Wednesday Afternoon at the Eight-Ball Saloon

Stale-popcorn hospitality

carries me forward. When
we finish each four-dollar

pitcher, I refill the basket for
the table. The jukebox trades
Merle Haggard for Beyonce. I

can’t clearly catch anything
said by the people around

me. I can’t make out the

lyrics. Someone is queen of

the aspirational divas. Someone
seems to have made an excellent,
age-specific insight. It’s not

my generation. She laughs and
awaits my response. I smile, nod

knowingly, wonder what was
asked. Does he want a refill? We

both do. The TV plays sports

recaps on mute. I can almost
read lips. They seem to be having
more fun in the booth behind

us. Sorry to stick you with my
sodden self. But nobody admits

I’m a boring fraud. Soon come
the townies, the regulars. This

is the précis of a community. Home

is an impulse pizza and
a crosstown stumble away.