Sunday, March 04, 2012

40 Days of Lent: Day Twelve

Last night I had dinner while sitting at the bar at Muggs. I didn't feel like making dinner so I made the bargain with myself. I would walk past Muggs and if there was a seat open at the bar, I would eat there. If not, I would get something to go from somewhere else. I brought a book with me just in case. Muggs usually has sports on tv. I'd rather read.

There were no seats at the bar, so I cheated, or rather negotiated with myself and took a standing room only spot at the large picture window. It wasn't long (less than a pint, which is how I tell time at Muggs) before a seat became available at the bar and I was on it like an Italian ship captain on a rescue boat.

While I was there, I got into a conversation with a kid who was a senior, pre-med, at Wisconsin. He was from New Jersey, home for spring break, waiting to meet friends at the bar before going to a show in the neighborhood. I explained the difference between cask ale and beer on tap. (I should point out that he asked, that's why I told him. I didn't just start pontificating.) I asked what branch of medicine was he interested in. He didn't know yet. "Well, I have a friend who's a cardiologist, and he says business is booming. Because of Americans and their bad diet, no exercise, it will probably be a growth industry for years to come, sad to say."

His friends arrived. A couple, in both senses, in that there were two of them and they were dating, stayed behind to have a drink and watch the basketball game. The girl took the kid's seat as he went to his show. I chatted with the two left behind. She was an English major and he was a philosophy major.

"That's why you smell like pot" I observed.

He laughed and began explaining that Western philosophy is basically divided into metaphysics and epistemology, going on to define the terms. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I already knew this and on top of that, he forgot ethics.

Discussing literature with his girlfriend, she mentioned she liked Hemingway and asked me who I liked. Italo Calvino and Nabokov were the first names that came to mind. "I've read Lolita" she offered. A girl that likes Hemingway and has read Lolita? She is built for guys to love her.

I should point out that he was wearing a UNC sweatshirt. UNC was winning the basketball game against Duke, but their lead was eroding. He began saying "I hate Duke. I hate them. I wouldn't care if UNC lost to anyone else, but not to Duke. I hate them." There wasn't any anger in it, so much as it was stated as a matter of fact. Both major premise and conclusion.

"Maybe you should study Buddhism at school" I offered.

I bought them each a drink, sub-rosa, by asking the bartender to add a round to my bill. I said my goodbyes and headed out the door, then realized I hadn't said goodbye to one of the bartenders I had chatted with who has not working but just hanging out. I walked back in to say goodnight, and apparently in the less than 60 seconds after I left, the other bartender had told the kids I bought them a drink. They were so thankful and seemed touched that I would do such a thing. I felt like an ass, as if I had walked back in the bar just to get my "thank you's." I really didn't expect the bartender to tell them that fast.

"My pleasure" I told them. "I remember what it was like to be a student."

English and philosophy? They're going to need someone to buy them drinks. They should go into medicine, maybe cardiology. The future belongs to those who can fix people's hearts.

No comments: