Crazy Old Man’s Night Out
December 7th, 2007
With great struggle, the old man’s eyes opened, awakening him from his nap.
“Christ, even moving my eyelids makes me feel old.” He moaned to himself.
After gaining his composure, the old man’s nostrils flared.
“Something really stinks in here!”
He thought about what the cause of the stench could be for a few seconds before suddenly remembering.
“Oh, that’s right, it’s me.”
But then he realized that his stench was not important right now. He was pissed off about something, something important, but what the hell had it been?
“Damn it, this is why you never go to bed angry,” the old man thought, “you might forget what made you mad. Then you can’t get even.”
He thought about it for a good minute.
“All right, let’s see, it’s not television….and it’s not teenagers. Could it be hippies? No, I got over them last week…”
The old man was damn near giving up when it hit him.
“My son! That lousy, rotten son of mine! Oh, the nerve of him!”
Yes, he remembered it clearly now. Earlier in the day, his son had come to visit him. Only it had not been a pleasant visit.
“Listen dad,” his son had told him, “Some of us have been talking and we think you should consider moving into a nursing home.”
“Nursing home? Are you outta your mind?” he replied.
“Well, you’re clearly having trouble taking care of yourself.”
“That’s a load a bullshit!”
“I looked inside your refrigerator, dad. There’s nothing in there but a quart of milk and half a sandwich. What have you been eating?”
“Food is for pussies, I’m fine.” The old man replied, now agitated, “I once knew a guy in the Korean War who liked to eat a lot of food. He got shot and died. Let that be a lesson to ya.”
“Yes, I’ve heard that three-sentence story before, but consider this, your motion is becoming extremely limited. It literally takes you minutes to walk across a room.”
“That’s no concern of yours. You’re just jealous that I have that kind of free time on my hands.”
“We just want what is best for you.”
“Nevermind what you want. I’ll decide what’s best for me.”
“Well at least think about it.”
“Yeah, here’s me thinkin’ about it,” said the old man while using his hand to make an ejaculatory motion.
The conversation kept replaying itself in the old man’s head and he was pissed. Who the hell was his son to suggest that he be cooped up in some facility? He was a proud man, proud of his freedom to do as he pleased above all else. No one was going to take that away from him as long as he could help it.
“I’ll show that son of mine, and the rest of my ungrateful family too” the old man declared, “I’ll fix him like I used to fix lotsa my problems. With a nice glass of beer, or five! That’s right, a nice night out on the town will do me good. That’s not somethin’ the folks in the retirement homes can do!”
The old man leaned out his doorway, in order to survey the weather. It was a warm September evening with a temperature in the 80s.
“Hmm, better bundle up. It’s gettin’ chilly out.”
He got dressed as quickly as he could, seeing as how he was a bit excited. It had been awhile since he got himself outdoors, having previously been content to sit inside. Seconds after the old man began walking outside, he knew he had made a good decision and regained the confident swagger he took so much pride in.
“Yes sir, look at me, a regular citizen out on the town, I fit in with society just as much as anyone else, and probably much better, quite frankly.”
So off the old man went, a friendly little stroll to his favorite local pub. As he walked down the street, he saw little Johnny, an eight-year-old boy who only lived a few houses away. The old man had made friendly chitchat with Johnny numerous times over the years, making this the perfect opportunity for him to prove to himself how well he could still interact with others, despite his age. As Johnny drew near, he appeared to be humming to himself, thinking about how nice it was to walk quietly without being bothered.
“Hiya, son!” said the old man.
“Hi,” Johnny replied, hoping this wouldn’t take up too much of his time.
“How’s school goin’?”
“Ok, I guess.”
“Good, huh? Atta’ boy! Are you gettin’ good grades?”
“Well, I have a C average…”
“That’s great! You’re pretty smart!”
Johnny looked a bit puzzled.
“What’s your favorite subject?” the old man continued.
“Gym?! Hah, everyone always says that! Some things never change!”
Johnny stood there blankly, not knowing what to say.
“Well, I guess I’ll be on my way,” the old man declared, “Take it easy.”
“I said bye.”
“Oh, so long.”
As the old man continued walking, he approached a corner where two seedy-looking gentleman were loitering. Like many others before, they began to stare at him. His appearance of worn sweatpants, beat up shoes, and a yellow flannel jacket eyesore were difficult to avert one's eyes from. His outfit seemed to make a bold fashion statement that said to the world, “It is not I who am out of touch, it’s all of you who are fucked up.”
The old man gave the two young gentleman an equally curious stare. To him, their trendier clothing was among the silliest things he had ever seen. Nonetheless, he embraced another opportunity for socialization and politely broke the silence as he walked on by.
