Saturday, July 6, 2013

Cut Off

On Wednesday night I left the gym and turned the Red Sox game on the radio.  The score was 1-1 in the bottom of the 8th and the Sox had Pedroia on second and Ortiz on first with nobody out.   I'd gone to see the Red Sox the night before and had been following their regular successes.  I wanted to see if the team could take the lead.

So, I pulled over near a tavern that was on my route.  There was plenty of room at the bar so I took a seat and watched the rest of the 8th.  Not much to the rest of the 8th, the Sox went down with a weak strike out and two other ineffective at-bats. The game went into the ninth tied 1-1.  I figured I'd stick around for the ninth and if the game remained tied, make my way home then. I had ordered a light beer less because I am a fan of that variety, and more because I had just perspired aplenty on the tennis courts, and thought more than a light beer might make me a little less secure than I want to be behind the wheel.  I don't know whether to be pleased or not, but the fact is that as I have gotten older my ability to consume beer has diminished. After a night of hard exercise, unless I drink a good deal of water concurrently, one or two beers is all I can consume before I start thinking wistfully about lost love and realize that I should not be behind the wheel.  It had been hot on the tennis courts on Wednesday, plus I'd done some swimming beforehand. I knew I needed to cut myself off after one.

 I could nurse a beer for one inning no problem. In my cheapskate graduate school days when I was earning a grand total, no lie, of 3K a year for three consecutive years, I once watched an entire Buffalo Braves basketball game with my beer glass ticket for the bar stool remaining sufficiently filled throughout. One beer to watch one inning of the Sox game would be no problem.

Between the bottom of the eighth and top of the ninth a fellow came into the establishment and took a seat next to me.  He looked like a man who just got off a shift doing something that was tiring. He had a key ring jangling about him which looked like it had fifty keys on it.  I was reminded of many guys I had worked with at universities who are treated shabbily, but without whom the place does not function.  Often these characters swing their keys around like another set of manhood.  This guy who sat down next to me, did not seem too self consumed. He just seemed exhausted.

The thing about this guy that was most distinctive about his appearance had nothing to do with his key ring.  The man was about 5' 5" not particularly broad shouldered, but had an enormous belly.  But caricature like.  As if he came off the human being assembly line and they put the wrong gut on an otherwise relatively normal looking guy.  Narrow shoulders, and then this huge belly that looked like it preceded the rest of him by a good second or two.  He had to lean back on his bar stool some, because otherwise his gut would have rammed into the bar itself. Not exaggerating here. I've seen bigger guys, but rarely someone so disproportionate.

I said to myself this guy should not be drinking beer.  This guy should be running around the block hoping to reduce his girth. This guy was a heart attack waiting to happen. You can't be lugging that amount of weight around your frame without your body wailing, "look boychik, there's just so much I can carry for so long. You want to stick around, unload some cargo."

The guy orders a beer anyway, and then now pushing about 10 in the evening asks for a menu.  By this time the Red Sox have retired the Padres in the top of the ninth and will soon come to bat in the bottom.  I exchange a smile and hello with my neighbor at the bar as people tend to do.  He glances at the menu and then picks it up waving not offensively at the bartender.

"What'll it be?" asks the bartender.

"The Buffalo Cheeseburger" he says.

The bartender nods and begins to walk toward the kitchen with the order.  He glances over his shoulder.  "Fries with that?' he asks.

"Fries" affirms my neighbor. Vu den.

And I am sitting at the bar and thinking that if I were drinking too much beer the bartender would say to me, or should say to me, "No more buddy, you've had enough." He would cut me off.  Do we have an obligation to say the same thing to a fellow who looks like he can not endure another Buffalo Cheeseburger without reducing his time on the planet by several months?

I understand we all have freedoms. I also know that in part a reason that the barkeep will tell people that they're cut off is because they dont want a drunk driving home.  Still, do we sit back and nod "good choice" when a too fat man orders a killer of a meal.

I did not get into it with him. My bad?  Who knows.  I had a lame excuse. Jonny Gomes led off the Red Sox ninth with a pinch hit walk off homerun.  And I'd promised myself I'd leave after the ninth. 

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