A reminder of my past

My breakfast date didn't show up this morning and while I waited for her and decided if I was going to eat by myself or leave, I watched the other patrons. I like to do this sometimes to get ideas for characters for my fiction--the way people look, the physical mannerisms, quirks. At one point, I noticed the waitress go behind the bar and pull down a bottle of scotch. This is a breakfast and lunch place and most of those don't have a full bar but this place must serve bloody marys or drinks at lunch. She pored two shots of scotch in a tall water glass and then placed it front of a guy at the end of the bar.

He was an average-looking guy in his 30s and he wasn't alone. He and a male companion had been eating breakfast and drinking coffee and passing papers back and forth between them. But there was one glass of scotch, not a champagne toast. He downed it in two gulps, and then I noticed the suffering on his face, the unhealthy look of his skin, the slump to his shoulders, and I could feel his misery deep in my body.

I admired his willingness to ask for what he needed, a stiff drink to take the edge off, something I wouldn't have been able to do. I'd have gritted my teeth and then hurried home and canceled my day and drunk all I needed. I wondered what his companion thought, what he knew of his friend, and what he might say or not say.

I felt so glad to be sober, to be free of that misery, and I felt such empathy for that fellow.


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