Have you ever noticed that when certain people start drinking booze, they let it all out? It could just be that I have some aura about me that makes people, drunk people, feel like they can tell me anything, because this happens to me ALL the time. I am an open-minded, friendly person and what other people do or how they choose to live typically, does not bother me, but there are some things I believe a person should keep to themselves. I say this because I have heard so many crazy, personal and overly detailed, intimate stories from complete strangers in bars that it almost makes me feel like I should start a show called, “Bar Stories – Drunks and the Untold Truths you did not ask to hear.”
I was out with a friend at a bar in Indianapolis some time ago. It was a nice day, so we sat outside at a patio table to have a few drinks as we talked. Seated at the table next to us were two older men and one young man. They looked rough and their clothes were ragged and dirty. At some point, the oldest man of the group chimed in our conversation by commenting on something my friend had said to me. The next thing I know, he is telling us his entire life-story, in a nutshell.
His name was Gary, he was in his early 60’s, the man with him was his younger brother, and the youngest man at the table, was their nephew. They had a home reconstruction business with a crew that consisted of the three of them, and they had just gotten off work. Gary, who looked older than his years, had hair of gray with random patches of dark throughout. His face, like worn-out leather, was rough and tethered with wrinkles. He looked as though he had worked hard all his life and had never had a break. “I been having serious health issues sweetheart, and I don’t expect to live much longer”, he said. He did not care about anything anymore; He did not care about what anyone knew about him; He did not care about what anyone thought of him, and after hearing a few things about him, maybe he never did.
Gary told us how, in the 1970’s, he got to where he needed to be by hitch-hiking all the time and how that was not uncommon back then. A man driving a semi-truck stopped to give him a lift once, and after the teenage Gary climbed in, he noticed that the truck driver was not wearing pants.
“He thought he was going to do something, but I took out my knife, held it up to his face and said there ain’t nothing gonna happen. You take me where I need to go and that’s that you son-of-a-bitch”, Gary said with mad rage.
The look on Gary’s face was terrifying. I could see the hatred and fear in his eyes as he spoke of that memory. It was as if all the feelings he had of that actual moment of his history had re-birthed, and he was feeling what he had felt then, all over again, as he spoke of it. He covered the ill-feelings he had of this memory with a sense of pride in the fact that he was never afraid to stand up for himself; to fight to the death; to survive.
He concluded with another example of how he would never allow anyone to hurt him or those he loves. “A man tried to dis-respect my old lady once,” he said. “I pulled out my deer-knife and gutted that bastard. I ripped his belly clean open.”
Why?, I wondered. What would compel this man to tell me these things? I still have no clue why people choose to tell me their stories and secrets. Maybe it’s because when most people would have ignored or walked away, I always sat still and listened. I doubt I will ever really know.
It’s not that I mind having stories told to me. I actually enjoy talking to random people at times because I find it interesting. There are a variety of personalities out there. People from all walks of life, social classes, and generations can be found in certain places all at once, and the bar is usually one of them. I am just amazed at how personal people can be with complete strangers. There are Gary’s stories of slashing a person’s stomach open and “doing time” and then, there are those who will actually pull out there cell phones and show you indecent pictures or videos of their beloved. I actually had that happen to me last Saturday. I made a suggestion to this guy that he should have more respect for his wife, who obviously trusted him enough to have taken those photos and videos of her on his cell phone. He left shortly after that. Hopefully, he has some sense to keep that to himself the next time he goes out, but I doubt it.
People do what they do and people say what they say. Life would be boring without diversity and even though things can get a little creepy at times, I am glad we are not all the same.