In the years since our time working together in retail hell, Phillip* and I had kept in sporadic contact. Just when I’d start to wonder how he was doing, the phone would ring or an email would arrive. This time, it had been somewhere in the neighborhood of a year without contact when I received a call from him. As usual, Phillip’s voice was its upbeat self (monotone, except for the upward intonation always on the last syllable). He talked of his new job, new house, new car, all of the good turns his life had taken. Phillip was a good guy, but a good guy hounded by demons of which his dominance over waxed and waned like an AA member who is forever re-achieving that 30-day sobriety coin. This is why hearing about the good things in his life was reason to rejoice. So, before hanging up, I invited Phillip to the house for dinner. We’d make gnocchi, it’d be a good time.
Phillip arrived, had found my directions clear enough, had hit no traffic, etc. Waiting for our guest was a 4-pack of his drink of choice, Guinness. I told him to take home whatever he didn’t finish because neither myself nor my wife are big beer drinkers. “I’ll probably finish ‘em,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t like to leave a Guinness unopened. It’s a crime, Mike. I can’t do it.” And with a click-fwwish, he opened his first can. Read more