After the youngins and Mrs. Evil were in bed I went to the local watering hole, a fairly regular occurrence for Evil these days. Right away I realize something is off. Instead of the handful of ne’er do well regulars, the place is half full and a live band is playing. Not bad music actually. The proprietor, Carole, says she is hosting a “fundraiser” for Scott and I can make a donation or not. No pressure.
It turns out that Scott is unemployed after a career in who knows what. On top of unemployment he is battling throat cancer. Now, I previously confessed to Carole that I used to dip and coming there was an insurance policy against me sitting at home, after the family was sleep, and dipping for hours ninja fashion. I asked if he was a smoker and of course the answer was yes. Additionally Carole told me that he dipped for as long as she knew him, gesturing with her hand since he was little. She then gave me an odd look, a half smirk, and dropped a pint in front of me “on the house”.
Now, I am as anti-social as they make them. I found a spot at the end of the bar, between two TVs and did what I do best…observe. Nice turn out for Scott. Lots of family and friends. Scott was dancing with the ladies as best as a cancer patient can, decked out in jeans and a white button-up shirt that looked like it was covering bones, but he mostly likely filled out last year. A blue bandana with white stars was upon his head and he tapped his foot to the beat of the country music that band played. It’s difficult to tell if the wear and tear on his body was from working in the trades for years or his chemo treatment.
An older woman that everyone approached, coming in and going out, sat by herself sipping a coke. I think this was Scott’s mother. What was going through her mind? I can hardly think of something worse that the death of your child, but perhaps watching a slow and painful death may be. There was a very attractive young girl there that I learned was Scott’s daughter. She was sixteen but looked much older. Many other young girls, her friends, were there to support her, and I couldn’t help but notice that she was sneaking sips of alcohol, any alcohol, whenever she could from unattended drinks. Was she enjoying the party or self-medicating the feelings she has been having for months.
At midnight the band stopped and the juke box took over. I heard “Friends in Low Places” far too many fucking times after that. One by one, the guests made their way over to Scott to say goodnight and Lord knows what else. While talking to Scott these friends and family put on acts worthy of Academy awards. Lots of laugher and smiles. Plenty of hugs, handshakes, bro fists, and love. However, the moment they turned and couldn’t see Scott’s eyes they changed.
There was no more laughter. There was no more joy in their eyes. Their eyes were holding back tears and I could see, from the other end of the bar, the giant exhale, the huge sigh signaling “Jesus, I love that guy”. Or maybe it was “Poor fuck”. Maybe it was “I feel terrible for his mother and daughter”. I really can’t begin to comprehend the vast range of emotions that flowed through that dive bar tonight. I even saw Scott’s expression change when he tuned. The look of terror and dispair overtook the facade of bravery. “I’m great. Everything is looking good” was all bull shit.
Whatever the reason, these friends showed anguish, and I felt better knowing that I am no longer using dip. Yep, I did it for many fucking years, but hopefully I will never put my daughters, wife, and mother thought what this family is going through.
It’s good to be quit today.