Monthly Archives: December 2012

New Year’s Eve Again

“I am sorry about what happened. I am sorry about our fight. I wasn’t kidding. I am the guy who will kiss the tears away. I am the guy who can be your best friend and your lover. Together we are more than we are when we are apart. If something ever happened to us I would never forget and I don’t believe that you would either. Decades could pass and I would still love you.”

Here is a link to the rest of that post from December 31, 2011. Might be an addendum to it sometime and then again, there might not be.

Alternatively we might take a few minutes to add to:

That probably won’t happen until much later tonight.

So if you are alone or stuck kissing the wrong person and in search of something different well, you never know what 2013 can bring.

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2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Got That Crazy Feeling

Got that crazy feeling that I haven’t felt in so long yet remember like it never left. Got that crazy feeling that you are out there staring up at our moon wishing I was standing there beside you.

Got that crazy feeling that says I could walk up and take you now and you would give yourself to me without thought or question. And when you did it would be like no time had passed and those moments we remember about but never speak of would come rushing back to us.

Got that crazy feeling that says we can turn back time and walk into the future all at the same time. That crazy contradictory feeling that says you are lying when you tell me to get lost and that you want me to tell you to be quiet, not with words but lips.

You’ll push back once or twice, but only for appearances sake. You won’t want me to know that you want it as badly as I do. You won’t want me to know that I can have you because you just won’t.

But in the quiet of the night you think about it and wonder if maybe that crazy feeling I talk about isn’t so damn crazy.

Stop listening to your head and worrying about the whispers because the song of your heart knows better.

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Pressed For Time?

Pressed for time today so I won’t get to update this until late this evening or perhaps tomorrow. Here are some of the fragments I am going to work with.

“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” Emma by Jane Austen

Got some good ideas about what to do here, just need a few moments to make it happen- and I will.

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“Wendy let me in I wanna be your friend
I want to guard your dreams and visions
Just wrap your legs round these velvet rims
And strap your hands across my engines
Together we could break this trap
Well run till we drop, baby well never go back
Will you walk with me out on the wire
`cause baby I’m just a scared and lonely rider
But I gotta find out how it feels
I want to know if love is wild, girl I want to know if love is real”
Born To Run– Bruce Springsteen

“Show me how you do that trick
The one that makes me scream” she said
“The one that makes me laugh” she said
And threw her arms around my neck
“Show me how you do it
And I promise you I promise that
I’ll run away with you
I’ll run away with you”
Just Like Heaven– The Cure

If you close your eyes and listen carefully you can hear the soft clink-clank of metal against metal. You’re so focused upon your task it is hard to say how long the rhythmic banging has been going on. You’re name is Johnny and you’re lifting weights in your garage. It is well after midnight and you can’t sleep.

You don’t feel much like talking to anyone and even if you did you’re friends are all asleep. It is a work night so you don’t really want to have a drink.Or maybe that is because you suspect that it won’t just be one drink and you’d rather not finish that six pack. Besides you don’t really want to drink alone.

So you decide that you are going to take your nervous energy and make use of it. You strap on your iPod and head outside to exercise because you know that you always feel better afterwards. And besides it will help clear your head.

Alone in the garage you start your workout and try not to focus on June. Been forever since she was a part of your life. But some days you can’t help but wonder what could have been. Sometimes timing is a bitch and that has you shaking your head. It seems more than a little unfair that circumstances could be the reason that a relationship doesn’t work.

As you focus on your form you can’t help but smile wistfully as you think about how unexpected it was to find June. Neither one of you could have ever predicted it. You grew up in different places and in different worlds. She used to tell you that she would never forgive you for not finding her earlier. You’d laugh and tell her that you could say the same thing.

Time would pass and you’d confess that you had never been more in love with anyone or more scared. This was the kind of thing that only happened in books and movies and that made you drag your feet. She’d tell you the same thing. And in no time you would forge a bond that was deeper and more powerful than any either one of you had known or experienced.

But life is not a book or a movie and things would happen. The world outside the one you shared would come to exert its influence upon you. The timing was off and no matter what you did you couldn’t fight it. You tried. You did what you could and when it wasn’t good enough you beat yourself up and wondered how it fell apart.

So sometimes late at night you’d wander outside and stare at the moon. Looking up at that giant white orb you’d sometimes smile and wonder if June was doing it too. Other times you’d stare at it and feel like howling in frustration and you’d wonder again if she felt like that too.

