it’s christmas eve, 1982, and i’m sitting at the bar at the dockside in wakefield. the 4th quarter is winding down and the celtics are in garbage time, victims of a 26-point thrashing at the hands of the pistons. there’s me, fat ass taking up a corner stool; there’s kevin, forehead down on the rail; and there’s donald, shaking his head in disgust and getting up to take a leak. if there were windows in this place i would see snow meandering to the pavement outside.
i’m here because i’m not at home with the girl you remember i brought to my cousin’s wedding last year. we figured out that we were never gonna get married, mostly because of my drinking and lack of ambition, or at least that’s the way she tells it. so instead, on christmas eve, i’m sitting here like a schnook with these other guys, and there’s no lively discussion, debates about what to do about iran, or panama, or about the celtics’ lack of defense. no, there’s just a sticky floor, the shittiest of holiday decorations from brenner’s down the road, and “last christmas” playing on the radio. jenna, our lucky bartender for the night, is yapping about how excited she is to have tickets for wham at the garden next month. i consider telling her that i heard george michael’s a queer, but i kinda wanna sleep with her, so i keep my mouth shut.
i tip my hand — another miller high life, please — and get up to buy a pull-tab from the cashier at the front. there are a handful of folks on the restaurant side, finishing up their dinners and hurrying to get their heavy coats on so that they can snuggle up in front of their fires at home, watch it’s a wonderful life on tv, and get ready for a visit from santa. outside the front doors i can see the snow is getting angry at the wind. it won’t stick but it’ll be just annoying enough to drive home in this shit. i’ll be drunk so it won’t bother me too bad.
i toss the pull-tab away — another loser, fuck you very much — and before i stumble back to my perch, i stop at the jukebox a minute and lean my head against the smudged plastic. i have a severe lack of imagination, as many a woman has informed me, and so i cannot picture anything even remotely like 2008, but for some reason, i have the urge to pop a dime into this jukebox and press the letter F and the number 12. and so in a moment there i am, lazily swaying back and forth to a david byrne song entitled “everyone’s in love with you.”
for a split-second, i’m on the other side of my own reflection, and i’m wearing glasses, and i am cold now even though i’m here, in southern california, looking out at myself and wondering aloud, “where did i go wrong?”