon. Remember, we owe you one.”