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A VIP Kind of Town

A friend of mine recently asked a simple and overly clichéd question over overly complicated cocktails. If I could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

Of course, my first response was to roll my recently, and more than likely ill-applied, Benefit eye shadow palleted eyes towards the industrial lighted sky. But then like life, I thought even the simplest scenarios always turn out to be tough to navigate in the very end. .

So, like the entire plant of thyme and what I believed to be a kumquat marinated in rose water attached to my martini glass and subsequently my hair, I decided then and there to take a deep dive in. My glass was more than half full. As well it should be, at the price of $18 plus tip.

I did tell her, with adequate forewarning, that this interrogation may take some time to figure out. It’s akin to deciding what’s for dinner 365 days in a row or how many pillows one can place on a couch before no one can sit on it.

I went down something like this:

I would have worn white every fall after Labor Day.

I would NOT have thought twice before rolling out of the bed to school drop off, or even the grocery store, wearing my hair up in a leopard scrunchie and my over-sized P.J. top pretending to be an ex-large t-shirt dress.

I would never have let my mom talk me into picking out periwinkle for the color of my bridesmaid’s dresses because I wanted “morbid” black, instead.

I would have laughed harder, even if I accidentally snorted or streams of liquid came flying out of my nose.

I would have cried hysterically whenever I felt like it, even if my heart still felt slightly closed up when it was all said and done.

I would have liked myself more.

“For Christ’s sake,” my friend tells me, “it’s a hypothetical question. It’s not like you’re dying.”

Then the answer came to me. Only it wasn’t for a few more days.

“Where is the older, bald guy with the cool mustache? I’ve missed him for a while,” I ask someone from the drive-thru window of my local liquor store, the 19th Hole, after ordering a bottle of Simi Chard.

“You mean Super Dave?” he asks.

“I don’t know,” I say rummaging, as always, for my wallet. “He’s tall, sweet in a gruff way, always laughs at my jokes.”

“Yeah, you’re talking about Super Dave,” he tells me. His voice his kind. “I’m sorry. He died of a heart attack a week from Tuesday.”

Finally. Me, at a loss for words.

“Stay sweet,” Super Dave would always tell me. Year after year after year. He’d always say, “stay sweet.” How could I have never asked him his name even though we felt like close friends?

He’d pick the perfect Pinot to have with beef, the crispest white wine for fried catfish, and the best Bloody Mary mix for Sunday brunch. “Tell me how you like it,” he’d always ask me on the way out the door.

We talked about other things, in all the years I knew him. We talked about golf, college football, our lousy cable service, seasonal traffic, and the weather. I saw him at least once or twice a week for as long as I can remember. I knew him, or at least I thought I did. But I never asked him for his name.

I found out more about “Super Dave” Pearson in the days that followed. Things I should have known a long time ago. He was born in Savannah and went to Glynn Academy…the class of ’67 to be exact. He served in the Army during the Vietnam War. He always spoke fondly of his two sons and five grandchildren.

Dave Pearson had been a part of our community, a part of us, for more than 40 years.

Dave. David. Super Dave. David Pearson.

“Stay sweet.”

I guess I just thought, selfishly, he’d always be there. Part of a spoke that turned the day-to-day wheel of our small world I’d like to think of as well-greased. Ready to go. Contained. Open for business, as usual.

But it’s not.

Y’all have no idea how much I would love to walk into that store and ask him right now if he could recommend a Cabernet with the right hint of tobacco, deep red currant, but nothing too sweet. We’d talk about the weather, UGA’s lack of defense at yesterday’s game. I’d ask him about the weather, too.

I’d hear a baseball game in the background, smell the faint scent of cigar smoke, and listen to Super Dave shoot the bull with his customers as he would ring me up. Then he’d give me the VIP service, as he called it, by scrawling my own crazy signature across the credit card receipt…then get on…business, as usual

“Tell me how you like it.”

How I wish I could.

Since Dave died, that Tuesday, May 8th, I’ve thought a lot about our town.

It’s not like I originally thought, each one of us living as separate wheels, moving in all scattered directions, casually crossing paths now and then; yielding, catching up, or running right smack into one another, if we are so lucky, then go our separate ways once again.

No. Now, I think those of us who dwell in the same space are more like thousands of pieces of a moving ladder, a giant strand of DNA; a living double helix that binds us together at the stripped-down essence of it all. We may spin and rotate in different directions, separately, molecule by molecule, person by person, all the time. But we still move with an underlying purpose.

We are connected. The same strain.

My regret? Easy. It’s not asking for a name.

Stay sweet, y’all.

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