Chuck Brooks' column: A night worth sharing
Hello all. Hope you're enjoying the dog days of summer, which, oddly, have not been so doggish. The days have actually been beautiful, which is strange for August, when heat seems to ramp up. However, after our spring, we deserve this.
I had a column fully written early in the week for you. I thought it somewhat fun and playful. Once again, I wrote it from my sister's kitchen on my final trip back to my hometown for the summer. I was proud of myself to have it written so early. Then, something happened. Friday night happened. Aug. 9.
We have a bar in my hometown called Stooges. As you might guess, the theme of the bar is all about The Three Stooges. It's a sports bar as well. Not huge, but spacious enough with a nice patio area. As in all smaller towns, you have your share of bars and your share of bar regulars. This week's topic is about an authentic regular at Stooges and his "you-had-to-be-there" special night.
They affectionately call him "Crazy Larry." Larry has lived in my hometown for most of his adult life. He worked at Kraft Foods in my hometown for many years as well. Just recently, he decided it was time to retire. If you are reading this column on any night of the week, it's likely you could as much as walk into Stooges on that same night, and you'd find Larry at the bar, drinking his beer. Larry, however, is unlike the other bar patrons. To my knowledge, no one knows for certain, but they say Larry is a likely victim of Agent Orange from his days in Vietnam, and the people who "know" him also say he's autistic.
When I've been back there, Larry is always at the bar, drinking his beer. Sometimes someone will engage him in a discussion about politics. but they soon learn or are reminded politics is not a topic for discussion with Larry. He becomes emotional in a "soapbox" sort of way. He will pontificate his feelings as well as anyone. His emotions run deep regarding his politics.
A bartender by the name of Corky decided to throw Larry a retirement party at Stooges, so all the bar patrons could show Larry how excited they were for him in his decision to retire. The party was Friday night. Corky had hired a DJ, and karaoke was the order of the night. My sister, her husband and I attended. Larry's seldom-seen brother as well as his sister were there. A pool table top with cards and gifts awaited the party's end. At one point, Larry "sang" two songs, one being "Take This Job And Shove It." The bar gave him two rousing ovations.
Larry's simply a character, a harmless patron and citizen of a small town in Wisconsin. Most of the world will never know Larry ever existed, to say nothing of the fact he worked against great odds and lived to retire from a productive job. It's as likely the world will never know one bartender and a group of people who know Larry saw fit to help him celebrate this landmark point in his life, a night where he was "the star," with the rest of us merely his loyal following.
It was indeed a special night for everyone. I just wanted to share it with you.