I kind of miss the club business.
Yes, I just wrote that, and I do. I really miss it. I mean, it pretty much sucks with the noise and the assholes and the danger and the stabbing and the sexually transmitted diseases and the mob guys and the complete lack of consideration people have for their fellow human beings from eleven at night until five in the morning most nights, but I do sort of pine away, in a strange and compartmentalized way, for...well... the club life.
Everything about the job but the money and the camaraderie was a fucking joke, but to be perfectly honest with you, money and camaraderie are two pretty major selling points for me right about now. I made friends. I had shit to do. I was doing something. I was a respected member of a high-quality team of guys – respected because I’d proven myself in a variety of different ways over a period of years to a group that had proven itself to me.
And I miss that. Who wouldn’t?
I miss getting home at six in the morning with my two bagels – egg-onion, one with jalapeño cream cheese and the other with sun dried tomato – and my bottle of orange Gatorade and my New York Post. I miss reading the sports section in the Sunday Post while I ate my bagels, drank my Gatorade and watched SportsCenter by myself in my apartment. I miss driving home at 5:30 in the morning with nobody else on the road but the drunks and the cops – and the drunks were easy to avoid because it’d already be light out and I’d see them before they’d be a hassle.
I miss drinking coffee and eating donuts at the podium out front. I miss getting care packages at two in the morning from the guys who owned the Italian restaurant down the block. I miss running “game” on girls at the door – saying shit they couldn’t possibly understand, then searching their faces for some glimmer of recognition beyond the bullshit they’d spew to try to get in. Sometimes you’d see that in them. Most times you wouldn’t. With anyone. That was the sad part of the job – the collection of pointless humanity whose lives, already in the toilet, were seemingly dedicated to being there, hassling me, and not understanding a word that came out of my fucking mouth.
Most of all, and this will be the most hackneyed reason of all, I miss being part of a solid crew of guys I could both have fun with and depend on. I don’t have that anymore professionally. Not the way I had it back then. I miss Tits-On-A-Bull, The Mutant, The Nut Puncher, The Jew, The Champ, The Orange Guy, Johnny, Jimmy, JD and everyone else I shot the shit at the front door with every night. I made friends, and I kept them – night after night, week after week and year after year. You see the same faces in the same place for so long, you wonder where the fuck it went when it’s gone, you know?
I work at a desk now. When I walk in the front door – provided I even show up to my office – there’s nobody there to bust my balls for wearing a jacket with a hole under the arm or for fucking up the haircut I tried to give myself over the bathroom sink. I can’t approach them with that familiar we-all-get-the-joke ease, and I can’t, for the life of me, imagine what would happen if I tried.
Getting the fucking joke was a huge part of it, too. When you’re on a team like that, you all get the damned joke – and that’s all the whole thing is. A big fat fucking joke. But when you’re with a whole load of people who understand that – and around whom you don’t have to censor yourself and watch your fucking mouth all the time – it makes everything fun and gives you things to remember when you’re sitting at a computer screen in the middle of the night getting all wistful about a job you did nothing but complain about for the better part of nearly two decades, off and on.
Do what we do together, and do it for as many years as I did it with some of these guys, and see if you ever feel the need to temper your language. About anything. That’s priceless. I pity you if you’ve never had it.
Would I ever go back? No, not voluntarily, unless I was seriously strapped for cash and needed something immediately. That’s not me anymore, and I’m fine with just the memories. Same goes for a lot of things, like playing ball. I can’t play anymore, not like I used to, but once in a while – for whatever reason, just long enough to make me smile – it sings to me in my dreams and I’m 20 again and I’m down there and everyone else is up there watching, with my father in the bathroom after drinking the home stadium's kegs dry, and all that matters in the entire fucking world is just putting it on someone for all I’m worth. That dream comes and catches me when I fall and lets me know what I need to know.
It’s the same with bouncing, I suppose. You move on, taking the good with you, dropping the bad in the trash heap, and having days like today, where you get shit done, you nail down plans, you remember who and what you once were and the whole wide fucking world is once again wide open and right out in front of you.
That’s what memories are for.