2014-08-06 / Opinion

THE WEAKLY POST

An Average August Evening
by Bud Hearn

It’s August, 2009. Strange how some small events remain relevant.

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It’s sunset. I sit at a sidewalk table at Marcello’s Pizza and Subs, a neighborhood establishment best called a “joint.” Twenty-six years qualifies it for that distinction. It’s where Miller Lite drafts go down in rapid succession. No one keeps score.

Marcello, the proprietor and the Emperor of Pizzas, joins me. We discuss the planet’s conditions. Between spurts of genius, we comment on the orange ball descending over the distant oak trees. The sky burns into a flaming sunset while music from The Godfather plays softly.

“ Marcello,” I say, “things are moving too fast… life is like a roll of toilet tissue—the closer to the end it gets, the faster it goes.” He comments that the sunset didn’t appear to be in a rush, that every second has its own beauty with no wasted motion.

In the back corner of the deserted parking lot something stirs. It’s Bobby, a burly 30-something brute. He sits in his black Chevy Blazer, hiding within the silent shadows, waiting. He appears to be a viperous reptile. He boots cars for a living.

The sign at the parking lot clearly warns, “No Parking, Cars Will Be Booted or Towed.” Non- believers in the posted word continue to park there, hoping to get lucky. They look around innocently and stroll next door to Hal’s, where they indulge in expensive food and drink. They have no idea how expensive their evening will soon become.

Many return to find a yellow boot, clamped securely to their front tire. The cost to remove? About $75 bucks. Bobby is making a killing from this cottage industry. Life is getting better for him by the minute.

Next door is a yogurt shop. Teenagers come and go, but not before standing at the ATM and extracting some of daddy’s remaining dollars. Often it takes two or three of them pooling their money to have enough to buy that ‘lowfat’ yogurt. Clearly, some don’t restrict their diet to just fat-free yogurt. But who can tell teenagers anything?

A yellow Hummer cruises in as twilight falls. It stops within inches of my table. It intrudes like a bully on the block. I’m about to say something until the driver gets out. Hasty confrontations are always ill-advised. Tonight this advice pays dividends.

He’s about 40, bald, tattooed, wearing an allblack tank top with a black karate belt around his waist. His body-fat content is less than steel. It’s clear that he doesn’t subscribe for sissy food, like yogurt.

People of this sort are better as friends. Come to find out, he’s the guru of Craig’s Xtreme Training Camp. His business card sports a red skull and crossbones motif ~ he looks like the icon.

“How extreme is your training camp?” I ask. He’s friendly and proceeds to tell me he makes men out of boys, Terminators out of women. He has assembled a field of old truck tires, ropes, chains, sledge hammers and other assorted torture devices and uses them for whipping folks into shape. I don’t inquire what shape they’re in when they graduate. I tell him that my peers are flabby. He drools at the image.

His last name isn’t American. He’s probably from the Czech Republic, Serbia or another of the extreme Eastern Europe bloc countries where torture without constraint is still condoned. I make a friend and plan to use him on the next contentious inquisition with a banker or lawyer.

Marcello soon leaves me with Jacque, a Greek immigrant. Maria, a waitress, keeps our table supplied with abundant sausage ziti. Lavish tips insure this treatment. The sunset has now faded, replaced by a winking red, blue, and yellow neon beer sign. It continues to incite my thirst and I see no reason to cease the support of such a venerable American institution.

At dark a younger crowd begins to assemble. Since age and youth have few mutual interests, I leave. There’s nothing like a quiet, neighborhood pub to reinvigorate the spirits.

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As I stroll out, The Eagles are singing, “Take it Easy.” On this average August evening, I promise myself to do just that.

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