This would have been “Joe’s In at Joe’s Inn Again” but for some reason this Thursday night was packed, probably due to the warm temperature and sunshine.
So with a Dexter guided tour of the famous Fan locations, we wandered of to Robinson Street with its rows of cafes, bistros, diners, and bars on every corner.
“Buddy’s” was my choice since I had never been there but had heard tales of wanton abandon from friends who were across the street neighbors of this fine dining establishment.
After finding a booth in the fairly empty dark interior, I viewed the all to similar layout to every other corner bar in every other American town. A long bar with swivel stools running down one wall covered with bottles and giant signs touting the daily beverage special with wooden booths lining the other wall with a kitchen in the back and bathrooms off to the side presented a comfortable familiar atmosphere which could soon be forgotten.
The only waitress handed us menus and asked’ “What are WE having?” With my quick wit I replied with a sweeping hand indicating the three of us and asked if she was joining us. She looked dumbfounded as if she had never been asked that before, but all waitresses have been asked that question.
I knew my buddy would rather have dined on Joe’s Italian cuisine, but he settled for a Ruben sandwich and a side. Since the waitress recommended the burger, I settled for a burger and fries with lettuce and tomato and a choice of provolone cheese. We both agreed on a local brewery special and settled into conversation.
Before we got too deep into small talk, I put a microphone out of my jacket and presented it to him. Earlier in the day I had sent him an email asking him to describe his remembrance of the “Thursday Night” band that he was the lead singer. He said he had gotten the email but didn’t know when the band was formed. I just asked him to fill in the blanks, since one member is deceased, one totally lost, one was not responding to request about music, and one I wanted to fill in what ever I couldn’t remember. Like most garage bands of the 60’s from what I remembered, we practiced at each others houses until the parents forbid any more noise, played a few locations for little to no money, and broke up.
He said his wife was interested in him because he was a musician and I responded I still get tickled about how he met his wife.
Once the plates arrived, we ordered up another round. Even though the cheese was wrong on the burger, I didn’t object. My expectations were confirmed.
We passed a few introversion comments without revealing too much or asking for much depth, for we were still very far apart in time and space. Health, family, wealth and work were the usual core of conversation, with a few choice statements that caught my ear, but I did not respond.
He mentioned his poetry. That brought my thoughts back to the tape recording he had done in his living room some 45 years earlier where he read a self made untitled poem capturing teen anxiety and possible suicide. I wondered later if he still had his poetry? Was he still interested in writing or was that just a forgotten moment of expression? If he was still interested in poetry, maybe he could publish a book or blog?
When asked, “What makes you happy?” (Which is a pat question I ask everyone) he answered his yard made him happy, but the sparkle was not in his eye as he took a couple of pills with his coffee. Maybe it was the upcoming birthday celebration of his mother or the wandering son, but his mind seemed to be on work and schedules and he seemed overall tired.
But as I said, we only see each other now and then so all I can relate to is 40 some years of passage with some old stories and names and a giant void of connection.
As we walked back to the beginning location we bid adieu to one another without commitment to establish another contact or communication. Perhaps neither of us wishes to invest more energy into reconnecting a long ago close friendship or maybe we cannot offer anything to the other at this time.
Whatever a couple of hours were spent out of the house, talking one-on-one with another human being with a familiar past.
Thanks for the dinner and time.
It is my treat next time.