All I knew about the game of foosball was that the table it’s played on was the perfect spot for my beer when I stepped outside for an adjustment.
All I knew about the great jazz pianist, Thelonious Monk, was his name.
All I knew about helium was that you used it to fill birthday balloons.
And all I knew about golf was that you can play it looking stiff in bung-tight golf gear. Or come out dressed to hack like a “punk rock warlord” and swing violently as possible at every shot.
I knew none of this, until I met J.
This cat, this J fella, who many in town knew, revered, grew up with, fell in and out of love with, and shattered many brain cells with, has, well, as far as Manchester goes, left the damn planet.
No, he’s not dead. He just moved away with his special lady. But not like, “we’re heading to New Boston or the seacoast” kind of move. I mean, they move, moved. Like you can’t get Xfinity there. The Celtics games come on weeks later. Only videos available to watch are the “The Mary Jane Girls” and “Sha-Na-Na” outtakes.
It’s a loss, I say. A big one. Some people come and go in your life. Some stay too long. Some just meander and sit flat as shit, taking up space for no good reason.
Not J. J Bones was a beacon of entertainment to me and many others. Never once did I hang with this cat over the course of a decade and leave bored, leave underfed, under-cooked, or under the legal limit.
Our relationship was, indeed, wrapped in drink. Yes, we played a lot of golf together, even saw each other at the gym here and there. But when we did golf, it was with a handle of Pinnacle in the cart, an 18-pack and enough smoke to choke out a ninja.
Hey, you roll how you roll.
J taught me to expand my horizons as well. Friday nights indeed were made for the boys. But how you approach a Friday night, well, only a true street urchin can lead you to the Promised Land.
That’s why J came up with “Shit Hole Fridays,” a tradition we practiced for a period that took us all around Manchester at dusk on Friday nights. We’d be in and out of every dank, low-brow wet hole in the city that we could find. More belligerent the better. More smoky the better. More dangerous the better. And we found many. And made many friends along the way.
That’s something J Bar was great at, too – making connections. I have never seen anything like it. When we first met, he would introduce me to people from all around the city, from all walks of life, saying the same thing each time, no matter if we were in a used record store, a vitamin shop, a gas station or Mexican restaurant. “Hey, Robbie, meet my friend so and so. He’s a good guy. You should get to know him.” And I likely did.
A beautiful thing.
Some predict, where J is heading, he will be the “Mayor of Sowtown” within months. Yeah, he’s that good. Others say his return to the Queen City is imminent. I just say, best of luck, brother. Thanks for gifting me a slew of friends, a ton of unforgettable memories and stockpiling me with a lifetime of terrific music to embrace, from jazz to funk to punk.
And, as uncomfortable as these words would make you feel hearing, I say them now loud and proud with you a million miles away.
I’ll miss you, J. Thanks for taking me in. What a ride!