Sometimes I see him on the street, and our eyes will meet briefly before darting away, the way you look at that girl you hooked up with that one time and it was totally weird and you never talked to her again. “Do I say something? Do I wave?” you wonder. “Does he even remember me? Does he know my name?”
I think of all times we spent on barstools at the local pub. He was always there when I was, and one day, we just struck up a conversation. I think he asked about the book that was I reading, then he bought me a round, and we started talking about girls and bands and everything else that guys talk about once they’ve had a couple beers. It’s not all that unusual, at a bar like that. His name was Paul, and at the time, he had just recently moved to the neighborhood. A former Navy SEAL, he was going back to UMass Boston to finish his degree in Anthropology. Said he was part of the team that took down those Somali pirates. I told him I was impressed with the shot they made over alternating waves; he said the shot was easy, anyone could have done it, and he was a little irked that he was on the shift before the one got the shot, because those guys got all the glory.
I don’t know why I remember that. I don’t even know if he was telling me the truth. I’m not even sure what I might have told him about myself, or what he remembers of it. Other times, we’d both be at the bar with our friends. We’d shout “Hey!” and high five, introduced our friends to one another in hopes of triggering the other one to remind of his name: “Hey, this is my buddy Chris” “How’s it goin’, I’m Paul” and so on. We’d get excited every time the blonde behind the bar would put on London Calling — as if it was such a rare coincidence that we both liked The Clash — then we’d turn and watch the Sox game in silence, only turning to each other to say obligatory things like, “Youk was in a funk, but man, he’s got it back,” or “Beckett’s gotta sit for a few more games, they should pull him out and get Papelbon back out there,” and of course, “Let’s go, Papi!” If the game went well, then he might buy a round of PBRs for my friends as well as his. We’d shoot the shit some more, then say good night like we’d been bros for the longest time.
I don’t even think we’re Facebook friends.
But in those hazy, drunken moments in the low, musty lighting of the bar, you’d swear we were the best of friends, and at the time, perhaps we were. So when I see him now, I can’t help but feel some strange sense of camaraderie, fueled by nostalgia for nights that I hardly can remember.