"Boy, sure is chilly out here today, eh?" said the old man.
The two young gentleman, not being familiar with such friendly-but-mindless dialogue, both forced a half-smile without saying anything. Once the old man was a reasonable distance away, they snickered.
That's how it was with the old man. His overly friendly demeanor, combined with his proud strut and decaying body generally elicited two thoughts inside the average onlooker. The first was something along the lines of, "Wow, what a magnificent old man. He must have led a storied life."
The other was more along the lines of, "Hey, get a load of that goofy old man! Let's make fun of him and laugh about him behind his back!" and so they would.
After a few more blocks of walking, the old man arrived at his destination, the Red Clover, a small corner bar. The dinghy, two-story building was far from spectacular, but that did not matter. What many called a dive, the old man viewed as a hangout. Just being there among the crowd proved to the old man that he still had a place in society.
As the old man entered the Red Clover, he immediately noticed a number of people cackling and rolling their eyes. He figured someone had just told a funny joke, completely oblivious that they were laughing at him.
After ordering a drink, he was delighted to find an empty table that had a good view of several televisions, all of which were showing football, his favorite sport. He took a moment to survey the crowd. As far as he knew, they seemed like a decent bunch.
The old man sat back and relaxed, focusing his attention on one of the televisions where NFL quarterback Peyton Manning was receiving player of the game honors.
“Wow, that Archie Manning might be the best quarterback I’ve ever seen!”
A man sitting at the next table was quick to correct him.
“That’s not Archie Manning, it’s his son, Peyton.”
“Huh?” the old man responded, confused.
“Peyton Manning is Archie Manning’s son.”
“Oh, I see.”
The bartender changed the station to a New York Giants game where quarterback Eli Manning was seen throwing a touchdown pass.
“Boy, that Archie Manning is sharp today!”
“No, that’s Eli…that’s not even the same team you were just watching, oh, forget it.”
Two younger patrons had overheard the old man go through his mental lapses and figured they could have some fun with him.
“Hey man, how’s it going?” asked one of the young bargoers.
“Oh, can’t complain.” The old man kindly replied.
“Say, what’s a nice guy like you doing here by yourself?”
“Ah, just relaxin’, havin’ a few drinks, and watchin’ the game here, nothin’ special.”
“Why didn’t you bring the Mrs. along?”
“You mean my wife? She ain’t around no more. Been dead for nearly eight years now.”
“Wow, that’s too bad. Sorry to hear that.”
“Nah, it’s alright. It’s actually kinda funny, ya know. My wife always used to kid me about how, since she was a woman, she was gonna outlive me by seven years. Boy was she wrong.”
The gentleman shared a nervous chuckle with his buddy.
“Hey, I think I like this guy,” he said to his friend before continuing to speak with the old man.
“Yeah, I guess so. You must get lonely though, being by yourself so often.”
“Nah, I can handle it.”
"If I were in your position, I’d get me a nice prostitute or something, at least enjoy the added freedom of your situation." the young bargoer said with a mischievous grin.
"Nah, I’ve had more than my fair share of sex over the years. I don’t need it no more.”
“Oh, come on…”
"But I'll tell ya what. Sex was a lot better back in my day, anyhow."
"Oh sure. Well, thing was, in those days, you had to walk 15 miles barefoot in the snow to get some action, but it was always worth it."
"Of course, sex was also more segregated back in those days..."
"Wow, um, cool, well…listen, it was nice talking to you, but I must be on my way. Take care."
"Sure son, you do the same."
After the third drink, the old man was really starting to feel good about himself. He was relaxed and thoroughly enjoying himself as he sat back and took in the atmosphere. As far as he knew, everyone inside were good, honest, everyday people – his kind of people, and he was glad to just be around them.
Unfortunately, a bar wouldn’t be a bar without at least one genuine low-life. Tonight, that man burst through the door in the form of Bob McDougle, a greasy bar fly in his upper 50s whom it would seem never quite grew up. He also had two associates with him. From the moment they arrived, they seemed to take pleasure in being as loud and annoying as possible.
The old man knew the type, he had seen many of their kind before. They were rude and irritating, yet it was difficult to keep one’s eye off them for long. The manner in which they carried themselves seemed to naturally draw one’s attention, providing a fine reward for thier unruly behavior.
“Bah, what a showoff,” the old man said aloud to himself. “Who does that guy think he is, walking around like some bigshot. What a disgrace.”
The old man had no intentions of wasting any more thought on Bob, but Bob and his associates soon found their way in front of the old man, blocking his view of the television screen.
“Hey, would you guys mind stepping aside, I can’t see anything,” said the old man.
“I can’t,” Bob replied, “I’m too busy drinkin’.”
