“Old age is a slow downward spiral into the abyss. Fighting the inevitable is futile. No doubt about it, life will knock you on your ass and there’s not a thing you can do about it. However, complete surrender means the acceptance of the end without hope. Life without hope is unbearable.” The old man finished his glass of white wine and looked around the table at the young men who appeared to be hanging on his every word. “Anybody want another beer?”
“Oh, yes sir.”
“Thank you, sir.”
The young men, all in their early twenties, smiled and nodded. The old man motioned to the bartender.
“I want another white wine, and give each of these fine gentlemen the beer of their choice.” He waited until all the orders were taken. “Personally, I don’t know the difference between one beer and another. I think I would gag if I tried to drink one. Oh, this is not to impugn the taste of any of you gentlemen. It’s a bit like Bill Clinton when he said he couldn’t inhale marijuana. I knew exactly what he meant. I couldn’t swallow cigarette smoke. Made me gag.”
The drinks arrived, and a low murmur overtook their corner of the bar.
“The reason I cannot drink beer is entirely psychological,” he continued as he sipped his wine. “My brother was an alcoholic—no, a drunk. He didn’t go to the meetings so he couldn’t be an alcoholic. He sat at home and drank one beer after another and told me how I was going to be a complete failure in life.” He took another sip. “He was dead a week before any of the neighbors noticed they hadn’t seen him. Now I can drink almost any kind of liquor. Really like a nice margarita or anything with rum. Southern Comfort makes me sick to my stomach though. Wine is nice. It’s a shame this place doesn’t have a full liquor license.”
The old man looked at his wristwatch and squinted. “I can’t read the damned time. My wife bought me this watch because it looked pretty. It doesn’t make any difference if the watch is pretty if the numbers on the damned face are too small to read. What time is it?”
“Almost nine o’clock, sir,” one of the young men said.
“Oh my goodness,” the old man replied with a jostle, glancing at the bartender. “Will you please bring me the bill? My wife will be here soon to pick me up. The woman has the silly idea I shouldn’t be driving after I’ve had a couple glasses of wine.” He looked toward the bar again. “And add another round of beers for my young friends here.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“We appreciate it, sir.”
“There are some old farts who say the younger generation isn’t worth a damn, but they’re wrong. You young men listen to me without ever interrupting. Do you know how often I get interrupted at home? All the time, that’s how often. Anyway, I hope to see you all next week at the same time.”
“Of course, sir.”
“Our pleasure, sir.”
“I wouldn’t blame you if you decide it’s not worth the free beer to have to listen to this old fart,” he said, standing, “and not bother to show up.”
“Oh no, sir.”
“Not at all, sir.”
“I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t show up, but appreciate it if you do.” He looked at them and smiled. “There’s always hope.”

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