There would be good days and bad days. Moments when you were determined to walk away. You’d tell yourself that it didn’t matter why it ended or who was at fault or what. All that mattered was moving on with your life. But in the silent recesses of your heart you’d never completely let go.

The bond that you had forged was too strong and too deep. And once you acknowledged this truth of your heart you began to feel better. Once you accepted that you would always love June you were able to start living again. It wasn’t exactly what you wanted, but it was a start.

Because the truth was that your heart told you that June was still out there and that the end to this story had yet to be written. The promises you made were still valid. The love you shared still lived. And maybe, just maybe there might be chance to pick things up somewhere down the road.

And then you took off your watch and stuffed it in a drawer because the last thing you wanted to be reminded of was timing.

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“I know somebody and they cry for you.
They lie awake at night and dream of you.
I bet you never even know they do, but somebody’s crying.

I know somebody and they called your name.
A million times and still you never came.
They go on loving you just the same, I know that somebody’s trying.

So please, return the love you took from me.
Or please, let me know if it can’t be me, I know when,
Somebody’s lying, I know when somebody’s lying.

I know that somebody’s lying, I know that somebody’s lying.

Give me a sign and let me know we’re through.
If you don’t love me like I love you.
But if you cry at night the way I do I’ll know that somebody’s lying.

So please, return the love you took from me.
Or please, let me know if it can’t be me.
I know when somebody’s lying, I know when somebody’s lying.
Oh I, oh I……”
“Somebody’s Crying” Chris Isaak

You are out there reading these words for whatever reasons make sense to you. You say your love is dead and left in the past, that the time to move on and push ahead has long since arrived but I don’t buy it.

To just visit would be mean, punitive and unreasonable but that is not how I view it.

Actions speak louder than words and yours contradict what you say.

You remember what was and wonder if perhaps there isn’t more magic left in the moment. It is not comfortable to walk among the ashes or to wander down the haunted halls of things that once were because if you open some doors you can’t know what the consequences of those actions will be.

It is a different sort of Pandora’s Box and some times you think amnesia would help because your heart wouldn’t push you to seek the one that filled the holes and made your soul sing.

But the fire still burns and nothing you can do or say will change that. The flames still burn as bright as ever and the flickering light could be turned into the sort of bonfire that is all consuming.

Still you won’t let go of the rigid control of the situation because you don’t want to rely upon things that you cannot taste, touch or feel. You want proof. You want concrete evidence that the risk is worth it and that the consequences won’t be severe.

But fear pushes you the other way so you lie about your heart and your feelings. You deny your deepest desires and pretend that hope is something left for movies, suckers and fools.

Yet the whispers remain and the magnet pulls you back towards whom you are running from.

Up is down and inside is out. Night is day and life is just a bit more chaotic and confused than you wish.

And just when you think you have it under control you stand outside and look up at the moon wondering if the one you shouldn’t think about is looking up at it too because maybe that magic you don’t want to believe in but hope for will manifest itself again.

Maybe, just maybe it will come back and this time you’ll figure out how to catch lightning in a bottle.

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The Search For Absolution Part II

Part one is over here.

He showed up again a few days before Christmas dressed in his Johnny Cash black outfit, except this time he was clean shaven and a couple of pounds lighter than before.

Still wearing the same poker face as always he grabbed his usual seat and a beer.  I watched him tilt the bottle back, take a swig and saw his eyes go somewhere far away. I couldn’t begin to tell you what or who he was thinking about, but then again I never could.

Don’t know why but something about that has always intrigued me and made me wonder what is going on inside. Maybe that is part of why I got involved in his story on more than a surface level. Maybe it is because I sense more depth to this than the normal crap people shovel here or maybe it is me who is full of it.

Or maybe it is because I relate to it more than I want to. Maybe I hear echoes of my past and part of me is touched by the hope he shows in his future. Maybe it is because I see a guy who has wandered through darkness and found a way out.

Or maybe I am the guy who is shoveling crap. Heck, that is just another part of being a good bartender. Sometimes you have to do more than just listen to appear to be sympathetic to the stories you hear.


This time around I was the guy who started the conversation. I asked him if he had reached out to his mystery girl.

He shook his head no. “I thought about it once or twice, played around with calling her but never picked up the phone. She left me. She walked away, closed the door and told me to find someone else.”

I shook my head at him. “Haven’t you noticed that women will say almost anything when they are hurt or angry. Maybe she didn’t mean it. Maybe she was just testing you. It wouldn’t be the first time.”

