Everybody's talking about Taffy who, right now, just there, is-- is he yawning? No, he's totally dying right here. How long does he have? He's really old, but he makes it here every night (I don't). Everybody's talking about him as though he weren't on his stool (oops, but ha, you never know) at the end of the bar. Like -he's a great guy, and through a beer or two you can just hear that slurry W, the past tense creeping up like whatever dream you'll have tonight.
--He(w)'s such a great guy.
--He(w)'s the man, getting busy! Yeah Taffy. Taffy.
(who by the way, has a chin slick with drool, is gasping radiator-style, and really looks like he wants to say something [and has for the last twenty minutes or so], and for sure is about to die right there at the end of the bar, that whiskey will burn right through some cobweb and another organ will just drop to the bottom of his body, his body is hollow)
Oh, good, Greco-Roman, I think-- I say to myself. The TV glows in silence. Two very large men are grappling with each other. Occasionally they bonk each other across the head, or the guy in blue will take the other behind the ears and it looks like one of those father/son scenes in bad movies where the father really wants the son to listen to him for once, just listen to me. There is enough volume to hear the whistle blow and when it does they stop and kind of glare at each other, but they're not mad I don't think, and one lays down, this time the guy in the red (probably for that ear-grabbing!), and the other kind of rears up behind him for a split sec and
--Greco Roman! says the guy who said Taffy a minute ago.
anyway, he gets up behind him and tries to flip him over. The red guy forms a big X-sprawl, and that spreads his weight out, making it very difficult to flip him over. But no way is the blue guy going to stop. How long does he have? A little black clock ticks in the corner. I wish they'd turn the volume up.
--Could you turn up the TV? I say to the big space between me and the bartender. I hate it when you say something to nobody. Everyone hears you but they aren't all bartenders and your request becomes this horrifying expose of what your inner baby is whining about. Everyone also learns what your voice sounds like, at its most needy. You can't blame anybody, you can't blame someone for eavesdropping when your yelling out how you want to hear the wrestlers to pretty much nobody. Some people smirk into their beer glasses when I say what I do to nobody. I don't see them smirking, just drinking, but I'm not stupid.
Then the craziest thing happens. Taffy (who, I should have mentioned, is sitting directly underneath the TV, is still being heralded in a tone that is strikingly absentee, whose mouth is hanging open and the drool is everywhere, even on his neck I bet) speaks! He says
--Guhls yus wahh haff fuh!
His voice is like some Halloween thing. Unreal. Oh, he said "girls just wanna have fun," because, I forgot to mention, my roommate is on top of the bar screaming wooooo it's my fucking BIRTHday! and she's got four or five visible dollars hanging out of the top of her jeans, she hasn't knocked anything down yet and people casually look over as though the dancing was already a dull memory. Maybe it was. Not the first time I've seen a friend jump up on the bar. So Taffy says that, and my roommate stops dancing and we're all
--whoa, Taffy just said something!
--he said Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
--I don't think I've ever heard him talk before! (that's me)
I feel bad because now I'm doing it. Nobody can treat him like he's gone now, because, seriously, he's back. In fact someone says that he's "in full effect". In the midst of all of this the blue guy must have flipped over the red guy, because his arms are raised and he's very happy and running around and his slick belly jumps around and he really is charming if you just look at him, that big happy smiling mouth. The red guy looks like he just might be angry now, but you can't tell, and oh, wouldn't you know it, the bartender goes completely unprompted and turns the TV up. I can hear the commentators now
--Would you listen to that! You are watching history right now, folks!
My roommate is sleeping with her head on the bar. Taffy is nodding off, I've never seen him leave the bar though, but no way is he going to die tonight. The TV is really loud now and the blue guy is listening to the national anthem and either crying or sweating. I'm going to go, I should go, I say to myself and when I stand up I am careful not to knock over Taffy's arm-crutch things, his mouth still hangs open as if suddenly nothing were behind it to propel sound. Oh the drool though, where does it all come from?
--Good night Taffy, I'll see you. (I don't think he hears me) Night Taffy. See you. (He can hear me, you can just tell).
Michael Andor Brodeur walks with his head tilted to the left (his left), dresses as a mouse at least once a year and has been referred to as 'dynamite with a laser beam'.