A Mad Guy at the Bar

It was a awesome day,
one of those days you feel guilty
for being inside. The weather was cool
with a slight wind. Nothing worth complaining about.
I was sitting at an outside bar on a weekday afternoon.
Shake the boredom out, you know.
I was sitting there, drinking a beer and reading
Raymond Carver’s collected poems.
Life was pretty good.
Moments of delight are all I strive for.
That’s the only way.

The place had a couple of lunchtime drinkers,
but for the most part-dead. The birds flew around us,
trying to find something to nibble.
They seemed happy to be here. The breeze
blew a few napkins off the bar. A car horn in
the distance.

The golden afternoon didn’t offer much.
But I didn’t expect much. I was left alone
which is sometimes paradise to a man.

There were little heaters above the bar
to keep the patrons warm
if the wind was too much for them.
It felt good. It was good.

A man came in and sat down
a few bar stools away from me. Middle-aged
working class looking guy. Medium gut with emptiness
in his eyes. You know the type. He sat and grunted.
Two minutes later he moved next to me,
cussing and ranting. “It’s too damn hot
under this fuckin’ heater,
shit, I’m moving”

The bartender,
a middle-aged pleasant looking woman,
said, “sir, you can take off your jacket
if you’re hot, you know.”
She smiled, He didn’t. I smiled at her.
Thinking it would be rude if I didn’t.
She left for a minute and went inside.

He turned to me and growled, “what if I don’t feel like
taking off my jacket, maybe I should just pay my tab,
how about that.” I shrugged.

He mumbled a few other curse words
under his breath and sipped his beer. He asked me “who
is Raymond Carver” as he glanced at my book.
I wanted to tell him that he was someone, if still alive,
who would’ve put him in a poem but I didn’t.

He’s a short story writer and a poet, is what I told him.
Never heard of him, he said. Didn’t think you would I thought.

This guy sitting next to me, I’m pretty sure,
has been angry most of his life.
He renounced his soul to the monotonous a long time ago.
The world has defeated this man, he wears it on his face.
It seeps from his pores. I’m sure he carries this gloom
everywhere he wanders, even at beautiful bars
in a golden afternoon nirvana.

I took a long pull from my drink
and was thinking, damn man,
this guy doesn’t see how lucky he really is.
Obviously he is in ownership of a couple of items
of luxury here that most do not.
One, enough money to buy a beer
and two,
the time to sip on it at a bar at 1 pm on a weekday.
Most people usually have either just time or just money.
It’s rare to see someone with both. This guy had both.
I sipped my drink and shook my head.
Pondered this for a minute.

How can a man who is sitting with an ice cold beer
in front of him on a beautiful weekday afternoon be
so displeased?

You could be at work man. Or at home,
getting yelled at by your not so pleasant wife.
Or at jury duty. Or in traffic. But you’re not, man.
You are away from the herd.
You are here. And its good to be here.
Smile. Drink.
The gods are with you at this moment.
Smile man.


5 thoughts on “A Mad Guy at the Bar

  1. lilly29 says:

    You should have told him so Erik- in a pleasant way.

    Great poem. I picked Little Italy in the Bronx for my own setting in my head even though it sounded like you were talking about Manhattan.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. 🙂

      • lilly29 says:

        Oh, I would have never guessed. I guess you wrote about every city in America then!

        (sorry for using ‘guess’ so many times. I couldn’t think of another word. But you as a writer understand. 🙂 )

  2. Mama Cormier says:

    I’m in a bit of a melancholy mood this morning and reading your post reminds me of all the unhappy ‘mad’ men i’ve met over my years. One of them was my father-in-law who like your ‘mad man’ could wallow in self pity and be angry at the whole world. He had so much more than most but he was rarely happy and he made it his mission to bring others around him down. Sad.

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