That's how you feel when you wake up two hours after getting home from celebrating, no, honoring, a guy who is about to embark on one of those life journies. You know, the kind where every single swinging dick would take in a heartbeat if they had the courage to do so.
Red Webster: How long are you gonna be in town?
Dalton: Not very long.
Red Webster: That's what I said 25 years ago.
I can see this being the first conversation Al has at the local marlboro shop his first or second day in Key West.
After some usual road blocks that become more of speed bumps because of the ease of being able to negotiate them, it was decided that Al's farewell bar thrashing would take place at a different venue since the Pub fell into uncertainty ('nother story). I posted the impending farewell party on the RPT site, and we all expected a nice little gathering to send the man off.
The decided temple of joy juice resided in King of Prussia, a little town famous more for its mall than its people. I knew I had a few things to deal with before getting there and would be a tad late, but I was intent on getting there and at least throwing back a congratulatory shot and a hug and maybe some wise cracks to send him on his way.
"where are you going at this hour?" asked the wife. "Gotta send Al off. He's heading to Key West", I replied. "What the hell's so special about that? You're sending a guy off for going on vacation?" "No sweetheart, he's going forever. He's OUT!". "You mean forever, forever? What's he going to do?" "Looks like he is going to live his life. If you're asking me what he will do for cake, well, he has his Full Tilt gig, and he can do whatever I need him to do from anywhere with an internet connection. Plus the casinos are only a flight away". "Good for him. Sounds like Earnest Hemmingway".
She has a point. The only thing missing will be the cats. But he has the strip clubs and the "procedure" for that.
So we sent the Rockstar off in grand fashion, singing some karakoke, and throwing back shots (not unlike any other night), and annoying the 21 year olds who were celebrating a birthday.
I'm kinda sad. I'll speak to him everyday. Much like every other day via IM's and texts. But I won't be able to see him. I won't be able to say "EFF this place" and take refuge at the bar next to him to unwind, settle down, or just flake. Al has a way of making that more enjoyable, rather than just heading anywhere.
Text a shots only go so far. One thing that can't be replaced is being in his presence. But it's his time. I doubt most of you will detect the slightest change at all. But when you have the ability to hang with Mr. Canthang, it changes you. You see the realness of someone who says what they mean, and means what they say. They do shit because they see a need, not because they want recognition.
I'd say good luck, but that's boring. I'd say best wishes, but thats about as sincere as giving someone a head nod to say hi. So I will say Thanks, instead. Thanks for being that guy. Safe travels kid! Take it down. Pwn it. And for God's sake, make the most out of this experience. Take everything you want out of it. Wring it out like a sopping wet dish rag. This trip has purpose. Soak it up.
I had a nice conversation with Al on the way home. I was trying to put into words his outlook on this next chapter for him. He actually said to me that the best part about this for him was that for the bext three months, HE finally gets to be the man. I said, brother, you might finally get to realize that you've been the man. And there's the redemption. So with a little humor, and a little sincerety, I offer you this in song. Make the most of it! Live it like it's your last stand!