He smiled and a small chuckle slipped through his lips.

“Nah, it wouldn’t surprise me at all. She can be like a volcano and when she blows she let’s loose with all she has got. Used to tell me that I should just ignore that because she ‘calms down’ quickly.

Of course, that is not exactly how I operate. It takes me a bit longer to get angry, but when I do, well I hold onto it for a bit.”

That was probably the moment when I understood that my rule against not taking sides had been shattered. I didn’t call him a fool or yell at him, but I wanted to. A man who finds someone special doesn’t just let go of them. He doesn’t just walk when things get tough because you don’t get that many chances.

Yeah, I know that sounds like the sort of sickly sweet claptrap that Hollywood puts out every year but there is a reason for that. It is because romantic comedies, love stories and dramas are all based in bits and pieces of reality.

People are flawed, imperfect creatures and we make mistakes. We do stupid things and act foolish. Sometimes we cut off our noses to spite our faces and then pride leaves us wounded, alone and wondering what happened.

But it is not my job to fix people. I am not there to help others find their way or to fix broken marriages. I am there to pour drinks and look sympathetic.


The last time he was at the bar he had made it sound like there was some sort of communication between the two of them so I asked how he knew these things.

“Some of it is just stuff I know from having known her for a decade. Might not all be true or accurate, people change, but not everything. There are a lot of things that are different about me, but the core, well that is still there.

I suppose it is part of what intrigues me about her. Gut says that the girl who loved me is still there, just hiding behind whatever walls she built and whatever lists she has made.”

“We all have walls, you, me and her. Sometimes those walls are best left untouched because you can’t know what happens until after you knock it down.”

Got to admit that if I was a shrink that would be one of my ‘A game’ lines because it is always the one that makes people talk just a little bit more about whatever it is their sharing. Add some booze and their lips start flapping and all I have to do is look interested.

Except this time it didn’t work the way I wanted it to.

He just looked at me and shrugged his shoulders. I was a bit confused by it all. The last time he was here I had the feeling that he was thinking about reaching out to her. Maybe I had misread him.

Since I didn’t know all that much about him it shouldn’t surprise me to have missed something. He was a man who kept things close to the vest and worked hard not to reveal much of anything about himself.

When he opened the door just a crack I had tried to take the glimpse of what I saw and turn it into something deeper and fuller.

There is no crime or shame in doing that. We make split second judgments about people all day long, especially guys like me.

That sort of thing is important in this job and not just because we are trying to get people to buy another drink.

You have to learn how to recognize the hotheads and the silent troublemakers. You have to pay attention because those stories about barroom brawls don’t always happen in movies or to other guys.

Last year three guys got into it in the parking lot across the street and only one walked away. This isn’t one of those rough and tumble dive bars either, but alcohol does funny things to people.


“It is complicated. She still loves me, but she won’t say it. It is part of why years ago I dared her to sleep with me. I know it sounds juvenile but I was just trying to find a way around that wall. So I told her she has never had a better lover and never will. Reminded her that I don’t look at her as a mother but as a woman.”

“So you tried to manipulate her into sleeping with you by complimenting her and telling she is beautiful, sexy and all that other crap we say when we are trying to get in a woman’s pants.”

It wasn’t really a question or a statement. Call it more of a clarification.

He laughed again.

“Yep, but she knew exactly what it was and that is part of why she said no. She wanted to believe that I think of her as being sexy and that I wasn’t just horny, but she wasn’t going to give it up that easy. I told you, the history between us is why she didn’t say yes but never walked away either.”

I nodded my head again but said nothing. I didn’t have a clue what sort of history they had and I didn’t feel like playing guessing games. If he wasn’t going to volunteer than I wasn’t going to ask.

He laughed again and shared a few more thoughts.

“Maybe one day she and I will visit #1435 again or maybe not. I have enough on my plate now to keep me busy for a while and that is what I am focused on. It works both ways. She knows how to find me.”

He paused, took another drink and stood up.

“If you believe in astrology than we are the perfect match. We had this reading done a thousand years ago that said we could heal each other. If you believe in that kind of stuff than I guess all things are possible.”

He gave me a $5 tip, told me to take care and walked out the door.

I grabbed my tip, said thank you and wondered if I knew any more about him than I did before. He had done it again to me. I knew more but there was so much more lying beneath the surface and no promise of ever gaining access to it.

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I am not  a priest or a rabbi but chances are good that just as many people look to me for absolution of their sins. Hell, probably more because I get the agnostics and the atheists too.

