This event took place a very long time ago. I didn’t want to write the story because it might adversely affect business or the general level of flagrant ribaldry that we all enjoyed. People who read Muldoon stories used to travel some distances to come enjoy the place, especially the Friday evenings. Fortunately this happened on some other day of the week when the place was only moderately full. The regulars obviously have known about it for a long time, but they never thought the story was worth telling or they just don’t know how to tell stories anyway.
Among the considerations for not writing this story in a timely manner was the desire to suppress any notion that someone may not have had the best time of his life because they were Muldoonian clientele. Now, so many years later, it occurs to me that dying in Muldoon’s might very well be the most envied demise one could wish for. I would certainly want to have my last grand mal seizure with a glass of Jameson or Guinness in my hand at Muldoon’s than hooked up some “life support” system in a socially acceptable hospice where everyone is sad and you would be damn lucky to get a cuppa hot the.
When I was younger and death never occurred to me as a first person consideration I told everyone that it was my serious and ardent wish that upon my demise there be no funeral, but rather a grand hoolie at Muldoon’s with drinks prepaid from my estate if any there be and me last cremains flushed down the men’s loo. While most laughed at the suggestion, some thought it inappropriate. My daughter thought it was an awful idea. One of my ex wives was appalled and wanted the leavings to be the object of a proper Episcopalian funeral. The thought of me attending an Episcopalian service, living or dead, is by itself enough to explain how little we had in common.
The decedent was not, thank God, a regular, and nobody knew who he was, not even the lady he walked in with, who insisted they didn’t come in together for any reason other than the time of arrival and wanted no part of the ensuing proceedings, picking up her purse and getting the hell out of there as quickly as possible without paying her tab. That may not have been an act of treachery for the reason that no woman who looked even half way decent and didn’t smell like a fishing dock at four in the afternoon in midsummer ever expected to have to buy her own drinks in Muldoon’s.
Unusual happenings in restaurants and bars are frequently used opportunistically by customers as an opportunity to walk a tab. In our restaurant in Brenham there was a rush to the door every time the electricity went off in a rain storm. The biggest offenders were, in my opinion, teachers from the nearby college. It got so that when they came in we put them at the farthest table from the door, but even then a few of them would make it out the door before someone could bar their way and insist upon a reckoning.
Only today some twenty years later, are we coming to expect opportunism and dishonesty from those who pretend to be worthy to occupy positions of trust. Back in my day children were taught that professors and high office holders were inherently honorable people who should be looked up to. HAH!
Today no one with any self respect would think of running for high public office. This is the day of the attack ad. This morning there is an attack ad on television against someone running for commissioner on some commission or other of no consequence. He was photographed with a wine glass in this hand with the voice over asked whether we want a wine drinker on the commission? The stupid ass, instead of acknowledging that he drinks whatever it is he was drinking, claims that there was water in the glass, not wine.
If Jesus Christ Himself were to run for office in Texas He would be vilified daily on television and in robo campaign phone calls on behalf of his opponent. The governor would be on television and calling everyone (as he does today and every day) telling you that Jesus is wrong for Texas; that He is a liberal which is certainly not what we want to occupy any position of leadership in Texas; that before entering political life He was a community organizer who advocated uplifting the downtrodden and taking care of the poor; that he was a socialist/communist out to destroy everything that made Texas great; that He favored equal rights for gay people and minorities; and that if we wanted to live in some misguided European society we ought to pack up and go there. Given the lifestyle of leadership in Italy it is unlikely He could win an election in Rome. He would not be considered a suitable conservative Christian for office holder in Texas.
It was a rather typical weekday happy hour to evening crowd that day. Actually Muldoon’s never has had a happy hour with “drink specials”. Happy hour brings in the bozos and the punks, both persona non grata. You got a great drink at Muldoon’s and if you had to have a low price on top of that you were welcome to take your business to Walgreens. Kinky Friedman wrote a song about that old sign we used to see everywhere proclaiming that “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” The first lines of the song proclaimed that “We reserve the right to refuse service to you. Take your business back to Walgreens. Have you tried the local zoo?” The era is easy to pinpoint because there were dishes of free peanuts on the bar. These were universally enjoyed until some woman complained that she didn’t want to eat peanuts out of a bowl into which some man who had just left the men’s room without washing his hands had just put his germ ridden fingers. No one had ever thought of that word picture before that moment. Soon it got so that no woman would eat the peanuts and they were eliminated. Of course the guys never gave a damn who had taken peanuts from the bowls and had no concerns at all about filth, contagion or any other public health issue.
Just yesterday on the news it was announced that some university with more grant money than they should have been given had sent their pasty faced public health students around to swab the restrooms and break rooms of large office buildings and report the findings regarding germs being present despite the normal maintenance cleaning that occurs every night. It was reported that there was no difference in the germ population diversity or density between rest rooms and break rooms and that therefore no one should ever eat anything in a break room. As long as we didn’t know that we gleefully took breaks and ate in break rooms without it noticeably affecting us. Now of course we can expect the break room to go the way of free bar peanuts.
When I was young we thought that being dirty was part of being alive. Your immune system was built up through your exposure to whatever might abound in your environs. Most of us men remain that way to this day. We men are pigs in more ways than most people think. There are some who fastidiously cleanse everything before touching, opening public restroom doors with their elbows and flushing toilets with their feet, like some women I suppose. Hopefully they die young and do not pass along to children stupid notions of avoiding contact with whatever the world is really like.
Anyway, the evening of the untimely demise of a customer in Muldoon’s was an ordinary weekday evening with full barstools and at least half the tables and benches occupied. Chuck had put on several of his customary new age elevator musical selections that thankfully nobody ever pays any attention to. There was a guy at the bar weighing in at around 350 pounds wearing shorts that were a few sizes too small and very tight. His boxer short legs were showing below end of the legs of the shorts. He had a white beard and very pale almost pink skin.
He had been there for a while and people had stopped noticing how ridiculous he looked when all of a sudden he started having some awful seizure. His body contorted and his face turned blue, with the most God awful retching sound coming from his mouth accompanied by a greenish mucous drool. His eyes were bulging out of his head. It was loud enough for a lot of people in the bar to notice it over the low brow music and he wrenched himself around before falling to the floor contorting with repeated seizures. It was then that he must have had a big time heart attack because his last wrenching move was accompanied with an even louder sound of panicked gasping followed by his whole body going limp.
That must have been his moment of death because his whole body suddenly started to relax. The retching stopped and his sphincter relaxed releasing the copious content of his bowels which ran out the bottom of his shorts and out onto the bar room floor. Someone immediately dialed 911.
Chuck leaned out over the bar staring down at the reeking pile of deceased humanity on the floor and said “Now I know who’s been eating all the fucking peanuts.”
As terrible as the whole thing was to witness, that remark brought peals of laughter from almost everyone. Then, as you might expect, everyone felt ashamed of having laughed and most folks just left the bar. Eventually EMS arrived, pronounced the poor man dead and put him in a bag to haul him away.
Chuck by then had gotten a mop bucket full of hot soapy water and went to work removing the remaining mess. No one talks about it anymore except that every now and then someone will remember something about peanuts and recount Chuck’s reaction and remarks with almost uncontrollable laughter. It could not have been better scripted by any film writer.
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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