81. coat

My coat will forever remain a sacrifice to St. Patrick himself.  

I walked into The Tavern in Downtown Hartford with it lovingly zipped to the chin. A cheap Merona peacoat I prettied up with a yellow Oregon lapel pin. It’s been left and retrieved from bars in two states. Those instances were my fault, though. Induced forgetfulness, I think, is the gentle euphemism.

This time, though, amid the carnage of Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, I knew exactly where I left it — Slung over the back of the chair behind the pool table, still there at least hour before I was forced to leave without it.

That was right around the time a hulking dude in a garbage chartreuse polo knocked over a stranger’s drink in front of God and everyone and just walked off.

I demanded he apologize — because apparently this is my crusade now, demanding verbal restitution for drunken accidents I had nothing to do with, like the world’s lamest, sloppiest vigilante — and he immediately asked if I wanted to fight about it. That was his first recourse.

It was a fight we both knew he would win, even though I’ve added 15 pounds of muscle since January and I feel stronger and denser than ever– especially in my arms and back. Doing tricep dips doesn’t make it easier to take one on the chin, though. He would’ve hit me, then hit me again.

I was, however, holding a pool cue from our ongoing game, so I dug it into the ground in front of me like a pole vault pole.

He turned to a short, nerdy guy dressed like a leprechaun that was standing next to our table. I had pregamed with hours earlier, but I couldn’t remember his name.

“Are you friends with This Asshole?”a The Hulk asked, pointing at me. It was a perfect 1980s teen-movie farce, an oversized trope putting the tiny, bespectacled clown in a moral crisis.

The littler guy wasn’t friends with me. He had known me for six hours. We shared an Uber. But he also knew who was right. He did, after all, see the spill.

For one moment, he hesitated, and I thought maybe I had misjudged him. Nope.

“Naw, I’ve never met him,” he said, refusing to meet my eye contact. It was so infuriatingly predictable that I immediately fulfilled my destiny as This Asshole.

“Are you KIDDING me, dude?” I yelled, waving the cue. I turned toward the room to hold court, a young Cicero at the Roman Forum. “You’re just gonna pretend like you don’t know me? Like we’ve never met? I was just at your house!”

It was more effective than I thought it would be. It cut him down entirely, and he shrunk and left the room.

Instantly I felt rotten straight through. It was mean and easy, and I was embarrassed at how quickly Doing The Right Thing decayed into Being A Dick. So I sat back down, righteous and ashamed, and I postured a little more to the people at our table.

At least the conflict with The Hulk was resolved. We went from being two Alphas in a stalemate to accomplices in the destruction of a leprechaun. Our business was finished. The guilt was shared.

An hour later, my coat was gone. I probably got what I deserved. But damn, I’ll miss that coat.

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