We are in lovely Cleveland visiting family. This is the first holiday season without mom around. I thought it potentially could have been a sad and dreary trip but it’s been none of that. Quite the opposite, actually. I am happy to report that my sister has nailed my mother’s marinara sauce recipe. When I close my eyes, I could swear it came from mom’s kitchen. It tastes like home.
One of my best friends who I grew up with got involved with drugs and ended up in jail for a short while. This nonsense didn’t occur until he was in his 40s. Prior to that, he had never been in any kind of trouble. It was a shock when it happened. He was divorced but he has a son, a solid job and friends and family.
Then he met a woman who was devastatingly attractive, extraordinary in bed (by all accounts) and, unfortunately, a drug addict. A lethal combination.
Many a good man has been put under the bridge by a woman.
We met for drinks. He told me a few funny stories about his parole officer. He had a hard time finding work after jail but eventually he did, and his life has stabilized. He’s a smart guy and I can’t imagine him relapsing.
We met at a pub that turned out to be packed. There were no seats at the bar. I hate that. It was Saturday night so we should have expected it. The older you get, the more you grow to appreciate an empty bar. There’s a direct correlation between how crowded a bar is and the ratio of patrons who will inevitably annoy you. Multiply by a factor of 5x if there’s a TV showing a sports event. This equation does not apply if there’s a live band playing.
He said, “You want a bar stool? I know where we can get a bar stool.” We drove to a bar whose exterior looked like painted cinder blocks. There were two cars in the lot and I’m sure one of them belonged to the barkeep.
We walked into a massive cloud of cigarette smoke. Like most major cities, Cleveland has a ban on indoor smoking, but I was told that nobody cares what happens in this place. It fell off the map. There were only six other people sitting at the bar and they were all chain smoking. A few of them were there alone and sported mullet haircuts. It’s a Cleveland bar that’s stuck in a time warp. You can bet your ass we got seats at the bar. I ordered Budweiser because I was afraid to order anything fancier than that.