Don’t ask me to tell you when it started or how bartenders got a reputation for being the person you can spill your guts too because I don’t know and if I did it is probably not something I would talk about either. It would be like a magician telling you how he saws the girls in half- some things are trade secrets.

What I can tell you is a good bartender is more than someone who knows how to make the best Martini or the latest cocktail fad drink. A good bartender knows how to listen and when to speak. Sure, alcohol helps loosen the lips of the customers and makes it easier for them to tell us about whatever is on their minds, but that is not all.

They share with us because we don’t share what we hear and we don’t judge. We are like the Swiss bankers except our currency isn’t traded on Wall Street.


I suppose it is only natural for you to ask why I am writing this book about the stories I know. I suppose that after the sort of introduction I gave you wonder how I can break the code of silence and share what is supposed to remain sealed and I would say you are right to ask.

The answer is simple: Some stories need to be told. Some need to be shared because that is how we learn and we grow. It is what people have always done and always will do: tell stories.

Stories are what we use to relate to each other. Stories are what make us feel and remember what we have lost, what we have gained and what we have. Sometimes stories are the things that break us apart and sometimes they are the magic wand that heals the damage and repairs the broken shards.

That is my story about why I am doing this and I am sticking to it. If it makes you feel good to think otherwise you are welcome to do so. Otherwise make yourself a cup of mint tea or whatever your favorite drink is and pull up a stool. I am just getting started and it would be my pleasure to take you on this tour.


I can’t tell you when he first showed up at the bar but I can’t remember a time when he wasn’t there. I don’t mean for that to sound like he is the kind of bar rat that takes over a stool and never leaves because he is not.

This guy doesn’t show up every day and never has. Most of the time he comes in once or twice a week, orders a beer and sits in the corner watching the people come and go. He wears black and rarely speaks. You don’t have to be a shrink to see how he uses the black and the silence to blend in but you would have to be blind not to notice him.

He is of average height, with broad shoulders, big hands and hazel greenish eyes, but that is not why people notice him either.

Can’t really say what it is that gives him such presence, just know that I am not only one to notice. The best description I have is that he is “solid.” There is substance and depth there and I get the sense that those hands have been used for things other than holding hands, but I am just guessing about that.


“She still loves me, but she holds onto her anger and to the past. She keeps me at arm’s length because she is afraid to do more than that.”

I have heard that same story a million times from a million different men and women. They all talk about the one who got away. Sometimes it is because of something they did and sometimes it has nothing to do with them. Doesn’t really matter because the tale is still the same one of loss and unrequited love.

But this one caught my ear because of who was speaking. He never said much of anything. Most of the time he would show up, order a beer and sit in that corner watching the people and thinking about whatever it is he thinks about.

“I tried to get her back. I tried to do it, but when she decided to walk she kept going and it didn’t matter what I said. It was devastating. I thought she was different. I thought i was different and I thought we were different.”

I was just as surprised by my reaction to his voice by my lack of surprise regarding his story. I wanted to know more and that threw me. After twenty years of this I rarely find myself truly interested in learning more.

Some of my customers might be surprised by that. They might tell you that I am the most caring person they know, that is not entirely true. A bartender has to be a good actor and a good listener. It is how we make our money.

“We got lost in a sea full of crap and got crazy. I didn’t give her the apology she wanted and she took that to mean that I didn’t care or that I didn’t understand. Meanwhile I got crazy because she didn’t accept that I was sincere or believe what I was saying. So we got angry and did things…”

Several moments passed and I realized he was giving me an opening so I asked him to share a bit more. He told me one of those stories about how the two of them had never loved anyone else the way they loved each other and explained what had happened or at least what he thought.

I nodded my head and listened to him tell me about how she broke his heart over and over and then asked him if it wasn’t fair to say he had done the same to her. That was the second surprise of that night.

A good bartender doesn’t take sides like that. My job was to listen, console and pour more booze, not ask him if she had been hurt too.


“For a while I didn’t believe it. She was so hard and so cold about things it made me think she hadn’t really cared at all. Made me feel like a notch and made me question myself. Wasn’t used to that sort of thing. It is not because I am so hot or have so many women, it was just different.”

I snorted, they always think they are different. Everyone of them is certain they are different and for that matter they always say whomever they are pining for is different too. Usually it is punctuated by some curses about them, but they always say they are different.