“You got no respect. Ya know that?”
“Ah, you’ll have more fun lookin’ at me than at some boring old ballgame anyway.”
The old man was livid, but continued to sit quietly. It would have been great to teach Bob a thing or two about manners, but the old man wasn’t sure he could pull it off and decided it just wasn’t worth it.
“Oh, to be just ten years younger right now,” he thought, “I’d stick my foot straight up that smart ass of his.”
He went back to focusing on his drink, desperate to regain the good feelings he had been enjoying moments before. He attempted to once again be the regular guy who was having a fun night out and not the feeble old man who had been disrespected so blatantly. Yet, doubts plagued his mind.
It’s no use, you’re old and weak, not the same man you used to be, your time has past, just accept it.
Suddenly, his thoughts were broken up by the sound of Bob harassing some female patrons.
“So, which one of you dolls would like to get to know this stud?” Bob asked, referring to himself.
“Not in this lifetime, buddy.”
“So is that a yes, or what?”
“Ah, you’re probably all dry down there anyway.”
The old man could not share the indifference of the few others who had heard the exchange. Disrespecting him was one thing, but his morals wouldn't allow him to stand for this. He had to get up and give Bob a piece of his mind.
“Ya know, the way I was raised, ya don’t talk like that to the ladies.” said the old man.
“Well, maybe you were raised wrong.”
“We didn’t used to be so disrespectful, either. That was a good way to get the shit slapped outta ya!”
“Hey, who let this crazy old coot in here, anyway?” Bob joked.
“What did you call me?”
“Is your hearing gone or something?”
“You lousy, disrespectful bastard! I oughtta fix you good, ya know that,” he said, while shaking his fist.
“Yeah, that’s real funny.”
“It won’t be so funny when I bust your lip open!”
Two patrons nearby cackled to themselves, amused by the absurdity of the old man arguing with Bob.
“Hey now, fight nicely,” one of the patrons joked, but no one laughed at it, because it was stupid.
“Whatsa matter,” the old man continued, “Ya scared? Where’s that big mouth of yours now?”
“Listen you crazy old coot,” Bob said smoothly and condescendingly, “shut your yap and go back to quietly drinking alone before you hurt yourself. I’m gonna go over here and ignore you now.”
Bob turned his back on the old man and faced the bar. The old man looked on in anger and disgust as Bob slyly took another sip from his drink. The smug look on his face was the breaking point. The old man felt something explode inside of him and suddenly, he was once again filled with the fiery passion that had defined him in his younger years. At last, after years of agonizing inactivity, there was something to fight for again.
“I’ll give ya just one more chance to apologize,” the old man stated.
There was no turning back now. Mustering all the strength he could, the old man smashed his fist into Bob’s jaw, who then stumbled to the ground. The crowd looked on in disbelief.
“I thought as much. Only a pussy goes down on the first hit,” said the old man.
Bob scrambled back onto his feet. His associates stood by idly, not wanting any part of the situation.
“All right you crazy old coot, I’m putting you down for the night.”
Bob took a massive swing at the old man, but he deflected the blow with his arm before delivering another shot to Bob’s mouth.
The crowd’s reaction varied from “Oh my god! These men are going to kill each other!” to “Wow, check out these old dudes fightin’, awesome!”
The old man took another swing to try to finish him off, but Bob caught his fist and threw a punch of his own into the old man, stunning him. Bob quickly grabbed the old man and threw him through some bar stools and onto the floor.
“How’s that floor feel, asshole! That’s where a crazy old coot like yourself belongs anyway!” Bob taunted as he moved in on the old man.
The old man rapidly tried to get up but his sore body failed him. Reality was closing back in on him and his frail body just could not handle this kind of abuse anymore. However, his spirit remained intact and in his mind, he was not yet finished. He willed himself up on his hand and knees, before making another attempt to stand, but it was no use. Bob was now standing right in front of him, arrogant face and all.
“So have you had enough, or what?”
Out of options, the old man gathered the last of his strength, clenched his fist, and swiped it right into Bob’s groin.
Bob cried out in pain.
“Your balls may be old and wrinkled,” said the old man, “but they can still hurt like a bitch!”
Finally, the bartenders broke the fight up, because you should never break up a fight until at least one person has gotten hurt. Both the old man and Bob were ordered to leave. Bob stormed out immediately, followed by his associates. The majority of the crowd went back to drinking and socializing as if nothing had happened.
Without any assistance, the old man struggled to his feet, one last personal victory. The bartender offered to call a paramedic or at least a cab if necessary, but the old man stubbornly insisted he was fine and began his journey home. He was an absolute mess and hurting all over, but one thing was for sure – he felt alive. That was good enough.
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