Eat, Drink, and Be Gary
How as a culture we can become more tolerant and curious about each other?
I’d been expecting the news.
But it still comes as a shock: the death of a friend.
I’d been out the Saturday before Hallowe’en, slumming through my neighborhood thinking about buying a used hat. Winter was coming and I needed something to keep my head warm.
So it being mid-afternoon, I stopped at a local café for a beer and maybe a bite to eat. It wasn’t one of my favorite haunts, and I had no desire to linger there.
I was sitting at the bar and, when I turned around, there was the old gang — former employees of the Muddy Pig (now defunct), one of my favorite watering holes in St. Paul.
The look on their faces said it all.
One of the bartenders, Lisa, came over, joined by Thea and Kristian, another bartender and server, was there with his young daughter Violet.
“Gary died on Thursday,” they told me.
“Oh man,” I said, eyes welling with tears. “That’s terrible.”
They all gave me a shoulder-rub and we caught up about his last days. They mentioned another restaurant was having a holiday party in his honor sometime in January. I said I’d try to make that.
The title of this post was a saying that someone at the Muddy Pig left constantly on the chalkboard: “Eat, Drink, and Be Gary.”
I didn’t know a lot about my friend because he was a man of few words. He was ten years older than me and we disagreed about music often. When Gary didn’t like your choices, his face clearly showed it. I always appreciated Gary’s honesty.
I usually saw Gary when I made appearances at the Muddy Pig, just after they opened on Sunday mornings. I’d unfurl my local newspaper and have brunch there, and Gary would wander by my booth saying, “So is it Bloody…