“After a while things snapped back into place and I saw clearly again that she was hurting and I realized it was just a front. Realized that she was pretending to be tough and that she would say/do things to try to make me think she didn’t care. It was a control issue. So I took the collar off of my neck and started living again.”


That pause lasted long enough for another couple of questions including one about what he meant about a collar.

“I was being figurative. I didn’t get a collar or tattoo, just carried a torch for a woman who kept pretending she wanted me to blow it out. When I realized she still loved me I took the collar off and started doing what I needed to do to get on with my life.”

I asked him if that meant he had given up on her and he laughed.

“Nah, I haven’t given up on things any more than she has. I just turned my focus in a different direction. She doesn’t want weak. She wants strong and I don’t like weak either. It is not who I am or who we were. We were solid together and maybe we will be again.”

He laughed and took a long drink.

“The last time I talked to her I told her I wanted to sleep with her and dared her to kiss me. I knew she wouldn’t.”

Sounds to me like you are scared but I don’t know if you are scared of it happening or not happening.

“Nah, I am not scared like you think I am. I am curious to see what would happen and if it would feel like I think it would. I suspect we would pick right up but be stronger than before. But it is not going to happen real easily, if at all.”

I couldn’t let that go so I asked why.

“She is a woman. She won’t come right out and say she wants to or admit any real interest. She’ll make me work for it and the whole time she’ll be watching to see what I do and how I do it because she’ll question herself. She can’t just sleep with me and pretend it doesn’t mean anything, but she’ll be concerned that I can. She’ll want to know that I don’t just want to get laid and she’ll want to know it is not something stupid between us.”

“In short it is a really complicated situation that should just be boiled down to our agreeing that the past is the past and the future is the future. What happened then doesn’t have to be ignored but it doesn’t have to be seen as a template for the future because that can be whatever we make it out to be.

I told him that the timing would be good for his moment. New Years Eve is in a couple of weeks.

“Yes it is and I hope she’ll think of me and wish I was the one she was kissing. I kind of suspect that to be the case, but I am not going to say or do more than that right now. Got my own stuff to deal with. Thanks for the drink, I’ll see you later.


I watched as he walked out the door and wondered when he would be back, if he was coming back. After all this time I can’t tell you his name which I suppose proves I am not as good a bartender as I thought I was. Didn’t realize that I never used it, which is kind of bizarre because it feels like I must have.

It has been ten days since I last saw him, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t all that long a time. If I never hear from that guy again life will go on and there will be other stories to listen to and other people to talk to.

Still I have to admit  I am really curious. I hope he comes back because I sure would like to know what happens.


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The Midnight Music Match

Everything I Own- Bread

Cecilia- Simon and Garfunkel

In My Life- The Beatles

Day After Day- Badfinger

All I Ask Of You- Phantom of The Opera

May It Be- Enya

Brokeback Mountain Soundtrack

Lay Lady Lay- Bob Dylan

Tougher Than The Rest- Bruce Springsteen

Happy- Bruce Springsteen

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If It Makes You Feel Good


“If it makes you feel good than by all means say what you have got to say and do what you have got to do. We did what we did, said what we said and made our mistakes.”

She listened to his words and debated whether she could believe them. Part of her wanted to let go of the past and move on, but there was a different piece that kept her standing still. A different part in which logic and reason played no part so she nursed her anger and kept the flames burning because anger meant distance and distance meant safety.

“You can call it whatever you want. You can keep pointing fingers and flinging accusations, but I don’t have to listen or acknowledge them. I told you I understand that there is a time and place where you have to decide if you can move on. You did. You walked away and so did I. Can’t change the past, can only work on the future.”

His words were infuriating and calming. She couldn’t decide which and couldn’t figure out why that damn boy still held a piece of her heart. Some things were so obvious to her and if he were only smart enough to say those words she might find it easier.

“I am not a mind reader. I know things, but not all things. Got broad shoulders and can take the sort of beating most wouldn’t and don’t. Have done it but doesn’t mean I am willing to continue or that I need to. There is no benefit to either side. So find a new punching bag or make the decision to open a different door and walk a new path.”

He stood up and walked out without looking back. The time had come to hit the road and he wasn’t going to spend his days wondering about the past he couldn’t change. There was only the present and the future. Maybe she would decide to join him. Maybe she would take his hand and maybe she wouldn’t.

There were few things in life he was certain of and one was that she had fallen in love with him because she couldn’t dominate him the way she had dominated the others who been around. Time to remind her and if silence was what was required, well then so be it.

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