I was recently at Best Buy checking out an Xbox thing (I don’t know too much about those things, I’m buying one for some kids down the street since their old man hasn’t been around for a few years) and I ran into an old roommate I hadn’t see in a while. Max lives the life most of us would like to live for a month or so. He is pretty much a professional gambler. Although he collects a pension of sorts from the Navy, he also collects Social Security (I think that’s what it is), and it’s enough to subsidize a normal wage from a normal job. However, Max doesn’t have a normal job because Max can’t keep a normal job. To know him is know that he is the ideal Streets and Sans guy.
Max takes his pension, etc, to Harrah’s each month and turns it into a few grand, as in 4-5 grand cash each month. Yeah, 4-5 grand cash a month. The guys never hurtin’ for cash. Well, Max wants to hook up for lunch and catch up, maybe grab a few beers. I was feeling flush with cash since I just got the check from the insurance company (for the cab that hit me last February) and I figured why not.
That was my first mistake. My second was actually going through with it. Max has an ace up his sleeve and that is an uncle of his used to train cops at the academy. So, most any cop over 35 knows his uncle. Dropping his name saved our asses more than a few times. I should also mention that Max himself, is a former Navy Seal. So he’s very athletic, intelligent and can be abrasive to say the least.
Anyway, we went to Paddy O’Splaines for a bite and few beers. After a few beers, Max starts to run off at the mouth and began jokingly dissing the Blackhawks (a couple of old timers were wearing some gear) and then took a wrong turn and said that Payton was no better than the 5th best running back ever. OK, you might get away with saying one guy was better than 34 in this town and that’s Jim Brown. But Max has to list Barry Sanders, Gale Sayers, and Emmit Smith as better RB’s than Payton. He wouldn’t stop and these guys didn’t want to hear that shit and soon enough it took twenty minutes to get a beer. Thanks Max, I remember why we don’t hang out any more.
I suggested going to a place closer to home, but Max really wanted to go to “Bar X” a couple of blocks away. I’ll call it Bar X because it’s a fucking cop bar and I don’t need some cop reading this and having his cousin at MIT finding out who I am. Really. I’m all for these guys having their own place to toss back a few and beat up whatever clueless fireman walks in, but not me.
So we walk in and are immediately greeted with the “Who the fuck are you and what the fuck are you doing in our bar” look from 8 ½ sets of eyes. I’m ready to turn around and leave, but Max is pushing me from behind to continue. We sit at the bar, order some beers, and having sized up who was who, I looked over at the old guy with the eye patch and asked what game this was on the tube. See, I wanted to humanize myself with the top dog and Patch Adams looked the part. Patch said it was an old expose of sorts from ESPN, one of those they do every spring for each team.
Me: “Oh, you’re a Giants fan?” (see, act interested and sincere)
Patch: “No, my little brother was in their minor league system”
Me: “Oh wow, did he ever get called up?”
Patch: “No, he passed away”
Ok, see, this is where any rational person or fucking alien from a far away galaxy would know to say “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that”. That’s it. Don’t ask, don’t probe, change the fucking subject and walk out of there with all your teeth. Oh-oh, is that a drum roll I hear? Oh shit, yeah, Max is walking over to the jukebox while Patch is reminiscing about his dead baby brother. I’m thinking to myself that I will be the first one to kick Max’s ribs once he’s on the floor, but luckily the bartender was smart enough to switch off the jukebox from behind the bar. Now these guys are looking at Max like he’s the wounded antelope. They looked at him and then each other, then to Patch.
Max comes back and asks where little brother played high school ball and Patch says Brother Rice. Hmmmmmmm, Brother Rice has had a strong program for decades, so Max can’t say shit, but where is that drum roll coming from? So Max says “Oh, we used to beat their ass all the time”. Oh shit, I gave Patch a look of “sorry, man” and shook my head side to side. Then I asked where the restroom was. One of the guys looked at Patch, then told me. I figured I would take a leak and to get us out of there before we ended up face down in one of the train yards. So, I’m in the restroom for about one minute, come back to the bar and Max is nowhere to be seen. In fact, five of the other guys are also gone. So, I stood there for maybe 1.5 seconds digesting the situation before I walked sideways, very slowly to the door and out of that fucking place.
I called Max about three days later, since nothing was on the news of a body being found, and he said they all went down the street to another bar and he told the bartender to tell me. Yeah, right. So, I told him we should go out that night to throw some darts (he could never resist that), but he declined saying he felt like staying in, which meant he still had knots on his melon.