Crazy John, the lonely ol' loner
Waynesville, N.C. -- Well, we got one hell of a welcome.
Jenn and I are back, nearly a year to the day, to a favorite resort. It's my early birthday present. Now, we're sitting on the deck outside our room, savoring the stillness, staring at the mountains and the green of the golf course.
After check in, we ducked into a favorite pub to see if Amanda was still serving. She's here and had exciting news to share -- a new baby girl, born on Amanda's birthday, Jan. 28. Both mom and baby look and are doing well.
But down at the end of the bar, we met Crazy John, the self-described Lonely Ol' Loner. He was the loudmouth you tend to find in any bar or grill and it was obvious his five o'clock somewhere had started sometime in the a.m., probably aided by something synthetic. He was wearing a white turtleneck and a matching golf visor.
At first, John was charming, spouting song lyrics and poetry he'd written, mostly about ex-wives and lovers. He'd even had one tattooed to his arm, 'til he found out she didn't love him anymore. He called the song "Charm on my Arm."
Then his talk began to border on misogyny. He quoted from Ecclesiastes, giving Solomon credit for saying "he'd never met a wise woman." Although he went on to say there's a difference in being smart and being wise. And added, "I'm not Solomon, but I'm GD close."
Then John told me he began writing verse when he got back from Vietnam in 1970. And that explained what happened next. Well, that and the toxins that were barreling through his body.
"I lost 350 men in Cambodia, and if you don't know what dying looks like, I can (expletive) tell you.
We shared song lyrics. We both found out we'd stood on a corner in Winslow, Ariz., but, alas, found no girls, my lord, in a flatbed Ford.
Meanwhile, Wayne, CPA and gentle soul from Florida by way of Connecticut, joined us. Out of nowhere, Crazy John sat down between Wayne and Jenn, started telling a story, and smashed his drink on the wooden bar, glass flying in every direction. Thankfully, none of us got cut.
Amanda comped our drinks and snack and said, "I've never seen him like this." She called him a cab. Jenn and I asked to get our cheese fries and my Dr. Pepper to go.
Wayned must have sensed the scenario was spiraling south, because he quietly refused John's attempt to buy him a glass of pinot.
Before he moved to the other end of the bar, Wayne said he thought Obamacare was the worst legislation passed since the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. He went on to add that of the 14 boys that lived on his street back in Connecticut, he was the only one who didn't die in Vietnam. He tried to join the Coast Guard, wanted to fly, but they wouldn't take him because of a spinal defect.
Wayne was a gentle giant, the type of person you'd like to get to know. But we decided the best thing for us was to race to the room. We wished Wayne well and told Amanda we'd see her again.
It would be easy to judge John, but it's obvious he left his sanity and probably his childhood somewhere in Southeast Asia.
Just goes to show you that, nearly 50 years removed, some scars never heal.