The odd, unpredictable season is upon us here in Texas, just as it is most other places in the northern hemisphere. Early spring has a decidedly fickle quality, bringing heat one day and frost the next. The former brings joy, the latter brings hope that the heat'll come back on tomorrow. The forecast says it will, for what that's worth.
That makes it the perfect season to wander over to Lenny's Bar and Grill and Swapmeet, where the weather's perfect, as long as no one forgets to close the door. Of course, the beer is always cold at Lenny's, and the food is always good. The hot food, anyway. Don't go too close to the potato salad late in the week. But the cole slaw is excellent, if you like a mayo-based cole slaw. I don't. But anyway, the food is good. Not spectacular. Good. With no parsley to cover up the fact that management was too cheap to put real food in that corner of the plate - Lenny uses that corner to give you more of what you ordered.
So we wandered over to Lenny's after yesterday's heat to psyche ourselves up (or down) for today's cold front. It was one of those nights that just cried out for something predictable, since the weather wasn't going to be.
Alpha sat at the bar and ordered us each a beer. As we sipped, we drifted back and forth between staring at the TV and listening to the bar-chatter, just kinda winding down and psyching up.
And then Doc came in.
You gotta understand that Doc isn't a doctor. His dad was, ran a local practice for years until he went off one pristine Sunday morning to cut firewood and had a heart attack. Paramedics saved him, but he wasn't the same after that, and retired. But that's where we got the name that we hung on Doc in high school, and it stuck.
Doc's the local independent pharmacist, struggling against the bigger-is-better, buy-your-scripts-where-you-buy-your-groceries-and-your-Halloween-costume mentality. He gets by, but in a wholesale world, he's a retailer. He struggles.
He doesn't do so well as his in-laws, the county judge and his wife. The judge did pretty well in private practice before being appointed to the bench (funny how that part seems to work), and he's done real well with some real estate investments in the years he's been ensconced in the court house. How he's done since the sub-prime stuff poked holes in the market, I don't know, but they've got a real big house on the south side of town, with a big yard and everything all neatly manicured and maintained.
My understanding from the gossip is that his missus needles Doc from time to time about not measuring up to her family standard. I can't speak to the accuracy of gossip. I figure gossip is like political ads - a whole lot of frosting on a tiny bit of cake, so I tend to take gossip with a large grain of salt.
But I guess it creates pressure eventually. Doc came in to Lenny's, took a stool at the end of the bar, and ordered a beer. When Lenny set it in front of him, he looked up, and said, "Lenny, I screwed up. I don't know if I can get over this one."
"What happened, Doc?"
"Ah, we were havin' the regular Sunday dinner with the family. You know - May and the kids and May's folks - just a regular dinner on a regular Sunday. And I grabbed a roll outa the basket, and I picked up my knife and looked at May's mom and I swear it was a Freudian slip." Doc stared down at his beer. And stared some more, as if he could find answers, or the hope of answers, in the glass.
Finally, Lenny, with infinitely more patience in his voice than I was feeling at the moment, asked, "What do you mean, Doc?"
"Lenny," Doc said, "I swear I meant to say 'Could you please pass the butter?' I swear it on a stack of Bibles. My roll was in my one hand. The knife was in other. That's what I meant to say! But I looked at my mother-in-law and what came out of my mouth was 'You ignorant cow. You've ruined my life'."
I'd have loved to have hung around for more, but Alpha had a choking fit, and we had to leave.