Meeting Missoula installment 562A.
Proving NO ONE sits alone in this town.
A few weeks ago after grabbing a quick bite to eat, I noticed The Flathead Lake Brewing Co. was right next door with a tap room on the 2nd floor above the crowded restaurant. So I says to myself, "Self?" I says, "What say we go nurse a beer and see how good they make it and stare out that 2nd story window while we do it?". I agreed with myself and headed on over.
I didn't go inside the restaurant to find the way up because right next to the patio was an external door leading to a flight of stairs. So ups I goes.
The staircase is long, narrow and steep with just drywall walls with a light coat of paint on them. They reminded me of a staircase I had gone up in a bad place in Tijuana once. When I got to the 2nd floor landing, it was just that. The landing. The hallway that should lead to the 2nd floor was boarded up.
I thought that maybe the sign downstairs was old and the tap room was really on the 3rd floor, so I turned past the ATM that was there in the bare hall and went up the next flight of stairs.
At the top of these was a little room off to the side with a tiny bar, about 15 people, a toddler, a dog and a sectional couch. Tables at the other end by the windows I had seen from the street and a few more people on the balcony. I went in.
Standing at the bar I was behind a woman ordering Moscow Mules for her husband and herself. I thought "How strange. A brewery tap room with a full bar?". This was clue number 3 that I ignore. Or maybe 4 or 5, I ost track. The woman turned around, seemed stunned that she didn't recognize me, stuck out her hand and said, "Hi, I'm Susan." I introduced myself and then ordered a beer.
I got my beer and went to the opposite side of the room by the windows to take a look at my new hometown from a different angle and a guy holding a tall boy can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer came up to my table and introduced himself.
"Hi! I'm Chuckdawg!". I said, "Nice to meet you Chuck.". He came back with a smile and said, "No. Chuckdawg. All one word.". I smiled and asked, "Not even a hyphen?". He said, "Not even a hyphen", and sat down across from me.
He asked how I knew Paul, then all of the tiny clues that I was in the wrong place came crashing into my feeble brain. I asked if this was a private party? His face went blank and his eyes got wide and said, "Yeah. This is for my friend Paul. He committed suicide last week."
Good move Jeff.
I apologized and stood, explained my confusion and said I should leave. He replied, "Well, you probably don't WANT to be here. It's a wake.".
"Unless you'd like me to tell you about my friend Paul.".
I smiled and sat back down and said that I would very much like to hear about his friend.
He explained how he had grown up with Paul and they were always good friends, but a couple years ago Paul started acting differently. He became confrontational and violent, wanting to fight every time he saw Chuckdawg. Chuckdawg eventually estranged himself from Paul and hadn't been in contact with him for 2 years. In fact, though he knew all the others in the room, he hadn't talked to them for as long.
I realized that Chuckdawg was at a friends wake whom he didn't really know anymore with a bunch of people that he used to know, but didn't anymore. And he just wanted to talk about his friend.
And I was in the wrong place at the right time to listen.
Somewhere in the middle of his story-telling, Chuckdawg drunkenly meandered off mid-sentence and wandered out onto the balcony with some people he used to know and started up the conversation with them. I ducked out.
It was a good day.
No one sits alone in this town.
Talk to you soon.