Hard in the Paint (or) The Irish Table Tap

It has been a hard few weeks.  I’m not a young man, but I’m sure not an old one and I don’t believe that I should be watching my friends drop all around me.  I lost two friends in their mid-thirties in the past two weeks and I just received news that I’m about to lose a third: pancreatic cancer, brain cancer, and a heroin overdose.  I try to wrap my head around the people as they were, their glowing souls and enthusiastic smiles.  But eventually the senselessness of their passings overwhelms me and I’m left with myself trying to find some obscure answer near the bottom of a bottle of Jack Daniels, or in last night’s case, Rumple Minze.

I worked in the night club/bar industry for a long time.  We know how to have a good time.  But sometimes we spend so much time pursuing that enjoyment our balance gets out of whack.  For example: I remember when I first started drinking.  I would drink maybe two or three shots of vodka and I would get fuzzy, tripping around and giddy and that was enough.  Over time the tolerance has gotten stronger, now the same feelings takes a little more, not gonna talk numbers or anything but my bar tabs are becoming unbearable.  Take that and combine it with being urged by friends to do shots or this or that and we all end up hammered.  We then feel like shit in the morning and tell stories about going “hard in the paint” the night before.  Well I appreciate tying one on for a good time.  But I think it may be time to be more aware of the number of times we push each other in the name of a good time without realizing maybe we have taken the highway to the danger zone and could be in for a real bad time.  If only we could see it coming.

The Irish table tap is a long standing tradition of toasting a glass and then tapping it on the bar or table before taking a drink.  We do it to salute those that have fallen before us.  I have had some battles in my life, but I have never seen a stronger fortitude than my friends I have watched battle cancer.  The amount of focus and effort battling such an imposing foe leaves me without words.  I could only hope to have a fraction of the strength I have seen them show.  The joy that exuded from their eyes as I shared a stage or mixed cocktails with them was something they managed to maintain even as they watch their bodies slowly fail them–and here I am moaning like a petulant child.

My friends are always the first to raise their glasses with me.  But not for this, not to be mucking around in sorrow.  I’ll let this glass hit the table like ever other time I have ever done it, but this time it is different.  This time there is so much behind my table tap, multiple lives worth of experiences, loves, smiles, laughter and music.  So here I raise this glass to the strength, commitment, passion, joy, enthusiasm and effort you have all made the building blocks of your lives.  May you rest peacefully, as your battles are over.

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