Here’s To Bud Light Bob
by Bruce McEwen, August 9, 2017
Bud Light Bob has died. A regular at the Forrest Club whose tenure predates my own.
I was informed of his passing this afternoon, as myself and Salvadore were his only surviving drinking buddies, and the newest bar manager recalled that I was someone who knew the man.
“The poor guy,” he said mournfully.
“Really? Bud Light Bob was poor?”
“Well, no, but, it came out that he’d come in here for his usual round or two of Bud Light, then go home and get crocked on Jack Daniels.”
Ah… so this is why you count him poor – not that he was a pauper, but because he got loaded to the gills in the privacy of his own home?”
“Bruce – aside to the barmaid, ‘how long has he been here?’ – that’s not what I meant. The poor guy was a closet alcky, it turns out.”
“Oh? How do you figure? He came in here and drank openly, didn’t he?”
“Well, yes, but his family and his doctors had told him to quit, and he … well, he couldn’t”
“You don’t know that – that he couldn’t quit. You’re taking the complacent attitude of the sober and well-fed. And he certainly wasn’t poor! He lived his life just as he chose, always had plenty of money, and behaved himself as a gentleman in this bar under some very onerous circumstances, as you know very well yourself.”
“That’s right. I’ll never forget the day that tattooed, muscle-bound drunk was calling me all those names, and Bob sipped his Bud Light until the guy was through, then said, ‘that’s pretty good, but my ex called me much worse – keep trying, though, you got talent!’”
“So what are you saying, Bruce?”
“I’m saying that when –not if – I die, but if you’re still working here, don’t say, ‘the poor guy died,’ to Salvadore over there – or anyone else who knew me; because – although I’ve often been broke, I’ve never been poor – and I have done everything I ever wanted with my life before I even got here; so, all the rest is gravy!”
Bud Light Bob and I had actually talked about this and were of a mind on the subject. He hath sluffed off his mortal coil, but there’s no call to lament – in his 70s! He had led a rich and rewarding life, and continued to do so until his family (who apparently wanted him to live forever, for incomprehensible reasons) interfered and had his liquor cabinet plundered; the dogs!
You hear it all the time, these idiotic platitudes: “Oh, goodness, he’s destroying himself, a pity, a shame, a crying shame… Wake up, eejit! The man’s on the threshold of the grave – let him do as he pleases, for once!
“Lemme stand the bar a round in honor of Bud Light Bob, bartender.”
“Well, it’s only you and Salvadore – and he don’t drink since his wife died five years ago and made him promise not to – so that’ll be $2.”
“Here’s to Bud Light Bob – Bottoms up!”
PS. Almost forgot -- Bud Light Bob always wore a felt fedora, and a bomber jacket; didn't matter the time of year, he dressed the same to the point of being predictable, and punctual to a fault. That you could set your watch by his arrival on a certain barstool, was a watch-word carried over from some of the older clubs, long-since closed, where he had made himself something of a celebrity. I have only a few memories of those days, when he'd greet the late Bert Schlosser at the bar and these two lovable old spendthrifts would stand the bar drinks 'til closing time!