It is a phrase I truly believe in. I say it now and then, and while some people think it is a joke, I am serious when I say it. Every man needs a good bar in his life. Every woman too for that matter.
You need a place you can go to meet up with old friends and hoist a couple beers. Relive memories as you create new ones. A place of comfort. A place you can go when no one else is around because you do know the bartenders and they will welcome you. A place where rarely you are alone because the people are friendly. If your friends are not around, you can always make new ones.
And sometimes you just get to know the faces you see in the bar. The older crowd that have always gone to work, put in a their 8 hours, and then stop at the bar on their way home. They have done this all of their lives and don't no any different.
Over the past couple of years, I have shared many a drink with one of these kind old men. Always cheerful, never cold. Always flirting with the lady bartenders even though they are a quarter of his age. Always willing to lend an ear when needed. Always there on Sunday for a Packers game. Always fun to see. He loved to play the video slots, or pull tabs, and was quick to buy a raffle ticket from whoever was selling them. He usually won too, even winning a new Harley earlier this year.
Unfortunately, that is where he had been lucky lately. The last couple of years was hard for this gentleman. His body was breaking down- he had been in and out of the hospital- but he still tried to get out for a beer. It was this past weekend that someone had asked if he had been around, that no one had seen him. Apparently he was laid up again and his doctors had told him to stop drinking. At least that is what I had heard. I knew it was tough for him as he really enjoyed his time in the tavern. It was his chance to get out and be with people.
I got the message this morning that he had passed on. I felt sad for a bit. Here was a guy who for the most part was just the character in the background like in a TV show. But he was a character that you would watch a show for because he would have one line that either made you laugh or think. And if the character didn't have a line or was written out of the show, you know somehow you would miss them even if they didn't add much to the overall picture. Or to your life.
I know I will miss you Pat. So will many others in your extended bar family. Rest in peace buddy.